A woman getting her hospital bag ready before the birth of her baby.

Your Ultimate Hospital Bag Checklist: 35 Things I Packed

Last Updated on 16 March 2023

Don’t Forget Your Hospital Bag

After nine months of carrying your baby and bonding over them in the womb, the time when you can finally meet them is nearly here. You may be that person who’s got the nursery decorated, you’ve stacked up on the baby gear essentials that you’ll need, and you can properly install your baby car seat with your eyes closed.

But what about your hospital bag? It’s easy to get caught up in the rush of the last few weeks of pregnancy, but don’t forget this important third-trimester task.

If you’re wondering what to include, check out my ultimate hospital bag checklist that I packed during my first pregnancy for myself and my baby before the big day arrived. Take the stress out of leaving your hospital bag to the last minute by getting it done early.

When Should You Pack Your Hospital Bag?

Every woman and every pregnancy is different based on individual circumstances, so knowing when to have your hospital bag sorted will vary. According to the National Health Service (NHS) in the UK, women should get their hospital bags packed at least three weeks before their due date.

But, if a woman has a high-risk pregnancy or is at risk of going into labour early, she may want to get her hospital bag ready around 35 weeks; however, if a woman is a low-risk, she may decide to wait a bit later until around 37 or 38 weeks.

Ultimately, though, it’s up to the woman and what she feels is best. Of course, getting ahead of the game gives some flexibility to change what you need and means you’ll have your hospital bag ready to go when your baby is.

You may find that it’s worthwhile packing several different bags: one for yourself, one for your baby, and one for your partner, so you don’t have to rummage around in one bag trying to find things. After giving birth and welcoming your baby into the world, the last thing you want to do is try and find a pair of disposable underwear.

What to Pack in a Hospital Bag for Labour?

A woman in labour leaning against a birthing ball

Typically, mums who deliver vaginally will stay in the hospital overnight. You may be one of the lucky ones, though, and can leave the same day, especially if you’ve had a morning delivery.

Mothers who deliver via c-section will generally stay in the hospital for a bit longer, around three days, so bear this in mind when getting your bag ready.

Here are your hospital bag essentials:

  • Maternity notes and your birth plan, if you have one
  • Birth ball, if you’re using one. During the different stages of labour, using a birth ball can help get you into various positions to manage your contractions. (Your hospital may provide one for you, just double-check beforehand. If not, bring your own and don’t forget a pump!)
  • A comfy, loose outfit for labour that won’t make you too hot. (Although, when I was in the hospital, I had a hospital gown)
  • A dressing gown in case you end up pacing the corridors during the early stages of labour. You’ll want one for after the birth as well. Get one that’s a dark colour to hide any possible stains
  • Backless slippers to get on and off easily
  • Your phone and charger
  • A pillow or two for extra comfort and to add that homely feel
  • Snacks and drinks for during and after birth (In some instances, you may not be able to eat during your labour, which your doctors and delivery nurses will inform you of if that’s the case) If you don’t bring snacks and drinks, don’t worry as your midwife should offer some hospital food following the birth. When you can get up and walk about, you can also try the hospital vending machines for a quick snack
  • Things to help pass the time: books, magazines, newspapers or music, etc.
  • Lip balm as you may find your lips get dry if you’re using gas and air
  • A TENS machine, if you’re planning on using one
  • A portable speaker to listen to your own music if the hospital doesn’t have a radio in the delivery room

What to Include in Your Hospital Bag for After the Birth?

  • Towels
  • Comfy dressing gown and slippers
  • Super absorbent maternity pads (I bought two packs with me) as you’ll experience some bleeding after the birth
  • 6-8 pairs of knickers, and you may even want to pack a few disposable underwear too. If you’re having a c-section, find some low-rise knickers or high-waist knickers that won’t rub against your incision
  • If you’re planning to breastfeed, bring a nursing bra or two and breast pads. Once your milk comes through, when your baby starts feeding on one side, your other breast will leak milk so get some pads to prevent wet patches on your tops
  • Nursing pillows for added comfort during your hospital stay
  • Lanolin nipple cream to use if your nipples get sore when you start breastfeeding
  • A front-opening pyjama top or one that you can easily pull up or down will help with breastfeeding too. You can also wear the hospital gown they’ll give you to wear
  • Your washbag with your toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, body wash, face wash, shampoo and conditioner, and any other toiletries you’ll need
  • Any medication you’re taking
  • A going home outfit to go home in and comfortable shoes
  • Fibre-rich foods to help ease constipation

What Should You Include in Your Hospital Bag for Baby?

