This is very personal and I can only tell you what was useful to me when I was in the hospital. For my first baby, I must have taken three suitcases – half of which remained unopened – but for my second and third, I managed to pare it down to the essentials.
The hospital bag
Storksak do this amazing Cabin Carry-On for travel (pictured above), but I think it’s also perfect for hospital. It’s a water resistant, wheeled bag which has a genius foldaway hanging organiser and loads of nifty pockets. You can buy it here.
You may or may not find this useful but here are the things that I packed third time around:
I took a packet of Bridget Jones pants from Marks & Spencer with me, one size too big! I also love Victoria’s Secret hipster knickers. The comfier the better!
5-pack cotton rich briefs, Marks & Spencer
Lace hiphugger panty, Victoria’s Secret
I have huge boobs so I took a few easy crop-tops and a couple of nursing bras (essential if you’re going to breastfeed). Only buy a couple as you grow a few sizes once the milk comes in. I love figleaves as they have a vast selection. I think breast pads are a waste of time in hospital for the same reason. I also found a huge selection on JoJo Maman Baby and wore lots of the Emma Jane lace-trim maternity and nursing bras.
Emma Jane seamless nursing bra, Figleaves
Hotmilk wire nursing bra, Figleaves
Lace trim maternity and nursing bra, JoJo Maman Bebe
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Nighties and pyjamas
I took a couple of pairs of each. I love the feel of the jersey pyjamas from Eberjey. Seraphine and ASOS also have a great selection that is good for nursing.
Jersey pyjama set, Eberjey
Maternity and nursing pyjamas, Seraphine
Nursing jersey night dress, Mamalicious
Slippers or cashmere socks
The floor is pretty grim and I didn’t step out of bed without these luscious socks from The White Company and a pair of slippers.
Cashmere bed socks, The White Company
This is personal preference but I love my spritz on the pillow, not that you get much sleep when you’re having a baby.
B Silent Night Time Mist, My Baba
Eye mask and earbuds
It’s impossible to sleep in hospital and having a baby is pretty exhausting. I found both really helped. Spacemasks do a lovely one that self heats and Space NK do a huge range of silk ones. You can pick up some earplugs here.
Self-heating eyemasks, Spacemasks
Silk sleep mask, Slip
It’s totally over the top but I took a new set of White Company towels in a lovely stone colour with me. Such a treat to be able to cocoon yourself after that first shower instead of hopping around in a hospital hankie sized one. I also packed a few new flannels.
Egyptian cotton towels, The White Company
My husband bought me a gorgeous blanket from Lora Piana, which I never thought I would use in hospital, but immediately after the birth I found myself shivering, and it was the perfect present. I recently found this cashmere blanket from Brora.
Cashmere woven blanket, Brora
I thought it would take up too much room so I opted for the paper-thin hospital ones which were fine but I do have friends who liked having one from home.
I’d say take everything you might need from a toothbrush and maternity pads to cleansers and moisturisers, lip balm and massage oil. I also took a stock of mini products from Space NK. The most important thing to remember is a good hairbrush. I recommend Mason Pearson or a Tangle Teezer. I looked like Worzel Gummidge first time around so I made sure I remembered one the second time. Also, a packet of hairbands to keep your hair off your face is important. I also took a packet of Arnica pills, which I started taking the minute I went into labour to help with swelling. I also bought a new sponge and a mini bottle of Avene face spray.
Pregnancy essentials, Mama Mio
Essential kit, Malin + Goetz
Other things that made me feel at home were Bamford travel candles that made the room smell gorgeous (frowned upon by some, but who’s going to argue with a woman about to give birth?). I also took my favourite bottle of Camille by Bamford.
I had an epidural so this wasn’t needed but I hear they’re amazing.
TENS maternity unit, Boots
Going home outfit
Sadly you can’t slink your way back into your size pre-pregnancy jeans so I would suggest something from the early months of pregnancy. I wore my favourite old James Perse tracksuit 2 sizes too big with a nice, roomy tee.
