The hospital bag essentials - What you really need for birth

As the weeks pass by through pregnancy, everything becomes about preparing for the arrival of your new baby.

We know that if you’re also suffering with pelvic and back pain, finding the energy can be a struggle.

From getting the baby’s nursery ready, to choosing the pushchair to best suit your lifestyle, it can all feel a little overwhelming. 

One thing that you do need to spend some time on however, is what to pack in your hospital bag, ready for the birth.

What should I pack in my hospital bag?

There are lots of helpful websites with hospital bag checklists such as Cow & Gate, Bounty, and the NHS

You could also look at online forums, Facebook groups, and ask friends what they found useful. 

We thought we’d pop our ideas together for you too though.

Here’s our list of what to pack for labour and your newborn baby.

What to pack in your hospital bag

Essentials for pre-labour and birth

Generally, this is the time when you are waiting to be induced, being monitored, or in the early stages of labour. The key is to keep yourself as comfortable and occupied as possible.

Remember to pack:

  • Your birth plan and maternity notes – these are essential as they contain everything to do with your pregnancy and general health in the lead up to the due date
  • A dressing gown – maternity wards tend to be hotter than the sun, but still, a dressing gown will be your best friend, especially if you are in for an extended period of time
  • Slippers and/or cosy socks
  • A nightie or big baggy t-shirts - these will save you from having to undress for each check
  • A few sets of loose-fitting comfortable clothes that won't restrict you
  • Lip balm
  • Snacks and drinks for energy e.g. granola bars, sports drinks, water etc.
  • Something to help you pass the time - download your box sets, books, magazines, e-reader, MP3 player, knitting etc.
  • An extra pillow or your trusty maternity pillow - you’ll most likely only be offered one pillow on the ward
  • Camera or smartphone and chargers - to capture those all important moments!
  • Facial spritz to cool you down 
  • Ear plugs and eye mask in case you are able to get some sleep – maternity wards are noisy and well-lit

Items you might need for labour

Once you are in established labour, you may not be as interested in what is going on around you. This stage of packing is all about helping you to stay calm, and avoiding things that might annoy you.

  • A birthing ball - find out if the labour ward has this available
  • Hairband or hair clips to keep hair out of your face
  • A TENS machine for pain management - this is often helpful during contractions and can be hired rather than bought
  • A bikini top or vest if you don't want to be completely naked throughout
  • A drinking straw – to help you to breathe longer to ride out the contractions
  • Massage oil

Essentials for post labour

After the main event, you’ll want to have things around you to aid your recovery. 

Our leggings and shorts are perfect for providing supportive compression which can help with realignment of the pelvis and uterus after birth. 

Also pack:

  • A couple of good nursing bras if you plan to breastfeed
  • Maxi-maternity sanitary pads
  • Your wash bag including toothbrush, hairbrush, face wipes and other toiletries
  • Towels (preferably a dark colour)
  • Front-opening or loose-fitting nighties or tops for nursing
  • Loose or disposable underwear
  • Breast pads and nipple cream
  • A comfortable outfit for going home in
  • Your makeup bag in case you want it 
  • Your favourite treat – you’ll certainly have earned it
  • Flip flops for the shower
  • Extra pairs of bottoms (pjs, leggings, shorts etc.)

Essentials for your baby after birth

There are some must-haves for your baby too. 

  • Sleep suits and vests that you can have in easy reach for the moment they arrive
  • A cellular baby blanket 
  • Newborn nappies - at least 12 per day 
  • Muslin cloths
  • A hat for the first day - a baby can’t adjust its body temperature straight away
  • Scratch mittens
  • An outfit for travelling home - THE outfit for the photos!
  • An all-in-one pramsuit, for autumn and winter babies
  • A knitted cardigan, for spring and summer babies, 
  • Changing products – cotton wool, bags, baby wipes, nappy creams etc.
  • A car seat

Good luck, mama. You’ve got this!