Wondering what to pack in your hospital bag for labour? Here is our roundup of what we think is the ultimate packing list for your birth, tried and tested by Anisah with her three children who are 6, 4 & 1.
These are the essential bits that have come in handy before and immediately after birth as well as some others that are nice to have on hand so you feel more comfortable.
We’ve included essentials for baby's and your birthing partner’s hospital bag and the lists are broken down accordingly.
HOW TO PACK YOUR HOSPITAL BAG
Top tip: Try to consolidate where you can - we recommend having 3 bags ready to take in with you:
- a main bag - using a small carry on bag, especially one on wheels will make it easier to move if you are going from induction to delivery, to ward and then home.
- your baby’s hospital bag - your diaper bag should be sufficient
- your birthing partner’s hospital bag - this could be a weekend bag
- Nice Extra: a small bag for any snacks/miscellaneous items to set the mood in the room i.e. battery tealights and candles, fairy lights, aromatherapy diffuser - you can also put these in your main bag.
Packing cubes or large freezer bags can be really handy to keep all your key items in the bag organised so that it is super easy for your birth partner to find things — the last thing you want is not being able to find anything and you have to do this yourself.
Labelling each one into categories; baby's clothes, nappies/wipes, mum's toiletries etc can make it easy for your partner to find things at a glance.
It’s also a good idea to have your birth partner pack your hospital bag with you, because it’s very likely that they’re going to be the one navigating the contents in labour - and if they don’t know the difference between a sanitary/maternity/breast pad, you might be in a bit of trouble.
If you have a straightforward birth, you aren't likely be in hospital for a very long period after the birth, and if you need to stay longer, your partner or family can always bring you more supplies.
HOSPITAL BAG CHECKLIST FOR MUM
- Hospital notes, baby notes, birth plan
- Lip balm which your partner can easily apply — useful if you use Gas & Air as it can dry your lips out
- Thermal Water Mist - really helpful during labour to keep cool especially if it's hot on the ward or if you get flustered during contractions/pushing.
- Washcloths - for use during labour
- Toiletries Bag with essential skincare bits
- Toothbrush & Toothpaste,
- Body wash
- Make up
- Face Wipes – you can let go of your usual multi-step routine for a day
- Hand Sanitiser
- Shampoo & Conditioner
- Shower gel - go for one that’s sensitive to the skin as it will helpful if you have an episiotomy or any stitches
- Hair Ties and Head Wrap - these are useful to just keep hair off the skin.
- TENS Machine - this was really helpful in the early stages of labour ( the hospital doesn't provide them so you will need to hire or buy this in advance)
- Any regular medication
- Pain-relief - many hospitals have cut down on costs and may ask you to bring your own
- 2 boxes of Brief-style Maternity Pads - These are really handy immediately after birth, they are really comfortable, super absorbent and so convenient. I didn’t have to worry about leaking and I just tossed them in the bin as you would with regular pads.
- A pack of Maternity Pads
- A pack of breast pads and Nipple Balm
- Peri bottle - These are a necessity for the first toilet trip after pushing. If you experience vaginal tearing, swelling or just tenderness, just fill it up with warm water and squirt it in the area while having a pee and thank me later. It’s also great for cleansing so If you have more than one bathroom in your house, just have one for each, and one for the diaper bag to make life easy
- A bottle of soothing Perineal Spray - this was a lifesafer on my bits after giving birth with my 2nd and 3rd. It had a really soothing effect and helped it feel less swollen/painful. It also helped with the stinging after have a wee. It's also great for haemorrhoids.
- Perineal Balm - is great to soothe your tender, bruised or swollen perineum post birth. It can also help to relieve anal itching, pain and irritation, as associated with piles or haemorrhoids pre and post birth.
- 5 pairs of dark-coloured underwear suitable for wearing with maternity pads
- 1 -2 maternity or sports bras (these are great for during labour especially if you’re planning a water birth)
- 2 - 3 comfortable and supportive nursing bras
- 1 - 2 tank top or crop top - these are handy in the birthing pool
- Oversize Sleepwear
- Yoga Pants
- 2-3 pairs cosy socks with grip soles
- Slippers or flip flops
- 1 or 2 lightweight bathrobe or dressing robe to throw on if visitors arrive
- A cardigan or zip-front fleece in case you get cold
- Going home outfit e.g. joggers and breastfeeding friendly top (comfy clothes!)
- Shoes which slip on
- Towel - the labour ward may not have many, and the ones they had just looked thin and rough
ENTERTAINMENT / FOOD
- High Protein/Energy Snacks for during labour
- Water and drinks like Lucozade Sport or Coconut Water for electrolytes/isotonic
- Water bottle with a sports top or straw so it is easy to sip from
- Glucose tablets/gel sachets
- Boiled or gum sweets
- Snacks for after delivery — crackers, granola, carrot sticks, apples, chocolate, biscuits etc)
- Sandwiches – you can pre-prepare sandwiches and freeze them so they’re fresh when labour starts
- Music or headphones that plug into your phone
- Extra-long phone charger as the plugs are always far from reach and you will be bed bound on the ward
- Magazines/iPad, a good novel, crossword puzzles or anything you can think of to help pass the time for inductions, a long labour or if you have to spend a few days on the ward after delivery
NICE TO HAVES
- Warming Eye Mask to help soothe and revive tired eyes after the first few days
- Your own pillow or a travel pillow – nothing like home comforts and hospital pillowcases are scratchy
- Herbal teas - the kitchen on the ward will only have the basics and a good herbal tea can go a long way to helping you feel more restored
- Aromatherapy Oils & Diffuser – Lavender/Orange/Peppermint are all great options
- Fairy/tealights that are battery powered for room ambience
- Any printed affirmations or mantras that you want to help with motivation and positivity during labour
HOSPITAL BAG CHECKLIST FOR BABY
Your baby won’t need much but here are a few items to consider:
- A large pack of nappies
- Wipes – Water Wipes are great in the early days
- Nappy cream
- Nappy bags
- Cotton wool balls for cleaning baby
- Baby Towel
- Pre-Made Formula - even if you plan on breastfeeding it may take a few days for your milk to fully come in - there's nothing like a screaming hungry little one trust us! And the hospital will not provide this.
- 3 - 4 short sleeve bodysuits (Newborn)
- 3 - 4 sleepsuits (Newborn)
- 1 or 2 cotton hats
- 3 or 4 pairs of socks
- 3 muslins
- A simple going home outfit
- Extra layers like a sweater
- Soft toy or wooden plaque for baby photos/announcements
- Baby Blanket - the ward does provide some but you might want to use your own
- Car Seat all set and isofix base in the car
HOSPITAL BAG CHECKLIST FOR BIRTH PARTNERS
- Phone, a charger and power bank/battery pack
- Comfortable clothing (plus warm layers in the cooler months)
- Toiletries Bag with essential bits: toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, spare contact lenses, glasses and other toiletries
- Flip Flops
- A travel pillow
- Snack, Energy Drinks
- Water / Reusable water bottle
- A camera and/or video camera, if you have one
You can customise and organise this list according to your needs but we really hope you find our checklist helpful when it comes to packing your hospital bag.
If there is anything you think is missing from our list we would love to know what you found an essential too!