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It’s almost time for you to meet your baby, but are you actually ready? Whether you’re giving birth in the hospital or birthing centre you need to be ready with a bag that carries all your necessities. During my first pregnancy, I packed two hospital bags for mum and baby, but once I left the hospital I quickly realised that was overkill.
I ended up with one bag instead of two bags for hospital, which had enough items to carry me through for three days (I had an emergency c-section so I was at the hospital for longer than anticipated).
Do you need a hospital bag?
You definitely need a bag which is large enough to pack the necessary items below, so yes, you will need a bag. What hospital bag you use and what size hospital bag you end up with is up to you (I have some ideas below).
What to pack in the baby bag for the hospital comes from experience after three births, and I’ve figured out through the journey of getting pregnant, there’s so much to think about. From staying healthy during pregnancy to baby names to packing the baby bag for the hospital – sometimes we overthink everything and realise later that less is definitely more.
Packing too much of the non-essential items means you’ll just get overwhelmed when you bring the baby bag to hospital and have too much stuff to go through when you should be resting and utilising only the bare essentials.
If you know you’re having a C-section then pack a C-section hospital bag, which includes some of the items below, like disposable knickers or mesh underwear that don’t have the elastic in the band and rest above the scar. I’ll go into the details of what to pack for a baby hospital bag in a moment.
“Pack two bags – one for you and one for the baby (or two in my case!). Saves rifling around in one bag trying to find things and getting in a flap. I also packed two different sizes of baby clothes as they thought my twins were going to be big (7.5lbs each!) but weren’t sure, so I put one whole set of tiny clothes in one carrier bag labelled up, and a bigger set in a different labelled carrier. Sounds OTT but it was quite helpful at that point in time “Helen from www.twinstantrumsandcoldcoffee.com
Can I take two hospital bags?
Ask yourself, ‘Do I need two hospital bags?’ The answer is, it’s up to you. I like to pack as little as possible so I’m not rummaging around trying to find things. You could pack a hospital bag for dad, but do dads need a hospital bag if they’re not staying? I don’t think so. Can you pack your hospital bag and a nappy bag too? You can, but you’re carrying two bags around so it could get tedious.
When to pack your hospital bag
‘But when should I pack my hospital bag?’ I hear you ask.
You should start thinking about when to have your hospital bag ready at the beginning of your third trimester and have it ready by 34 weeks because your little one only has a 5% chance of coming on their due date.
I have created the ultimate pregnancy hospital bag checklist printable below for you to print out and stick to your fridge, so it can help you pick out things to pack in your hospital bag. Just click on the link below for the full-sized image and pin it to your Pinterest board:
What should you bring with you when you go to the hospital to have a baby?
So, you know when to pack your hospital baby bag, but you’re now probably thinking, ‘Well what do I pack in my hospital bag when I go for delivery?”
Without further ado, below are my baby hospital bag essentials for both mum and baby that should cover labour, birth, delivery and baby. If you need a particular item for your hospital bag, you can click on the link from Amazon to purchase that item. It’s an affiliate link so I may get a commission if you buy from this link below, but it’s at no extra cost to you.
(P.S – if you are packing a hospital bag for twins, then just double some of the items you need for your babies).
What to pack in the baby bag for hospital
It’s very important you have a checklist for the hospital bag in advance so when it’s time you know what to pack in the hospital bag.
Your maternity notes
Your maternity notes contain your medical history and pregnancy journey, as well as your birth plan, so it’s very important to not forget them. Birth rarely goes to plan so having some kind of skeleton plan hospital staff can refer to is invaluable, especially for your partner and if you’re out for the count.
Pack a couple of short and long-sleeved sleepsuits in your bag as newborns can’t regulate their own temperature so the hospital will be cranked up high to protect them. And as newborn skin will have only just graced this earth, there’s nothing comfier than organic sleepsuits for babies, so make sure the material is high quality and soft to prevent any rashes/allergies.
Baby vests* or bodysuits go underneath the sleepsuits or baby grows, and they can also be long-sleeved and short-sleeved. If you know the gender of the baby, you can pack different coloured baby vests but we just went for white and other neutral colours. Just make sure they’re also 100% cotton and washed in a suitable detergent (I recommend Fairy non-bio* as this seems to be the gentlest on the skin).
You can find some suitable baby vests from Amazon here*
Click here to find suitable detergent for cleaning baby clothes on Amazon here*
It is fundamental you pack a couple of newborn hats* because babies cannot regulate their own body temperature. However, some sleepsuits come with footsies and mittens which you fold over, so you may not need extra mittens and booties. If not, then ensure you get some scratch mitts* because they stop baby scratching themselves with their nails (you’d be surprised at how quickly their nails grow!). If it’s cold outside, extra foot protection may be needed, but sleepsuits and snowsuits tend to be all the protection you need.
