The Ultimate Maternity Hospital Bag Checklist

Are you all set for the big day? Your baby might arrive earlier than expected, so it’s worth having your hospital bag packed for you, your birth partner and the baby during the third trimester – at about week 38 − just in case.

This checklist will help you pack your pregnancy hospital bag so you’ll be sure to have everything you need for yourself, your new baby, and your birth partner. If you have a minute, check what your hospital has on hand or provides so you won't need to take those items. Then, once your maternity bag is packed, keep it handy, either in the car or by the door, so you'll be ready to go at a moment's notice.

Hospital Bag for Mum: Labour and Delivery

  • Hospital file, ID and insurance papers. Have your medical records handy, so that your doctors can easily see your medical history. Your hospital may require some form of ID, any medical cards, and insurance documents up front, so make sure you have a copy of these readily available.

  • Birth plan (if you have one). You might have discussed your birth plan with your medical team, but having a few copies printed and available for doctors and nurses means that everyone can refer to it, in case last-minute questions arise.

  • Dressing gown. A soft dressing gown is useful for pacing around during labour, or afterward, if you spend some time in the hospital.

  • Socks. Many mums pop on some warm socks if their feet get cold during labour.

  • Slippers or flip-flops. You’ll want slippers that are comfortable and easy to slip in and out of to wear as you walk around the hospital ward. Pack some flip-flops for using in the shower.

  • Lip balm. Your lips can get chapped during labour. Having some lip balm on hand will help hydrate your lips.

  • Body lotion or massage oil. Some mums-to-be find a little massage during labour relaxing. If this could be you, pop some lotion or oil in your hospital bag.

  • Water spray and sponge. During labour you may feel you’re getting a little hot. It could help to spray some water on your face and neck, or to sponge some cool water on your forehead.

  • Comfortable pillow(s). Your hospital will provide you with pillows, but they might not be the right kind for you. If you have a favourite pillow, then it can’t hurt to take it along as well.

  • Relaxing pass-times. Pack some things to help you pass the time like a book, magazines, a tablet with movies or series downloaded on it, or a music player.

  • Eye mask and earplugs. To help you get rest in a busy and bright maternity ward, an eye mask or earplugs could be just what you need during the downtimes of labour, or for your well-deserved rest following the delivery.

Hospital Bag for Mum: After Delivery

  • Nightdresses. You’ll need something comfortable to sleep in during your hospital stay. Pack at least one soft nightdress. Choose a front-opening one if you plan to breastfeed.

  • Heavy-duty maternity pads. Although the hospital may provide some, pack plenty of heavy-duty maternity-pads, just in case. It’s normal to bleed a lot after the birth, and maternity pads are softer and more absorbent than standard ones. Initially you may need to change pads every one to two hours, but within a few days the flow will start to decrease.

  • Underwear. Pack several pairs of comfortable underwear that you won’t mind getting messy, and that are large enough for those maternity pads.

  • Bras. Be prepared with a few nursing bras or any other comfortable, well-fitting bras.

  • Toiletries. Don’t forget towels, tissues, hairbrush, deodorant, toothbrush, toothpaste, face wash, body wash, shampoo, conditioner, hairdryer, hair clips, and hair ties. Pack a plastic bag to pop dirty clothes in.

  • Cosmetics and skin care products. If makeup is part of your usual routine, then don’t forget your cosmetics. Plus, make sure you pack some moisturisers as your skin may feel drier than usual.

  • Glasses and contact lenses (if you need them). It may seem obvious but sometimes it’s these little things that can escape your attention when packing your hospital bag. Don’t forget contact lens solution if you use contacts.

  • Phone and charger. Unless you opt for a little digital detox during this special time, don’t forget your phone and charger. That way you can stay in touch with loved ones, you can use it to take those first few pictures, and post your special news on social media.

  • Clothes. Apart from your nightdress, you might choose to take some comfortable clothes to wear during your stay in hospital. Pack an extra outfit to wear home. Choose something loose-fitting, with a drawstring or an elastic waist.

