What should I pack in my hospital bag?

From your hospital bag essentials, to nice-to-haves and everything you need for your new baby

Hospital bag checklist

Choosing what to put in your hospital bag and packing it ready for the maternity ward is one of the most exciting parts of late pregnancy.

At a glance

  • Write a checklist so you can tick it off as you pack
  • Pop in some personal bits too like a book or magazine
  • Don't forget snacks and a carton of drink too.

Packing a hospital bag

It’s a good idea to have a hospital bag packed by week 35 and either have it in the car you’ll be travelling to the hospital in, or in the hallway ready to grab on your way out!

Writing the checklist for your hospital bag, working out what essentials you’ll need for yourself and your newborn, and then finally packing it all up really does bring it home just how close you are to holding your baby for the first time!

What should I pack in my hospital bag for me?

So what do you need to pack? As well as the items on our check-list below, you will probably want to add in some personal bits and bobs too – phone and chargers, books and magazines and perhaps a list of phone numbers for friends and family if your partner does not necessarily have all of them stored on his phone.

  • Your birth plan and hospital notes
  • Clothes – An old nightdress for labour, this will likely get messy so don’t buy anything new. Nightwear, including a dressing gown and slippers
  • Going home clothes these should be loose fitting and comfortable.
  • Maternity bra
  • Nursing bras – pack two or three comfortable bras
  • Nightwear for breastfeeding - largetop or nightdress that opens at the front to make breastfeeding easier
  • Breast pads
  • Maternity pads and lots of spare knickers (disposable ones are particularly helpful too!)
  • Toiletries and a towel – basics including toothpaste and toothbrush, deodorant, flannel and shower stuff
  • Make up 
  • Lip balm
  • Hairbrush and ties/clips for long hair – this can be especially helpful during labour when you’re likely to get very hot
  • Snacks/cartons of drink
  • Snacks for post-brith to give you energy eg. cereal bars, water, juice
  • TENS machine – if you plan to use one for pain relief
  • Plastic bag for dirty clothes
  • Antiseptic wipes - particularly if you're worried about shared toilets

Nice-to-haves in your hospital bag

  • iPad/tablet
  • Book/magazines
  • Favourite pillow
  • Water spray
  • Aromatherapy oils to keep the room calm
  • Bras to sleep in if it's more comfortable for you
  • Hot water bottle to help ease backache

In case you stay in hospital longer it will be good to have:

  • 2 nursing bras
  • Maternity pads
  • Extra underwear - really comfy ones or several disposable paper ones
  • Comfy, loose clothing
  • Spare nightwear
  • Nipple cream
  • Ear plugs - in case there's a lot of noise at night

What should I use for a hospital bag?

Your hospital bag should be whatever works best for you – a holdall, cabin bag, rucksack or small suitcase. Something that is easy to see in to and find stuff in (for those inevitable 'can you get me my lip balm, darling' moments when all your partner can locate is body spray and a single baby sock).

There are even companies who sell pre-made up hospital bags – but we reckon half the fun is packing it up yourself – and choosing exactly what you want to go in it.

What should my birth partner pack in their hospital bag?

As well as all the items you might need for the birth, your birth partner will require a few things:

  • Clothes – Depending on how long labour goes on for your birth partner could be with you a while without access to a shower
  • Fan or spray – a hand-held fan or bottle of water spray can help them cool you down during labour
  • Electronics – a mobile phone (useful for the stopwatch and updating family and friends), charger to capture the first moments with your baby
  • Food and drink – bringing some food and drink will allow them to stay well fed and hydrated meaning they will spend less time away from you
  • Blanket
  • Book/magazines
  • Their toiletries such as toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant
  • Yours and their mobile phone
  • Camera
  • Chargers for phones and camera
  • List of phone numbers of who you need to call - in case you're not allowed to use your mobile

What should I pack in the hospital bag for the baby?

  • Nappies – A newborn baby will poo a lot! You’ll go through plenty in the first few days
  • Nappy bags
  • Towel or fold-up changing mat
  • Pack of wipes
  • Muslin squares
  • Cotton wool balls - For cleaning baby during a nappy change (baby wipes are not recommended until 2-4 weeks after birth)
  • Bodysuits/baby vests
  • Babygrows/sleepsuits
  • Scratch mittens
  • Socks or booties
  • Hat
  • Jacket
  • Baby blanket – The hospital will likely be warm but you might want to wrap them up when leaving to go outside for the first time. 
  • Car seat - Although strictly this isn’t packed but do make sure it’s in the car!

Once you’ve got your hospital bag packed, it’s a good idea to put it in the car, or leave it by the front door ready to grab when the time arrives. Remember, if you’re using your own car, make sure you always have enough petrol to get you to the hospital and if you’re getting a lift from someone, it’s a good idea to have a backup in place in case they’re unavailable.

Now might also be a good time to find out what the signs of labour are so you’re ready to go when it’s the real thing!

Find out what the experts advise you pack in your hospital bag in our video below:

At a glance

  • Write a checklist so you can tick it off as you pack
  • Pop in some personal bits too like a book or magazine
  • Don't forget snacks and a carton of drink too.
It's your bag, so take as much (or as little) as you want! And any old bag will do, too

Birth and beyond