Click here to find some suitable newborn hats* from Amazon
Click here to find some suitable scratch mitts* from Amazon
Click here to find a suitable newborn bundle set from Amazon*
Newborn Size 0, Size 1 or Size 2 nappies
Depending on the size of your new baby you may need to pack either Size 0 (for premature babies), Size 1 or Size 2 newborn nappies in your hospital bag for the baby. I had big babies so they all started on Size 1 (my middle 1 went straight to Size 2!). So err on the side of caution and get both Size 1 and Size 2, just in case. If you’re in premature early labour then Size 0 nappies may be the right one for you.
Click here to find suitable Size 1 nappies from Pampers*
Click here to find suitable Size 1 nappies from Aldi Mamia*
Click here to find suitable size 1 nappies from ASDAs Little Angels*
Cotton wool balls/pads
To start with, you should only use cooled boiled water and cotton wool to clean your baby’s bottom for at least the first four weeks. This is just to give your new baby’s skin time to get used to the external environment and all the bacteria coming their way.
The first poo is meconium and it can be a difficult to clean off, however, after a few days your baby’s poo will turn yellow and it will be a lot easier to clean after that. You can use either cotton wool balls* or pads* – I prefer the pads.
Click here to find suitable cotton wool balls* from Amazon
Click here to find suitable cotton wool pads* from Amazon
Nappy sacks* are not great for the environment but they do provide a way to stash the soiled nappy along with the used cotton wool into one fragranced (or non-fragranced) bag which can then be thrown into the bin. They’re very cheap and you get hundreds in a pack. Plus they help with keeping all the used bits at bay for sanitisation purposes.
Click here to find some suitable nappy sacks* from Amazon
A spare muslin blanket (more on muslins below) may double up as a changing mat to save space, but if you can, I’d pack a small changing mat because they generally come with the bag and they provide an extra cushion for baby’s bottom. They are also wipeable after use, so if you can find a small one to pack, I’d pack them in the bag.
Click here to find a suitable changing mat for your hospital bag here*
Muslin squares, swaddles and blankets
Muslin squares are the small square cloths that help to mop up spit up when feeding your baby. They’re great to use for small spills and they’re easy to pack as they’re super light.
Muslin swaddles/blankets* are so useful and they may end up being the blankets you use the most during sleep, feeding time and changing baby. Make sure the muslin squares and blankets are 100% cotton to protect the baby’s skin.
Cellular blanket and 100% cotton blanket
The first blankets you will see in the hospital are the cellular blankets* and they’re great because you can use them during the winter and summer months. They are light enough to carry around with you in your hospital bag too. Cellular blankets are designed with a clever ‘cell’ construction, so they trap the air to keep baby cool in the summer and warm in the winter. They’re also safer to use during sleeptime because if the blanket accidentally rides over the baby’s face, they can still breathe under the blanket.
However, it’s important to note here that you should use sleep sacks* while baby sleeps rather than covering the baby with a blanket. You can also swaddle baby which is what hospital staff do but only if you know how to swaddle baby properly. You can get readymade swaddles* which help and don’t require you to do the swaddle wrap (I’ve never been able to swaddle my babies for some reason – they end up being too loose – but when done properly can help baby sleep much better as it mimics the closeness of the mother’s womb.)
Pack a normal 100% cotton blanket* too for extra protection if it’s cold. When you go home you should transfer your baby into a sleepsack* for safe sleep anyway, but it’s great to have as extra security.
Snowsuit if it’s cold outside
If it’s cold outside then snowsuits* are a must because they cover baby from head to toe. They also tend to be fleece-lined to offer maximum protection from the wind because it’s vital your baby is kept warm at all times.
There are so many lovely snowsuits to choose from on Amazon. Here are my some of my favourites:
Going home outfit (not essential)
Of course, a cute going home outfit* is not essential – it’s more for the adults to enjoy a brand new miracle addition to the family wrapped in pretty packaging. There are some cute going home outfits on Amazon so if you have space, and it’s warmer weather outside, then consider dressing new baby up in pretty clothes. If it’s too cold and a snowsuit will cover the outfit anyway then it’s probably not worth it.
Click here to find some suitable going home outfits for boys*
Click here to find some suitable going home outfits for girls*
Infant car seat
Infant car seats* are essential as you won’t be able to leave the hospital without a newborn car seat. This to ensure maximum health and safety of the baby on the trip home from the hospital.
