Trying to decide what to pack in your hospital bag when you’re due to give birth can be an unnecessary stress. The hospital will tell you not to take too much, but you certainly don’t want to be caught without something important. If it’s your first time giving birth, you don’t know exactly what to expect or what you might need, and even if you have two, three or even more children, each birth can be very different, with hospital stays varying from one night to a week or more. So exactly how much do you need and what do you pack for giving birth?
Find out everything you need to know from how many bags to pack, recommendations for bags to use, toiletries, medication, clothes and all the essentials you need for breastfeeding and post partum too.
How many bags should I pack to give birth?
We recommend taking two small bags. One for you and one for the baby. These should be fairly small and compact bags – not full suitcases, no matter how tempting that should be! That way everything is sorted into two bags and easily accessible to you. Inside your bag should also be separate small bags for toiletries and medication (if needed), allowing you to grab them quickly.
What type of bags should I be using for the hospital?
We recommend a soft / flexible bag rather than a hard suitcase, simply for the fact that it is very easy to store this as it will fit in cupboards or under the bed. But if you have a small hand luggage suitcase, then this has the advantage of being on wheels and easily transported. Ultimately what bags you pack are up to you – but for the baby bag, using the changing / nappy bag is always handy! You’ll also want a small waterproof toiletries bag so you can take everything you need into the shower with you.
I know when I was packing my hospital bag I realized I didn’t have anything suitable, so it was time to go bag shopping! Any excuse for a new bag though really…. my advice is to make sure it’s a bag that you can use in your travels again and again so you get value for money as well.
Hospital Bag Options:
Duffel / Weekender Bag
We love this women’s weekender bag which has a navy and white stripe which really evokes that positive stylish holiday feeling. It’s a good size bag to fit enough clothes and accessories for a few days in and once you’ve given birth it makes an excellent option for a weekend away, a busy work trip or a day at the beach. It’s certainly very versatile and has a PU leather bottom which makes it safe to pop it on the floor without worrying about it getting wet or dirty.
Got this for my twin sister for Christmas and it’s such a great bag! It looks great, it’s a great size and is just exactly what she needs. Would definitely recommend getting this, she especially likes how there’s different compartments to separate her clothes to her electricals and other items. – Review by JenniferH
We are in love with this Kono Hand Luggage because you can waddle up to the hospital in geometric style. You may be a bit of a mess with contractions coming every two minutes, but your luggage will be looking en pointe! It’s available in four colours, this is nude, as well as champagne, black and navy and is the correct size for fitting in the hand luggage of most airlines, making it ideal for any future holidays. The 360 degree rotating wheels will make it a doddle to take into the hospital with you – or wherever you go with it in the future.
This case so far is extremely sturdy yet unbelievably lightweight the handles extendable handrail and wheels all seem very sturdy and it looks very well made I am very happy with the quality very happy. It also looks so very expensive. – Review by J s w.
Changing Nappy Bag
Changing bags are waterproof to help protect against any leaks and spills and to make them easily cleanable. This translates quite well to use in a hospital and they’re a good size to fit enough clothes and wet wipes for the first few days of baby life. This Just4Baby Laminated Waterproof Bag comes as a set, which is pretty handy when you’re out and about – but it also means that you can use one of the bags in the set for your toiletries and kill two birds with one stone. The design shown is called grey leaves, but there are three other options if this one doesn’t take your fancy. I personally think this one is quite gender neutral, as well as something that dad won’t mind carrying around when he’s out and about with the baby, so it ticks all the boxes for me.
I would recommend this set to any Mum, I have been using mine for over a year and they are showing no signs of wear (eventhough, I have crammed them a little too full a lot of times!). These bags are easy to wash in the washing machine at 30oC (degrees celcius) and they air-dry pretty quickly, which make it less stressful when a bottle leaks or soiled clothes are stuffed in, in a hurry. Also very waterproof, so when it’s raining buckets, clothes and nappies are still perfectly dry and still ready to use! – Review by ScarlettRain11
How do I know how much I need to pack in my birthing bag?
Estimate how much you would need for approximately three days, which exceeds the average time a new mum and baby stay in the hospital following a non-complicated birth. If you know you’re having a cesarean section or have been warned there may be complications, a few extra days should suffice. It’s better to have everything you need, but not so much as the hospital staff roll their eyes when they see you coming! I’ve seen people with full suitcases and two weeks worth of clothes going into the maternity ward and it just makes everyone’s life more difficult if you go crazy with the overpacking.
Remember you can always send your birth partner home after the birth to get something for you, or ask friends and family to pick something up for you.
What does the hospital provide when you’re in labour or have a newborn baby?
