There are some parallels between packing a hospital bag and suitcases for a long-haul vacay. For starters, you’ve been imagining this momentous day for months and daydreaming about all the promise and excitement it will bring. You’ve probably also invested in lots of new pieces and accessories, just as you would add to your holiday swimwear or Havaiana’s collection. You no doubt started out well with a mission to pack light, but by the end, you’re putting in every ‘what-if’ under the sun. And then there’s the hand luggage? How to balance keeping it light and stylish while still ensuring you have all the essentials?
See, the process sounds remarkably similar, doesn’t it? Only for this bag-packing exercise there will be no sipping of mojitos and leisurely lounging by the pool. You might actually be in a birthing pool, and the effects of the gas and air might leave you feeling as giddy as the mojito, but instead of coming home with a sun-kissed body, you’ll be coming home with a whole new life and a body that, well, birthed a child!
There’s no question you’ll be packing big pants instead of holiday no-VPL’s, and though the labour suite might differ somewhat from the penthouse suite, this is a money-can’t-buy trip that will provide memories way beyond the usual two-week break from the office.
So, if you’re experiencing hospital bag packing angst, sit back, practice those breathing exercises you’ve been honing to perfection and take a look at Coco Alexander’s cheat sheet. We’ve been there, packed the bag and got the t-shirt (maternity-sized, of course)!
It’s well documented that labour wards can be stiflingly hot or super dry due to AC. Either of these extremes, plus the thirsty work of labour, can lead to dry, chapped lips. A daub of your favourite Elizabeth Arden Eight-Hour cream will hopefully outlive your delivery and keep your lips in tip-top condition for those first Insta-worthy proud new mummy pics. The added bonus with this cult-status multi-purpose product is that you can fix your brows, tame your hair and give your cheeks a spot of gloss if you feel so inclined! You could even splash out on the mist set, which includes the cream but also a facial spray for mid-labour refreshes and oil for keeping those stretch marks at bay.
Unless you’re checking into the Matilda Hospital with your maternity menu tended to by the Shangri-La Hotel, you might want to consider packing some easy to pop on footwear. Though most labour suites and hospitals will have cleanliness and hygiene at the top of the list, you’ll still want to keep your tootsies in tow and safeguard against bathroom nasties.
Besides, this is your opportunity to pack those Havaianas’ or Givenchy sliders and channel mini-getaway vibes.
Front Opening Nightshirt
Trust us on this one. A silky slip might be your go-to at home, or maybe your nightwear of choice is an oversized boyfriend tee, but practicality is your new best friend when it comes to labour ward loungewear. Think poppers or buttons for no-stress easy access. Hungry babies rooting for milk and La Perla babydolls are not a match made in heaven. Seraphine comes to the fore as usual with its range of stylish sleepwear in comfortable bamboo fabrics and nursing access panels. They even have a trés chic maternity loungewear jumpsuit with a crossover V neckline, perfect for nursing!
If like us, you favour a more sustainable approach, you could check our Retykle and see if you can pick up something preloved. There are some fabulous brands on their platform, including lightweight dresses with built-in nursing functionality, which could double up as a nightie and then be used as outerwear!
Coco Alexander Nappy Changing Clutch
Start your baby changing journey in style with a compact changing clutch to store nappies, creams, wipes and anything else you might need. The Coco Alexander nappy wallet is just the ticket! And this one does straddle hospital bag and long-haul vacay packing list!
Not only will our capsule changing bag keep everything in check in your hospital bag, but the mesh pockets will allow you to see and access everything you need with ease – perfect for those sleep-deprived, bleary-eyed nappy changes. There’s also an integrated padded jersey changing mat so you can protect baby and provide a safe and hygienic surface to change them. The changing mat has an antimicrobial finish to stop bacteria in its tracks, and the recycled PU leather and lining is wipe-clean for maximum hygiene. This is one to get on the baby shower list early doors. Style, utility and way more room than you could ever imagine. It’s the Narnia of nappy clutches.
