The essential guide to packing your hospital bag

Updated: Feb 24, 2021

It’s never too early to start gathering the things you’ll need to take with you to hospital for your labour. Due dates are great, but we know they are not always known for their accuracy! Preparing ahead of time is a great way to make sure your hospital stay is as comfortable as possible.

Below is a comprehensive list of what you should be packing in your hospital bag and we've also got some great Top Tips from Bridie, who has been a midwife for over 10 years. Bridie offers advice, preparation and support to new and expectant parents. Be sure to give her a follow on Instagram at @bumptobeyond_your_birth or visit her website for loads more great tips and advice from bump to beyond!

Bridie's Top Tips:

  • "Think carefully about space! When you’re in labour, whether in a Birth Center or Labour Ward, you have lots of room, however if you go to the postnatal ward you have a lot less space. Try to avoid large bulky bags and if possible have a separate bag just with your labour items which can then be taken home by your partner or stored in the car."

  • "Try to pack in sections or pack things in clear bags so that your partner and midwife can get essentials for you like snacks, things for coping with labour etc. whenever you need them. Try to pack with your partner or go through your bag with them, so they know roughly what’s in there."

  • "Make it clear which outfit you would like your newborn to be dressed in first, make it easily accessible especially if you need to be transferred to theatre in an emergency."

  • "Pack a little section for essentials for the ward either if you end up being induced or on the postnatal ward, these can help make your stay easier; headphones, ear plugs, eye mask, phone charger and a pillow from home which coloured or patterned pillowcase."

For baby:


Nappies, nappies and more nappies. Your baby can go through about 10 a day (we know!) so you’ll want to make sure you’ve got enough. Make sure you get ones that are the right size for a newborn.

Baby Wipes

Hospitals can be quite particular about what wipes to use on your baby's bottom so they will often encourage using cotton wool and water at the beginning. Water wipes are also a great option.

3 or 4 Vests, Bodysuits and Sleepsuits

Your baby can need quite a few outfit changes in one day so ensure you have a good selection.

2 or 3 Muslins

Socks or Soft Booties

Jacket or Pram Suit

For babies born in the cooler months!

Hat and Scratch Mittens

Baby Car Seat

Hospitals won’t let you leave without a proper baby car seat. Get it all fitted in advance so you don’t have to hang around in the car park while your birthing partner struggles to fit it!

For Mum:

Birth plan and Maternity Notes

Birth ball

Your hospital might already have one, but if not, you can probably bring your own. Make sure you check with your hospital first (and bring a pump!)

Snacks & Drinks

A lot of women can still eat and drink during labour. Make sure you keep your energy levels up with healthy snacks and drinks.


Books, magazines, tablets can all help alleviate boredom if you are in hospital for a while. Don’t forget your music too if you are planning to play some during the birth.

Hand fan or cooling spray

Bendy straws

These can be really useful for drinking in various positions you might find yourself in during labour!

Toiletries (Toothbrush & toothpaste, hairbrush & hair ties, body wash, dry shampoo, etc.)

Keeping yourself clean can really help you feel more like yourself again so don’t forget to pack the essentials. Your lips can get really dry particularly if you are using gas & air so lip balm is a must-have.

Super absorbent sanitary or maternity pads

Pack a couple of packets of pads as you might go through them quite quickly!

Towels and a face cloth

TENS machine

Not everyone will use a TENS machine but a hot water bottle can also help reduce pain.


The hospital will be able to provide pain-relief, but make sure you bring any medicines you are taking.


Some hospital parking machines only accept cash so make sure your birthing partner has this ready!


Loose fitting clothes

You’ll want 3 or 4 outfits and for them to be loose and airy so they are as comfortable as possible.

An old night-shirt or t-shirt

Wear something comfortable during labour that you don’t mind getting messy.

Dressing Gown and Slippers

You might find yourself pacing the corridors at night!

Socks & Knickers

You’ll want several pairs of large comfortable undies that you don’t mind getting messy. Disposable underwear is also a good option.

Nursing bras and pads

If you are planning to breastfeed, make sure you pack a few nursing bras. You will still need pads if you are not going to breastfeed as your boobs will still start to produce milk.

Nursing clothes

Loose fitting, front-opening tops are best.

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