If your car is fixed for IsoFix then I would thoroughly recommend getting an IsoFix base too so you only have to click the car seat into place rather than strap the seatbelt over which I always feel doesn’t look secure or comfortable.
Maternity hospital bag checklist for mum:
Depending on how long you will stay you may want to get two comfortable nighties*. I have two nighties which I’ve used for all three and they’re still good to go. They’re great because they’re long, they’re breathable and they have buttons at the top for easy breastfeeding access. Make sure your nighties are 100% cotton for maximum comfort
Dressing gown (not essential)
A dressing gown* is not essential as you’ll be provided with a hospital gown but it does provide some comfort and privacy when walking around the hospital. I would get something that also doubles up as a bathrobe or go for a thin flowing nightie which you can use as a breastfeeding shawl if required too.
Old nightie for birth
If you’re only getting one nightie above then I would consider packing an old shirt or nightie for the actual birth in case it gets damaged or soiled. You never know what will happen at birth so it’s worth getting something you don’t mind not using again.
Whether you have a caesarean or vaginal birth, the outcome will be the same – you will bleed a lot. And you may end up with a sore front bottom if you’ve had a vaginal delivery. So investing in premium pads* not only provide you with the comfort you need but will also prevent any leakages. My favourite is the Abena Premium Maternity Pads* and I’ve never deviated from those pads. I would recommend getting the double pack with 14 pads each just so you have enough before you transition onto slimmer pads later. You may need more!
“Maternity pads, the big ones! A couple of packs just in case you have to stay in, as you need lots in the early days.”Hayley from https://mamainprogress.com
Click here to buy the Abena Premium Maternity Pads from Amazon*
“Reusable cloth/maternity pads as these can be easily washed and reused. They are super absorbent, will save you money and you’ll never run out.”Emma from https://emmareed.net
Disposable knickers x 10
Whichever pads you choose, I would recommend wearing only disposable knickers, at least at the beginning until the bleeding and the soreness dies down. I have used the same brand for all of my three kids which is the Emma Jane disposable briefs*. You get seven in a pack and they all have different pretty patterns and colours.
I would suggest at least two packs and then you can transition to big 100% cotton knickers*. I would also suggest a size up to compensate for the belly and if you’ve had a c section a size up allows ample room for the hem of the knickers to sit over the scar – constant riding and chafing on the scar could cause an infection so make sure whatever you choose, ensure the hem leaves the scar well alone!
“Big knickers, the bigger the better. Especially if you end up with a C-section. As well as holding the large maternity pads after birth.”Sarah from www.boorooandtiggertoo.com
Click here to buy the Emma Jane disposable knickers* from Amazon
The hospital provides compression socks to help circulate the blood around your legs as you’ll be stuck in bed after birth. But once all is ok, the midwives will prompt you to walk. And if you’re like me, I never fancy placing bare feet on public floors, even if it is the hospital.
You might want waterproof flip flops* for the shower too. Either way, ensure slippers* are breathable, soft and large enough for swollen feet – I would recommend a size up from your regular shoe size for some breathing room.
“Flip flops or slippers for something easy to wear to walk around the ward floor and showers after.”Emma from readyfreddiego.com
“I took my favourite cushion with me. I ended up being in for a week and it was nice to have a tiny bit of home comfort with me.”Jane from https://hodgepodgedays.co.uk
Nursing bras and nursing pads
You may or may not want to breastfeed, but either way, you may end up experiencing some leakage during and after birth. So nursing pads* are useful to help with the leaking, even if you are formula feeding.
I would also recommend really stretchy nursing bras* to accommodate the fluctuating boob size and weight. Plus, they’re really comfortable and all you crave at birth is comfort!
Nipple cream (not essential)
I would say it’s not essential but useful to pack nipple cream, in case you experience some breastfeeding issues. Your milk will generally not come in until around day 3 to 5 but breastfeeding before may become difficult because of this. So it’s useful to pack a small bottle, but bear in mind you may not end up using it.
“Lansinoh lanolin nipple cream. Stop your nipples from getting sore but great on your lips too!”Nyomi from www.nomipalony.com
“Ibuprofen/paracetamol. It’s always so busy on the wards, so rounds can take a long time. It’s handy to have your own to help with the afterpains!”Emily from Http://www.emilyandindiana.com
Cold compress for downstairs (not essential)
I would say a cold compress for downstairs isn’t essential if you end up having a c-section but if you’ve had a vaginal delivery then absolutely get one of these packs!* I wish I had brought some with me after my VBAC because I was so uncomfortable and in a lot of pain that a soothing ointment would have helped so much.
