There are many phrases you’ll hear from a midwife during the course of your pregnancy but perhaps the one that really hits home to remind you birth is imminent is, "Best pack your hospital bag."
It might seem strange to have all the things you need for labour ready weeks before your due date, but it’s advisable, experts say.
Here’s a guide on what to pack, if you’re due soon like Meghan.
Choosing and organising your bag
Sarah Beeson, a former health visitor and author of parenting guide Happy Baby, Happy Family, says: "Preparation is the thing." And that starts with the right bag.
Beeson advises to get a lightweight bag."One bag with different compartments." You could even have a second bag with back up items in the boot of the car, she says, in case you are in hospital longer than expected. This would also work well if you are away for a weekend or the day, and suddenly need to head to the hospital.
Paperwork and birth plan
Before you go adding all the cute baby stuff, make sure your paperwork is in there. Pop them in a folder so they can be removed easily. It seems obvious but it’s easy to forget them, and the next thing you know they’re covered in a fluid of some kind...
Emma Flanagan from pregnancy support forum Emma’s Diary says: "Birth plan or maternity notes are really important to have at the top of your hospital bag so your midwife can work with you to ensure all of your needs are met."
Beeson says: "Add a little pad or paper, and a pen. When you have a baby you’re writing down how much they’ve eaten, slept…" Add in a phone charger, and a list of essential phone numbers just in case you need to use the payphone, as well as plenty of change, for everything from the car park to the vending machine.
Going home outfits
It’s likely you have one (or more) options for your baby’s ‘going home’ outfit. Don’t forget other clothing essentials – including something for you to wear! Hester Grainger, founder of Mumala Club for mums who start businesses, says: "Think practical. Hat, socks, lots of muslins."
You don’t have to leave the ward in a designer dress like the royals, but you might want something fresh, clean and that you’re comfortable being photographed in. Beeson adds: "Make sure it’s lightweight and stretchy. Don’t expect to be flat-stomached, you can’t control that."
Toiletries and nightwear
Miniatures are your friend here – pack tiny bottles of what you need for a post-birth shower and wrap them in a towel, says Beeson. "Don’t forget deodorant and a face flannel. Take slippers if you want, but I would bring flip flops – a pair like you’d get in a spa – they keep your feet off the floor in the bathroom."
Food and drink
Now, this might seem like the ideal opportunity to cram the bag full of sweets and fizzy drinks (energy, right?) but you need to snack clever. "Straws are important for when you need to drink lying down," says Grainger. "I took Pringles!"
Beeson adds: "Dates are really good, they help with constipation after the birth. Artificial sweeteners can dry your mouth so try to stick to water or juices." While we’re talking about dry mouths, pop a lip balm in there, too, as your lips will get dry.
Big knickers and pads
In a survey of 1,506 mums, Emma’s Diary found that the most useful item was big knickers. The main reason for these is so you can accommodate a good maternity pad. But you could take it one step further and try some period or incontinence pads, says Beeson. "Make sure the knickers are cotton and double the number you’ve packed already. Incontinence pads can be good as they’re higher absorbance and thinner."
So many people told me to buy granny pants for my hospital bag so today I went on a mission and found the BIGGEST ugliest pants I could possibly find haha! They are so gross that im kinda proud of them 😂— Ebony Day (@ebonyday1) January 4, 2018
Towel and pillow
Kelly Billing at parenting blog Mummies Little Helper asked the mums on her forum, who all agreed that you need your own towel and pillow. "There is nothing better than that first shower and having products and scents you recognise is a must. A fluffy, dark towel – for after that first shower when you want a home comfort (dark for obvious reasons) – much better than the scratchy hospital alternatives. And your pillow as the smell reminds you of home," she says.
Starting to think I should get onto packing my hospital bag! I’m meeting up with a friend tomorrow who had her first child at the same stage I’m at now! Eek all getting very real now! #34weeks #hospitalbag #rainbowbaby pic.twitter.com/aKrNucFpXV— Rainbow chaser (@rainbowmumtobe) January 8, 2019
"Useful both for the car journey if your waters have broken and for hospital to separate out any dirty clothes (yours and babies)," Billing reports back from her mums.