Pregnancy guide > Labour and birth > Getting prepared for labour > Packing your hospital bag for labour

Packing your hospital bag for labour

Advice on what you should pack in your hospital bag to see you through labour
When should I get my hospital bag ready?

It's generally recommended that you pack your hospital bag when you reach the 36 week milestone to make sure you have everything you need to hand when baby decides he or she is ready to arrive.

The last thing you'll be wanting to do when you go into labour is packing and picking up last minute essentials so having your bag ready in advance can help you to feel in control of the situation. Even if you're planning a home birth having everything in one place will make things far less stressful on 'b-day'.

When packing your bag you should try to include the following, however it's also important to think about what will help you to feel comfortable and in control as you bring your baby into the world.

Different hospitals and birthing centres have different rules on what they'll allow in their labour suites and what they'll provide for you so it's always a good idea to check this out before you get your hospital bag ready for when you go into labour.

What to pack for you during labour
  • 1 x birth plan - This is something you shouldn't be without. Make sure that you and your partner are happy with its contents before the big day.

  • 1 x old t-shirt - Things can get quite messy during labour so an old but comfortable nightdress or baggy t-shirt is ideal.

  • 1 x dressing gown - Especially useful if you're planning an active labour.

  • 1 x pair of slippers - For when you're moving around on a cold hospital floor.

  • 1 x pair of socks - Just in case your feet get cold.

  • 1 x bottle of massage oil - To help your partner massage your back during labour.

  • 1 x TENS machine - Not all hospitals provide this form of pain relief so make sure you have one packed if it's something you'd like to use.

  • Books & magazines - Labour can be a long process and you're likely to experience some 'down time' so take something to keep you entertained.

  • 1 x portable stereo - Music can help you to feel relaxed so a portable stereo (try to find one that's battery operated) loaded with your favourite music can be really useful.

  • Toiletries - Anything that will help you to feel more comfortable - deodorant, lip balm, face wipes, moisturiser, tissues and a water spray are all good to include.

What to pack for your partner
  • 1 x watch - This is for timing contractions so make sure it has a second hand.

  • 1 x change of clothes - Comfortable shoes, a clean t-shirt and a jumper are all useful to have. Make sure you pack a pair of swimming trunks for your partner to wear if you're planning a water birth.

  • 1 x camera - To record the special moments after your baby's birth.

  • Snacks - Food and drink for you both is a must to help keep your energy up (and stop you having to put up with hospital food!).

  • Change - A hospital must-have for car parks and phone calls.

  • Contact numbers - A 'call sheet' can be useful to make sure you share your happy news with everyone that needs to know.
What to pack for you after the birth
  • 2 x open fronted nightdresses - A nightie will be most comfortable after delivery and will be ideal for breastfeeding.

  • 1 x going home outfit - Something loose and comfortable like a tracksuit will be best. It's unlikely you'll fit into your pre-pregnancy clothes right away as it will take a while for your tummy to go down so make sure you take something you know will fit.

  • 2 x nursing bras - Choose well fitting, soft cotton varieties that have 'easy access' drop cups while you get the hang of things.

  • 1 x pack breast pads - An essential for when your milk comes in.

  • 2 x packs maternity pads - Disposable maternity pants are also available.

  • 3 x pairs old pants - Things can be quite messy after the birth so bring old but comfortable or disposable maternity pants to wear.

  • Toiletries - Whatever you feel you'll need to make you feel human again - a hand mirror can also be useful.

  • 1 x towel - A bath towel is the best size to include.

  • 1 x pair ear plugs - You may end up on a noisy ward!

What to pack for baby
  • 1 x infant car seat - It can be a good idea to fit this in your car as your due date approaches so that it's all set up correctly for your baby's journey home, giving you one less thing to think about.

  • 3 x babygroes - 'Newborn' sized sleepsuits will be best for the first few weeks.

  • 3 x vests - Choose a cotton variety with an envelope neck and poppers underneath.

