Are you all set for the big day? It’s completely understandable if not. This checklist will help you pack your pregnancy hospital bag so you’ll have everything you need for yourself and your new baby. Plus there’s a mini checklist for birth partners as well. Perhaps pack your bags together so you can double-check that you’ll each have everything you might need. If you have a minute, check what your hospital has on hand or provides so you won't need to take those items.
When to Pack Your Hospital Bag
Your baby might arrive earlier than expected, so it’s worth having your baby hospital bag packed during the third trimester – at about week 36 − just in case. Then, once all the bags are packed, keep them handy, either in the car or near the door, so you'll be ready to go at a moment's notice.
Use the following list as a handy guide of what to pack for the hospital.
Hospital Bag for Mum: Labour and Delivery
As with most things in life, preparing for labour and delivery involves a certain amount of admin. You’ll need to keep some records and documents to hand along with things for your own comfort:
Hospital file. Have your medical records handy, so that your doctors can easily see your medical history.
Birth plan (if you have one). You might have discussed your birth plan with your medical team, but having a few copies printed and available for doctors and nurses means that everyone can refer to it, in case last minute questions arise.
Dressing gown. A soft dressing gown is useful for pacing around during labour, or afterward, if you spend some time in the hospital.
Socks. Many mums pop on some warm socks if their feet get cold during labour.
Slippers or flip-flops. You’ll want slippers that are comfortable and easy to slip in and out of to wear as you walk around the hospital ward. Pack some flip-flops for using in the shower.
Lip balm. Your lips can get chapped during labour. Having some lip balm on hand will help hydrate your lips.
Body lotion or massage oil. Some mums-to-be find a little massage during labour relaxing. If this could be you, pop some lotion or oil in your hospital bag.
Water spray and sponge. During labour you may feel you’re getting a little hot. It could help to spray some water on your face and neck, or to sponge some cool water on your forehead.
Comfortable pillow(s). Your hospital will provide you with pillows, but they might not be the right kind for you. If you have a favourite pillow, then it can’t hurt to take it along as well.
Relaxing entertainment. Pack some things to help you pass the time like a book, magazines, a tablet with movies or series downloaded on it, or a music player.
Eye mask and earplugs. To help you get rest in a busy and bright maternity ward, an eye mask or earplugs could be just what you need during the downtimes of labour, or for your well-deserved rest after delivery.
Hospital Bag for Mum: After Delivery
You may still be in the hospital at this point in time, but that won’t stop you from wanting a few home comforts. Here are some of the must-haves we recommend:
Nightdresses. You’ll need something comfortable to sleep in during your hospital stay. Pack at least one soft, loose nightdress. Choose a front-opening one if you plan to breastfeed.
Heavy-duty maternity pads. Although the hospital may provide some, pack plenty of heavy-duty maternity-pads, just in case. It’s normal to bleed a lot after the birth, and maternity pads are softer and more absorbent than standard ones. Initially you may need to change pads every one to two hours, but within a few days the flow will start to decrease.
Underwear. Pack several pairs of comfortable underwear that you won’t mind getting messy, and that are large enough for those maternity pads.
Bras. Be prepared with a few nursing bras or other comfortable, well-fitting bras.
Toiletries. Don’t forget towels, tissues, hairbrush, deodorant, toothbrush, toothpaste, face wash, body wash, shampoo, conditioner, hairdryer, hair clips, and hair ties. Pack a plastic bag to pop dirty clothes in.
Cosmetics and skin care products. If makeup is part of your usual routine, then don’t forget your cosmetics. Plus, make sure you pack some moisturisers as your skin may feel drier than usual.
Glasses and contact lenses (if you need them). It may seem obvious but sometimes it’s these little things that can escape your attention when packing your hospital bag. Don’t forget contact lens solution if you use contacts.
Phone and charger. Unless you opt for a little digital detox during this special time, don’t forget your phone and charger. That way you can stay in touch with loved ones, you can use it to take those first few pictures, and post your special news on social media.
Clothes. Aside from your nightdress, you might choose to take some comfortable clothes to wear during your stay in hospital. Pack an extra outfit to wear home. Choose something loose-fitting, ideally with a drawstring or an elastic waist.
Handouts and reference books. You might have received some handy notes from your prenatal classes or have some reference books about newborns. While the doctors and nurses will be able to give you lots of personalised guidance, you might find these resources more useful once you actually have your newborn in your arms.
Snacks and drinks. Labour can sometimes be very long, so you could consider packing some snacks and drinks. However, speak to your medical team about whether or not you will be allowed to eat or drink anything during labour. Also, consider packing some of your favourite snacks for after labour as you may feel like some comfort food during your hospital stay.
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Hospital Bag Essentials for Your Birth Partner
If you’re a birth partner, you may want to pack in a few things when supporting mum at the hospital:
Snacks and water. Labour can be thirsty work even for supportive partners. Pack some snacks and water, as well as change for the hospital vending machines.
