Hospital bag for labor checklist – what to pack for your labor
What to pack in hospital bag for labor you give birth, including an easy-to-follow packing checklist to download and print
If you’re having a hospital birth, you’ll need to bring a bunch of things with you for your labour and time on the maternity ward. Your main hospital bag will have essentials for labour and straight after birth. There’s lots to pack, from the practical – birth plan, any medical notes, breast pads and maternity pads – to the more comfy – clothes and toiletries. But hang on, isn’t there more…
One bag or four?
While we all say ‘hospital bag’, it actually makes more sense and will be more practical come labour time if you’ve packed more than one.
There are really four hospital bags to think about:
- Hospital bag for you for labor
- Hospital bag for your baby
- Hospital bag for your partner
- Second hospital bag for you, for your partner to bring later – if you find you’re in the hospital for a few days, there are a few extra bits to pack that your partner can bring in after the birth.
So what’s going in your hospital bag?
Here’s our guide based on advice that mums on our forum have shared with us. We’ve divided it into Essentials and Nice-to-haves…
Your hospital bag essentials:
- Birth plan
- Medical notes
- Maternity bra
- Comfortable, loose maternity clothing for labor. Maybe take a spare set, in case you need to change.
- Snacks, water, drinks for labor
- Cereal bars, snacks, water, small juice cartons to have post-birth for energy
- Toiletries, including lip balm, hair bands, and hairbrush
- Underwear, either very comfy old ones or disposable paper ones
- 1 pack maternity pads
- Nursing bra
- Breast pads
- Smart-looking, comfortable, loose maternity clothing or nightwear for after birth
- Nightwear or large top, front-opening options will make breastfeeding easier
- Dressing gown
- Plastic bag for dirty clothing
- Antiseptic cleaning wipes, for the shared toilets, if you’re worried about quality of hospital cleanliness
Your hospital bag nice-to-haves:
- Extra pillow
- Water spray
- Birth ball, if you plan to use
- TENS machine, if you plan to use
- Aromatherapy oils, if you plan to use
- Make-up, if you’re the sort that likes to put on a bit of a lippy before a pic – because that first ‘mum-and-baby’ pic will be a precious one
- Hot water bottle, for a backache
- Sleep bras, if you tend to wear them
- Plastic water jug – post-birth, pouring water on yourself as you pee can make things feel less sore
Of course, there are minimalists and over-packers…
“To be honest, I find you never end up needing much of it,” “So take the essentials and get folk to bring other bits in as and when you require them.”
“When I had my daughter I had a labor bag, a baby bag, and Ward bag,” confesses Wendy2. “I can vividly remember the midwife bring a shopping trolley into the delivery room to transfer us down to the ward. I think they must have got a trolley for those of us who like to over-prepare. Even with three bags still had MIL bringing stuff in that I forgot!”
And if only we’d known…
“My hospital provided nappies and sanitary towels so I ended up not using the ones had packed. Check with your midwife at your hospital – if I’d known, I could have saved so much room!”
- “If you’re planning to bottle-feed, most hospitals supply formula milk – mine did. Give your midwife or hospital a ring if you’re unsure.”
So, when to pack
Packing your hospital bag, or labor bag is actually a lovely thing to do. Most mums we spoke to pack their bag by around 35 weeks of pregnancy – some do it several weeks earlier, some leave it the last moment. Not all babies arrive on their due date, so it’s reassuring to be prepared for birth well in advance.
Once your hospital bag is packed, it can just sit there waiting expectantly