Why this podcast?
If you’ve ever read this blog before you will probably have stumbled across quite a few posts featuring the Pregnancy Podcast.
I love it because the episodes are short, easy to listen to and use evidence-based info to help you get informed about pretty much everything and anything surrounding your pregnancy and birth.
It’s an amazing resource and I’m so happy that the host, Vanessa Merten, is still going strong!
Why this episode?
With around a hundred posts covering all kinds of pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding topics, I realised I had never featured an episode on what to pack in a birth bag. It’s a question I see come up again and again and I thought it would be both useful and fun to write a post about it.
I love that Vanessa starts by telling us not to overthink the whole birth bag thing. I personally think this can be said for all the baby equipment that is out there.
As Vanessa says, even if you show up at your birth location with nothing, everything would still be fine and your baby would still arrive. You would just have to send your partner home after the birth to grab a few basic bits and pieces.
Vanessa breaks the episode down into things to pack for you, for your baby and for your partner so I’m going to do the same here.
Things for you
First, the bad news. Apparently, there is no need to go out and buy a cool new bag. Any bag will do. Secondly, ensure your partner knows what is in each bag as it is likely that they will be the ones getting everything out.
– A file with paperwork: A few copies of your birth plan, insurance papers if applicable, a printout of any important phone numbers – hospital, doctor or midwife, doula, birth photographer, placenta encapsulator….
– Smartphone and charger: Ensure it has a contraction timer app and use the notes section to keep track of any questions that come up during your birth centre or hospital stay. That way you can really use your time there to access expert advice and get as many of your questions answered as possible.
Putting the important phone numbers mentioned above in your and your partner’s phones is also handy as is a white noise or meditation app to help you block out outside noise.
– Any items to support your labour: If you have taken a birth class or done some kind of specific birth preparation think about what was mentioned and either pack it or, if your birth location has these items, just have them available to use at home. These could be things like a birth ball, rebozo, massage oil, birth affirmations to pin up, meditation tracks, music, tennis balls or heat packs.
– Food & Drink: Birth is a marathon and you need to stay hydrated and energised. You probably won’t feel like eating full meals during labour so healthy snacks that you can nibble on now and then are great. Honey sticks, muesli bars, dried or fresh fruit, crackers, juices, nuts and coconut water are just some ideas.
– Clothes: You’ll want to have one or two changes of clothes as labour can get messy. If you are planning to be in the shower or pool you might want some kind of swimwear. You’ll also need comfy clothes for after birth including some big underwear that you don’t mind getting stained, a nursing bra, nursing pads, tops with easy access for breastfeeding and skin to skin and warm socks.
– Toiletries: LIP BALM, LIP BALM, LIP BALM. The emphasis here is mine but all the calm breathing leaves your lips super dry so this is pretty much the first thing I advise clients to pack. Vanessa suggests keeping it basic but also bearing in mind that you can’t know for sure if you’ll be staying for a few hours or a few days. Ensure you have any medications you need, toothbrush and paste, face wash, moisturiser, lotion, deodorant, a hairbrush and hair ties.
– A car seat: You won’t be able to leave by car without one.
– Clothes: You’ll likely be doing a lot of skin-to-skin and clothes are a brand new thing for your baby so keep them soft, comfortable and easy to put on and off. Keep in mind the weather, you might want to bring a hat.
– Nappies and wipes: These will probably be provided but if you have specific ones you want to use bring them.
The first few baby poos (called meconium) are black and very sticky. If you are planning to use cloth nappies you might want to consider using disposables for at least the first couple of days.
– Blanket: A light blanket can be handy either to cover up whilst breastfeeding in front of visitors if you want to or to put over your baby whilst walking out to the car.
For your partner
– Smartphone and charger: Load it up ahead of time with any important numbers, music, and a contraction timer.
– Snacks: Your partner is going to be a huge support for you during labour and will need to ensure they eat and drink well too.
While your partner will probably be able to stomach larger portions than you, when labour gets intense they may simply not have the time, between your surges, to eat much. High energy, healthy snacks like those listed earlier work well.
– Mints or gum: You do not want someone’s face close to yours, helping you with your breathing, who has less than fresh breath. On that note, avoid bringing food and drinks that could result in stinky breath. Enough said.
– Clothes: Again, labour and birth can get messy and you might be there longer than you think so a spare set or two of comfortable clothes are handy. Bring swimwear if they might be in the water with you.
– Toiletries: Just like for you, your partner can keep this basic. Toothbrush and paste, hairbrush, deodorant and whatever else they deem essential.
– Camera: Your smartphone may be all you need but if you want to take some more professional pictures, ensure a camera and charger is packed and ready to go.
– An empty bag: Sometimes hospitals send you home with a few supplies or visitors might arrive with gifts.
– Gifts for older siblings: If you have older children who will come and visit and you plan to give them a present from you or the baby, make sure that’s packed.
– Other stuff for older kids: You might want to have a few snacks or games to entertain siblings who come to visit. From personal experience having a couple of nappies with you for toddlers is good in case whoever brings big sister or brother to visit doesn’t think about packing any.
The answer is my husband and yes, twice……also, in case you are wondering, no, the newborn nappies will not do at a pinch…..
To wrap up
Vanessa points out that once all the packing is finished it is important to make sure that both you and your partner know where the bag or bags are and exactly how many they are supposed to grab on the way out the door.
I hope this list was useful, I definitely feel that Vanessa has kept the items to those that are important but I’d love to hear what you think.
I will admit that I did not include every single item that was mentioned but that’s ok because Vanessa has put all of this together into a handy checklist that you can find here.
For more information on why Vanessa chose the items that she did, I encourage you to listen to the episode in full.
Are there any items not listed here that you feel are important? Or any that you simply didn’t use?
Let me know!
You can also check out this post featuring another Pregnancy Podcast episode on how to create a comfortable space in your labour room.
Until next time!
Emily Wills is a doula based in Stockholm. She believes that birth can be a beautiful and empowering experience and started this blog as a way of sharing some really great podcasts. She is also a mother of three and an enthusiastic runner.