  • 1 x going home outfit - You'll need something warm for baby to wear on their first outing.

  • 1 x hat, mittens & booties - To keep your baby snuggly both inside the hospital and out.

  • 3 x muslin squares - Essential for feeding and mopping up dribbles.

  • 1 x pack nappies - Either reusable or disposable depending on your preference.

  • 1 x pack nappy sacks - Odour neutralising varieties are usually best.

  • 1 x pack cotton wool - A must have for those first nappy changes.

  • 1 x baby blanket - If baby is due in winter make sure this is extra warm.

What are your hospital bag must haves? Why not share your questions and opinions with other members on the AskBaby forums?

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very good list but still think i should be taking more, i no the hospitals by mine make you take your own milk in now how silly
by joboxx 20th Jun 2011, 8:55am
the list is good, but with my last baby something went wrong and had to have a c-section. i had to stay 6 days so in addition to this i am packing a few more loosedresses and granny underwear that comes up past your belly as putting on normal underwear was not a good idea with the seam poking into your wound. and found a suitcase easier then a bag as moving around and digging through stuff was not ideal. so a suitcase well organised so you dont have to dig and put strain un your scar. and your own blanket and pillow... hospital ones are cold and uncomfortable.

oh and comfortable breast feeding bras, the most comfortable for me were the crop top looking ones and breast pads.
by espie2009 1st Mar 2011, 5:00pm
This list is great. Its only mentions the basics. The only thing I hate about the bag is they all want you to pack your dressing gown, slippers, music player and toiletries. Im fairly certain im gonna use those before I give birth! Are all these sites expecting everyone to have two of everything?? I just know that on the day I will forget my music player, and I consider that essential for my sanity :) Hope my boyfriend doesnt mind the trek back to pick it up for me lol
by StarryGirl 16th Aug 2010, 5:06pm
Got some good advice the other day. . .pack one essentials bag then pack another with extra changes of clothes and home comforts in another bag which you could leave in the car or at home ready for your partner/family memeber to collect and bring in when needed. Some lists do seem a bit excessive!
I've packed a baby bag and a seperate bag for me, but the towel and dressing gown take up so much room!
by Rachyrr 18th May 2010, 5:39pm
at last a list to put me in the right direction people tell you all sorts of things in hospital bag it just confuses me
by hayleyjanerowney 18th May 2010, 5:14pm
God, no way did I take that much stuff with my first baby. how was I supposed to know to take all that stuff I was 15 for crying out loud. Boy this website comes in handy!! Nic xx
PS their right about the earplugs I could still hear babies crying and I was in a private room.
by KNEE 14th May 2010, 5:29pm
i'm 16 im really worried about giving birth but im worried about what if i forgwt to pack the rite stuff, can some one help plz
by smugs 14th May 2010, 5:26pm
These lists have just saved my life, i had know idea what to pack. im nearly 37weeks and still havent packed my hospital bags!!!! x
by Lana86 14th May 2010, 3:44pm
i'm 16 going to be 17 when i give birth but i'm really scared i mean ive got my fiance supporting me but i'm still scared what are the basic's to take in your hospital bag??? xx
by sheena17 27th Jan 2010, 9:35am
hi im 36 weeks i just packed my hospital bag for d-day, but i only packed towel night clothes for after night dress for during labour, pads, dark under wear, night dress, slippers, socks,toiletries, camera,clothes for home and obviously all the baby's stuff but when you read check-lists that some sites have you recommend you pack it all seems a bit ridiculous does anyone agree? or should i take all the extra stuff like for my partner???? thanks x tanya x
by tanz123 27th Jan 2010, 9:26am
I am so scared about giving birth and labour, its keeping me up all night and i am also scared about pain, what shall i do?
by Reehana 8th May 2009, 9:57am
Lip Balm! You get dry lips with all the breathing and panting.
by lornaross 24th Nov 2008, 9:39am