Packing your changing clutch is just one piece of the jigsaw, so make sure you’ve filled all the essentials. We adore the Just Peachy reusable cloth diapers in their fabulous on-trend colourways. Not only are they kind to baby and the planet, but they’re a million miles away from the uninspiring standard-issue disposable nappies. Who knew changing could look this good?
This might sound a tad twee, but a little bit of tradition is not a bad thing when it comes to the birth of your child. A precious hand-knitted blanket is one of those items that somehow feels like a rite of passage for new parents and is a staple for memory boxes. Of course, it’s easy to earn brownie points with relatives if the newborn is featured in early days pics swaddled in it!
Maternity & Breast Pads
Though hospitals may supply these items, you really are better off packing your own unless you favour packing your big girl pants with maternity pads of mattress size proportions. Yes, maternity pads are bulky by virtue of their function, but you can at least have a say in whether you opt for a more natural product free from perfumes and bleaching agents. In our opinion, you’ll want to keep things as unfussy and natural as possible.
It won’t be long after birth before you discover the wonderful machinations of the human body post-partum. Leaky boobs are perfectly natural, but they can harbour bacteria and lead to infection if not kept in check, so breast pads are a must. We’re all for looking after the environment, so we’re keen on the reusable variety, and there’s a great deal more choice around today. Try the Milki Train nursing pads. They’re made from breathable organically harvested bamboo and are Oeko-Tex certified, which guarantees they are free from harmful chemicals found in most disposable breast pads.
Baby’s First Outfit
It makes sense to pack several outfits for baby just in case you have a slightly more extended stay than expected. You’ll soon realise how many changes you get through and how an explosive nappy can necessitate more changes than a Victoria Secret's catwalk model.
In a similar vein to maternity nightwear, opt for front fastening babygrows and romper suits where possible. It can feel a little overwhelming at the outset handling this seemingly fragile little person, so the fewer garments you have to prise over their delicate heads, the better.
While we’d recommend lots of basics, you will want that first special outfit to put them in. We love this whimsical Konges Slojd Baby Bodysuit in Parachute and matching pants at Scandiborn.com. Not only is it super cute and practical with its front fastening poppers, but it’s made from organic cotton, so super soft next to baby’s skin. There’s also a matching bonnet!
An edited selection of toiletries
Remember, you’re trying to keep it light, and while this is not a beauty pageant but anything that makes you feel good about yourself in these hormone-fuelled days is worth the premium of space in your hospital bag. Opt for travel sizes so you can take a good selection of products but stick to practicals. We’re talking lip balm (see above) over lip plumper, hydrating products over highlighter, but if it makes you feel more ‘you,’ then stick it in.
Water bottle and straws
Not an absolute necessity as you will, of course, be supplied with water. However, nothing beats your own water bottle. Straws can also be a good shout for sipping water in labour or for post-birth to aid your water intake more easily if you’ve had a C-section and are less mobile.
There’s nothing like long labour and incessant newborn feeding to spark a bout of the munchies you haven’t experienced since university days.
Pack a good selection of energy-boosting healthy bites in your hospital bag with some indulgent treats to reward your hard work (labour). Include packets of nuts and seed mixes, dried fruits, crisps, biscuits, healthy cereal bars, and flapjacks. Boiled and gummy sweets are also a great idea and will be appreciated, especially after labour and breastfeeding when you will experience thirst like never before!
We hope this list of some of our favourite essentials has given you a heads-up for hospital bag packing and taken some of the headache out of the prep. Many hospitals have onsite shops with ample supplies of baby and parenting essentials, and, of course, relatives can always be relied upon to rally around with backups and reinforcements. Just as it’s your birth plan, your bump and your pregnancy, remember, it’s your hospital bag. Pack what makes you feel relaxed and happy. And if that means the Jimmy Choos, who are we to stop you!
Other items for your checklist
- Mobile phone charger
- Spare change or Octopus Card (for those HK readers) for vending machines, parking etc
- Dressing Gown
- Feeding pillow
- Magazines, book or Kindle
- Comfy leisurewear for you to go home in
- A car seat for baby to go home in
- Baby hat and scratch mitts
- Muslin cloths
- Swaddle blanket