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The only hospital bag checklist you'll ever need

Sarah Wiltshire,
Partner & Editor

With your due date approaching, we’re here to help you pack all the essentials you’ll need during labour and birth

You’ve waited months to meet your baby and with your due date approaching, you’ll need to start thinking about making sure you have everything on your hospital bag checklist.

Labour can be unpredictable and the prospect of packing for every eventuality on top of buying everything from your newborn baby checklist, might seem a bit daunting. Follow our tips and checklists for all your essentials and additional peace of mind.  

Labour Checklist

There’s no knowing when you might go into labour, so it’s a good idea to have your bag packed 4-6 weeks before your due date so you’re as ready as you can be.

Birth plan and maternity notes - It’s a good idea to have these with you whenever you leave the house in the weeks leading up to your due date.

Dressing gownPerfect as a cover-up when you’re pacing those hospital corridors.

SlippersChoose ones that are easy to get on and off and don’t require much bending down.

Massage oilMassage can help ease labour pains if you have a willing partner or friend!

Birth ball/gym ballA birth ball can help keep you mobile in labour and ease lower back pain. The hospital may have one you can use or ask if you bring your own.

Drinks and snacks - Energy bars and sports drinks will help keep you going.

Sports BottleFor those vital sips during labour.  

Laptop or tabletTo play your favourite music and pass the time in the early stages of labour.

Magazines or a book - You could be waiting around for a while!

A comfy t-shirt or nightie to wear during labour - Beware, it might get a bit messy.

TENS MachineSome women find this helps with contractions by sending a series of electrical pulses through your skin.

Facial spray/spritz or travel fan - To help cool you down. 

What you’ll need after the birth

There’s a lot of talk of what to do to plan for the birth, but what about afterwards? What will you need if you have to stay in hospital overnight or a for few days? You could be back home within a few hours or, if you have caesarean you may have to stay in hospital for three or four days.

Post Labour Checklist

Toiletries - If you stay for one or more nights, you’ll need your normal overnight bag of toiletries you’d normally take away with you, so things like your toothbrush and toothpaste, face wash and face cream. 

Towel and flannel - Depending on how long you’re there you’ll also be given the chance to have a shower, so take a nice big towel and shower gel so you can freshen up.

Nursing bra - Special bras with clips to aid breastfeeding

Breast pads - Essential for when your milk comes in.

Maternity pads - One of the things hospitals don’t really provide are maternity pads, which are essential for after the birth, and don’t forget take a few changes of knickers too. If in doubt, go big - comfort is key here and big knickers are also ideal if you have a caesarean as they won’t rub your surgery scar.  

Pyjamas - Have nice, comfortable pair of pyjamas to change into whilst you bond with your baby and wait to go home. Front-opening tops are great for breastfeeding and will also allow you to maintain that all-important skin-to-skin contact with your new arrival.

Clean clothes to go home in - Pack a going home outfit that’s loose and comfortable. Your tummy will have gone down a little bit, but it will take a while, so you’ll find that you’ll still be wearing your maternity clothes for some time afterwards. Stretchy joggers or leggings are perfect.

What you’ll need for your baby

The hospital bag checklist doesn’t stop after the baby is born. It might be hard to imagine that you’ll have a tiny little person in your arms in the not-so-distant future, but the time will come and when your baby does finally make an entrance, you’ll need a few things to make sure they’re warm and comfortable too.

For baby checklist

Nappies & cotton wool - Newborn nappies and cotton wool or wipes for cleaning the baby - the hospital won’t provide these. Bring a couple of packs, you’ll be surprised how many you get through.

Blanket - Hospitals can get cold and it’ll be a good cover-up for the baby’s first journey. If it’s winter-time make sure you have a blanket so you can cover them on the journey home, and of course, you’ll need a car seat for their first car ride.

Scratch mittens & baby hat - You’ll need a hat as hospitals can be chilly, and mittens to stop them from scratching themselves.

Sleepsuits and vests - Pack at least two or three sleepsuits, vests and a cardigan or two. Lots of people like to pack a special going home outfit for baby too, for that all important first-time-outside photo.

Muslin squares - A new parent’s best friend. Muslin squares are a lifesaver and can be used to mop up milk and any accidents (there will be lots), and of course, don’t forget a big pack of baby wipes.

Baby car seat - Our Nursery Partners can show you how to fit these in store.

What happen's next?

For advice on all the equipment you'll need for your newborn make sure you've read our baby checklist for everything from what to wear, where to sleep and how to travel safely and in style. 

Packing your hospital bag before you are due to give birth can be daunting. Watch our easy-to-follow video guide to what to pack to take with you for birth and just after.