If you’re getting close to the finishing line, you may start to think about what you’ll need during labour. You should aim to have your hospital bag packed by the time you are full-term so you’ll have one less thing to worry about when you go into labour.
You will need to keep your packed hospital bags somewhere convenient. Some people choose to keep them by the front door, and others stick them straight in the car, so they’re ready for the journey to the hospital.
What kind of bag to use as a hospital bag for labour?
You can use any bag for your hospital bag. You do not need to go out and spend money on an expensive new bag to take to the hospital with you. Instead, save your money for when the baby is here.
You will need a big bag to fit everything in, but you don’t need it to be unnecessarily huge as it will just be another thing to lug about the hospital with you. It’s a smart idea to get together all of the items you want to take and then find a bag to fit, rather than the other way round.
Top tip: pack three hospital bags for labour
Rather than cramming everything into one bag, you should split things into three bags—one for you, one for your birth partner and one filled with stuff for the baby. Having separate bags means you won’t waste time rummaging around through things you don’t need.
What do I need to pack in my hospital bag for labour?
Your hospital bag for labour should include all of the things you might need during labour. If you go in to be induced, you may want to take more distractions to help you relax before labour starts. Puzzle books, podcasts and knitting are all examples of items women use to help them relax while waiting to be induced.
Here are some things to include in your hospital bag:
- A copy of your birth plan, if you have one
- Something to wear during labour (an oversized comfy nightdress is a great idea)
- A bikini top if you’re planning to use the birth pool
- Things to help you relax (headphones, music, podcasts, something to read)
- Lip balm to prevent dry lips during labour
- A fan to keep you cool
- A phone charger (and phone, obviously)
- A TENS machine if you’re planning to use one
- Massage oil (if you want your birth partner to massage you during labour)
- A pillow from home (your sleepybelly pillow is ideal for helping you get comfy in different positions during labour)
- Snacks and drinks to keep your energy levels up during labour (energy bars, sports drinks, and fresh fruit are good options)
- Toiletries (you’ll need your toothbrush, toothpaste, makeup wipes, hair bobbles, etc.)
- If you are on medication, you will need to take this.
You may also want to pack anything that features in your birth plan. For example, some women choose to take aromatherapy oils or a birth ball to use during labour. Ask your midwife whether the hospital has these or whether it’s worth packing your own. If you’re planning to use hypnobirthing techniques during labour, you should take your hypnobirthing tracks and headphones with you.
Top tip: get your birth partner to pack your hospital bag
Your birth partner is the person who will be searching for your lip balm or lavender oil when you’re mid-contraction, so you want to make sure they know their way around. Once you have all of the things you want to take, ask your birth partner to pack the bag. They’ll know precisely what you’re taking and where each item is in the bag.
What do I need to pack in my hospital bag for after the birth?
You should pack a second bag of items you will need after the birth. These items will help you to get comfortable after birth. It’s not always possible to predict how long your hospital stay will be. While some women are home within hours, others have a longer hospital stay.
For after the birth, you will need:
- Comfy knickers (the bigger, the better)
- Maternity pads (the bigger, the better)
- A towel (hospitals have towels, but they are teeny tiny, so you may prefer to bring one from home)
- Comfy pyjamas (you’ll likely want a change of nightwear after the birth)
- Dressing gown and slippers
- Comfortable clothes to wear home
- A fully charged camera so you can take photos of your beautiful newborn
- Nursing bras, breast pads and nursing tops (if you’re planning to breastfeed).
What should I pack in the hospital bag for my new baby?
Don’t forget about your baby! Your baby will also need some clothes and toiletries for their hospital stay. Packing up the tiny baby outfits and newborn diapers will likely make it all feel very real.
In a separate bag, you should pack the following items for your new baby:
- Bodysuits and sleepsuits
- An outfit to wear home
- A hat
- Scratch mittens
- Cotton wool balls (for diaper changes)
- Muslin squares
- A cardigan or warm layer if it’s cold.
Top Tip: don’t forget the car seat!
You will need to take your baby’s car seat with you to the birth to transport them home safely. First, make sure you know how to fit the car seat into your car. If you’re unsure, there are lots of instructional videos online.
What should my birth partner pack in their hospital bag?
Your birth partner will be your partner and coach during labour. So, they must take care of themselves so that they can support you to the best of their ability. Do not underestimate the importance of your birth partner staying hydrated during labour.
Your birth partner will need a hospital bag full of essentials, including:
- Change (for the parking meter and vending machine)
- Snacks and a drink (your birth partner will need to stay fed and hydrated throughout your labour)
- Toiletries (you might politely request they brush their teeth before whispering words of encouragement to you)
- Painkillers (if they get a headache, you won’t want to hear about it mid-contraction)
- A change of clothes
- A list of contacts (make sure your birth partner has the contact details of your important people such as your doula, best friend and close family members).
Packing the hospital bags takes you one step closer to meeting your baby. It is a ritual to help you prepare for the birth and for meeting your new baby. Ticking this job off your to-do list will likely help you feel ready for the birth.