Hospital bag checklist: what do I pack for labour?

We asked NHS midwife Lorna Dow for the ultimate hospital bag checklist.

5 min read 100%

Hospital bag checklist: what do I pack for labour?

We asked NHS midwife Lorna Dow for the ultimate hospital bag checklist.

5 min read 100%

Hospital bag essentials

Our midwife Lorna Dow is a mum of three and a senior university Midwifery Lecturer. We asked Lorna to answer your questions and offer advice on what to take in your hospital bag.

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.

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.

What are the hospital bag essentials?

Pack a small bag with the following (pack your things in a cabin size suitcase or bag, your baby’s things in a smaller bag):

  • 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, 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

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, 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

  • 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, plus maternity size trousers and underwear as above

  • Dressing gown or bathrobe; good during labour when you want to pace and for afterwards

  • Socks (non-slip) and slippers too, as feet can get cold

  • Nursing bra, maternity size sanitary pads, big knickers or disposable pants, breast pads

What should I pack for my baby in my hospital bag?

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

  • Shawl

  • 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® Pure Extra Care wipes.

Should I pack my own food & 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.

  • Drinks to keep you hydrated – water, isotonic sports drinks, apple juice, smoothies, instant soup. Frozen ice pops are good too

  • Glucose tablets to keep you going

  • Snacks such as energy and protein bars, rice cakes, crackers or sandwiches, fruit portions, bananas, small pudding pots like yoghurt or custard, ginger or digestive biscuits, a small pot of honey

What does my birth partner need to pack in the hospital bag?

Make sure he or she has 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

  • Books, magazine, iPad. Camera or camcorder if you’re recording the birth

  • A spare copy of the birth plan, notebook and pen

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, so have an extra bag packed at home and make sure your partner knows where it is.

  • Extra nightwear or sleepwear separates with front opening tops for breastfeeding

  • Extra toiletries

  • Pack of maternity pads

  • Pack of breast pads

  • Generous sized knickers or disposable pants

  • Extra baby items (clothes, nappies and wipes)

  • Baby toiletries (bath, shampoo, nappy cream, skin lotion)

Was this helpful?