Wondering what to pack in your hospital bag for a natural birth? Today I share with you what’s my simple hospital bag checklist, including herbal products, essential oils and items that will help you feel at home in the hospital.
It’s that time of pregnancy when the hospital bag is neatly packed with crisp clean clothes, waiting next to the door, a reminder that life is about to enter a whole new chapter.
The process of packing a hospital bag can be tricky – it kind of feels like packing for a trip where you don’t exactly know where you’re going or how long you’ll be staying – birth is mysterious like that. I want to keep it simple (like I do when it comes to all things baby), but also make sure I have everything I need for a comfortable and peaceful birth.
The plan is to have a natural birth at our local hospital. I hope to labour at home as long as possible, before heading in. I’m praying that all goes well and we can go home after a few hours of observation. But I also know that birth can be unpredictable, and sometimes things don’t go as expected. That’s why I’ve packed enough for two nights, just in case we have to stay longer or face any challenges.
I’ve also packed some things that will help me feel at home in a place that can be impersonal. Things like cozy clothing, my beloved supportive herbs, and some tools to set the room up so that it is a sacred birth space. In this post, I’m sharing with you what made the cut in my hospital bag in the hope this will help you pack your hospital bag if you’re planning a similar birth!
Hospital Bag Essentials
- Hospital records with birth plan and any supportive documents (I also have herbal medicine instructions for my doula, so she knows what to make, and when)
- Water bottle – I use a ball mason jar with a straw lid and straw.
- Headband – nobody likes having to brush their bangs out of their eyes between contractions.
- x1 robe – I bought a soft, muslin robe especially for birth in a colour that lifts my spirits. I know this may sound inconsequential, but wearing something that feels like me instead of a hospital reminds me of my agency in that space.
- x5 pairs of comfy black high-waisted underwear – believe me, both the high-waisted and black are essential!
- x1 pack of maternity pads – I love the TOMs brand. They’re super soft and very absorbent. Pack more than you think you’ll need.
- x2-3 pairs of comfy, warm socks
- x1 pair of slippers
- x1-2 button-down pyjamas or nighties – gotta have easy access to your boobs!
- x2 comfortable nursing bras – I highly recommend going for the simple kimono/cross-over style bras in the first 6-8 weeks of postpartum. Your boobs are going to be transforming and transfiguring into all shapes and sizes while you’re establishing your supply and breastfeeding rhythm. These types of bras allow for all the change without the risk of compression or restriction which is a recipe for blocked ducts. They also do a great job of holding breast pads in place. I just purchased a couple from Kmart, and have been gifted another similar style from Ambra.
- x2 maternity yoga pants
- x2 nursing-friendly tops
- x1 soft woollen shawl – something that makes you feel hugged!
- x1 loose, comfortable going-home outfit
- x1 wheat bag – your hospital or birth centre may have heat packs, but in case not and you’re going to be staying for a night or two, these offer so much comfort for those after-birth pains.
- Toiletries bag (pack for both mum and dad)
- Dry shampoo (or travel-size shampoo and conditioner) – usually hospitals just have that all-purpose soap – and if you’re staying a night or two, being able to wash your hair after labour will make you feel so lovely and fresh!
- Hair ties
- Lip balm
- Some skincare basics and make-up
- Birthing comb – I found this to be super useful for managing the pain in my first birth. Any plastic combs will do, but this time I’ve treated myself to a pear wood comb with a beautiful affirmation engraved “I am safe. I am strong” from Blissful Herbs.
- Snacks – hearty snacks are a must for you and your birth team. I’ve got Cliff bars and plan to make a batch of homemade Lara Bars to take in (I’ve written a whole post of great breastfeeding snacks with a link to this recipe). Mints are nice to have too.
- Tubigrip/compression tubular bandage for belly – this is my favourite postpartum belly-binding technique and feels SO comforting and grounding after birth (and for the weeks that follow). It also can hold a heat pad in place. I’m re-using tubigrip from last time, and also purchased another from Bodifast so I have two on the go when I get back home.
- Breastfeeding pillow – not essential, as a pillow works well. But if by any chance we need to stay at the hospital for more than a day, having the extra support of my beloved breastfeeding pillow will make things easier. I use and love the Brest Friend pillow.
