As your due date starts getting closer, you need to start thinking about packing your hospital bag. This bag is essential to your comfortability whilst you’re in hospital for both you and your new baby. It includes everything you’ll need whilst you give birth to your baby as well as afterwards. Being prepared makes the experience much calmer and doesn’t leave you thinking about if you’ve left stuff behind.
It’s not always something that can be done by all parents. If you go into labour much earlier than you’re expected to, sometimes you just need to get to the hospital as soon as possible with whatever you can grab on the way out. It will be down to your partner, family or friends to get what you need from your home. You shouldn’t worry if this happens, midwifes and nurses see this happen regularly and will have a process in place to get you things that you need during and after birth.
This blog will list the essential items you need for your birth as well as some common questions answered. It’s important to remember that if you do feel confused about your what to put in your hospital back, speak to a nurse or doctor who will be able to give you some advice.
When should I pack my hospital bag during pregnancy?
Leaving your hospital bag till last minute is not something we recommend. We’d love to see all women giving birth on their exact due date but unfortunately, this is not always the case. Many women go into labour a few days or weeks early. To prepare for this, you should think about packing your back on week 35-36 of your pregnancy. This also gives you plenty of time afterwards to add bits in that you may have forgot before.
Making a list that you can check off is a great way to make sure you have everything you need. Make sure you include all items for yourself as well as your baby. We will be speaking about these a little later.
If you want to pack your hospital back even earlier than the 35th week of your pregnancy, there’s nothing stopping you. Some parents like to have things planned way ahead of time to reduce last minute stress or rushing around. We think this is a great thing to do as it also gives you plenty of time to buy any things that you don’t have.
As well as yourself, your partner also needs to pack a bag of their own. It’s likely that you’ll be spending a little while in the hospital so it’s important to have everything you need. You shouldn’t put off packing your back because your nervous about the birth. We know this is a scary time but having everything you need will make it a lot easier.
Why do I need to pack a hospital bag for labour?
Like many things, it’s great to plan ahead and have everything ready to go when you need it. This is exactly the same with a hospital bag. When you go into hospital, you will not be provided with all of the essential items that you may require. The nurses will try and help you as much as they can but it’s down to you to bring what you want/need.
Some parents bring more than others which is fine. Everyone has different requirements and you may not need some things that others do. If you see some things on our list that you don’t feel you’ll need, it’s down to you whether to pack it or not.
Even if you feel that you don’t need to pack much for yourself, you should prioritise things you’ll need for your baby once they’re born. Taking baby items with you ensures you’ll be able to travel home safely after the birth.
What type of hospital bag do I need?
It really doesn’t matter about what your hospital back looks like. It’s just important that it’s big enough to fit everything into and is easy to carry. We recommend something like a holdall or a large rucksack. It’s also good to have a bag in which you don’t have to take everything out when you’re looking for one thing. This can be frustrating when you need something, especially after the birth.
It may be easier for you to bring two separate bags for your stuff and your baby’s things. This will make it easier when it comes to finding items that you need. Your partner will also probably have a bag of their own to carry some of their essential items whilst they’re in hospital with you.
You don’t want to make it look like you’re going on holiday, but you also don’t want to squeeze everything into a tiny bag. Just make sure you are comfortable with everything you have and that it won’t be difficult getting it from the car park to the hospital room!
Essential items you will need to pack
Like we’ve discussed previously, there are items that you probably won’t be able to go without. We’ve created lists for you, your baby and your partner with the items that you may want to bring. You don’t have to take all of them, just take the ones essential to you.
You can also print this page of and tick off the items that you’re taking. This can be easier than trying to remember stuff you’ve already packed into a bag. It’s not helpful having to take everything out all of the time! Of course, if there’s any items that you want to add, go ahead. You aren’t on a strict list of things you can take.
Essential items you’ll need to pack for labour
Your labour should be as comfortable as possible and you can help this by taking items to make the experience more pleasant. We’ve listed some common items that parents take with them for during the birth:
- Maternity notes and your birth plan. This is to hand over to the midwifes who will be looking after you during your time at hospital. Your birth plan would have already been discussed with them prior to going there but it’s important that you have it on hand in case there is any confusion.
- A comfortable outfit. Whilst you’re lying on your hospital bed and giving birth, you want something as comfortable as possible. We would recommend an oversized t-shirt or nightie that you don’t mind getting dirty. Pyjamas are not a good option here as they would need to be taken of regularly.
- Things to do. If you go into hospital to be induced, it can be quite a wait until anything happens. Take along some books or headphones to keep yourself busy during the waiting time. You might not need these if you’re going into hospital already in labour.
- A comfy pillow. There’s nothing better than your own pillow – that’s why you should take it with you! It’s important for you to feel comfortable throughout your labour.
- A small handheld fan. Contractions can make you feel incredibly uncomfortable and hot. A fan can be a lifesaver in this situation.
