Fantasy hospital bags; what would you *really* pack in yours?

September 3, 2014

What to pack in your hospital bag

Last night I had Braxton Hicks of such intense ferocity that they woke me up at 4am and jolted my brain into thinking about getting ready for the baby. So this morning, in the style of all panicking procrastinaters, I made some more lists. And top of these was ‘pack hospital bag.’

Ah, what to pack in the the humble hospital bag. The source of much thought and deliberation for mums-to-be worldwide (see also: what shall I wear in labour?)

First-time-round we were given a list of things to pack by our NCT course leader. It was a full side of A4 of everything we might need. And I do mean everything. Cushions, a lamp, and photos featured, alongside the absolute must-haves of lip balm, bendy straws and Arnica tablets. Like everyone in our group, I took it pretty much as verbatim – apart from the home furnishings – and didn’t really rest until I’d procured it all in a pre-natal version of The Apprentice shopping challenge. I cross-checked it all off my own list and packed it in my bag several times. And then packed and re-packed some more.

I think it’s the focus of such attention because it’s a tangible thing in light of all the great unknowns about labour (what will it be like? How much will it hurt? Will I…you know…that really embarrassing thing?) The knowledge that you’ll have your hairbands and ten tiny baby hats within reach is the control in face of the uncontrollable.

But to be honest, how much of it will you ever use? I recently found my Arnica tablets – unopened like most things in my bag were – and laughed. Reading about the rapid and too-early hospital discharge of 40% of new mums didn’t surprise me either. While I had a – relatively luxurious, in hindsight – two night stay, a friend who gave birth down the corridor from me had her bed swiped during her post-delivery shower and was home a few hours later, and another was ushered out of the swinging doors shortly after having had her baby, only four hours after she got to hospital, in the middle of the night. Pretty shocking.

So how much stuff will you ever really need? You need nappies and a few changes of outfits for the baby. Things for you to wear and to keep you comfortable. Toiletries and snacks. But not much else and as little as possible. And a going home outfit? Even Billie Faiers from Towie left hospital in her pyjamas.

But what I think would be more handy – and certainly more used – would be a hospital bag containing all the things you want after the nine month no booze, no good cheese, no fun drought of pregnancy. You know, all the things you really, really want.

Mine would be along the following lines:

  • Portable and refreshing gin in a tin
  • Sushi, non-pasteurised cheese, pate
  • Eggs Benedict with smoked salmon
  • About ten packs of really posh salami (who am I kidding? Even the cheap stuff would do)
  • A round of cocktails
  • Biggest bottle of prosecco in the world
  • Giant pack of maternity pads
  • A good night’s sleep
  • All in a tiny, impractical, swanky designer clutch

It’s a fantasy bag, so we’re nearly sidestepping any practical, breastfeeding, alcohol consumption and responsible parenting issues here. But what would be in yours?

(PS – proper, serious suggestions and a hospital bag checklist over on TalkMum. I’m packing my make-up bag and phone charger first after baby stuff. Priorities).


  • Eleanor (thebristolparent)

    September 4, 2014 at 10:46 am

    If it’s your first time? Seriously – a notepad and pen. There’s a lot of stuff you’ll need to write down on feeding, medicine timings, advice from midwives. And never underestimate how hot hospitals are, so forget about the massive dressing gown. If its your fantasy hospital bag? A masseuse, a motorbility scooter with a basket for the baby so you don’t have to tramp the corridors on the way out, a totally compliant, non-emotionally responsive grandparent to do your bidding without a second thought, and a fully-functional, not in any way tired or confused partner. And a shed load of cider.

  • Molly

    September 4, 2014 at 4:57 pm

    YES. Mine would also include Camembert, a crisp Sauv Blanc, a push up, underwired bra that actually fit and my favourite trainers (because my fat feet currently won’t fit into them). Bliss.

  • Katie Haydock

    September 6, 2014 at 11:32 pm

    Do you think it would be possible to keep a baked brie cheese with freshly cooked bread hot in that tiny cluth??

  • Suzie

    September 15, 2014 at 11:00 am

    After having gestational diabetes my hospital bag contained 3 Cadbury’s creme eggs saved from Easter! They were sooo good. I was in for nearly a week so used everythinin my bag and more. Always worth packing more and having it at home to save other half rooting around in your knicker drawer looking for more granny pants!

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