- x2 muslin swaddle wraps
- x1 beanie
- x1 warm baby blanket – my beautiful mum has knitted a special blanket for blanket
- x4 onesies/baby grows
- Newborn nappies – if your hospital doesn’t provide them. Our hospital provides a 20-pack, but I have a couple of extra just in case we need them.
- Baby wipes – 1 small pack
- Baby car seat, installed and ready to go in the car – we use the Nuna Reve.
- x2 cozy pants/outfits
- x2 t-shirts
- x1 warm jumper
- x2 pairs of socks
- x1 pair of swimmers- in case they want to hop into the shower, bath or birth pool with you
- Extra snacks (muesli bars)
Creating a Calm & Cozy Birth Space
I’m personally quite sensitive to my environment and sensory inputs, and even more so when in my birth zone. Setting up my space so that it feels as quiet, low-lit and homey as possible is important (it’s in fact the #1 priority stated on my birth plan). My doula has a basket of tricks for turning the hospital room into a birthing space and I’ll be bringing along a couple of extras too:
- LED candles – this 3 pack from Ikea is perfect.
- Birth essential oil blend – I’ve been using Absolute Essentials in my diffuser at home when practising my hypnobirthing meditations and prenatal yoga classes, so I’ve built a deep relaxation association with it. If things move fast and there’s no time for diffusers or back massages, a couple of drops in a tissue tucked into my bra will suffice!
- Travel essential oil diffuser
- Noise-cancelling headphones
- Playlist and hypnobirthing tracks downloaded on my phone
- Eye mask
- Crocheted cord tie – just like having my own robe to use vs. the hospitals’, having a handmade cord tie echoes the same sentiment. This crocheted cord tie (pictured below) is another treasure from Blissful Herbs. I chose “Mandala in Printemps”.
I’m a trained naturopath and herbalist and have made many a care-pack for expectant mamas. But because I’m not currently in practice, I don’t have my large dispensary of herbs to pull upon to make this process easy. Luckily I found a herbalist-doula, Julie Bell, who has a beautiful online apothecary of herbal teas, salves and tinctures for all things pregnancy, birth and postpartum. In addition to the birthing comb and crocheted cord tie, I invested in the Home Birth/Free Birth kit which contains everything you need to herbally support yourself through birth and postpartum.
The parts of the kit I’ve put in my hospital bag are:
- Calm birth tea: A blend of herbs that nourish and tone the uterus, and provide calming and relaxation for the nervous system. My doula will be brewing this one up for me throughout labour and adding some honey to help me keep my energy up. It’s lovely warm or cool and I’ll be sipping on this from my Ball mason jar with straw.
- Birth boost tincture: This tincture is a blend of beautiful herbs that boost contractions and support long or challenging labour. It contains schisandra, vervein, black cohosh and blue cohosh.
- After-pains ease tincture: After-pains in those first 3-4 days can be intense! Herbs are wonderfully effective at easing this discomfort, replacing the need for other painkillers. This blend, along with my belly wrap, heat pad, warming teas and foods, and resting will all bring a lot of relief.
- Soothing salve: This salve is a soothing and healing balm for the perineum, which may be sore or swollen after birth. It contains calendula, comfrey, lavender and chamomile, which have anti-inflammatory, antiseptic and wound-healing properties.
- Nipple salve: Another salve that is focused on nourishing and protecting nipples, which may be cracked or sore from breastfeeding. It contains calendula, marshmallow, plantain and olive oil, which have moisturising, soothing and healing properties.
- Arnica drops: Homeopathic arnica is wonderful at supporting all that swelling, bruising and aching that is not uncommon with birth!
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These are written on a Post-it note on the top of my bag:
- Phone chargers – 2 sets
- Headphone charger
- Bluetooth speaker
- x2 pillows – because having access to my own pillow if I need to stay a couple of nights will make life so much more comfortable!
Good Luck Packing Your Birth/Hospital Bag
Packing a hospital bag has been a great way for me to prepare mentally and emotionally for the birth of my baby. It’s helped me visualize how I want to show up for my birth, while also being prepared for the unpredictable.
I hope this post has inspired you to pack your hospital bag with items that make you feel calm, cozy, and supported. Things that remind you of home, things that soothe your senses, and things that empower you. You don’t need a lot of stuff, just the essentials and a few well-chosen extras that will make a difference.
I’m sending you all my love and best wishes for your upcoming birth!