What to pack in your hospital bag

Nearly time to pack your hospital bag?

Download our free hospital bag checklist with lots of helpful advice and information about what you might need to help you feel as relaxed and comfortable as possible.

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Discover when, and what to pack in a hospital bag for yourself, your baby and your birthing partner. Plus, download a useful printable hospital bag checklist.




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As your pregnancy progresses, you’ll meet many exciting milestones

Deciding what to pack in your hospital bag is just one of them as you get closer to welcoming your baby.

From hospital bag essentials for both you and your baby to how many nappies you’ll need to take and packing for twins, we’re here to answer your questions and ensure that nothing’s left to the last minute as you prepare for birth.

You can also see our list of hospital bag must-haves, recommended by midwives, pregnancy advisors and mum bloggers, to make sure that you’ve got everything you need.

Hospital bag checklist

A hospital bag checklist is a great way to ensure that you’ve got all bases covered and will help you feel as prepared as you can be for your baby's arrival. It should include the things you might need both during your labour and once your baby has arrived.

Some things, for example a birth ball if you’d like to use one, might be available at the hospital where you choose to give birth. However, it’s always best to check with them ahead of time, so that you can bring your own if you need to.

To make your birth preparation a little easier, we’ve created a free hospital bag checklist which you can download now, or whenever you’re ready.

What to pack in my baby’s hospital bag

Once you’ve given birth, there are a number of new baby essentials you’ll need to have at the ready, and your baby’s hospital bag checklist should include:

  • Nappies - there’s no way to pinpoint exactly how many you’ll need, but to be on the safe side, it’s best to pack plenty.
  • Nappy bags and cotton wool - so that you can change your baby as often as is needed.
  • Baby vests, babygrows and sleep suits – you may find that front-opening babygrows are easier when changing your new baby.
  • Scratch mitts and socks.
  • Baby hat.
  • Baby blanket.
  • Mittens, booties and snowsuit.
  • A ‘going home’ outfit.
  • A rear-facing group 0+ car seat.
  • Muslin squares.

What you pack in your baby’s hospital bag may to some extent be influenced by the weather. For example, if you’re giving birth in the winter, packing a snowsuit and some mittens and booties are a good idea.

For many new parents, choosing their baby’s going home from hospital outfit is a very special thing, so don’t forget to give this some thought. In addition, whilst it’s by no means essential, why not consider packing a baby journal or keepsake book to record those incredible first few hours and days with your new baby? Some parents like to bring along some baby milestone cards or badges, to announce their baby’s birth, name and gender. This can make for some lovely photos to send to friends and family.

Hospital bag for mum

When you’re about to become a parent, it’s easy to focus all of your attention on your baby and the things they might need once they come into the world. However, it’s just as important to think about what you need too, both during your labour and once you’ve given birth.

Give some thought to the things that will make you comfortable, relaxed and ready for your unique birth experience.

Hospital bag essentials for mum

Hospital bag essentials might not be the most glamorous items, but rest assured they’re the things that will be the most useful.

  • Socks or slippers and perhaps some flip flops.
  • Nursing bras and absorbent breast pads.
  • Maternity knickers.
  • Loose-fitting nightie or t-shirt – nighties that have a front-opening (for example buttons) will be helpful if you’re breastfeeding.
  • Dressing gown.
  • An eye-mask – this may help you get some well needed rest and relaxation during your labour (ear plugs are a good call too).
  • Absorbent sanitary or maternity pads.
  • Loose, comfortable clothes for going home.

Make sure your hospital bag checklist includes your birth plan and your maternity notes that have been with you during your antenatal appointments. That way, your midwife and doctor will be in no doubt as to your wishes for labour and birth, and can follow the plan as far as possible.

Pain relief during labour has probably been one of the things you’ve considered, and if you’ve attended any antenatal classes, it’s one of the things that you probably discussed. If you intend to use a TENS machine, make sure that it’s packed and in good working order and that you have some spare batteries in case you need them.

However you choose to give birth, comfortable clothes are a must. For example, if you’re planning to have a water birth, a bikini or tank top will probably be the most practical in a birthing pool. Whereas if you’re giving birth in a bed, a loose cotton front-opening nightie or t-shirt could be a good option.

Loose comfortable clothes will help if you have a c-section, as they’ll be less likely to aggravate your wound.

Hospital bag toiletries

When you go into labour, it’s difficult to predict how long you’ll be in the hospital afterwards.

No one birth experience is the same, and it might be that you end up staying in a bit longer than anticipated. For example, if you have a C-section or if your baby comes early.

That’s why you should pack a wash bag containing:

  • Your toothbrush and toothpaste.
  • Deodorant.
  • A flannel.
  • Shampoo and a hairbrush.
  • Moisturiser or lotion and lip balm.

Having some hand and body lotion can be helpful, as it’s not uncommon for your skin to become a little dry in the hospital environment. On that note, if you intend to breastfeed, having some nipple cream in your hospital bag will help if your nipples become sore.

If you’ve got longer hair, it’s also a good idea to have plenty of hair ties and a headband, to help keep it off your face and stay cool.

