Packing for the Hospital: What You Need to Carry

As your due date grows near it is important to make sure that you pack your Hospital Bag early in advance. This is because the anxiety and confusion which often comes when you go into labour might make you and/or your partner forget a lot of crucial items at home.

The best time to start packing for the hospital is at 8 months because labour could begin earlier than expected and this gives you time to shop for everything you might need. Most hospitals, however try as much as possible to provide everything you and your baby will need while under their care to make your stay a comfortable one. It won’t hurt however, to do an early visit/call to the hospital and establish what they provide for the mothers and babies in their facility.

If that won’t be possible, it won’t hurt to have the below list of items with you at the hospital should you need them:

1)  Identification Documents: It’s important to have your ID/Passport with you while you go to hospital as you might be required to fill in some documents and they might want to take a copy or verify your identification details.
2)  Insurance Card: If you plan to pay for your hospital bill via insurance it is important that you have your Insurance Card with you. This refers both to your private and NHIF card. Most private health insurance policies pay net of NHIF benefits hence it is important to also carry your NHIF card with you or you might be required to pay for this difference yourself.
3)  Ensure you also have some loose cash and your debit/credit card with you in case you need to pay for something yourself. Be careful though not to carry too much money with you while in hospital due to security reasons. In fact, if you will be paying for your hospital bill yourself it is better to swipe your debit/credit card or use M-Pesa than carry the actual amount. That is, unless your spouse or hospital companion will be coming to make the payment themselves on the day of discharge.
4)  Toiletries: Most hospitals provide some soap and tissue paper for you to use but it won’t hurt to have your own bar of soap with you in case you have sensitive skin and a toothbrush and toothpaste.
5)  Comfortable disposable underwear: It’s advisable to have some comfortable underwear which you won’t mind throwing away. Carry enough for each day you plan to be in the hospital plus two extra ones.
6)  A head scarf/sleeping cap and shower cap will also come in hand to help protect your hair. A comb or hair brush will also be useful, though most mothers prefer to braid their hair as it is easier to manage that way.
7)  Relaxation Items: The labour process might take a long time and some people prefer to listen to some music or carry a hot water bottle to help them relax. Whatever, you need to help you get through the process feel free to carry it as long as it is not something valuable. However, bear in mind that as labour intensifies (unless you have been given an epidural) most of these items might become ineffective (sorry to burst any bubbles).
8)  Camera or video recorder: this will help you capture those precious moments when your little angel joins the world. However, it’s important to make sure that your spouse or hospital companion is the one who handles them due to security reasons as you might not always be there to keep track of them. If you have a lockable cabinet or safe in your hospital room then be sure to store them their along with other valuables (if any).
9)  Mobile phone charger and headphones: In a world where most people cannot function without their mobile phones this will come in handy. It will also help reduce the boredom of being in the ward.
10)  Snacks: something to munch on for you and your hospital companion won’t hurt as you wait for the time to pass. This will be especially useful if you are admitted after the usual rounds for meals and have to wait for the next round.
11)  Treats for the nurses: It won’t hurt to carry some cookies or a simple treat for the nurses. They do so much and have to go through a lot in the delivery ward, plus they are the ones looking after your baby.
12)  A going home outfit for yourself: carry something lose and comfortable bearing in mind that you won’t go back to your previous weight just yet hence your maternity outfits might still be a necessity.
13)  A going home outfit for your baby: This should be in different sizes since you cannot be 100% sure of the exact size of your baby. Also, carry a receiving blanket to wrap him or her in. Remember to choose your outfit bearing in mind the weather, but an extra pair of warm clothes won’t hurt.
14)  A few diapers: Most hospitals usually provide this but it won’t hurt to have a few with you just in case you don’t get any.
15)  Comfortable nursing bras and nursing pads: This will make it easier for you to breastfeed and help absorb any leaking milk.
16)  Maternity Sanitary towels/pads: Most hospitals provide this but it won’t hurt to have one pack with you just in case they take a while to provide you with some. A lady also mentioned carrying adult diapers with her which were easier to use and helped her avoid making any messes. While this might not be the most comfortable idea, I thought it was a cleaver one.
17)  Towel and wash cloth: while most hospitals will provide you with a fresh set of towels each day, when I was in hospital there were so many other women delivering at the same time that they ran out of towels. To be on the safe side it won’t hurt to carry your own set just in case.
18)  Nightgown and robe: The hospital also provides this but when you have guests they might not always be the prettiest thing to wear plus some might not close properly. It won’t hurt to have your own set to wear when you expect guests after your delivery. However, bear in mind that things could get a little messy and the hospital often will not wash personal items.
19)  Extra bag: As mentioned above, the hospital will often provide you with a few items to use. It will be useful to carry a small bag with you to make them easier to carry home.

As you choose the exact items to carry, try to make sure you stick to the essentials tmaking your luggage less bulky. With that in mind, make sure you do not carry with following:
1)  Jewelry: Ensure that you do not carry anything fragile or valuable with you.
2)  Cash: Only carry what you need, for example a little money to pay the taxi since the hospital bill can always be paid using your debit/credit card.
3)  Breast pump: If you will require to use this you can always send your hospital companion to bring it, but the best way to relive swollen breast is to breastfeed. Breast pumps are often very bulky and could get spoilt or lost while at the hospital.

Is there anything which you required to carry to carry with you which is not on this list? Let us know by leaving a comment below.

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