My hospital bag being packed early was the smartest thing I ever did during my pregnancy. I saw so many women posting in the Facebook group that I was in saying that they had left their hospital bag so late and couldn't be bothered to pack it. I really couldn't see the logic in this, I always think it's better to be prepared... what is the worst that can happen? You inevitably have to pack it so why not do it early so that worse comes to worst you have everything you need to make you feel at home and comfortable in hospital.
I think I got a bit delusional at one point when picturing my labour and delivery. I got a bit caught up in the whole 'it's not going to hurt, I'll have a really spiritual, relaxing birth and will feel so incredible afterwards'. I genuinely went to Primark and bought one set of pyjamas for if I felt crap after birth and one set of pyjamas for if I felt great after birth. I pictured having a gruesome birth, a freshen up shower after, apply some make-up and my nice pyjamas and have some photos taken as though nothing had ever happened, holding my newborn baby oh so sweetly. HA! I soon realised I was literally losing the plot and that who cared what I looked like and would probably look back and wish I had some raw photos of that precious moment and that life's not all about looking glamorous for the gram.
I packed the following:
A black cotton nighty: I predicted wearing this while in labour so that they could perform checks down below and I could possibly keep it on for the birth, meaning I could lift it up when needed but still have something full lengthed on if I needed to dash to the toilet at any point and not have my bum out. I got a larger size than fit me and could imagine having skin on skin after the birth and being able to breastfeed straight away as I could just pull the straps down.
A dark towel: There's nothing better than a humongous, fluffy towel being wrapped around you to make you feel better. I'm not positive that the hospital would provide a towel, but can't imagine it would compare to a luxurious Dunelm Mill towel that smells like home. Dark in colour because of the blood, the last thing you need is a white towel covered in blood.
HUGE PANTS: I still have these and seriously need to throw them away because they are ridiculous to wear 6 months postpartum but were exactly what I needed at the time. I bought really big, really elasticated, soft cotton, highwaisted granny pants. Obviously, these aren't going to come in a pretty lace so the prints on the fabrics aren't the height of fashion. I had a c-section so I couldn't imagine having a tight pair of pants sitting right across where my incision lies so these were absolutely perfect.
A HUGE BRA: I got a big sized, loose fitting, cotton, t-shirt bra from H&M. You won't want anything else other than your boobs to feel ever so supported, but comfortable at the same time. They will be tender and while in hospital your milk may come in which makes your boobs rock hard so a padded, thick bra is the last thing you need.
Toiletries (shampoo, conditioner, gentle unscented body wash, loofah, razor for underarms if you're in hospital a while, tissues, face wipes, breast pads, toothbrush toothpaste, deodorant (you'll have a baby glued to you so would advise a roll on so you can apply whenever and not have to worry about fumes/noise from an aerosol) hairbrush, hair grips, hairbands, makeup, nipple cream (not necessary but better to have just incase), chapstick, stool softeners, soothing bum wipes) and... a hand mirror... for applying make-up, not to give yourself an examination afterwards. I shouldn't have listed hand mirror after bum wipes...
Fluffy socks &/ Slippers
Maternity pads: without being too explicit, I didn't need the 20 pack of maternity pads I bought. I used, perhaps, 4 of them and then switched to normal pads as didn't find the blood loss that much after day 2 and hated the feeling of wearing a big thick nappy-like pad
Disposable pants: these are maybe needed for the first few days but not an essential by any means. I would just throw away normal pants afterwards instead of wearing paper pants just because they're branded as disposable.
iPhone charger, iPad with films on, iPad charger, headphones, a small extension cable- incase you need more plugs than provided, change for parking, camera, GoPro, GoPro charger, snacks and drinks (cereal bars, lucozades, water)
Comfy clothes to wear home: I would suggest trackies with a loose waistband and a hoody (unless you're due in a heatwave)
Pyjamas: it was winter when I had Oscar so I packed two sets of long sleeved, buttoned up shirts and long pyjama bottoms. These were perfect because I was able to stay warm, the waistband was loose and I could unbutton what I needed to breastfeed. Any clothing you pack just ensure its loose around the waist and you can get your boobies out.
Dressing gown: because who can feel comfy and snuggly without a dressing gown?
While I thought it was a really good idea to take my own pillow, and I did end up doing this as I stayed in hospital a lot longer, at the time, my bag started to get enormous and a pillow just seemed so excessive and I got paranoid I would turn up and someone would make the daft joke 'Oh when are you moving in?' and I'd feel stupid. I usually slept on one side with a huge pillow to hug and two underneath my head but it's rare you'll feel comfortable in a hospital bed anyway, you sleep upright (well I did anyway as this is what hurt my stitches the least) so a big pillow is the last thing you need if you're sat upright. Therefore I wouldn't say a pillow is a necessity.
FOR BABY: Baby grows in Newborn size. I would advise it matches this criteria: scratch mittens, poppers down the centre of the babygrow (not poppers to one side of a baby grow that goes over the head). I had a set of 'tiny baby' sized clothes 'just-in-case' - I think I may have been so prepared that I tempted fate and jinxed it! But I am glad I had some tiny baby outfits for Oscar. Vests and a hat. Nappies, cotton wool/water wipes. Cellular blankets. Muslins.
Carseat. And fitted to the car/you know how to fit it in the car. We had to go out and buy a premature insert for our carseat because Oscar was too small for our normal carseat so wouldn't necessarily advise getting one just in case as if your baby is premature you will have time for your partner to nip out and get that. We had one from Mothercare that was £17 so not something you want to buy unless you really need it.
I was in hospital for 4 days, then went home for 3 and stayed for 3 nights in NICU so my hospital bag contents got repeated multiple times, people doing trips home for me and bringing fresh PJs and underwear. I am so glad I packed it when I did, (30 weeks) WHAT HAVE YOU GOT TO LOSE! Even if you are 20 weeks - pack your bag. So what if it sits in the corner of your room untouched for 20 weeks - better safe than sorry!