essential lists

What to pack in your hospital bag for labour

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You've probably read that you need to pack a special bag for when you go into Labour, called your Hospital Bag. In this, you should have all the things you will need when you are headed into hospital or the birth centre for when you're in labour, as well as the first essentials for your newborn baby.

You'll never know exactly when your baby will be arriving, but you should have your pregnancy hospital bag ready well before your due date - the NHS advises to pack it three weeks before. Make sure that you have a hospital bag checklist and put your pregnancy notes in the bag too, so that you don't forget them when you are leaving the house to go to the hospital. Get into the habit of putting your pregnancy notes in the bag after each ante-natal appointment in your last few weeks of pregnancy, so that you will always know where they are.

What if I am having a home birth or planned Caesarean section?

Even if you have planned a different kind. of birth - for example, if you are going to have your baby at home, you should still pack a hospital bag. It might be necessary to transfer you to hospital if things don't go according to plan. Similarly, if you have a planned Caesarean section, don't think you can delay packing your hospital bag, as many babies decide to come early!

What should I pack?

You will need to make sure that you have all the clothing and items that you need for your labour and baby's birth and though at first, the list may look long, that's because there may be some items you don't actually need or want when you're in labour - but you wouldn't want to get there only to find that you have left some items behind.

You will need items both for you and for your newborn baby. You'll also need some things for your birthing partner. In particular, you may want to start thinking about some food, snacks and drinks for both you and your birth partner during those long hours of labour - see our helpful suggestions here.

In addition, you may want to pack a separate bag that you can use if you have to stay in hospital for longer than you planned - for example, if you end up having an emergency Caesarean or your baby has a few complications. It's good to do this yourself, because otherwise you might ask your partner to fetch you things - knickers, for example - only to find they pack flimsy g-strings and not the massive maternity pants you really need!

Essentials for your hospital bag for you

  • Your birth plan
  • Your infant car seat - your baby must travel home in one
  • Nightwear or a comfy T-shirt to wear during labour and birth
  • Dressing gown for when you’re walking about during labour or after the birth
  • Slippers or socks, hair ties 
  • A comfy pillow
  • Your TENS machine
  • Toiletries - travel size are ideal. Toothbrush and paste, moisturiser, lip salve, hair bands or ties, a flannel or face wipes, soap or shower gel.
  • Your phone and charger, change for snack machines, a camera, a list of people to tell once your baby is born
  • Books, magazines, iPad
  • Hand gel and wipes
  • Roomy clothes for going home, nursing bra, maternity pads, breast pads

Essentials for your hospital bag for your baby

  • Vest and sleepsuit
  • Cardigan
  • Shawl
  • Cotton hat
  • A few nappies
  • Baby toiletries
  • Nappy cream

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