Snacks for hospital bag

Because labour and birth burn a lot of energy, making sure you’ve got a variety of snacks on your hospital bag checklist is a must. Having these at the ready will also mean that you and your birth partner won’t need to keep making trips to the hospital vending machines.

During labour, try to opt for nutritious snacks that will provide you with much-needed energy and that won’t sit heavily on your stomach. For example, bananas or other fresh fruit, bread sticks, wholemeal biscuits, and crackers. Energy bars can also be a good option but check the sugar content.

Giving birth can be thirsty work, so having a water bottle within easy reach will help to keep you hydrated. You might also want to consider having a couple of isotonic drinks on standby for the later stages of your labour, as they’ll provide you with calories and energy if you don’t feel like eating. Pack some straws – these will make it easier for your birth partner to pass you a drink when you need it.

This is also worth doing even if you’re planning a home birth. Having some essential snacks and provisions close by will help you to feel more prepared and ready to focus your energy on your labour.

Hospital bag for dads & birthing partners

If you choose your partner, or someone else as your birth partner during your labour and birth, they’ll need to do some preparation of their own.

So just what kinds of things should be in your birth partner’s hospital bag?

A change of clothes and some basic toiletries, including a toothbrush and some toothpaste, may well come in handy. There’s simply no way of telling how long your labour will be and how long you’ll need to stay in hospital.

Your birth partner might also want to consider:

  • A handheld fan.
  • A water spray to help keep you cool during your labour.
  • A mobile phone and a charger.
  • Your ipad or other e-reader.
  • A pair of ear plugs – these may help if your labour takes some time and you’d like to get some rest. 
  • An extra pillow.
  • A water bottle.
  • Some books or magazines.

There are various other jobs you could task them with too. If your birth partner is the one who’ll be doing the driving, make sure they’ve got plenty of fuel in the tank and plenty of change or a mobile app for car parking. Spare change will also come in handy for the hospital vending machines, should they want to pop out for a quick refresher.

You can find more helpful advice for partners here.

C-Section hospital bag

If you’re planning a C-section, there are a few extras you may want to add to your hospital bag checklist. Especially since you’re likely to be in hospital for a few days afterwards.

Take some books and magazines to pass the time. You’ll probably be booked in a couple of hours before your C-section, so having something to occupy your time will take your mind off the wait.

Following your C-section, your movements will be restricted, and you’ll need to take things steady. Pack your hospital bag with items that will make you as comfortable as possible. Pack several pairs of high-waisted cotton knickers as they’ll go over your scar and be less likely to aggravate it. Loose clothing with front-opening buttons will provide easy access during breastfeeding. Slip-on shoes or slippers will reduce the need for you to bend.

Having some cleansing wipes close by will also allow you to freshen up easily without having to make repeated trips to the bathroom.

Hospital bag for twins

If you’re expecting twins, your hospital bag essentials are likely to be the same. However, it goes without saying that you’ll need twice as many nappies and baby clothes for two babies, so your main concern will be where to put everything. You could try packing two bags, and if there’s not enough space on the ward, leave one in the car or with your partner who can bring it to you when you need it.

The other thing to bear in mind is the fact that, according to the NHS, twins are more likely to be born early and need additional care after birth. On that basis, it’s worth having your hospital bag packed from around 26 weeks to ensure that you’re ready to go if your twins make an early appearance.

What to pack in hospital bag for premature baby?

Your medical team might have decided that a planned premature labour is the best thing for your circumstances. For example, if you or your baby have a health condition that needs to be managed.

If this is the case, you may well have the opportunity to get your hospital bag packed with all of the things you need. Making sure you’ve packed some early baby sized clothes is a good idea, as well as smaller sized nappies.

Sometimes, though, babies just decide to come early, which can leave you feeling anxious and unprepared, particularly if you haven’t yet started on your hospital bag checklist.

However, just remember that hospitals are very well equipped to deal with early babies and will provide most, if not all of the necessary things. Your doctor and midwife will also provide you with the support you need when it comes to feeding and their general care.

Just focus on you and your baby. There’ll be plenty of time to get the things you need once you’ve got a clearer idea of how long you’re likely to be in hospital.

When to pack your hospital bag

There’s no right or wrong time to pack your hospital bag, but it’s not advisable to leave it until the last minute.

Some people like to be prepared early, whilst others prefer to leave things until a little later down the line.

As a general guide, it’s advisable to have your hospital bag packed at least three weeks before your baby’s due date, to ensure that you’re as prepared as you can be. 

Hospital bag size

Again, there’s no set rule here. However, bear in mind that space on the labour and postnatal ward may be limited, so avoid taking an oversized suitcase or too many bags.

A weekend hold all should be adequate, or two smaller bags, one  for your hospital bag essentials and the other for the things your baby needs.

Your baby's future health begins here

At Aptaclub, we believe that experience helps to build resilience; and that each new encounter, whether in pregnancy or after birth, can shape your baby’s future development. With our scientific expertise and one-to-one round the clock support, we can help you and your baby embrace tomorrow.

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