The hospital bag: The manageable packing list for labour and birth

Choosing what to pack in your hospital bag can be incredibly hard. Maybe you're a first-time mum and see packing lists that seem endless and unmanageable. We know that feeling all too well!

That's why we've created a guide for you with the most essential items for your hospital bag.

Of course, the list of essentials depends on whether you're a first-time or second-time mum and whether you'll be staying overnight in hospital. As a first-time mum, you'll often stay in hospital longer than if you're a second-time mum and everything goes smoothly.

For mum

  • Hospital file
  • Birth plan
  • Loose clothing
  • Postnatal pads
  • Comfortable knickers (postnatal knickers)
  • Soft toilet paper
  • Post-Birth wash bottle
  • Breast pads
  • Nursing bra
  • Lip balm
  • Hair ties
  • Toiletries
  • Slippers
  • Phone
  • Phone charger
  • Snacks

Read more: Sleep as a new parent

Many of the items on the packing list, such as toilet paper, pads and knickers, are of course also available at the hospital, but you can bring your own for extra comfort and predictability.

With a C-section, you can expect to pack for a longer hospitalisation period. This means, among other things, that the amount of clothes and snacks will be larger. In addition, slippers are very important here because you'll often be asked to be up and walking around fairly soon after birth. With a C-section, a post-birth wash bottle is not necessary. However, a cooling and warming bag can be a good idea to keep around the scar after the C-section.

For partner

  • Clothing
  • Toiletries
  • Phone
  • Phone charger
  • Slippers
  • Food and snacks
  • (Possibly) A camera

Different hospitals have different rules about overnight stays for partners. You can often find information about this on the hospital's website. It can be beneficial to check this, both for peace of mind knowing the rules, but also to know how much to pack for your partner, such as clothes and toiletries.

For baby

  • Car seat
  • 2-3 sets of clothes (Estimate around 1-2 sets of baby clothes per day in the hospital)
  • Nappies
  • Muslin squares
  • Hat
  • Socks
  • Babygrows

Nappies and musling squares are available in most maternity wards, but it can often be reassuring to bring some yourself.

When should I pack my hospital bag?

You probably know that packing your hospital bag well in advance can be a great idea. But what is "well in advance", you might be thinking? A normal labour occurs between week 37 and week 41+6 days, so it's a good idea to have your hospital bag packed and ready for when you enter week 37 of pregnancy. Of course, if you're at risk of premature labour, you should pack it earlier than this.

How much do I need to pack?

If you're a first-time mum, you'll probably stay in the maternity ward at the hospital for a few days if the birth went as planned and your baby is doing well. If you're a second-time mum, on the other hand, you may be allowed to go home earlier, just a few hours after you've given birth (if everything is as it should be). The amount of clothes you need to pack therefore depends on whether you are a first-time mum or a second-time mum.