This will vary from hospital to hospital but there are some very basic things that the hospital will provide for you. You should double check this with your midwife as well.
In general an NHS hospital will provide (if you ask them):
- Small towels
- Cotton wool
- Maternity / Sanitary pads
- Infant formula pre-packaged in bottles if you’re unable to breastfeed
- Sterilising tablets
- Hospital gown if needed
- A small selection of nappies for an emergency situation, but you’re generally expected to provide your own
The hospital will of course provide medication, but it’s worth noting that you should take any prescription medication you’ve got with you and it may also be worth taking any routine over the counter medication such as Gaviscon that you’ve been taking. Double check with the nurse that it’s okay to take.
What should I pack in my hospital bag to give birth?
We’ve put our heads together and come up with the following list of things mum should pack in her hospital birthing bag:
- Comfortable lightweight nightgown or top to give birth in
- Two sets of spare nightwear
- 5 Pairs of underwear
- Dressing gown
- Comfortable outfit to wear home
- Bath Towel
- Toiletries for showering
- Toothbrush and toothpaste
- Lip balm
- Hairbrush and hair ties
- Phone, Tablet and chargers
- Slippers or flip flops
- Maternity pads
- Any prescription medication you’re on
- Any over the counter medication you take on a daily basis
If you’re planning on breastfeeding you’ll also want to pack:
- Nursing tops / bra
- Breastfeeding pads
- Lanolin cream (life saver for painful nipples!)
This should be enough for three nights, which is above the average that a woman stays in hospital after giving birth. If you end up being in for longer, get your partner, family member or friend to pop home and pick you up a few more pairs of pyjamas and underwear.
What should I pack in my newborn baby hospital bag?
For baby you should consider packing enough for them to change their vests two or three times a day, so a pack of five or six would do for a 2-3 day stay. Here’s a list of things you will most likely find very useful in the first few days:
- Sleeveless vests
- Sleepsuits / Onesies
- Muslin squares for swaddling
- A lightweight blanket or larger muslin blanket
- Baby Hats
- Scratch Mittens
- At least 10-15 nappies
- A pack of wet wipes
- Cotton Wool
- Burp cloths
- Dummy / pacifier if intending to use one
- Going home / photo outfit
Should I take anything for my birthing partner?
It’s mum who’ll be doing all the hard work, but your birthing partner needs a lot of energy as well. They might have to go without sleep and be standing for long periods and won’t have time to go off and eat dinner. It’s best if they can pack some drinks and snacks as the hospital will provide you with food and drink, but not them and they may need their own phone charger to keep in touch or take photos of any first special moments. They’re unlikely to need a change of clothes or anything more than that, they can always pop home after the baby is born.
What do I do if I’ve forgotten something important?
Don’t panic. We live in a world of convenience and almost all hospitals now have some sort of shop at hand for patients. The hospital is likely to be accessible to your partner, friends or family so that they can bring you something in if you need it and in a worst-case scenario you can order items from Amazon Prime! The important thing is not to stress because there is nothing more important than you staying relaxed and as happy and positive as possible.
What do I need for the baby to go home?
In addition to what you’ve packed, you will definitely need your car seat ready to take the baby home. You can leave that in the car until you’re ready to leave the hospital, as they are quite bulky and will be in the way if you bring them in before they’re needed. The hospital staff may want to see that you know how to fit the baby in securely and it’s just a normal safety precaution so they can discharge you knowing the baby is getting home safely.
You’ll then get a home visit from either the midwife team or the health visitor the day after to check that everyone’s doing okay and to answer any questions you might have.
What have other mums recommended?
We’ve asked other mums what they found useful to pack in their hospital bag when they gave birth and here’s what they shared:
Lip balm – By the time I’d been in labour for a few hours, I would have ranked my lip balm above my husband in the list of “most important things I took to hospital.” – Rebecca
A frozen water bottle – It can be really warm on the wards so it gradually defrosts but stays cool. – Jennifer
A hair band – In the middle of all that’s going on, the last thing you’ll want is your hair round your face and neck making you all sweaty! – Lauren
A phone charger – You never know how long you might be away from home. – Erica
Steri-bottles, pre packed sterile baby bottles – Wasn’t until I was placed on the ward after labour that I found out they had removed all sterilisers from when I previously was on the ward with my eldest. – Lyndsay
Change – For the car park / vending machine! – Tina
My own mug – That first cuppa after delivery is heaven and I was determined to savour it! It’s a personalised one that says ‘Grandad’. We lost my Dad the year before so it felt right! Plus hospital cups are small! – Emma
Printable hospital birth bag list
Here’s a downloadable list, created by Welsh Mum of One that you can view on your phone or print out to tick off the boxes, meaning you won’t forget to pack anything!