Preparing to give birth is both exciting and terrifying in equal measures. Nothing is certain: when do contractions start? How long will my labor be? Will I have a natural birth or will I need medical help? With so many unknowns, take control over the little things, such as packing a hospital bag. You’ll feel more relaxed knowing you have all the practical stuff packed as well as a few home comforts to help you before, during and after the birth.
Pack your hospital bag at around 35 weeks, in case your baby comes earlier than expected. To help inspire you, we’ve put together a hospital bag checklist from newborn must-haves to items that will keep you strong and sane throughout labor.
What Do I Pack In My Hospital Bag?
When you’re thinking about what to put on your hospital bag checklist, consider the essential practical items you and your baby will need for at least 24-48 hours. Creature comforts are also very important in labor and the post-birth healing process. Adding some small, simple items, such as essential oils or your own pillow, will go a long way to helping you feel safe, comforted and supported during birth and while you recover.
For Your Newborn
- Diapers. The hospital will only provide a couple, so make sure you’re well supplied.
- Bottles. If you plan on pumping or feeding your baby formula when you're tight on time, bring along some baby bottles.
- Outfits. Babies are messy! Pack for several changes: about five or six outfits per day.
- Outerwear. Don’t forget a snowsuit, or a 7AM cocoon or pod if it’s winter.
- Hats, mittens and socks. Newborns can’t regulate their body temperature even if it’s warm.
- Shawl or blanket. Keep your little one toasty with this soft but breathable Stokke Merino Wool blanket.
- Muslin squares or bibs. Mop up feeding spills or baby sick there and then.
- Cotton balls or baby wipes. Just use water to cleanse delicate newborn skin. If you choose baby wipes, pick a brand that is alcohol and fragrance free.
- Car seat. You won't be able to leave the hospital in a car without one! Head to our car seat guide to pick the right one for you.
- Toiletries. Include contact lens solution and your glasses if you wear them; a toothbrush and toothpaste to keep you fresh during a long labor; hair ties; lip balm; shower gel for that post-birth shower; deodorant; and nipple cream for soreness from breastfeeding.
- Towels. Take one for you and one for your baby in case you’re not given any in hospital.
- Wash cloths. Great to cool you down in labor or when bathing post-birth.
- Nighties or T-shirts. Bring an old one to give birth in it, plus a front-opening one if you want to breastfeed.
- Blanket or shawl. You may feel quite cold if you have an epidural, so have something to wrap up in.
- A lightweight cotton dressing gown plus slippers (or flip-flops, which you can use in the shower) and socks (your feet may get cold during labor) could come in handy if you stay in for more than a night.
- Maternity sanitary pads and disposable underwear. You’ll be bleeding for a while postpartum, so pack plenty of these.
- Breast pads. You’ll need these whether or not you’re breastfeeding.
- Big, high-waisted underwear. If you have a c-section, these will ensure no elastic rubs on the wound causing discomfort and preventing the healing process.
- Nursing bras. Your breasts will be bigger and will need more support than normal - get professionally measured in your final trimester to get the best fit for you.
- Change of clothes. Think loose, comfortable and breathable.
- Drinks and snacks. Labor is exactly what it says on the tin – hard work! Keep energy levels high with plenty of water (use a bottle with a sports cap to make it easy to sip while lying down) and high-energy, easy-to-eat snacks, like bananas or rice cakes. If you’re having a c-section, you won’t be allowed to eat before the procedure, so pack snacks for afterwards.
- Lavender and clary sage essential oils. To help you stay calm and relaxed.
- Your own pillow. This will help you feel at home and aid sleep.
- Feeding pillow. Make breastfeeding a breeze from the start – try the Boppy Anywhere Pillow for on-the-spot feeding support. It’s also great if you’re recovering from a c-section.
- Light entertainment. Magazines, books or downloads on a tablet will be useful during early labor.
- Cell phone and charger. For all the photos and messages to your friends and family. Take a portable charging bank, too.
- Headphones. Music can help reduce stress levels during labor and birth.
- Anything that will let you sleep. Maternity wards are bright and noisy. If you're staying overnight, an eye mask might be helpful.
- Maternity medical notes. Keep all the information about your pregnancy and medical history with you.
- Birth plan. Make sure the medical staff are aware of your needs during labor and birth.