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What to Pack in Your Hospital Bag

What to Pack in Your Hospital Bag

By Andrina Wilson - Midwife & Certified Sleep Consultant

Packing your maternity bag for birth is one of the most exciting parts of getting ready for your new baby. Your anticipation is through the roof, carefully folding those tiny clothes that will dress your newborn once they finally arrive.

Many first time parents are unsure of what they actually need to pack to take to the hospital or birthing unit. As a midwife, I’ve seen people turn up with suitcases full of ‘stuff’ just in case they need it. Most of the time, the place you give birth isn’t actually that far from home. Often your partner will go home in the evening, or your family/friends will be able to bring in anything you’ve forgotten, so don’t get hung up on having everything you could ever need.

I suggest that you pack two bags to take to the hospital or birthing unit – one for labour and one for your postnatal stay.

  • Your labour bag will have all your creature comforts that you think you may like/need when you’re in labour.

  • Your postnatal bag will contain everything you need for your postnatal stay.

Having two bags makes it much easier when you’re moving from the car to the birthing room (often in a hurry) – you just grab your labour bag and leave the postnatal bag for later when you need it.

So, what should each bag contain? Here are my recommendations:

What to Pack in Your Labour Bag

  • Any regular medications you currently take

  • A pillow from home

  • Comfortable clothes for you to labour in - You can use the hospital gown, baggy t-shirt, bikini top, nightie etc.

  • Drink bottle ideally with a sipper top like the Bink (most birthing units will have cold water available but it’s a good idea to take your own ‘easy to drink’ water bottle)

  • Wheat bag

  • TENS machine if you are planning to use one

  • Lip balm

  • Hair ties/bands

  • Any essential oils that you plan to use during labour

  • Music player if you wish to have your own music – some birthing units provide these but it pays to check first

  • A quick sugar hit if you need it – something like jelly snakes or barley sugars

  • Snacks – for yourself and your birthing partner. There are circumstances where health professionals prefer women not to eat during labour – you can discuss this with your LMC. However, your partner will need snacks so bring plenty.  

  • Swimwear for your birthing partner if they intend on getting in a birthing pool with you

  • Two changes of clothes for your partner – just in case

  • Mobile phone and charger (and camera if you’re planning to use it)

  • 1-2 outfits for your baby to wear once they arrive (obviously they will only need one but you may want to bring a couple of different sizes).

  • Comfortable clothes for you to change into to transfer to the postnatal ward/birthing unit.

Postnatal Hospital Bag Checklist

What to Pack in Mum's Postnatal Hospital Bag

  • Maternity bras if you are planning to breastfeed

  • Clothes that are easy to learn to breastfeed in - a top that is loose to lift up or opens down the front or a breastfeeding singlet.

  • Comfortable clothes – you don’t need to wear a hospital gown or PJ’s the whole time you’re in hospital. It can feel amazing to have a shower and get changed into your own clothes so bring enough for the duration of your stay

  • Slip-on shoes and socks

  • PJs or nightie for evening wear

  • Toiletries – shampoo, conditioner, body wash etc.

  • Big, comfortable underwear – high-waisted black cotton underwear are the best

  • Maternity pads – many birthing units provide these but they can be uncomfortable so you may want to bring your own supply

  • Lanolin nipple cream (Purelan is great) and/or Hydrogel or Manuka breast pads if you are planning to breastfeed – these will always come in handy!

  • Snacks! – Great options are nuts (particularly almonds), low-sugar muesli bars, crackers, fruit etc.

  • Magazine/book – you won’t get a lot of free time but it’s nice to have something if you get 5 minutes.


What to Pack for Baby

  • Clothes for the duration of your stay – singlets, bodysuit, pants, cardigans, socks/booties etc.

  • Cotton or merino wraps for swaddling and a blanket

  • White noise machine (I love the Yogasleep Hushh)

  • Newborn nappies

  • Water Wipes (nothing with perfume!) or reusable wipes that you can rinse out or send home to be washed.

  • A stretchy wrap for carrying baby if they are unsettled

  • A warm outfit for going home (plus a hat/beanie)

  • Carseat on the day you go home - have a test run on safely installing it before baby arrives!

And that’s it! Like I mentioned, anything you’ve forgotten or you don’t have, chances are someone will be able to bring them in for you.

Happy packing and all the best for your labour and birth!

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