There are some great cold compresses on Amazon but my favourite is the multi-gyn compress*which contains aloe vera and soothing technology that actually helps to speed up healing.
A word of warning – the toiletries you will actually use will depend on your birth. The reason I say this is:
- With my first birth, I had an emergency c-section after three days of back labour so the water spray and massage oil were heaven-sent. I also was allowed to shower with gentle shampoo and conditioner
- With my second birth, I had a planned c-section so I didn’t use massage oil or the water spray – I literally just used shampoo, conditioner and coconut oil as well as the other bits below
- With my third, I had a VBAC and ended up with an episiotomy and a second-degree tear. As a result, I wasn’t allowed to wash with shampoo or conditioner but I was so gutted I didn’t bring my water spray!
So, I will list the full items I think you should bring, but be mindful that you may not end up using them.
Shampoo, conditioner and body wash
Make sure these products are super gentle – gentle enough to be used on babies, so no parabens and no sulfates. Your body has gone through a trauma and unless you’re one of the lucky ones, there will be some form of battle scar to tell the story. So treat that wound with extreme caution.
Coconut oil* can act as a hair and skin moisturiser and a lip balm, so I would thoroughly recommend adding a 100% organic tub to your hospital bag – coconut oil can even act as shaving oil if you end up wanting to shave your legs at the hospital. But I never did so it’s not essential.
Baby wipes are more multi-functional than you think! They’re great for refreshing the skin and wiping off old makeup. They’re also great for cleaning the body if you can’t get to a shower and if there are any spills, baby wipes can also act as cleaning wipes!
Face wash or Facial cleaning wipes
I did use Olay Facial Wipes* to wash my face after birth and I love them so much I use them every day. They’re great because they’re exfoliating and they leave your face feeling really clean and refreshed. Plus, you can double them up as a body wash wipes too because they foam so nicely and the wipe is large.
Bonus tip – I always cut my wipes in half so I have 60 wipes instead of 30!
Tinted lip balm (not essential)
A tinted lip balm* just adds a bit of colour to your face and makes you feel a bit better, as well as softens dry lips. My favourite has always been the Rimmel Colour Rush* series as they are super moisturising and they provide that extra pop of colour so you don’t look half dead after birth.
“Lip balm was the thing I used most in labour. You get so hot that your skin gets really dehydrated and the last thing you need is another part of you that’s uncomfortable! I found a tub of Vaseline was easier for my partner to apply for me than a tube where it’s hard to judge the right amount of pressure on another person.”Josie from https://businessformums.co.uk
If you’ve got long/unruly hair like me then you’ll want it off your face for comfort. I have always used the bobble hairbands as they provide the most hold.
“Hairbands! Totally invaluable but often forgotten.”Louise from pinkpearbear.com
Massage oil and lotion (not essential)
If you’re having a long labour then you may want to use massage oil. Otherwise, you can just use coconut oil. Clary sage is great for speeding up labour so make sure you use it when labour has started. I sniffed clary sage during my third birth and got my VBAC!
I never wore my contact lenses because I was just too tired, but I made sure to pack my glasses so I could see what I was doing. Do not forget this!
Some people may argue that a water spray* isn’t essential – but when I didn’t pack it in my hospital bag I cursed myself for not thinking of it. Water sprays are soooo refreshing and the hospital is super hot so they may be what you need to keep you cool. I wish I had my Evian mist spray to soothe my itching back (a side-effect from the epidural) and will no doubt pack it in my bag for the next birth.
“Some Spritz for Bits Spray! It is honestly a godsend!”Jennifer from www.ricecakesandraisins.co.uk
“A water bottle. You’ll want to drink this during labour, then refill to pour over your lady parts when you have a wee after the birth! Trust me when I say, you’ll need it to avoid a very uncomfortable burning sensation – especially if you end up tearing!”Nicola from https://mummytodex.com
Snacks and water
“A bag of sweets! By the time I’d come out of the delivery room they’d stopped serving food and I didn’t fancy the tuna sandwich from the vending machine! “Gemma from www.mummyswaisted.co.uk
Most hospitals offer breakfast and lunch, but to save the midwives coming round constantly bring your own snacks and water to have at your beck and call. Plus you’ll get quite peckish – I ate loads when I was in the hospital.
“A pack of straws, gas and air makes you so thirsty and a, straw is much easier to use during contractions than taking a sip.”Mandi from Bigfamilyorganisedchaos.com
Some great snacks are protein bars, fruit and yoghurt pots – but I ate all sorts.
