Knowing what you may need for the birth of your baby can be so confusing, especially when you may not be able to "pop" home to pick up extra bits mid-labour! Whether this is your first baby or your fifth, packing your bag in preparation of labour or forthcoming C section is an important task, and we hope to help make it easier for you!
To help make things simple, here is a step-by-step approach to pacing the bag.
1. Find a suitable bag
You don't want to be lugging lots of bags around with you, especially because it is very possible that the first time you go to hospital you may get sent back home again if your labour isn't quite far along enough! Therefore, it is really handy to try to get all the essential items into a single bag.
We recommend a cabin-size suitcase, ideally one which has 2 separate compartments which allow the bag to be easily divided into "mum" and "baby" sections.
2. Locate and prepare the items you need
Ideally we recommend you start early to prepare your bag around 32-34 weeks of pregnancy because there are quite a few items on the list, so it may take some time to get hold of everything!
You may have the bag packed for a while - possibly even 8 weeks, so it's a good idea to make sure that you won't be needing the items that are in the bag like your phone charger. If you start taking bits out again, it defeats the point of having the bag ready to go!
That's the reason we advise getting extras of things you like to use regularly such as toiletries and ideally an extra phone cable if you have one. That way, if labour starts unexpectedly you don't have to run around the house throwing extra things in the bag!
3. Find suitable dividers for your bag
It can be helpful to use transparent packing cubes or zip-lock bags to divide the bag into sections. This makes it really easy for anyone to find what they need without messing up the rest of the bag.
Label these with the headings you can find in our hospital bag checklist.
4. Get your birth partner to put it all together!
The most important person to be familiar with the contents of the bag is the person who will be with you during the birth! Mid-contraction, you might desperately need a hair tie or handheld fan, and you won't want to have to get up and search for it yourself.
You may get moved from room-to-room, so it's handy if they don't have to take everything out of the bag looking for a single item!
If they understand the way the bag is packed, then they will be very grateful for it later on.
5. Keep the bag somewhere easy to access
If you are likely to drive to the hospital, then consider keeping the bag in the back of the car (as long as there aren't any valuables or identifiable information in it!) If you will be arriving another way, then keep the bag somewhere easy to access for anyone e.g. a coat cupboard or near your front door. You and your partner may need to go directly to the hospital and have to send someone to pick it up!
If you want more details about preparing for your baby's arrival, our Complete Birth Preparation Course covers what you should be doing in the weeks leading up to the birth and lots of information about what yo expect once they arrive!