The hospital bag! It seems to be the question on every pregnant person’s mind. I just googled it and there were 48 million results. 48 million! So why on earth am I writing ANOTHER post about what to pack in your hospital bag?
… because I go to a lot of births, and a lot of hospitals, and I see what women use, and what they’ve packed, and what they DON’T have, that they wish they did.
And I have some great suggestions for you.
I’ve included all the basic essentials, but my list also highlights things that are more personalised; items that will make you feel yourself, and will enhance your birthing and postpartum experience in the hospital. If there ever was a time to treat yo’ self, it’s in the hours after having a baby. Without further ado, here’s a downloadable/printable/pin-able list of What to Pack in your Hospital Bag: The Doula Edition.
Ok, so now I’m going to go into a little more detail. Some of these things are not really… essentials. Do you really need to take all this? Honestly, no. But I want for you to have the best possible birth experience, and that doesn’t happen on its own. It’s not just the physical birth of your baby that you will remember; the surroundings, how you felt, and how you were treated will all stick in your memory for years. Why wouldn’t you want those memories to be the best they can be?
◇ Splurge-y shampoo or soap
Think of your favorite scent, one that wakes up your senses and relaxes you. Imagine breathing in deeply and being filled with that sense of calm. Hunt that scent down in a shampoo or a soap. Buy the fancy one. The first few postpartum showers are moments of reflection, rest, and restoration – you’ll thank yourself for making them smell and feel amazing.
◇ A Heat Pack
This is something I provide for my clients, and you’ll find yourself using again and again. Pressure point during labor? Heat pack. Aching back just after birth? Heat pack. Afterpains (those can come as a surprise after labor!)? Heat pack. Need some cosiness in your hospital bed? …you guessed it. If you’re crafty, you can make your own with wheat or rice.
◇ New comfy PJs
You know that feeling of getting into a freshly made bed with new pyjamas? Bliss. You want that feeling. If you plan to breastfeed, I suggest a button down style or a stretchy feeding top. See also: a pretty robe to throw over your PJs or feeding tops, if you have visitors or want to wander the corridors.
◇ An open mind
Of all the items on the list, this is the most essential thing to bring with you. Hopefully you are feeling prepared and confident (maybe you’ve taken a class or read some books, or even better, hired a doula!). When you arrive to your birthing place, your number 1 priority should be to get into the right headspace. I’ve written about the 3 paths of birth preparation before, and the grace and positivity needed to accept whatever outcome. No-one has full control over birth, and no-one can predict what will happen. We can do our best preparation, but it is essential that you remain open to whatever comes your way. You might not get the room with the birth tub. Your speakers might not work. The baby’s heart rate might drop. Your breech baby might not flip. You might need to have an intervention that you previously didn’t want*. The ability to roll with whatever comes along during birth means less stress, less negativity and a positive mindset no matter what happens.
* Please do not take this to mean you should do whatever intervention is suggested to you. Use your BRAIN and question any procedure you’re not sure of. You have a right to be informed, and you have a right to consent or refuse any procedure.
Be kind to yourself. Birth is an exercise in trust, faith, strength and surrender. You will cry. You might snap at people. You might behave differently to your norm, and surprise yourself. Know that this is all part of the process. You are shedding your skin and emerging as a new mother. Don’t be hard on yourself. Let the tears flow, and acknowledge your immediate needs. Let yourself heal and recover. The world can wait (unless you’re Kate Middleton). Reflect on what you’ve just done! It was earth-shattering. Give yourself grace.
Still from the film Juno, featuring Ellen Page, Allison Janney and J.K. Simmons doing the classic movie rush to the hospital.