“Your favourite chocolate or treat for afterwards!”Christy from www.welshmum.co.uk
Camera Phone and earphones
Don’t forget to pack your smartphone or a camera so you can record the beautiful memories of birth and the first few days at the hospital. A picture is worth a thousand words, but a video is worth a million.
“An extra-long phone charging cable- that way your phone can reach all the way to the bed. Trust me, your phone will be busy with everyone asking for updates!”Jodie from Www.maidenheadmums.co.uk
Also, I listened to a lot of calming hypnobirthing tracks to help me through the early stage of labour, so it might be worth bringing earphones to help you as well – and for after the birth too.
“A tape measure. When my little girl was born they gave us the weight, but not her height/length. I wish I’d taken a tape measure to be able to get that measurement!”Jo from www.arosetintedworld.co.uk
There will be some downtime while baby sleeps and if you’re too wired to sleep yourself, you may want some magazines/books to tie you over.
I bought some puzzle books to keep me occupied but I rarely opened them as my brain was so tired. But bring some just in case. I would recommend some light reading from magazines or tucking into a good book.
Swimming costume top for a water birth (not essential)
It’s not essential but if you’re opting for a water birth, it might be more comfortable for you to bring a swimming costume top and keep the bottom free for baby to come through.
“A pillow. Nothing better than a home comfort after exhausting labour – and also doubles as pain relief post-c-section to pop over your tummy when coughing/laughing.”Beth from Https://Twinderelmo.co.uk
You will be sore, you will be wobbly and you’ll be uncomfortable. So pack some comfortable free clothing that doesn’t stick too much to your bottom, belly and/or scar. I wore my husband’s clothes and looked like a hobo. But I didn’t care, I pushed a baby out!
“Dark pyjamas! If you need to stay overnight then you’ll want dark bottoms just in case!”Victoria from Https://www.healthyvix.com
Check out some suitable clothing for after birth below:
A large bag should suffice when thinking about a hospital bag for labour. The best hospital bag for mum (and hospital bag for dad too) will have lots of compartments for you to organise your items. I have found some suitable hospital bags to buy from Amazon, which is affordable and will give you ample space to include all your essentials for a hospital overnight bag. They can double up
Here are some great hospital bag options:
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I have my hospital bag ready. Now what?
Now you wait until your bundle of joy greets you and you’re ready to take your must have hospital bag for baby (and must have hospital bag for mum if you’ve packed two) to the hospital.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the best baby bags?
I love my Miu Tui Berry Travel Changing bag, but I find the rucksacks above are much more user-friendly. Make sure to pick something which is large enough to hold your items but not too big so you can’t carry it. Think about usability and being able to carry it with one hand and baby in the other, as you’ll want to convert your hospital bag into a changing bag eventually. So something with lots of compartments also helps too.
How do I pack a winter hospital bag for baby?
I’ve included winter items in the list above, but make sure you pack enough warm clothes and a snowsuit to protect the baby from the harsh weather. Also, ensure the baby is wrapped with enough blankets and the head and limbs are covered. I would recommend also getting a car seat blanket wrap like this Kura Organic Wrap for extra protection.
What is the newborn bed in the hospital called?
The newborn bed is called a bassinet and is large enough to provide the baby with enough room but also small enough to make them feel like they are enclosed like in a womb. The sides are transparent so hospital staff and parents can ensure they can see the baby from all angles.
How do parents ensure a safe trip home from the hospital with their newborn?
Make sure you’ve asked all the questions you need from the midwives and packed a safe and secure car seat, ready to transport baby. Also make sure you’ve prepared for baby’s arrival so your baby has somewhere safe to sleep and it’s nice and warm for them to stay cosy. Trust your instincts and ask if you need answers – you’ll be fine! This article on how to prepare for your baby will arm you with all the information you need for baby’s first year.
Also, check out my very extensive video below where I go through all the steps in detail – from your third trimester to baby’s 1 year birthday!
I hope you found my baby hospital bag checklist useful.
If this is your first baby, fight the urge to pack everything but the kitchen sink. You won’t need it and you’ll just have to lug it all home with a new baby afterwards. Think about what to pack for a hospital bag first and then what size hospital bag you need then pack accordingly.
Ask yourself, ‘do you need two hospital bags?’ Believe me, with four pregnancies, I have learned to cut items down to the bone when I’ve had to think about what to pack for the hospital bag.
If you have any tips on what to pack for the hospital bag for delivery please share with us in the comments below. When did you pack your hospital bag? What do you wish you added to your baby registry or hospital bag list? What are some items that you packed in your hospital bag for delivery and postpartum that you didn’t end up using?
Good luck – you got this!
*Collaborative feature post*
*As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases*
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