Your hospital bag checklist
Packing your hospital bag can feel both exciting and nerve-racking at the same time. On one hand, you’re about to meet your baby for the first time. But on the other, things suddenly seem to be getting very real! However you’re feeling, packing the items that will make you feel most comfortable and help you enjoy those precious first moments with your baby can only be a positive thing.
So here’s our checklist of hospital bag essentials, compiled by experts and other parents. You won’t necessarily need everything on this list, but it’s a good starting point.
Read on to discover when to start packing, things you might want to pack, and extras you might need if you’re planning a c-section.
Since only 4% of babies arrive on their actual due date, most parents-to-be pack their hospital bag a few weeks in advance. Of course, there’s no harm in packing sooner if you like to be organised.
Planning a homebirth? You still might want to consider having a bag of essentials ready, just in case your plans change at the last minute.
You’ll probably want to add some extra bits and pieces too – a few little home comforts to help you feel comfortable and relaxed can make a big difference.
Some parents prefer to pack a couple of smaller bags – one for labour and birth, and one for the postnatal ward.
Remember to show your birth partner what you’ve packed, so they know where everything is.
The practical bits
Your birth plan and hospital notes
You’ll need to keep these handy, so you might want to pack them in a side pocket or at the top of your bag. Haven’t made a birth plan yet? Now’s a good time to write one.
Many mums-to-be use these for effective pain relief – especially during the early stages of labour.
Snacks and drinks
Labour can be thirsty (and hungry) work. Stay hydrated and pack a few of your favourite snacks to refuel on if you need to.
These can give you a quick and easy energy boost.
Hair tie or band
Keeping your hair off your face gives you one less thing to think about.
Plenty of pairs that you aren’t too precious about.
The thicker the better, especially for overnight.
Nursing bras and breast pads
To make breast-feeding easier and protect you from any leaks.
Sleepwear and socks
An old, comfy nightie or pair of PJs. If you get cold feet, pack a pair of warm socks too.
Toothbrush and toothpaste
It sounds obvious but they’re surprisingly easy to forget.
Phone and phone charger
For taking snaps and spreading the good news. Just remember to check your hospital’s mobile phone policy first.
To keep your washing away from your clean clothes.
A going-home outfit
Most mums opt for something loose and comfy.
Make yourself comfortable
Your favourite pair... yes, even the fluffy ones!
A comfy pillow
If you like a nice, fluffy pillow, it’s best to take your own.
Deodorant and moisturiser
Or any items you use to freshen up.
Your favourite body wash
To make you feel more at home.
Dry lips can be a real problem during labour – tackle them with moisturising lip balm.
Some mums like to make playlists to help them stay energised; tune in and zone out.
An eye mask
Some mums rely on these to nod off under the bright hospital lights.
Top tips from other parents
A mini fan
To keep you cool – even better, try one with a water spritzer!
Sports-top water bottle
The easiest way to stay hydrated without pouring water all over yourself!
Perfect for wearing in shared hospital showers.
For times when you can’t make it to the sink to wash your hands.
Notebook and pen
This can be handy for jotting down important info from the midwife.
If they’re feeding, they’re pooing! Take plenty, plus nappy bags if you’re planning on using them.
Baby wipes aren’t recommended for newborns – opt for cotton wool and water instead.
A few of first outfits, including vests, baby grows and sleepwear.
Sterilised bottles and infant formula
You’ll need these if you’re planning to bottle-feed your baby.
Leaks and dribbles are easily mopped up with a muslin.
For the journey home
A going-home outfit
Something warm and comfortable for their first venture into the outside world. If it’s chilly outside you’ll need a warm jacket or snowsuit too.
Hat, booties and a blanket
To make your baby’s journey home warm and cosy.
You might not fit this in your bag, but if you’re getting to the hospital by car it’s an absolute essential! It’s a good idea to practise fitting it in your car before your baby arrives.
What your birth partner should pack for hospital
Hospital bag essentials
Change for parking
It’s a good idea to have some spare cash handy, just in case you can’t pay by card.
Contraction timing app
To help you keep track of contractions.
Snacks and drinks
You’ll need to keep your energy levels up in order to support your partner.
For both you and your partner – some babies are in no hurry to arrive!
Toothbrush, toothpaste and a few toiletries
So you can freshen up if you need to.
A change of clothes
In case you end up staying longer than expected.
Take your own stash in case a headache strikes.
Your own pillow
You’ll feel more at home in a bedside chair with a familiar pillow.
To capture those precious first moments.
In case you need to nip to the shop for supplies.
A written list of phone numbers
It may seem a bit old-school, but if you can’t use (or charge) your mobile, this will come in handy.
A full petrol tank
Not strictly one for the bag, but very important prep for that quick dash to the hospital.
For the bag
Something to keep you occupied while you wait for your C-section.
You’ll need several pairs that will go over your scar.
Tops that button down the front are useful if you’re planning on breast-feeding.
Sippers or slip-on shoes
You’ll probably find it hard to take your shoes on and off if you’ve had a C-section.
Extra clothes and nappies for your baby
A longer stay in hospital means you’ll need extra supplies for your baby. There’s often little space to store your belongings on hospital wards, so you might prefer to ask friends or family to bring extra supplies in as you need them.