Cotton jersey t-shirt, Rag & Bone
Cotton jersey hoodie, James Perse
Track pants, James Perse
I had personalised ones made for my children from Noble Macmillan, but John Lewis has a great selection of Moleskin. They come in delicious juicy fruit colours. I started writing notes from the day my children were born to help me keep track of things. If you have a maternity nurse, they’ll do it their own way but I think it’s good to have a record. I remember my nurse wrote ‘PA’ for Passed Urine and I couldn’t for the life of me work out what ‘BO’ meant. I plucked up the courage to ask her a few days later and of course, it was ‘Bowel Open’. To her dismay, I had been putting, ‘poo’!
Ruled notebook, Moleskine
Vests and sleep suits
Mothercare and John Lewis sleepsuits have little fold-over cuffs so you don’t need to waste time with mittens that always fall off. John Lewis does a lovely, organic cotton range.
Organic cotton bodysuits, John Lewis
Organic cotton sleepsuit, John Lewis
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Muslins and bibs
Babies need to be kept warm and I think cotton always does the job.
Organic cotton hats, John Lewis
Love Organic Muslin Baby Shawl is made from 100% GOTS certified soft organic cotton. “I have been obsessed with everything about this gorgeous brand since their launch. Can you believe every ounce of profit goes to orphans around the world! This beautiful, organic cotton swaddle can be used in so many ways and would make a lovely present.”
Love Organic Muslin Baby Shawl, My Baba
Bamboo Muslin Squares, AlexandAlexa
Options bottle, Dr Brown’s
Natural newborn feeding bottle, Philips Avent
100% Natural Rubber Pacifier, that is easy to clean in hot water and highly hygienic due to its seamless design. The rattle is made from natural beech wood and silicone
100% Natural Rubber Pacifier, My Baba
Teething Rattle, My Baba
This is a personal preference but I like the tried and tested brands. I breastfed but had formula to hand as well.
Size 1 nappies, Kit & Kin
Going home outfit
Again, this is personal preference but a few weeks before I was due, I went to Ralph Lauren and bought a little newborn set which was utterly adorable. I am also totally obsessed with Mini-La-Mode’s little sleepsuit in the most luxurious Pima cotton. AlexandAlexa and Childrensalon also have a great selection of newborn outfits.
3 ducks smocked footsie, Mini-la-Mode
Depending on the time of year, thick or thin, I like the ones with a little flap that acts as a hood. The Nursery Window has a wonderful selection and Hope & Fortune do my favourite organic cotton baby blankets.
Organic cotton baby blanket, Hope & Fortune
You may or may not feel up to calling people but you never want your phone to run out of batteries. It’s also a great backup camera.
This is always useful for when friends and family come to visit.
People told me to take magazines and books etc, but I didn’t feel like doing anything. I walked around the block a few times and watched my iPad in bed, which was loaded with some great shows and series.
Don’t forget your handbag and pregnancy notes or birthing plan. Easy to do!
Baby car seat
Last but not least, a newborn car seat. I love Maxi Cosi for the first seat as it’s easy to use, safe and you can carry it over your arm. Make sure you have the newborn headrest to keep their little head in place! Ridiculously, most hospitals won’t allow you to take your baby home without one.
Pebble plus i-size baby car seat, Maxi Cosi
The most important item in his bag is biscuits! Boxes of nice biscuits for him to hand around to all the midwives and nurses on duty. You want them on your side and they’re usually so kind. A change of clothes is essential, a book and his wallet.
Favourite snacks, and drink
Keep your energy levels up! I had an epidural and then asked for dinner only to be told that there would be no eating. I could have killed the anaesthetist! I had cravings for coconut water and vitamin water. I found a huge range of healthy snacks on Ocado.
I’m absurdly organised so I laminated a ‘last minute card’ with the things that weren’t already packed and ready to go. On the back were important numbers like the hospital’s and local taxi companies, in addition to a few people I didn’t want my husband to forget to call when the baby arrived. I tied a copy to the bag’s handle and gave my husband a credit card sized one for his wallet.