Hospital Bag Checklist

What to pack in a hospital bag for birth?

Apr 24, 2024

The first time I packed my hospital bag it was like I was going on a two week holiday. I wheeled a huge suitcase into the labour ward I am sure it was a tell tale sign that I was a first timer. The third time around I have a much better idea of what I'm likely to actually need.


These are some of the things I consider essential and a few nice to haves in there as well. I found it really useful to use clear zip lock bags to organise things in my hospital bag. I labelled them “underwear” “babygrows” “muslins” etc so that not only was it neat and organised but my husband or midwife could easily find something if I needed it.


When it came to the actual bag I used, I really don't think it matters what type it is. Have it near the door, ready to go from about 36 weeks as you just never know!




  • Water bottle with a straw. Labour is hot, thirsty work and the beauty of having a straw like this is that you don’t need to keep tipping your head back to drink it. It is also extremely helpful if you have a caesarian to have a big bottle of water with you so you don’t have to keep getting up out of bed to fill it up.


  • Mini fan - No matter the temperature outside, hospitals are always warm so this fan was a lifesaver for me last time. My husband was on constant fan duty through my contractions and it was great for post birth night sweats too! Oh the glamour!


  • Lip balm - Some of the pain relief can give you really dry lips and I remember using mine a lot and really thankful that someone told me to bring it with me to the hospital


  • Snacks - You may not feel like eating during the main phase of your labour but if the early stage lasts a long time it is important to keep your energy levels up for the big event. The biggest tip I was given (and I didn’t listen, but should have!!) is not to bring all your ultimate favourite foods as it could ruin it for you. I was sick a fair bit in my pregnancy and all I could taste were percy pigs and it’s safe to say I haven’t wanted to eat them since! Bring things that are easy to snack on and high energy like nuts, cereal bars, oat bars etc.


  • Toiletries - You never know how long you will be in hospital for so always pack what you’d take for a weekend away in terms of toiletries. Toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo, hairbrush, face wipes etc. I was in for one night first time around but it was so nice to be able to shower after 12 hours of hot and sweaty labour. They usually have towels so you don’t need to bring one, although you may prefer to have your own softer and home smelling one.


  • Long phone charger - This came in so useful for me and I will definitely be bringing this again. The plug sockets are usually behind your bed on the ward and if you are telling all your friends and family the good news your battery will be needing charge a lot during your time so this way you can charge it whilst still using it. If you are induced or have to stay in a while before giving birth you can also then use your phone or iPad to watch things to pass the time.


  • Loose, comfy clothes - Whether you wear anything at all during labour (I was just in a bra most of the time!) or not, you will want to go home in something comfortable so I would suggest some soft tracksuit bottoms with a loose band around the waist, and something comfortable on top that is easy to get on - buttons are a god send if you are planning on breast feeding. Your feet may likely be swollen so slip on shoes or sandals are ideal, or in the wintery months just shoes that you can loosen if you need to.


  • Underwear - I took in so many options as I just didn’t want to be caught short with the wrong kind of underwear for post birth. The truth is, the hospital has everything you need there but it is always good to come prepared. I actually ended up using both cushioned and specific maternity so would definitely recommend bringing around 5 of each, the hospital have a plentiful supply but always nicer having your own.


  • Socks - Just for comfort really, and to go over those delightful hospital compression socks they’ll give you to wear. 2 pairs should be plenty.


  • Feeding bra - If you choose to and are able to breastfeed you may want to bring in a nursing bra in with you. Whilst I was in the hospital I didn’t wear it, I just pulled my top up as I found it easier as I was navigating feeding for the first time but on the way home I wore one of these and found it super comfortable and easy to use.


  • Nipple cream - I used Lanolin nipple balm which I found helpful. You may not need it, but better to have it and not need it than the other way around. It also makes the best lip balm so it can double up as that too.


  • Breast Pads - Again you may not need these, I didn’t last time, but I will still pack them again as you just never know.  




  • Birthing playlist - Some women like to have a carefully curated playlist to listen to whilst they give birth so have a think about some of the songs that either make you feel calm, or give you the energy you may need at the right time.


  • Bikini top/sports bra - If you end up using the birthing pool you may like to wear something on top, though this is absolutely not necessary and many women prefer to be totally nude throughout their labour.


  • Make up - It totally depends on you. I didn’t use a single piece of make up in hospital but then again I wasn’t in there for very long. It might be something that is important to you and in which case could be on your list to pack.


  • Flip flops - For that post birth shower it might feel really nice to have something on your feet. I won’t go into the details but you can imagine why!


  • Scented spray - You may want your birth to have a certain scent to keep it as calm as possible. I had taken in lavender spray last time and didn’t use it but it could be a nice addition next time if the situation is right for it.


  • Pregnancy pillow (or just a nice pillow from home) - It can help with various positions in labour, or if your labour last a long time it can help you rest if possible. It is also useful for propping you up for feeding positions when the baby is here too.


  • Headphones - They can be great for blocking out any noise while you’re in labour and wanting to stay in your zone but also when the baby is here too you can use them for face timing friends and family or even watching a film without everyone on the ward hearing.




  • Hat - They will insist on your baby wearing a hat as soon as they are born to keep them warm, so bring one with you or else they will put on a hospital one.


  • Babygrows - I would say don’t underestimate how many of these you might need. We got through about 8 in 24 hours. Bring a few nice ones but also just a pack of white ones will do as there is a lot of weeing that goes on so lots of changes required. Unless you are pretty sure of your baby’s size I would suggest bringing a smaller and a bigger option although it doesn’t really matter if it is too big. You forget how teeny newborns are!


  • Nappies - Lots of size 0 nappies! As I said, lots of weeing and some pretty impressive coloured poos too so you don’t want to be caught short.


  • Wipes (or cotton wool pads) - One pack will do but definitely don’t want to be dealing with the first few poos without those!!


  • Muslin cloths - Alfie was quite a sucky baby right from the start so we got through quite a few of these in the hospital. I would pack between 5-8 to cover yourself and they don’t take up much room so if you don’t need them then it’s not the end of the world.


  • Swaddle - The midwives will show you how to swaddle your baby (we could never get it as perfect as they did) so that they feel safe and secure when they sleep. You’ll need 1 or 2 of these large swaddle blankets or muslins.


  • Cellular Blanket - Helpful to put over the baby in the car seat as you leave the hospital, but also nice to use whilst you’re in there too.


  • Formula & bottle - If you don’t plan on breastfeeding or perhaps want a backup just in case it could be worth bring a bottle or two of formula with you, although the hospital have stores and would never let your baby go hungry so talk this through with your midwife if you are unsure on the policy at your hospital.



I hope this list is helpful as a guide to packing your own hospital bag, and remember to make sure your birth partner has a good idea of what is in there and where so that they can grab things quickly when needed. Anything you forget, if it’s essential the hospital is likely to be able to help you so try not to panic about it. 


I have made a collection of my essentials on my LTK SHOP. You can see my hospital bag essentials here


And if you would like a handy checklist to save, take a screenshot of this list below.



And finally, if you'd like to watch along as I pack my bag then take a look at my you tube video here





Want more pregnancy and post-natal chat?

News, moves, motivation, and recommendations delivered to your inbox once a month.

We hate SPAM. Your email address will never be given to anyone else and we won't bombard you with sales talk.