The only list you need when packing a hospital bag

Packing your hospital bag can feel both exciting and daunting. The items you see suggested can feel a bit strange when it’s your first baby. I always remember seeing ‘extra-large sanitary towels’ on the list and wondering why on earth I would need them (and then packing a few tiny ones, only to have to send my partner out to buy more when the time came).  

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Perhaps you’ve already got your bag sorted but want to double-check you’ve not forgotten anything. Or you’ve not started yet and need some ideas. We asked our audience to give us their top tips for ‘Must-have hospital bag items that might not make the standard lists (plus we’ve put the essentials at the bottom too). 

Have a read through, take what you need but also trust that YOUR list will be YOUR list. Every labour and birth and situation will be different and therefore everyone’s needs and wants will be different. At My First Five Years,  we like to focus on the unique nature of every journey and building confidence in your decisions as a parent or parent-to-be. So, if chocolate is not normally your thing, don’t pack chocolate. This doesn’t apply to the thick pads / disposable pants though – I would probably take those!!! 

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“I wish someone had told me to take dark-coloured underwear and pyjamas, the light pink ones I took were not great for staying clean!” - Alison 

“You can get something called a vaginal spritz, it was so good for after labour.” 

“Sounds odd but I wish I had taken some dates or fruit that would help me get the first post-birth poo out a bit more smoothly!” 

“I wish I had taken a notebook and pen, purely because I couldn’t remember anything at the time and I think some notes would have helped, and also because I stayed in the second time around for a few nights and would have liked to write about it.” – Allie 

“Remember to pack ‘a bag’ even if you are having a home birth, so that everything is together.” 

“A sleep bra, a stretchy, comfy, soft, sleep bra.” – Claire 

“A cushion for the car on the way home! I was very grateful for that.” – Emily 

“Flip flops, it is so hot on a maternity ward.” – Rhiannon 

“Pads, pads, pads, pads, pads, snacks, snacks, snacks, snacks, snacks!” – Nicola 

“Spa-like treats, any nice toiletries that make you feel nice. The first shower after you give birth should be as close to a spa experience as is humanly possible.” – Andrea 

“With my second child, I took in a photo of my daughter. It helped me to not get scared all over again and made me smile.” – Eva 

“An extended phone charger so you don’t have to move and can have your phone.” – Julia 

Take two newborn sizes because you never know how big or small they will be.”   Rene 

“I took two small bags, one for pre and one for post-labour. Saved me having to ask my wife to root around one huge bag looking for the things I needed.” 

“Some sort of facial mist, even if it is just cold water. So good.” – Nat 

“A nice water bottle, sounds obvious but one with a straw meant that my birth partner could just keep sticking it under my nose and reminding me to not get dehydrated!”  

“We took electric tealights which made our room feel so much nicer”  – Helen 


The essential list: 

  • Maternity notes
  • Birth plan, if you’ve made one
  • Wash bag with toiletries
  • Towels 
  • Jammies / dressing gown / slippers 
  • Comfy clothes you can move around freely in, including a few layers  
  • Something to wear to leave the hospital 
  • Large sanitary or maternity pads 
  • Large comfy knickers (disposable?) 
  • Everything you need for the baby – Nappies, cotton wool balls, three or four babygros, three or four vests, hats (babies get cold quickly), muslins, blankets, something to take the baby home in (especially during the colder months)
  • Books, magazines, music, iPad (anything that will keep you relaxed during the early stages) 
  • Healthy snacks and drinks (plenty) 
  • Treaty snacks 
  • Camera  
  • Phone and phone charger 
  • Feedings bras (if you plan to breastfeed) 
  • Breast pads (as above) 
  • Cash (parking, extra treats from the hospital) 
  • You might want to take your own pillow 
  • TENS machine (if you are using one) 
  • Any other birth aids you plan to use, such as  aromatherapy oils  

It’s a good idea to write your list down somewhere because certain items can be packed in advance, whereas some might need to be done last-minute. Don’t forget that babies follow their own schedules so it’s a good idea to get your bag packed in plenty of time and make sure that your birth partner knows where to find it! One less thing for you to think about when the big day arrives. 

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