The all-important hospital bag checklist
Avoid delay on the big day. Here’s what to pack to make your baby’s life, and yours, easier and more comfortable.
Quick points for mum
Prepare your bags well before your due date because you never know
Pack separate bags for mum, baby, and partner as you’ll have enough on your mind
And when supporting mum
Don’t forget to pack a bag for yourself as you’ll need it
Most importantly, remember to take the bags to the hospital!
It’s nearly go time. But hang in there, there’s a hospital bag situation that mum needs to take care of first. Luckily we’ve got the mother of all hospital bag checklists for you to print off.
Pregnancy is supposed to be about 40 weeks but most babies haven’t mastered timekeeping yet. It’s best to pack your bags around the 30-week mark, just to be safe. The last thing you want is to go into labour when you’re queueing for last-minute supplies. Oh and no, three bags isn’t too much. Better to be prepared.
Here’s what we’d pack:
You may end up spending more time in the hospital than you imagined. If there’s one way you can maintain a sliver of control it’s with a trusty haul of supplies in your maternity hospital bag.
- Dressing gown – handy for any trips to the communal tea area.
- Slippers or flip-flops – essential for popping to the loo.
- Comfy socks – especially if baby is due in winter.
- Nighties or open-front shirts – easier for feeding or skin-to-skin access.
- Maternity sanitary pads – not many people warn you about this, but there may be some bleeding after birth so bring a few.
- Big knickers – bring dark-coloured pants you don’t mind throwing away. Six pairs to be safe. High-waisted in case you do have a C-section.
- Two nursing bras and a bunch of breast pads – the second bra is useful if the breast pads fail you – it happens.
- Nipple cream – nipple cream, nipple cream.
- Brightly coloured pillow – not white, it could blend in and get lost.
- Healthy snacks – think nuts and dried fruit bars. The vending machines should have the less healthy snacks covered, should you need them.
- Eye mask – baby sleep patterns are hard to predict. If the opportunity arises try and nap when they do. Even if it’s daylight.
- Going home clothes – it’s nice to have something comfy and loose-fitting.
- Decaf or herbal tea bags – great if you’re breastfeeding, unfortunately the hospital usually doesn’t have these.
- Toiletries - toothbrush and toothpaste, hair ties, face wipes, deodorant, moisturiser, lip balm, dry shampoo, hotel-size shower gel and shampoo.
- Make-up bag – in case you video call family or friends and want to look presentable – or else just go natural.
- Phone – mostly for sharing photos and Googling everything baby-related.
- Music – some hospitals still have CD players, it’s nice to have a good soundtrack for these moments. Otherwise, you might be able to bring your own Bluetooth speakers.
- Notebook and pen – if you’re being practical jot down feed times and sleeps or else a written diary makes a good keepsake.
- Birth plan – if your birth partner hasn’t already taken care of it for you.
They already need loads of things before they even get here. So think of the baby hospital bag as their welcome pack - to the world. Unless you’ve had recent scans you probably don’t know how big your baby is, so when it comes to clothes you may want to pack a few sizes.
- Muslin squares – catching dribble, milk, or sick. Or rolled up, propping up your boob for breastfeeding. So many uses.
- Sleep suits – pack a few in case you’re in for a couple of nights. Built-in mittens are a plus.
- Scratch mitts – if the sleep suits don’t have mittens.
- Cotton vests – fold-down shoulders are great for any nappy leaks.
- Baby blanket – a soft, breathable one is best.
- Nappies – 20 or so is a good start.
- Cotton wool – for cleaning very new bums. A lot gentler than wipes.
- Going home clothes – including a soft hat. Layers are a good idea for keeping baby warm depending on the weather.
- Car seat – when it’s home time you’re legally required to have a car seat if you’re going by car.
- Sterile bottles, teats and formula – if you’re bottle-feeding.
Ok, so mum is doing the hardest part, but you’ve got an important role to play here. Time to take care of the essentials to support mum and baby through this.
- Birth plan – mum’s going to be busy so this is something you could look after.
- Spare clothes – in case you stay overnight.
- A toothbrush and toothpaste – you might need to freshen up at some point.
- Drinking water and some bendy straws for mum – great for long labours and later on, if mum’s trying to breastfeed she’ll be thirsty and she might not have any hands free.
- A handheld fan – more for mum than you.
- Entertainment– books, music or podcasts are a good idea in case you’re waiting.
- TENS machine – to help mum out with the pain relief situation.
- Massage oil – get those extra brownie points.
- Carrier bags – mum will need a change of clothes or two.
- SLR camera/phone camera – spare battery and memory card if you’ve gone for an SLR.
- Extra-long phone charger cable – because a socket might not be nearby. This saves mum climbing out of bed regularly.
- Power bank – even better if you’ve got one of these to charge your phone. Plug sockets aren’t always readily available on the ward.
- A blanket – for yourself in case you nap in a chair.
- Snacks – whatever you need to keep you going.
- Spare change – for parking meters or vending machines.
No matter what your birth plan, it’s worth reading about all the signs and stages of labour.