Many people think that you might not need a hospital bag when you’re planning a home birth. After all, it is called a hospital bag, not home bag or birthing bag. But actually there are some great reasons why you should still pack a bag. The most important one is, what if your birth plan doesn’t go to plan? If you transfer to a birthing centre or hospital, packing a bag is not hat you want to be doing during labour. If everything goes to plan, it’s still handy to have a bag packed. That way you will have everything close by that will help you in labour, and once your baby is born.
When packing a hospital bag for a home birth, you can pack really light. By packing the essentials it will be easier for you, and your birth partner, to find everything. If you do end up transfering to hospital you can always ask someone to pick up extras if you have not packed enough. So, here are my top things to pack in your hospital bag:
Your notes! and birth plan
If you only pack one thing, this is it. Your notes will allow your midwife to give you the best care possible. Women in labour often go ‘within themselves’. Meaning that even though they might be aware of their surroundings, communicating is sometimes difficult. By having your notes and birth plan a midwife will be able to see if there are any complications to be aware of, but also what your personal preferences towards birth are. As a side note, you should carry your notes with you everywhere as you never know when you might need them.
This can be anything that you have been using for your hypnobirthing practice – candles, essential oils, birth affirmation cards. For my home birth I also wrote out a list of prompts for my husband to use in labour. The list included things for him to say to keep me relaxed. I also included practical advice for him, like remember to keep me hydrated. That way I knew on the day I could focus on birthing rather than practicalities.
Snacks and drinks
Birth is very physical so it’s important to keep your energy up. You might be birthing in your own home with your own kitchen, but what if you go into labour the day before a food shop?! A few snacks in your bag means you are guaranteed to have them to hand. It also means your birthing partner can stay with you rather than preparing food.
Change of clothes
Consider where you are giving birth, and what you will feel most comfortable in. Many people opt for a home birth so they can have their own personal birthing pool. With that in mind it might be worth packing a top or bikini top that you can wear in the birthing pool. You will also want something comfortable to wear for after the birth. A dressing gown is a good choice for comfort and if you want to breastfeed.
You won’t need as many of these for a home birth, compared to a hospital birth. For a hospital birth you have to factor in clothes for the length of your hospital stay. For a home birth, one outfit will usually be enough in your bag.
Nappies and wipes
Again, these will be easily accessible in your own home, but it is worth packing a couple of nappies for immediately after the birth. I’m a big fan of cloth nappies, so I packed a few close parent newborn pop ins. I also use cheeky wipes, which are 100% cotton you just add water. Much nicer for a newborn bottom!
By having a camera in your bag you know that it is fully charged and ready to go. Unlike your mobile phone that you might have been using all day before you go into labour. Or you might be using your phone to play music during labour so can’t take photos. If you don’t have a camera, pack a phone charger instead.
Many people seem to think that hypnobirthing means that you can not have any pain relief, which isn’t true. For a home birth you are a little bit more limited on your options, but it is still available if you want it. Your midwife will provide gas and air, but you can also use more natural types of pain relief. These can include hot or cold packs, a tens machine, essential oils and hypnobirthing scripts.
Towels, puppy pads and more towels!
After giving birth women bleed. It’s surprising how many women I have taught hypnbirthing to did not realise this. It is normal to bleed for up to six weeks post-partum, and at the start the bleed will be heavier than a regular period. It is not recommended you use tampons straight away, so remember to pack some maternity sanitary towels. Again, I prefer cloth sanitary pads – they’re better for the environment but feel a lot softer on a potentially delicate area. You might also want some puppy pads or towels to sit on, in case you have a leak. Towels are also handy if you have a water birth, for you and your baby.
This is not an exhaustive list, but hopefully will give you a good starting point when packing your home birth bag!