Packing your birthing bag can be both exciting and daunting - but it doesn't need to be the latter! Everyone will tell you that more is more, but I do think you can overpack your birth bag.
You don't want to be sifting through piles of clothes, or items you don't actually need in order to find what you do need. This list will be different for everyone, and not everything is a 'must-have', some things are definitely 'nice-to-haves', but for me these were the things I used (or wished I had!).
Even if you're planning to birth at home, having a 'just in case' bag is a good idea to save any last minute stress packing, and it's also very handy to have everything in one place post-birth, too.
1. A good drink bottle. This is such an essential for during labour and post-birth. You want something that's easy to sip from and holds a decent amount of water - bonus if it keeps It cold (because no one wants to be drinking warm water while in labour!). What we love about the Frank Green bottles is that they are insulated, and can be easily operated with one hand. An essential while feeding your newborn! These are available in 595ml or 1000ml size + with a button lid or straw lid.
2. Nipple balm. Everyone tells you to prepare yourself for the pain, but I really don't think anything can prepare you for those first few days or weeks of breastfeeding. The Pure Mama nipple butter will help to soothe, heal and nourish sore, cracked nipples and is perfectly safe for bub to feed, without needing to wipe off in between.
3. Lip balm! No doubt you'll become a little dehydrated while you're in labour, and no body wants to be dealing with dry lips. Also, hospitals and birthing units have air-conditioning units on 24/7 to keep you and your babe warm, which can also dry you out something wicked! Lip balm is a definite essential for me. The Pure Mama Nipple Butter doubles as a lip balm [which means less to pack - win!].
4. Perineal spray. A must for us! Tears are more common than not, and even if you don't have a tear, your perineal area has likely been through a lot. Stretching, swelling and bruising are common post-birth and the Viva La Vulva Perineal spray helps to soothe, calm and reduce swelling. Featuring an inverted nozzle system, it is super easy to apply to your nether regions.
5. Silverette Cups are the ONE thing I wish I'd had in those early days. At the time, it seemed like a massive investment, but in hindsight, I would have 100% got my money's worth out of these magic silver cups. The natural healing properties of silver help to heal (and actually prevent) any cuts/grazes caused from breastfeeding. They have phenomenal reviews, and I have actually used them since birth with my 11 month old, who bit my nipple (thanks teething!) and the cut healed in only a couple of days. Magic!
6. Disposable pads/underwear. Although we love to use reusable products where possible, in those first few days post-birth disposable underwear/pads are a more hygienic and low-maintenance solution. Your lochia [post-partum bleeding] will be at it's worse in those first few days so we find these to be essential! We love the Herbal Infused Pads from Bare Mum as a soothing + comfortable option.
7. Snacks! Snacks during labour to keep you going are an essential. Snacks that actually have some benefits for you and your milk supply post-birth, bonus! We stock a range of lactation products here at Mom Store and all are perfect additions to your hospital bag. Filled with galactagogue (milk making) ingredients, convenient and delicious. Big tick from me. Our Franjos Cookies + Lila Jasmine Lactation bars are incredibly convenient and nutrient dense for both labour + post-birth refuelling.
Merino, merino merino! I can't stress enough how great merino is for newborn babes. Newborns lack the ability to control their own temperature, so keeping them warm and snug, regardless of what time of year they are born is essential.
Merino basics like the Babu Merino Singlet & Lamington socks are great base layers to have next to baby's skin. Follow with organic cotton or Merino top layers and you have yourself a perfect combination. We love the Snuggle Hunny Kids Organic Growsuits or Babu Merino Growsuits/Gowns as a cute and cosy outer layer. The growsuits have a simple zip in the crotch for easy nappy changes in the middle of the night [and did we mention how cute they are?!]
Whether you swaddle your babe or not is a matter of personal preference, but if you are going to swaddle your newborn, the stretchy merino/organic cotton swaddles from Woolbabe are perfect. They are a great size, have a good amount of stretch and are the perfect composition for keeping your little one snug and warm. You may also like to pack a love to dream swaddle just in case, as some babes prefer having their arms up.
The other essential for those newborn days that we love - a beautiful, natural balm for your little ones tushie. We have a range of baby balms in the store that are all made from natural, gentle ingredients - perfect for newborn bottoms. Meconium poo (the first motions your little one passes) is incredibly sticky (IYKYK) and can become quite difficult to get off your little one's bottom. A gentle balm can help to stop this poo from sticking and means you don't have to scrub too hard on your little one's super soft skin.
A few other items we love for mama + babe for during/after birth:
- A Bunnie Caddie - this makes for a great birth bag for either you or baby, and means everything is easy to access for your birthing partner when you're in labour + immediately post birth. Think snacks, drink bottle, baby's first outfit + more. There's room for everything!
- Kiwi Crush - In birth/postpartum you may have some pain medication that can impact on your bowels, kiwi crush will help to keep your stools soft for that first post-birth poo - IYKYK. Even if you haven't had any pain relief/iron meds, that first poo can be daunting and potentially painful, you want to avoid any straining so keeping your bowel motions soft is a must.
- Electrolytes/Hydration Powder - great for sipping on during birth for an extra energy + hydration hit. We love the Franjos Hydration Powder for a low sugar, tasty hydration drink during labour + in those postpartum days. Labour & breastfeeding take it out of you, so rehydrating is super important.
Other things that I found useful were breastfeeding pyjamas & a comfortable feeding bra. The Close To The Heart Pyjamas & sleep crop are so comfortable and practical. The pyjamas have a simple lift up top for feeding, making those middle of the night feeds that much easier, and the cotton fabric is both comfortable and breathable (hello, night sweats!). The sleep crop can easily be pulled to the side for feeding and doesn't have any wires or clips, making it super comfortable for sleep and day wear. The Lullaby Club lounge sets are also perfect for wearing post-birth and beyond. The buttons make it easy to feed bub from, and their tailored style make you feel put together, even if you just got out of bed.
I also found having an extra long phone charging cable handy for while in the hospital/ birthing unit as the power points aren't near the beds. Small toiletries that you can leave packed up in your bag prior to the big day are also handy as it's one less thing you have to pack last minute.
We are sure there are many other things that are 'nice-to-have' that you could add to this list, but there really isn't much you or your newborn need in those first few days. Most hospitals and birthing units provide nappies and wipes for your stay. They also provide three meals a day, water and pain relief should you need it. We'd love to know your newborn/postpartum/hospital bag essentials. Tell us below.