Labour checklist: What to pack in a baby hospital bag

A neat pile of baby's clothes on a bed with a pregnant women sat in the background

With just a matter of weeks until you welcome your little one into the world, you’ve probably got more than a few things on your mind. One thing you can do to ease any anxieties and help you to feel calm and prepared for the birth is to start thinking about what to pack in your hospital bag.

There’s a lot of parenting tips and information out there on what counts as a “maternity hospital bag essential ” which, especially if this is your first child, may have you feeling confused. To help you make sense of it all, we’ve put together this hospital bag checklist, separated into everything you might need during and after labour, for your baby and for your birth partner.

When to pack your hospital bag

It’s never too early to start packing your maternity hospital bag. In some ways, the earlier you start thinking about what you might need the better, as it’s one less thing to think about as the birth day approaches. Ideally, it’s a good idea to have everything you need ready at least a fortnight before your due date in case your baby arrives early, and to avoid any last-minute panics.

What to pack in a hospital bag for mum

There are a few essential items that should make it onto mum’s maternity bag checklist. In order to make things go as smoothly as possible, an organising tip might be to pack two bags: one hospital bag for labour and delivery, and another for your stay on the ward.

Hospital bag essentials for labour

  • Hospital file – It’s important to have your medical records and notes accessible, so that your doctor can see your medical history.
  • Birth plan – Having a birth plan isn’t necessary, but if you do make sure it’s packed in advance so that your medical team can refer to it.
  • Comfy nightdress or t-shirt – Home comforts like a favourite night dress or big t-shirt will make all the difference. Choose something loose that won’t restrict your movement, or make you too hot.
  • Slippers and slip-ons – It’s easy to forget your feet, so remember to add comfy socks, slippers and/or slip-ons to your birth hospital bag checklist. The last thing any pregnant woman needs is to grapple with zips or laces.
  • Lip balm – A common complaint for new mums is dry lips. Pack a good lip balm to keep them moisturised.
  • Activities – Labour can be a long process. Bring some relaxing items that can help you pass the time, like a playlist of your favourite tunes, or a book or magazines.
  • Massage oil – For essential distraction, relaxation and pampering.
  • Snacks – It’s vital to keep your strength up, particularly as you may be at the hospital a while. Pack snacks and drinks in advance so you don’t have to send your partner out scavenging.
  • Extra pillows – The hospital will provide pillows for you, but there’s nothing like having your own for extra comfort and familiarity.
  • Tissues - Tears and runny noses are a-plenty during childbirth, so keep a packet of comforting soft and strong Cushelle tissues on hand.

Hospital bag essentials for after delivery

  • Maternity pads – There can be quite a lot of bleeding after delivery, so make sure to bring a couple of packs.
  • Underwear – Bring several pairs of comfortable of knickers that are big enough for the pads
  • Towels and toiletries – A washbag containing towels, tissues, flannel, soap, shampoo and conditioner, deodorant, moisturiser, hairbrush etc.
  • Dressing gown – Pick a loose, soft dressing gown with an open front if you plan to breastfeed.
  • Comfortable outfit to wear home – Avoid anything too restrictive. Joggers and a baggy t-shirt is an ideal choice.
  • Nursing bra – If you’re planning on breast feeding, come with a couple of comfortable, well-fitting nursing bras.
  • Breast pads – Bring these even if you aren’t planning to breast feed as your breasts will still produce milk after delivery.
  • Eye mask and ear plugs – It can be noisy and bright on the ward, in which case it might be a good idea to pack an eye mask and ear plugs to get those well-deserved Zs.

What to pack in a hospital bag for your baby

Aside from yourself, there are also a number of essentials you’ll need to bring for your baby. Here are the items that should make it onto your baby hospital bag checklist:

  • Bodysuits or vests – Consult with your doctor beforehand on what your new-born can be dressed in, as hospital policies tend to vary.
  • Hat, scratch mittens and socks or booties – New-borns can get chilly easily. Throw in a jacket as well for autumn and winter babies.
  • Nappies – Make sure to get nappies for new-borns in ample supply, as your baby will go through as many as twelve in a day.
  • Baby blanket -The hospital will likely provide blankets, but one of your own is great to have during skin-to-skin contact.
  • Muslin squares or bibs – Use these for mopping up milk and placing them beneath your baby to prevent dribbles from getting on clothes.
  • Baby car seat – Have a car seat installed around the same time as you start planning your baby hospital bag so that it’s ready to go.

Tears and runny noses are a-plenty during child birth, so keep a packet of comforting soft and strong Cushelle tissues on hand.

What to pack in a hospital bag for the birth partner

Finally, there are a few things your birth partner might want to bring too, particularly as they may be at the hospital with you for a long time. Their hospital bag checklist should include:

  • Snacks and drinks – Your birth partner can’t be there for you if they aren’t properly fuelled up!
  • Cash – Having some spare change is a good idea in case they need to make any emergency trips to the vending machine.
  • A change of clothes and toiletries – Your birth partner might be on the ward with you for a while, so it’s a good idea to pack a fresh change of clothes and a washbag with them.
  • Mobile phone and charger – It’s vital to have your phone and charger on hand so that you can provide updates to your loved ones.
  • Digital camera – If you want to video the birth or take professional-quality photos, a digital camera is a great option.
  • Water spray or fan – Having a water spray or mini-fan handy is a lifesaver when it comes to helping to cooling you down.

The labour list of things to dos might seem never-ending, but hopefully we’ve given you an idea of what to pack in a hospital bag for mum, your baby and your partner. Prepare further for the special day by stocking up on soft and strong Cushelle tissues. Or for more parenting tips, have a look at our articles on why babies cry, and important development milestones for your child.

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