If you are reading this you are either very organised or left it to the last minute, but one thing is for sure, I'll bet you've had the thought that it all seems overwhelming and you just aren't sure where to begin?
So here is our roundup of what we think is the ultimate packing list for your birth, trialled and tested by Mama of Bon + Bear with her two children who are 3 & 1 years old.
Top Tip: A small carry on is the best Hospital Bag
After taking multiple bags for Baby no.1 (we’re talking 4+, maybe even 5… including 1 bag full of just snacks!) We would definitely recommend consolidating where you can.
A small hand luggage size suitcase will make it easier to move if you are going from induction to delivery, to ward and then home. Then all you need is a small bag for any snacks/miscellaneous items to set the mood in the room i.e. battery tealights and candles, fairy lights, aromatherapy diffuser and then bag for your birth partner.
Having fewer bags and especially one on wheels, makes for a quick move for our birth partners and midwives when sometimes baby isn't ready to hang about!
Packing Hack: Use packing cubes or ziplock bags to separate all your key items in the bag so it is super easy for your birth partner to find things — the last thing you want is not being able to find anything and you have to do this yourself.
You can label each one into categories too; baby's clothes, nappies/wipes, mum's toiletries, your clothes etc. So then your partner can easily find things at a glance.
MAMA BIRTH BAG CHECKLIST
- Medical Notes and Birth Plan – Have a Plan A/B/C
- Nightie or loose tee for labour which you don’t mind throwing away after – I literally had mine cut down the middle by the midwife to have skin to skin.
- Dressing gown
- Slippers or Flip Flops
- Stretchy hair bands to keep hair off your face/soak up that sweat — it’s tiring work!
- Hair bobbles/clips/grips
- Lip balm which your partner can easily apply — useful if you use Gas & Air as it dries your lips out majorly
- Cool Water Spray (Evian) or a handheld USB fan as it gets super hot in the delivery rooms
- Healthy energy-giving snacks that aren’t going to be heavy or repeat on you — no need to add sickness to the labour too!
- Drinks like Lucozade still or Coconut Water for electrolytes/isotonic
- Water bottle with a sports top or straw so it is easy to sip from regularly (your partner will most likely be holding this to drink from between contractions)
- Magazines/iPad to pass the time for inductions or if you have an epidural as this can slow things down (both my babies were induced and I was in for 3 days)
- Extra-long phone charger as the plugs are always far from reach and you will be bed bound on the ward
- TENS Machine for early labour as the hospital doesn't provide (You will need to hire this in advance or buy), not necessary but some find this helps in the early stages of labour
- Bath & Hand Towel
- Toiletry bag with miniatures of everything you would normally use at home:
- Toothbrush & Toothpaste
- Face Wipes – you can let go of your usual multi-step routine for a day
- Hand Sanitiser
- Shampoo & Conditioner
- Shower gel (I'd recommend Sanex 0% as it's extra sensitive to the skin, helpful if you have an episiotomy or any stitches)
POST BIRTH MUST HAVES
- Strappy nighties or button PJs which are breastfeeding-friendly as babies will feed VERY frequently in the first 24-48 hours
- Nursing Bras - H&M do great 2 packs in all colours and styles, and Seraphine do the comfiest seamless nighttime ones
- Black Full/Midi briefs – go for the no VPL options as these are usually seam-free and comfier
- Disposable Maternity briefs if you would prefer to wear and throw away or have a C section planned
- Maternity pads - I tried a few with my first baby and by far Boots own brand is the softest and best (take at least 2 packs)
- Perineal spray to spritz on a maternity pad after toilet trips — trust us this will help soothe everything
- Breast Pads – again Boots own brand really is fab and I’ve tried several big brand ones too
- Nipple Cream - Lansinoh is the holy grail and I have tried a few others which don't compare. A little goes a long way!
- Eye mask — if you are on a ward and not in your own room this is necessary to get some sleep as lights are always on
- Change of clothes for visitors, pack for a few days just in case you are there longer than expected
- Going home outfit (Think loose!) A maxi dress/skirt or a sweat set. I was not ready to wear trousers for a few days and actually would have rather left in the hospital gown than what I had packed for my first baby!
- Shoes which slip on – If you have had a C Section or Episiotomy, you don't want to be bending down to force anything on
NICE TO HAVES
- Cooling Eye mask to help de-puff and revive tired eyes after the first few days
- Your own pillow from bed – nothing like home comforts and hospital pillowcases are scratchy
- Some make-up if you have visitors. It’s amazing how a little tinted moisturiser or blush can make you feel more with it
- Herbal teas or milk if you don’t have dairy (the kitchen on the ward will only have the basics) as you will want a tea or a coffee
- Aromatherapy Oils & Diffuser – Lavender/Orange/Peppermint are all great options for easing sickness and for mild pain relief
- Fairy/tealights that are battery powered for room ambience in delivery to get the oxytocin flowing
- Any photos or mantras printed that you want to be able to focus on for motivation and positivity to spur you on in labour
BABY'S HOSPITAL BAG CHECKLIST
- A large pack of nappies (they will go through 8 in a day)
- Wipes which are free from everything – Water Wipes or Pampers Harmonie are the best with 99% water
- Nappy cream – Metanium barrier ointment is the best to prevent nappy rashes
- Nappy bags
- Cotton wool balls for top & tail cleaning of baby
- Baby Towel
- Pre-Made Formula if you don’t plan on breastfeeding/can’t – the hospital will not provide this and you really never know if you’ll need
- 3x Short Sleeve Bodysuits (Newborn) - most babies will be in newborn, don't bother packing 0-3 months
- 3 x Sleepsuits (Newborn)
- Cotton hat or baby will be rocking a knitted hospital hand out
- Scratch mitts if your sleepsuits don’t have them integrated
- Socks or booties as babies lose heat very easily to begin with
- Muslins – we recommend our 3 pack ;)
- A Going home outfit - save the faff of trousers or complex outfits. You will be tired, they are so tiny and fragile, and simple is key
- Soft toy or wooden plaque for baby photos/announcements
- Baby Blanket - the ward does provide some but you might want to use your own especially for cute photos
BIRTH PARTNERS CHECKLIST
- Wash bag
- Light, comfortable clothes
- Flip Flops
- Energy Drinks/Water
- Phone Charger
- Birth playlist on a phone synced offline in case theres no Wifi
- Massage Ball
- Plastic comb for you to grip during birth – it distracts the brain from pain - take a look at the Wave Comb.
- Car Seat all set and isofix base in the car
- Change for vending machines/car parking
We really hope you find our checklist helpful when it comes to packing your hospital bag and wish every single mama lots of luck and a healthy, safe birth.
If there is anything you think is missing from our list, leave a comment below as we would love to know what you found an essential too!
You've Got This Mama!