Our midwife, Lorna Dow, is a mum of three and a senior university Midwifery Lecturer. We asked her to answer your questions and offer advice on what makes a realistic hospital bag and how you can pack one yourself.
When should I pack my hospital bag?
Make sure your bag is ready by 36 weeks (sooner if you are having twins or have any medical issues) and keep your hospital notes in the bag at all times.
You will find some items essential, while others are just there to make you feel comfortable in the hospital. When creating a hospital bag, it’s all about finding a balance between what you really need and what will make you feel at home.
How can I prepare myself in advance?
Check the car has fuel and you know the route to the hospital. Have a taxi company number to hand. Have some drinks and snacks ready to put in the bag before you leave. And don’t forget an infant car seat for the trip home!
Do I need to pack a bag if I’m having a home birth?
It’s still worth packing up a bag in case you need to be transferred to hospital, plus it helps you find all you need for the birth quickly.
Hospital bag checklist for mum: the essentials
Pack a small bag with the following:
- Your birth plan and medical notes
- A blanket, a pillow from home or a pregnancy support pillow; also useful for breastfeeding
- A TENS machine, if you want to use this, with spare batteries
- Your favourite toiletries in miniature (travel size tubes are great). Include toothbrush and paste, face cream, deodorant, lip balm, hair bands, a flannel, face wipes, shower gel or soap, antibacterial hand gel and wipes
- A surgical mask for your partner
- Massage lotion, alternative therapy products (such as aromatherapy oils)
- A water spray or small fan
- Your glasses or contact lenses with fluids
- Mobile phone, charger (pack an extra one), change for the snack machine and hospital car park
- A book, magazines, computer tablet with music playlist and films
Pack your things in a cabin size suitcase or bag, and your baby’s things in a smaller bag.
What should I pack to wear before, during and after labour?
You’ll need to pack the clothes you intend to give birth in (or wear them into the hospital), and some things to wear after the birth and for going home.
A nightdress or pyjamas
A nightdress, pyjama shirt or t-shirt to wear during birth, plus loose-fitting sweatpants, comfortable maternity pants and soft bra. A bikini top or bra for the birth pool if you don’t want to be naked.
Clothes that open at the front
A couple of front-opening tops, nightdresses or robes are good for after the baby arrives, as this will be good to start breastfeeding in. Also remember to bring maternity size trousers and underwear, as mentioned above.
A dressing gown
Dressing gown or bathrobe. These are good during labour when you may want to pace around the room, and ideal for getting comfy afterwards.
Socks (non-slip) and slippers are essential too, as your feet can often get cold.
Nursing bra, maternity size sanitary pads, big knickers or disposable pants, breast pads. You’ll need all of these after you’ve given birth to your beautiful new arrival!
Choosing your baby’s first outfits is a special moment. Keep it simple and remember how tiny they will be.
- Newborn size vests and baby-grow (3 of each)
- Woollen cardigan
- Cotton hat (and baby mittens if it’s cold)
- A few first size nappies and cotton wool or wipes suitable for newborns, such as Huggies® Extra Care Sensitive wipes.
Should I pack my own food and drinks?
You may be in labour for a while, so stock up with some snacks and drinks to keep your energy up. Pack enough for your birth partner too.
You’re going to need drinks to keep you hydrated. Think water, isotonic sports drinks, apple juice, smoothies, and instant soup. Frozen ice pops are good too.
Maintain your energy levels
Snacks such as energy and protein bars, rice cakes, crackers or sandwiches, fruit portions, and bananas are perfect. Small pudding pots like yoghurt or custard, ginger or digestive biscuits, a small pot of honey, and other little nibbles are also ideal. All of these can provide the quick hit of energy to keep you going.
What does my birth partner need to pack in the hospital bag?
Make sure they have their own stuff to keep them comfortable during labour.
Your partner should wear comfortable clothing (layers are good as it can get hot in the labour room) and pack a spare top, socks, a light blanket in case they have to stay the night too. It should be in their own bag so as not to get mixed with your things.
Your birth partner should also consider bringing books, magazines, or a tablet to keep them occupied when not much is happening. A camera or camcorder if you’re recording the birth, a spare copy of the birth plan or birth preferences, a notebook and a pen—these are all great things to have to hand too.
What do I need to pack in my hospital bag if I’m having a Caesarean?
You may have planned an elective Caesarean, or you may have an emergency one and need to stay in hospital for a few nights. That’s why it’s a good idea to have an extra bag packed at home and make sure your partner knows where it is.
In that extra bag, you should pack:
- Extra nightwear or sleepwear separates with front-opening tops for breastfeeding
- Extra toiletries
- Pack of maternity pads
- Pack of breast pads
- Generously sized knickers or disposable pants
- Extra baby items (clothes, nappies and wipes)
- Baby toiletries (bath, shampoo, nappy cream, skin lotion)
The full hospital bag checklist
Even for a realistic hospital bag, that’s a lot to cover. There’s no need to memorise all of that though—we’ve broken it all down so you can tick it off as you pack!
☐ Your birth plan and medical notes
☐ A blanket, a pillow from home or a pregnancy support pillow; also useful for breastfeeding
☐ A TENS machine, if you want to use this, with spare batteries
☐ Your favourite toiletries in miniature
☐ A surgical mask for your partner
☐ Massage lotion, aromatherapy products
☐ A water spray or small fan
☐ Your glasses or contact lenses with fluids
☐ Mobile phone, charger (pack an extra one), change for the snack machine and hospital car park
☐ A book, magazines, computer tablet with music playlist and films
☐ Front opening clothes
☐ Dressing gown
☐ Post birth items
For the baby:
☐ Newborn size vests and baby-grow (3 of each)
☐ Woollen cardigan
☐ Cotton hat (and baby mittens if it’s cold)
☐ A few first size nappies and cotton wool or wipes suitable for newborns, such as Huggies® Extra Care Sensitive wipes.
Food and drink:
☐ Hydrating food and drink
☐ Energy boosting snacks
For your birthing partner:
☐ Entertainment (books, magazines, tablet)
☐ Comfortable clothing
☐ Spare socks
☐ Birth plan
☐ Writing utensil
Tons of answers to tons of questions
If you’re just starting your parenting journey, we know you’re going to have tons of questions about your pregnancy and beyond.
Discover expert advice on caring for your new arrival and tips and tricks to make development and learning fun. We have answers to all your questions and more. So, let’s take the first steps on this journey together!