What’s in my hospital bag… and what’s not

September 13, 2016

There are thousands of articles and blog posts about what to pack in the hospital bag when you’re going to have a baby. Sometimes it seems as important as what type of birth to choose, and I often wish that more emphasis was placed on life after baby (eg how to stay relatively sane, how to look after your marriage), than what to pack for the hospital.

That said, I get how good it is to be organised, how important it is to make sure you’re as prepped as possible before the storm hits, and how therapeutic it is to get something under control, like having everything ready.

I admit to packing my bag about four weeks before due date for these reasons, and it was good to tick something else off the list. There are some essentials I included, and a lot of things from the common lists that I ignored.

I “only” packed one baby outfit, and no baby toiletries, as I know these will fortunately be provided in the hospital bag. Re the baby outfit, I stuck to the most basic babygrow, one that’s easy to put on.

I learnt from my son seven years ago that the pretty outfit I packed for him to go home in was completely impractical, and as a new mom, I wished for something easier. Also, he was bundled up, and no one saw the fancy outfit anyway, so I’m saving the good stuff for when I’ve got a better handle on things – and for when I’ve got an audience.

Another thing I’ve veered away from is a lot of sleepwear and gowns and slippers. I have one pair of pyjamas to sleep in, and not to hang out in during the day. I don’t like to see myself as sickly, so I’ve packed comfortable gym clothes for during the day.

So, aside from the usual suspects (eg underwear, toothbrush and toothpaste), here’s what’s notable in my bag:

Netcells collection kit

This is perhaps the most vital of all my items, and will be used after the birth to transport the collected cord cells to the Netcells storage facility. (You can read more about my experience and learnings with Netcells here and here).


Admin folder

In case we need them for birth registration or certificate details, I’ve packed copies of my and my husband’s IDs. I also have the required UIF forms for my doctor to fill out – I’d like to get as much admin out the way as possible.

Carriwell maternity pads

These need little explanation, and while I think they’ll be in the supplied hospital bag, I’m playing it safe. Plus, this is one of those things I don’t really want my husband to rush out for if I’ve run out.


Philips AVENT breast shields

These plastic shields remind me of the cone bra Madonna once wore, and while they’re way more discreet and not as bulky or pointy, they do add a slight point, and can make a noise if you make contact with another surface.

avent-5012909005647-4I still love them though – I never had much luck with breast pads as they lost their adhesion and kept on slipping down, and I never felt confident wearing them. These shields are also easy to wash and wear.



The Body Shop Argan Oil body butter and shower gel

I’ve been saving these divine-smelling products just for this occasion – I figure there’s no reason why I should not use lovely body products. In fact, being in hospital almost gives me more of a reason to indulge.



Cetaphil Cleansing Cloths

I’m not going to bother with cleanser and toner, but these wipes will do a great cleansing job.


gHD and MAC makeup

While I might be in pain and uncomfortable, I still want to put my best face forward (if I’m in the mood) so I’ve got MAC foundation, concealer, blush and gloss packed, along with my gHD.


The camera is charged, and I’ll be taking three battery packs, along with a laptop and charger. While this might feel like work for some, it’s relaxation for me, and I want to be able to write and upload pics if I feel like it.

Baby basics

Babygrow, hat, receiving blanket and blanket

Lansinoh Nipple Cream

I used this last time round, and it worked so well that I'm a bit nervous to try out all the other reputable nipple creams out there. I'm not sure if I'll be needing it while I'm still in the hospital, but I'd rather be prepared.


Vitaforce Graze & Wound Powder

While surgical spirits are great for cleaning a baby's belly button and stump, this powder also works brilliantly for keeping the stump dry, and speeding up the drying process.



And last but certainly still important…

Wilsons Cream Caramels

I’ve eaten and craved these for most of my pregnancy, so why stop there if I’m feeling like something sweet?


What were the must-have items in your nappy bag, and what was unnecessary?

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  • paddatjiesema

    That Lansinoh cream is like a miracle cream. Amazing stuff.

    The one thing that everyone told us we have to take that was a total waste of time was a birth plan. It was completely ignored. And for both kids I created a playlist of music beforehand that I thought would relax me that I would listen to with earphones, but I could not go through one song without being interrupted by a nurse, so I’d just get irritated with the music. Spending the hours choosing the perfect music was not worth it.

    And for both my kids I got the clothing completely wrong. For firstborn the clothes were too big (just fell off her shoulders), and even the nappies we took were too big. For second we took smaller clothes and it was all too small.

    September 13, 2016 at 5:54 am Reply
  • Tanya

    I hear you – clothing and nappy sizes can be hit and miss. I laughed a bit at the playlist story – I can completely picture it. Those nurses interrupt All. The. Time.

    Thanks for the comment!

    September 13, 2016 at 1:51 pm Reply
  • Marisa Calvert

    What a great read especially since I’m packing and repacking my hospital bag. The hospital gave me a checklist so I just ticked those boxes.

    I’ve included two sizes for the baby – one newborn grow and one 0-3 months grow. Juuuuuust in case he is taller. Then a receiver, blanket, and a hat. Keeping it very basic. Who is going to see him anyway? I’ll rather save the good stuff for when we are home where I will change him 5 x a day because we have such a lot of newborn clothes and they tend to grow out of them so quickly.

    I am lucky because I live 3mins away from hospital, so anything extra I would need, I’ll just ask my family to bring along. But I heard that instead of spending your day in pjs, a pair of leggings and a casual top for visiting hours is great too. That way you don’t come across as sickly. So I’m definitely doing that.

    Any advice on the best nursing bras out there?

    September 13, 2016 at 3:58 pm Reply
  • Tanya

    Sounds like you’re really organised – I like the idea of two sizes of baby clothing too. I might add a bigger babygrow too, based on your idea πŸ™‚

    I’ve never had success with feeding bras, and have never found them supportive enough. That said, I’d be keen to try the Carriwell as moms seem to love those the most. I also found that my last time round, it was as “easy” as lifting my bra as it was fiddling with the breastfeeding bra cup hook, so I might just stick to that method this time round too, unless I can find something supportive.

    All the best with your baby πŸ™‚

    September 13, 2016 at 7:26 pm Reply
    • Marisa Calvert

      Thanks Tanya! I’m currently living in my sports bras and my boobs are really small so I am in two minds whether I should spend money on feeding bras or not. I guess I’ll cross that bridge when I get there πŸ˜€ but yes, I also heard good things about Carriwell.

      September 15, 2016 at 11:53 am Reply
  • dummymommy

    Handing out maternity packs this week and love seeing what other people put in their bags. Next time round I want to try the shields and the powder, thanks for the tips.

    September 14, 2016 at 6:43 am Reply
  • Shaaista Mahomed

    Love this post 😊

    September 14, 2016 at 8:04 am Reply
  • Nabila Akoo Arbee

    Love this post. So helpful as im packing my bag as we speak since ive just hit the 36 week mark. Thanks for a great and helpful read, so glad i came across ur blog. X

    September 14, 2016 at 10:00 am Reply
  • Heather

    Hope all is going well Tanya, thinking of you lots!I also used that nipple cream. Those breast shields look interesting would be curious to see if they are a success!

    September 15, 2016 at 8:18 pm Reply
  • Deidre

    I had my first baby at Sandton two months ago, for your admin folder you will also need a copy of your marriage certificate for the home affairs rep to register baby. I can’t recall however if they wanted certified copies or not it’s all a bit hazy 😊 Best of luck with baby’s arrival!

    September 16, 2016 at 6:22 pm Reply
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