hospital bag checklist
Labour & birth

The ultimate hospital bag checklist

Mother-of-one Tracey Quinn shares her tips on what to pack in the all important hospital bag.

The words ‘hospital bag’ have become totally synonymous with giving birth at a maternity hospital. The general recommendation is that your hospital bag should be ready to go from about weeks 32-34 of pregnancy. When labour begins, the very last thing on a woman’s mind is whether she packed X,Y and Z. Tick it off the list as early as possible and you won’t have to give it another second’s thought. I found myself to be quite surprised at the amount of items I was expected to take with me to the hospital. All important, all required and yet I had to somehow fit them all in to one bag. That’s right – this is a bit of a ‘cabin baggage’ situation. There is simply not enough room in the maternity wards to house several bags. For this reason, it is important to pack in a clever and compact way.

For yourself

  • Hospital notes and birth plan if you have one.
  • An old t-shirt or nightdress for labour.
  • A pair of socks too. Comfort is key.
  • Something to watch or read – depending on your experience, you may find yourself waiting around for a period of time. It’s good to keep the mind occupied.
  • Nightdress with wide neck opening to allow for breastfeeding.
  • Breast pads and supportive maternity/nursing bra.
  • Two packets of large disposable maternity pads.
  • Large old or disposable underwear for after you have given birth.
  • Light dressing gown (the wards are very warm).
  • Non-slip slippers that are wide enough to accommodate swollen feet (this may happen).
  • Flip flops to wear when going for a shower.
  • Personal toiletries – shower gel, deodorant, toothpaste etc.
  • Hair bobbins and hairbrush.
  • Lip-balm (my lips became very dry when breastfeeding. Something I did not expect).
  • Dark coloured towel (one for each day).
  • Mobile phone and phone charger.
  • Nail varnish remover in the event that you end up going into theatre.
  • Make sure that it is suitable to remove permanent nail polish – avoid gel manicure and pedicures.
  • Camera.
  • Light snacks and any relevant prescription medication.

For your baby

  • Six pre-washed babygrows (nonbio detergent).
  • Six pre-washed vests.
  • One cardigan and one hat.
  • One pre-washed baby towel.
  • One packet of newborn sized nappies.
  • Packet of cotton wool balls.
  • Six baby bibs/dribblers.
  • 2 cotton cellular baby blankets.

For your partner

  • Plenty of loose change for the parking machines.
  • Phone charger.
  • Deodorant.
  • Light snacks.
  • Spare t-shirt.
  • Toothbrush.
  • Something to read (as there can be a lot of waiting around in some cases).
  • List of phone numbers of people you will want him to share the good news with.

Other tips for birthing partner

You will need an appropriate car seat the day you leave the hospital as a family. It is important to familiarise yourself with the way it works and have it ready to go when you arrive to take mum and baby home. It is no harm to download a labour app. After all, it is you whom may be asked to time contractions when the big day arrives.

More like this:

Water birth: what to expect
Hospital bag checklist
Home birth in Ireland

ASK LOUISE

Q My son is 18 months old and has just started saying his first words. It is an extremely exciting time in our house and my husband and I are eager to encourage his speaking as much possible. What advice would you give us on how we can foster this without bombarding and confusing him?

AThere is nothing better than hearing your baby begin to talk. All the hard work you have put in over the last two years is coming back tenfold.
Toddlers will vary significantly with ability and speed of which they talk however a guide would be about 50 words by 2 years of age. The most important thing to watch for is that your baby/toddler is cooing and babbling and begins to string sounds together like “Mama/Dada” They should have a wide range of speech sounds and like to imitate you and things they hear.
There are many ways that you can promote Speech and Language development at home:
1. Slowing down your own speech and taking time over conversations with your little one. Every day is a new experience when you are 18 months, nappy changes, bath time, baking a cake brings endless opportunity for you to interact and offer new words for them to hear and repeat. Make eye contact, smile and use exaggerated tones to keep things interesting and fun for your tot.
2. Review the toys that you have on offer to your tot and ensure that they give plenty of open ended play opportunities. Role play is a wonderful way to allow children to take the lead. Kitchens with lots of plates, cups and pots. Fill the pots with dry pasta and allow your child to cook and serve you. Playdoh, painting, gardening and sandpits are also great for allowing your child to take the lead and babble about what they are doing. Read plenty of books together and point and allow them time to answer any questions that you ask.
3. Limit screen time. Overuse of televisions and iPads do not give your child opportunity to interact in a two way manner.
4. Ask your child lots of open ended questions “What’s that?” “Where are we?” Point at things they know the answer to for boosting confidence (Car/ Car, etc.) When they don’t know the answer, explain it to them. Limit baby talk and speak clearly with good pronunciation, remember you are the teacher and they will copy you.
If you are concerned about your child’s speech and language development, be sure to speak with your GP or developmental Health Nurse. They are very skilled at understanding the difference between speech delays and spotting something that may require professional attention.
Enjoy watching their little brains absorb the world around them and listen to what they have to say. It won’t be too long before they won’t stop talking to you, asking “Why Mummy/ Daddy?” every 5 minutes….

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ASK JESSICA

Q. I’m would like to start an exercise programme that will benefit my emotional health as much as my physical health, but I don’t know which type of class would be best. Should I consider choosing from yoga, pilates, tai chi, or could you recommend a class, please?

A It’s great that you have decided to get into exercise. The benefits to you are going to be great. You’ll sleep better, have more energy, better skin, reduced stressed, not to mention all the amazing physical benefits of your clothes fitting better, and looking healthy, trim and toned! My advice to you would be to try them all. Even if some don’t offer pay-as-you-go sessions, if you get in touch directly with the instructor, they will almost always let you try it out first to see if it’s for you. All of the above things that you mentioned are great for mental health, so it really will be a personal preference as to which you go for. On top of the classes you mention, all forms of exercise will give you great mental rewards so consider the not so obvious interval training sessions, bootcamp, and circuits too, as you will also feel on top of the world after a class like that.