- Your phone and charger. Just in case you need to get in contact with anyone and for cute first pictures!
- Snacks and drinks. Your midwife will tell you whether you’re allowed to eat depending on the stage that you’re in. However, these are handy if you’re going to be in hospital for a little while.
- Medication. If there is medication you need to take regularly, you should pack these as early as you can. These are not something you want to forget.
- A washbag. Include items like your hairbrush, toothbrush, toothpaste and other toiletries that you may need.
Many hospitals provide equipment such as birthing balls. If this is something you like to use, contact your hospital to find out if they have one for you.
Essential items you'll need to pack for after birth
There a plenty of items you need to have before the birth, but it doesn’t stop there. After you have had your baby, it’s important that you try and freshen up to feel better. As well as this, you need to be prepared for the journey home. You should bring these items with you for after you birth:
- Maternity pads. You’ll need to wear these for a little while after the birth and you may experience slight bleeding and incontinence.
- Large underwear. You’ll need something slightly bigger as you’ll also be wearing maternity pads. Also, being bigger means, it will be much more comfortable.
- A dressing gown. The main aim is to get as comfy as possible after your birth. You need to relax as much as you can and you will most likely be exhausted. You shouldn’t worry about what you look like – it important to chill out.
- Slippers. You’ll need these for when you get up to go to the toilet or if you need any extra checks that you need to go to.
- A fresh, comfortable outfit. For your journey home, you want an outfit that’s going to be cosy and snug. We recommend something on the larger side. Lounge style outfits are great that they’re not too tight anywhere but also feel great.
- Money. You might want to grab a quick snack or drink when leaving the hospital!
Breastfeeding items. This only applies if you’ve chosen to breastfeed your baby. You’ll need to bring along a nursing bra, breast pads and tops that you’ll easily be able to breastfeed in.
There may be other item that you also wish to have after the birth. Pack anything that you think you’ll need.
Hospital bag for your new baby
It might seem like a lot of stuff to take to the hospital, but it’s better to have everything you need rather than stressing out over forgotten items. It’s not just yourself you have to pack for – you’ve got a new baby coming! This brings a whole other range of items that you have to take along. Like we suggested before, you may want to have a separate bag just for your baby’s things.
Your baby will need:
- Clothing. It’s best to bring along a range of clothes for your little one. Bodysuits and vests are great for your baby whilst they’re in hospital. For travelling home, a sleepsuit is perfect to keep them warm and cosy.
- A hat. Your baby will feel the cold much more than you will. Putting a hat on them when you’re leaving the hospital will make the trip from the building to the car much nicer for them.
- Socks. Socks will also keep your little one warm!
- Blankets. These can be used for both when your little one is in hospital with you and for the car journey home.
- Nappies. Bring along enough to get you through your hospital stay. As you won’t know how long this will be, bring slightly more than you think you’ll need.
- Snowsuit or thicker outfit. If you’ve had your baby during the winter, you’ll need to wrap them up a little more. However, you should make sure that the car doesn’t become too warm when your baby has this on. At this stage, your baby cannot regulate their temperature.
- Car seat. Make sure you know how to fit this into your car before you have your baby. This will be used to carry your baby safely out of the hospital.
These items are essential to keeping your new baby warm, comfortable and safe during their time in hospital and on the journey home. Remember, your baby will be incredibly delicate at this point as you should do everything you can to protect them.
Your partners bag - what they should pack
It won’t just be you heading to the hospital. Whether it’s your baby’s other parent, a friend, or a family member, they will also need to bring along some items during the time they are with you. Labour does not have a specific time on it and your partner may be with you overnight. It’s important that they are also comfortable throughout the process.
They should bring along:
- Snacks whilst they wait. It’s not determined how long you’ll be in hospital for – they will need something to keep them going and supporting you.
- Money. Important if they have forgotten anything or need something more substantial to keep them going.
- A change of clothes. This is very important if you’re there for a long amount of time.
- Toiletries. They will be able to use the same bathroom as you to freshen up if needed.
- Books or magazines. Important if you’re being induced. You can both be there for quite a long time!
It’s important that they also get this packed early too. Being prepared is key in case you need to rush to the hospital.
Take what’s right for you in your hospital bag
We have spoken about the most common items that parents take along with them when they are going into the hospital to have a baby. The experience of having your baby should be one you remember forever and something you cherish. Try and do everything you can to make your birth stress-free and as calm as it can be.
Our main message is to plan, plan and plan! The more you do before your baby is born, the less you’ll have to rush around last minute. Remember, speak to any family or friends that have had babies for their advice on when to buy things and what to do once you’ve had your baby. It can be really reassuring to speak to somebody you know.
Your midwife and local doctors’ surgery is also there to help you if you have any questions about your pregnancy. We hope that our blog has also helped you with packing your hospital bag. If you’re a soon to be parent, we wish you all of the luck with your new baby.