The common advice is to pack your hospital bag after 34 weeks of pregnancy, just in time for a 40 week birth. Life however doesn't always go to plan and many women, including myself, give birth earlier than 40 weeks.
To be prepared, my advice is to pack your bag as soon as you reach 20 weeks of pregnancy. Also, pack it for the eventuality of staying an extra night (or two)!
I have learned this lesson the hard way: I had emergency c-section at 33 weeks and 4 days of pregnancy. I had no notice, no bag with me and no bag prepared! On top of all, I was hospitalised for a week.
My poor husband had to go home and do his best in bringing me the essentials. While I am very grateful for his effort, it wasn't at all what I would have packed - and he forgot the slippers.
Because I've never been in labour I cannot advise on what are labour essentials. I can advise however what you'll need for an extended stay (this is the slightly altered list I made for my husband):
- - socks (warm socks)
- - nightgown (if you're planning to breastfeed, get an extra one with front-opening)
- - toiletries (toothbrush, shampoo, soap)
- - big knickers/ disposable knickers
- - nursing bra
- - slippers (ideally something you could use in the shower as well)
- - towel
- - loose clothing
- - sanitary pads (get the ones you use for your period and have another pack with you just in case)
- - nursing pads
- - books, ebook reader and magazines,
- - coconut oil (to use it for dry lips, dry skin, soar nipples)
- - phone charger
- - bottle of water (refillable)
While in hospital, it felt really cold (I like minimum 22 Celsius degrees while indoors) so I also needed a warm jumper overnight.
You might also want to add your own pillows to the list and any other item you fell is important to have.