  • Handouts and reference books. You might have received some handy notes from your prenatal classes or have some reference books about newborns baby care. While the doctors and nurses will be able to give you lots of personalised guidance, you might find these resources more useful once you actually have your newborn baby in your arms.

  • Soothing products for vagina and tummy. You should always follow the advice of your medical team, but you might consider packing an ice pack for your vagina (if you’re having a vaginal birth); haemorrhoid cream (again, for potential use after a vaginal birth); a peri bottle which you can use to squeeze warm water over your perineum, vaginal opening and anus instead of wiping when you go to the toilet which can get uncomfortable after a vaginal birth; a belly wrap (these can be good after both vaginal and Caesarean births); Epsom salts (if your hospital has bath facilities available); and ointments that can help reduce vaginal swelling and bruising. After a Caesarean section medical staff will treat the wound during your stay, and will advise you how to take care of it going forward.

  • Snacks and drinks. Labour can sometimes be very long, so you could consider packing some snacks and drinks. However, speak to your medical team about whether or not you will be allowed to eat or drink anything during labour. Also, consider packing some of your favourite snacks for after the labour as you may feel like some comfort food during your hospital stay.

Hospital Bag Essentials for Your Birth Partner

As a birth partner, you might also want to pack some things for your time supporting mum in the hospital:

  • Snacks and water. Labour can be thirsty work for supportive partners. Pack some snacks and water, as well as change for the hospital vending machines.

  • Phone, camera and/or video camera, plus chargers and batteries. Your partner will also want a phone to stay in contact with loved ones, and for some entertainment during downtimes. The camera is needed to take some snaps. (Make sure the camera’s memory card has plenty of room on it.)

  • Clothes. Labour is an unpredictable process, a change of clothes is always a good idea, as you never know how long the stay will be.

  • Toiletries and towel. After a long labour, even your partner may need to freshen up in the shower. Most hospitals are fine with this, but you could confirm this beforehand.

  • Spare glasses or spare contact lenses. It might be a long day, so having spares of these essentials could come in handy.

  • Small pillow. Believe it or not, your partner might also need a rest while assisting during a long labour.

  • Entertainment. Have something to do for when the going gets a little boring: books, a tablet, and a music player are all good options.

Hospital Bag for Baby

  • Bodysuits. Hospital policies can vary on what newborns can be dressed in so consult with your doctor in advance about what to pack. You may need to add to what the hospital provides in terms of accessories and layers. Remember, with bodysuits it’s a good idea to choose those that fasten up at the front.

  • Socks and booties. Newborns can get cold easily, and you may want to add to what the hospital provides in terms of accessories and layers. Even during skin-to-skin contact, your newborn can wear a hat and socks.

  • Blanket. While the hospital will likely provide blankets, a blanket of your own is always good to have on hand to use during skin-to-skin contact. It can also be used to keep your baby warm in the car seat on the way home.

  • Diapers. About 20 to 30 diapers made especially for newborns, like New Baby Diapers. Your newborn might get through 10-12 diapers each day, so start stocking up.

  • Wipes. Newborns’ skin is particularly sensitive, so it’s best to use only cotton wool balls and water or Pampers Baby Wipes in the first weeks.

  • Muslin squares. These can be draped on your shoulder or placed underneath the baby to prevent dribbles from getting on your clothes. You could also pack some bibs for this purpose too.

  • Going-home outfit. Consider the weather conditions: a bodysuit, booties and hat could be fine during the warmer months, but in winter pack mittens and a jacket or snow suit as well.

  • Car seat. This obviously isn’t for the hospital bag, but the right car seat should be installed in your car around the same time you pack your baby bag so it’s ready for the hospital.

What to Use as a Maternity Hospital Bag

Your maternity hospital bag should be about the size of a large gym bag. If you’re expecting twins or multiples you might need to take more than one bag. If you like, you could take separate bags with one for mum, one for the birth partner, and one filled with supplies for the baby, so that you can find everything a little more easily.

With this hospital bag list, you’ll have your maternity bag well stocked. Read up on the signs of labour, so that you know when it’s time to grab the bag and be on your way. Good luck!

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