Phone, camera and/or video camera, and chargers and batteries. Don’t forget to pack a phone to stay in contact with loved ones, and for some entertainment during downtimes. The camera will come in handy to take some happy snaps. (Make sure the camera’s memory card has plenty of free space on it.)
Clothes. Labour is an unpredictable process, so a change of clothes is always a good idea, as you never know how long the stay will be.
Toiletries. You may want to freshen after a long labour, so be sure to pack in some deodorant, wipes and toothpaste.
Spare glasses or spare contact lenses. It might be a long day, so having spares of these essentials could come in handy.
Small pillow. You might appreciate getting a bit of rest during downtimes, as well.
Entertainment. Something to do: books, a tablet, and a music player are all good options.
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Hospital Bag for Baby
Before you know it, you’ll be holding your little one in your arms. The following list of newborn essentials will come in useful when he or she arrives:
Babygrows. Hospital policies can vary on what newborns can be dressed in so consult with your doctor in advance about what to pack. You may need to add to what the hospital provides in terms of accessories and layers. Remember, with babygrows it's a good idea to choose those that fasten up at the front.
Socks and booties. Newborns can get cold easily, and you may want to add to what the hospital provides in terms of accessories and layers. Even during skin-to-skin contact, your newborn can wear a hat and socks.
Blanket. While the hospital will likely provide blankets, a blanket of your own is always good to have on hand to use during skin-to-skin contact. It can also be used to keep your baby warm in the car seat on the way home.
Nappies. About 20 to 30 nappies made especially for newborns, like Pampers Premium Protection New Baby. Your newborn might get through 10-12 nappies each day.
Wipes. Newborns' skin is particularly sensitive, so it's best to use only cotton wool balls and water or sensitive baby wipes in the first weeks.
Muslin squares. These can be draped on your shoulder or placed underneath the baby to prevent dribbles from getting on your clothes. You could also pack some bibs for this purpose too.
Going-home outfit. Consider the weather conditions: a bodysuit, booties and hat could be fine during the warmer months, but in winter pack mittens and a jacket or snow suit as well. But remember, thick coats, jackets or snow suits should always be removed before putting your baby in the car seat for optimum safety.
Car seat. This obviously isn't for the hospital bag, but the right car seat should be installed in your car around the same time you pack your baby bag so it's ready for the hospital.
Watch the video below for a quick recap of what to pack for your baby’s arrival!
FAQS AT A GLANCE
Your hospital bag should ideally contain things to make you, your birth partner and baby as comfortable as possible. From your medical records to nappies and entertainment to help pass the time. Use our checklist to make sure you don’t miss out anything important.
As you never quite know exactly when your little one will make an appearance, we recommend packing your hospital bag in the third trimester, at around week 36. You may want to consider packing the bag together with your birth partner to double check you have everything you need.
The Bottom Line
With this hospital bag checklist, you’ll have your maternity bag well stocked. Read up on the signs of labour, so that you know when it’s time to grab the bag and be on your way. Good luck!
How we wrote this article
The information in this article is based on the expert advice found in trusted medical and government sources, such as the National Health Service (NHS). You can find a full list of sources used for this article below. The content on this page should not replace professional medical advice. Always consult medical professionals for full diagnosis and treatment.
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Pregnancy Hospital Bag Checklist
This article offers a comprehensive checklist for packing a pregnancy hospital bag, covering essential items for both the mother and the birth partner, as well as items for the newborn baby. It emphasizes the importance of being prepared for the unexpected arrival of the baby and provides guidance on when to pack the hospital bag, typically during the third trimester, around week 36.
Key Concepts Covered in the Article:
- When to Pack Your Hospital Bag: The article advises packing the hospital bag during the third trimester, around week 36, to ensure preparedness for the baby's potential early arrival.
- Hospital Bag for Mum: Labour and Delivery: It includes a detailed list of items to pack for the mother's comfort and needs during labour and delivery, such as medical records, birth plan, clothing, toiletries, entertainment, and comfort items.
- Hospital Bag for Mum: After Delivery: The article provides a list of essential items for the mother's post-delivery comfort, including nightdresses, maternity pads, underwear, toiletries, cosmetics, and personal items.
- Hospital Bag Essentials for Your Birth Partner: It offers a checklist of items for the birth partner to pack, including snacks, entertainment, spare clothes, toiletries, and supportive items.
- Hospital Bag for Baby: The article covers the necessary items to pack for the newborn baby, such as baby clothes, blankets, nappies, wipes, muslin squares, going-home outfit, and car seat installation.
The checklist aims to ensure that expectant parents are well-prepared for the hospital stay, covering the needs of both the mother and the birth partner, as well as the essential items for the newborn baby's arrival.
If you have any specific questions or need further details on any of these concepts, feel free to ask!