In my years as a Midwife and after three babies of my own (who were born at home, but still all had a hospital bag packed from 37 weeks just in case) I have learnt what is actually essential in your bag - it's so easy to get carried away with this, with all the various lists out there on the interweb! So thought it might be helpful to share my basic hospital bag list - this is the stuff you need, everything else is just extras. Keep it basic, you're not going to Outer Mongolia.
Your handheld notes - you will definitely need these.
Maternity Pads - these are the massive surf board ones - it's very important to use these and not the regular sanitary pads as they are designed for the Midwives (and you) to be able to monitor your blood loss after birth, if it's all absorbed in a pad it's more tricky.
Comfy PJ's / Nightie that you can snuggle into after birth, preferably ones that you can snuggle baby into the front of too for some lovely skin to skin cuddles (and to breastfeed if you are choosing to)
MASSIVE comfy pants - literally buy a size or two bigger than usual of pants like you're Granny would wear. You'll appreciate it trust me. It also helps to house those massive pads!
Normal toiletries (shower gel, deodorant, toothbrush/paste, hairbrush/band) - even if you plan to go straight home after baby has been born (you'll be recommended to wait at least 6 hours), a shower and a teeth clean will feel like heaven afterwards.
Lip balm - it's really normal for your lips and mouth to get really dry if using gas & air.
Snackage - This should be the first priority in my mind!!!! But seriously, do take little snacks that might take your fancy during labour to keep your energy up, like jelly babies or snack bars, and also juice cartons or energy drinks. Don't forget, you're not planning on going to the Moon to have your baby, so there will always be a little shop/vending machine you can use if you need to!
Nipple cream - obvs only if you're planning to breasfeed! But buy a good one like Lansinoh because in my experience nothing else even comes close.
An open mind - this is so important. To enter into labour and birth with an open mind and a 'go with the flow' attitude will serve you so well. Trust in the process and your body, trust in nature to take it's course and be open to however it all pans out. There is no right or wrong way to give birth. There is just birth.
Nappies - obvs. Put a whole pack in. Trust me on that one.
Clothes - obvs again, but don't underestimate how many clothes a small thing can get through in a short space of time! To be totally safe take 5 or 6 of: vests, babygrows and hats.
Muslins - again you will not believe how many of these you might get through, put at least 5 in.
Baby wipes/Cotton wool - it is known to be better for baby's skin to use cotton wool and warm water to wipe their bottom and the hospital will have top and tail bowls for you to use for that. However the first few meconium poos are a nightmare to wipe, and in those instances baby wipes are much easier!
Vaseline - if you cover baby's bottom and bits with vaseline after each clean, it makes the poo not stick to the skin and therefore much easier to clean. You're welcome.
A boob / A bottle - If you're not sure how you're planning to feed, you will already have a boob with you and you can always send someone out for formula! (This is where those muslins come in handy for dribbly feeders and also modesty)
Phone charger - to keep the juice on your phone for those all important calls & social media announcements!
Love - to give in abundance.
For Birth Partner:
Change - for car parks or vending machines
Toiletries - you might be there for a while and want to freshen up yourself, so pop in a spare toothbrush, deodorant etc.
Spare t-shirt - it gets REALLY hot in hospital, and you might feel a bit gross if you're there for a while!
Snacks - hell hath no fury like a pregnant woman when you've stolen her snacks. Keep your own stash!!
Phone charger - because you'll be taking a zillion photo's of your new baby!
Encouragement - telling your partner that they are loved, safe and doing an amazing thing will really spur her on and help her. You can't say these things too much in my opinion.
Just in case the thought of getting everything together is a bit stressful, I've put all the things you'll need for labour and the immediate postnatal period together in a convenient bag for you! You can read about your pre-packed birth bags here. x