Newborn feet poking out of a blanket
  • Before you can leave the hospital and bring baby home, you’ll need an approved baby car seat to put your baby in when it’s time to leave the hospital
  • Plenty of disposable or reusable nappies
  • Bodysuits, vests, and sleepsuits
  • Blankets for their stay in the hospital, if needed, and the journey back home
  • A hat, scratch mittens, and socks or booties
  • Muslin squares
  • Comfy clothes
  • A going home outfit

What Does Your Birth Partner Need in Their Hospital Bag?

Your birth partner could be at the hospital for the same amount of time as you are or even overnight, so it’s a good idea for them to have a hospital bag packed as well.

For the ultimate hospital bag checklist, your partner should pack:

  • Spare clothes
  • Phone and charger. Make sure it’s charged and ready to take those initial birth photos
  • Snacks, so they don’t eat all of yours!
  • Things to keep them entertained, like books or music
  • If there’s room, they may want to consider a camping mattress as those hospital chairs aren’t the comfiest to sleep in!
  • Toiletries, including their toothbrush, toothpaste, face wash, and any other toiletries they may need
  • Money for parking and vending machines. If there’s a hospital cafeteria, some money will be handy for this

Your Hospital Bag for a Home Birth

A woman sitting in a birthing pool at home

Even if you’re planning on having a home birth, it’s a great idea to pack a hospital bag in case you need to go to the hospital.

Always talk to your midwife about your home birth plans and whether you want a water birth and they can help you to prepare. The great thing about a home birth is that you won’t need much as you’ll already be in the comfort of your own home.

For a home birth, you’ll need:

  • A birthing pool, if you’re using one
  • Towels and clean clothes
  • Comfortable and loose clothes for mum
  • Clothes and nappies for baby
  • Super absorbent sanitary pads

Your C-Section Hospital Bag Checklist

If you’re having a planned caesarean, you may be admitted to the hospital several hours before your slotted time; however, depending on what’s going on, this could be pushed back. Here are a few things you’ll need to keep your mind off the wait:

  • Your caesarean birth plan
  • Your phone and charger
  • Books, magazines, and music

After your c-section, you won’t be able to walk until the anaesthesia wears off. The following items in your hospital bag will, hopefully, make your stay in the postnatal ward as comfortable as possible:

  • Low-rise knickers or high-waist knickers that won’t rub against your incision. Pick ones that aren’t made from nylon or have a lacy fabric as these could irritate your skin
  • Sanitary pads as you’ll experience some bleeding from the womb following the birth (although the hospital will provide you with some too)
  • A few comfortable, loose-fitting nightshirts
  • A wrap to stay warm as some women feel chilly after having an epidural
  • A dressing gown and slippers for when you can start walking around
  • A few pairs of cosy socks
  • Wipes to keep yourself clean while the anaesthesia wears off
  • Bendy straws to help with drinking as it’ll be difficult to sit up
  • Maternity bras and breast pads, if you’re planning to breastfeed
  • Lanolin nipple cream to use if your nipples get sore when you start breastfeeding
  • Extra pillows in case the hospital pillows are too flat for you
  • Loose comfortable clothes to go home in
  • Your toiletries, including your toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, shampoo, conditioner, and any other items you may need
  • Your phone and charger
  • Money
  • Fibre-rich food to help ease constipation like dried prunes or apricots

That’s a Wrap

With so much already going on during your pregnancy, it can be easy to overlook something like your hospital bag. Getting prepared early with this ultimate hospital bag checklist will help alleviate any stress further down the line.

Get several bags packed for your hospital stay and either have your hospital bag by the door or in your car so when the time comes you know you’re ready to go. It’ll soon be time to meet your little bundle of joy! Enjoy it and remember: you’ve got this!

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