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What To Pack In Your Hospital Bag

Pregnancy is an exciting journey filled with anticipation, and as the due date approaches, one essential task on the checklist is packing the hospital bag. Whether it’s your first time or you’re a parent already, knowing what to pack can alleviate stress and ensure you’re prepared for the big day. Let’s explore the must-have items for your hospital bag to make your birthing experience as smooth and comfortable as possible.

How To Pack Your Hospital Bag

When you’re in labour or have just given birth, it’s your birthing partner that needs to find everything. The best way to pack for hospital is to be practical and have everything organised in separate bags that you will take in with you:

  • a main bag (use a large weekend bag)
  • your baby’s hospital bag
  • your birthing partner’s hospital bag

You can then have another bag in there with extra clothing, underwear and items like pads and nappies ready at home for your partner to grab in case you have an extended hospital stay. As there won’t be much space in the hospital room, it’s best to bring what you will need for a 24-hour stay initially.

What To Pack In Your Hospital Bag?

  • You should have your hospital bag packed and ready to go before 37 weeks of pregnancy.
  • To make everything as easy as possible to find, pack what you’ll need later in your stay first so that these items are at the bottom of your bag.

Your Main Hospital Bag

This should include everything you will need for labour and what you will need immediately after giving birth.

  • An old dark-coloured towel (remember that you will bleed after birth, so this will not show the stains)
  • A change of clothes to go home in
  • 2-3 x maternity/nursing bras
  • 5 x pairs of large dark-coloured cotton pants
  • 3 x pairs of socks
  • Crop top or bikini top if planning a water birth
  • A Birthing outfit
  • A toiletries bag that contains toothpaste and toothbrush, flannels, shower gel, shampoo, eye mask and anything else you’d take for an overnight stay
  • Hand sanitiser
  • 2 x front-opening nightdresses with easy access for skin-to-skin and breastfeeding
  • 2 x light-weight and dark coloured dressing gowns
  • Flip-flops. It’s really warm in hospital and most women find that their feet have swollen during pregnancy. Flips flops are quick and easy to get on and help to protect your feet from any germs on communal floors
  • A pack of thick maternity pads
  • Breast pads and nipple balm
  • Phone/tablet devices and chargers
  • Maternity notes
  • Birth plan
  • A refillable water bottle
  • Hair-ties
  • A hand-fan
  • Massage oil
  • Lip balm
  • Face mist
  • TENS machine – offers effective pain relief for the early part of labour
  • Heat pack
  • A playlist for Labour
  • A pillow from home
  • A birthing ball

A Baby Changing Bag

This should be a separate, smaller bag containing everything your baby will need after they are born and before they transfer to the postnatal ward:

  • 8 x nappies – newborn size 0-2 depending on expected weight
  • 4 x sleepsuits (aka ‘baby-grow’) 
  • 4 x bodysuits (aka ‘baby vests’)
  • Choose ‘newborn’ size if your baby is expected to be an average weight
  • 5 x muslin cloths
  • A blanket
  • 2 x hats and mitts – for temperature control
  • Cotton wool or water wipes

Your Birthing Partner’s Bag

Your birth partner will also need a hospital bag for food and other supplies. Make sure to pack extra if you are having your labour induced, as this would normally make a stay in hospital longer.

Here’s a checklist of what your birthing partner should pack:

  • Money for hospital parking and vending machines
  • A change of clothes, plus warm layers
  • Basic toiletries, like a toothbrush and toothpaste, flannel and deodorant
  • Battery pack charger for phone/tablet
  • Books and magazines to pass the time if needed
  • Food and drinks

Food And Drinks To Pack For Labour

Research shows that preventing women from eating during labour can slow down contractions and the progress of labour. Snacks can also keep your birthing partner going if they start to flag! Not all hospitals have 24-hour food outlets or shops so it’s a good idea to stock up so you have quick access to snacks and drinks.

Because your body works hard in labour it can’t digest food well. It’s best to keep food to what’s easily digestible; bananas and crackers and, if you’re not diabetic, keep up your sugar levels too.

Here are some suggestions:

  • Coconut water – this has everything that your body needs in a liquid
  • 3 x 500ml sports drinks – non-carbonated and isotonic, such as Lucozade Sport, to help replace what your body loses through sweat and energy
  • Glucose tablets/gel sachets
  • Boiled sweets
  • Gum sweets (Jelly Babies, etc)
  • Bananas
  • Crackers and other snacks such as chocolate or biscuits
  • Sandwiches
  • 6 x 500ml bottles of water and drinks for your partner

Before Packing Your Hospital Bag

Here are a couple of tips to remember before you begin packing your hospital bag:

  • Buy dark clothing, including your underwear and nightwear
  • Buy a size of underwear larger than you need and make sure that they reach your belly button
  • Buy unscented shower gels, soaps or body lotions so your baby gets quickly accustomed to your smell – this helps them to bond
  • Wash your baby’s clothes before they wear them to remove manufacturing chemicals and let them attract your own and household-friendly bacteria
  • Wash your baby’s blanket too and sleep with it to help it absorb your scent

Before Leaving The Hospital

Remember to fit the baby car seat in your car ideally around the same time you pack your hospital bag to ensure you are prepared in advance of labour.

Packing your hospital bag is a significant milestone in preparing for your baby’s arrival. By including essential items for both yourself and your baby, you can ensure a smoother and more comfortable birthing experience. Start early, prioritise what’s necessary, and personalise your bag to suit your preferences. With your hospital bag packed and ready to go, you can approach labour and delivery with confidence and peace of mind.


Can I pack snacks for the hospital stay?

Yes, packing snacks is a good idea to keep your energy up during labour and recovery. Opt for nutritious options like granola bars, nuts, or fruit.

Should I bring my own toiletries or use the hospital’s?

While hospitals typically provide basic toiletries, many people prefer to bring their own for comfort and familiarity. Pack your favourite toiletries to make your stay more enjoyable.

How many outfits should I pack for my newborn?

Pack a few outfits for your newborn, but keep in mind that babies can go through multiple clothing changes in a day due to spit-up or nappy leaks.

Can I bring my own birthing ball to the hospital?

Check with the hospital regarding bringing personal items like birthing balls. Some hospitals may have them available for use.

What should I do if I forget something important for my hospital bag?

If you forget something essential, don’t worry. You can always ask a friend or family member to bring it to the hospital for you, or check if the hospital has any available resources.

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