The hospital bag essentials you really need for birth
Packing your hospital bag and preparing for labour is the pregnancy milestone that makes it feel real. Nothing quite hits home that you’re about to have a baby more than packing the essentials for birth.
The irony is that although pregnancy is 40 weeks long, many of us still feel under-prepared right up to that first contraction. From getting the baby’s nursery ready to choosing the pushchair to suit your lifestyle best, there is a lot to think about.
This feeling is natural because there are many things to think about. It’s not always easy to know what you might need, and spending some time packing your hospital bag, however, is essential.
And remember, even planning a home birth, it’s a good idea to have a bag ready nearby.
Best bags to pack for a hospital birth
Midwives recommend that you have your hospital bag packed for around 31 weeks.
From suitcase to designer duffel, your hospital bag needs to have a few simple rules. The bag must be big enough for all your items and the new baby essentials, and it might even be worth choosing a bag with compartments.
We’ve picked a few recommendations that are ideal for hospital bags.
This canvas holdall has a separate section that mums-to-be could use to keep essentials at hand or pack baby items separately so they are within easy reach when the moment arrives.
A duffel bag with separate compartments is perfect for organising items for labour. This item is neutral enough to be used for weekends away at a later date too.
For a chic choice, a fashionable weekend bag offers extra pockets and an adjustable strap to add a sense of style to the occasion.
What do you need to pack in a hospital bag?
With a bit of Googling, you’ll find lots of advice from websites such as Cow & Gate, Bounty, and the NHS about what you need to pack in your hospital bag.
You could also look at online forums, and Facebook groups and ask friends what they found helpful.
To help you get started, we’ve put our ideas together for you with the ultimate hospital bag checklist for mum and baby.
Essentials for pre-labour
If you are being induced, monitored, or in the early stages of labour, you’ll still want to have your essentials to hand. These times can drag, so it’s important to stay comfortable to reduce boredom as much as possible.
One of the most important things to remember is to pack your birth plan and any maternity notes. Your hospital notes document your pregnancy and general health in the lead-up to the due date.
Other useful items:
- A loose-fitting robe for comfort and rather than having to put extra clothes on if you want to move around
- Slippers or cosy socks to save you from putting shoes on
- A nightshirt or loose nightie so that you don’t have to keep undressing for each checkup
- A few sets of oversized t-shirts and looser clothes that won’t restrict you
- Lip balm and hand creams to stop your skin from drying out
- Snacks and drinks for energy, e.g. granola bars, sports drinks, water etc.
- Something to help with the boredom, e.g. box sets, books, magazines etc.
- Pregnancy pillow or your favourite cushion
- Phone chargers or power banks
- Ear plugs and an eye mask to get as much rest as possible
- A refillable water bottle so that you can stay hydrated throughout the day
What to pack for labour
Labour needs to be all about you. Your items for labour should keep you as comfortable as possible and ensure you have everything you need.
Remember that labour can take days, so you’ll want to ensure you have plenty of supplies.
- A few sets of cool, comfortable clothes
- Hair ties or a hairband
- Hand-held fan and water spray to keep you cool
- Pregnancy pillow or your favourite cushion
- Healthy snacks and drinks to keep your strength up
- Music to calm, relax or energise you, and a portable speaker or headphones to play them on
- Your usual toiletries, including flannel and some essential oils
- A birthing ball (although these may be available in the labour ward too)
- A TENS machine for pain management during contractions
- A drinking straw to help you to breathe through contractions
You probably won’t need books or magazines.
What to pack for after the birth
After labour, you’ll want to be comfortable and cosy. Choose loose-fitting clothing but items that also feel snug to aid your recovery.
Look for items that won’t aggravate stitches or any cesarean wounds and allow for medical checks easily.
You’ll also want to pack:
- Nursing bra for breastfeeding
- Maxi-maternity sanitary pads
- Extra toiletries in case of an extended stay
- Soft towels (preferably a dark colour)
- Front-opening nighties or pyjamas for nursing
- The most giant, most comfortable maternity knickers you can find!
- Breast pads and nipple cream
- A comfortable outfit for going home in
- Your makeup bag, in case you want it
- Your favourite treat – you’ll certainly have earned it
- Flip flops for the shower, and your swollen feet
- Extra pairs of bottoms (PJs, leggings, shorts etc.)
- Plastic bags for any dirty clothing
Essentials for taking baby home from the hospital
Now that we have covered everything you’ll need for the hospital, we mustn’t forget the baby. Here are some essentials for your new arrival at the hospital and the journey home.
- Snowsuit or cardigan depending on the weather
- Sleepsuits and vests in both newborn and 0-3 months sizes
- A cellular baby blanket
- Hat, socks and scratch mittens
- An outfit for travelling home – THE outfit for the photos!
- Changing products, including newborn nappies, cotton wool, nappy bags, baby wipes, nappy creams etc.
- Group 0+ rear-facing car seat to keep baby safe and secure on the journey home.
- Dummies suitable for newborns
- Some readymade formula with newborn teats in case of any feeding problems
We’ve put all of our suggested products and more on our Hospital Bag Example Wishlist to make things easy for you.
Our free hospital bag checklist
Parent recommendations and feedback power Little Wishlist.
So we know how helpful a hospital bag checklist can be.
Use our free download to make a new baby wishlist, and pack your bag for the hospital.
(Right-click to download and print)