Hospital Bag – What to pack guide
First of all, CONGRATULATIONS! Being pregnant is such an exciting time, so much to plan for, and so much to look forward to. As you enter the third trimester of your pregnancy, it’s a good idea to start thinking about what to pack in your hospital bag for birth. I highly recommend you don’t leave it to the last minute like myself when I went into labour early and unexpected with no bag packed, a baby who was breech and a husband informing me to get in the car to get the hospital while he grabbed some essentials.
You may want to take a few items from home, such as your own pillows, to make yourself more comfortable in the hospital environment. Hospitals and and birth centres vary, though, in their policies about what you’re allowed to bring with you when you have your baby. If you have had a tour of the birthing centre they will usually inform you of such policies.
If you want, pack two bags: one for labour and the hours immediately after your baby is born, and another for the maternity ward. Depending on if you birth in a private hospital, a birthing centre or public hospital you stay on the ward will vary.
What to Pack in Hospital Bag for Mum & Baby
We recommend keeping everything organised by packing 3 separate bags – one for labour, one with baby essentials and one with everything you need during your hospital stay. Remember to include a bag to put your dirty laundry in and makes things easier when you get home. You are likely to stay at the hospital for anywhere between 1 to 5 nights, so either take enough clothes and toiletries for 5 days for you and your baby, including pyjamas and nappies (if not provided by the hospital), or have a backup supply bag at home that hubby or partner can bring in on day 2 or 3 for you.
Make sure you check with your hospital on what paperwork they need for birth – this may include your medicare card, your health care card (if you have one), your private health care card (if you have one), as well as maternal health records, your birth plan, your hospital pre-admission paperwork (if provided).
The following lists for each of the three bags (labour, hospital stay and baby essentials) includes all the items you may want to take to the hospital with you.
Hospital Bag Checklist – Bag 1: What To Pack For Labour and Birth
No matter if you have a natural birth planned, some intervention is required or a c-section you can create a relaxing and positive environment. Some people bring music in which is relaxing, other burn essential oils which ever you choose it is your decision. Preparing yourself with birth options available can help you to prepare a birth plan should you wish. The birth plan can then can be communicated to the team of health professionals there to care for you. Educating yourself and your support team about what to expect during birth is a great idea so you can feel more empowered during labour.
During a natural labour you may find you spend time in the shower or bath (water is very good for relaxation), or sitting on a medicine ball, and during a c-section you might find your playlist and essential oils are helpful for relaxation.
Make sure you check with your hospital what paperwork they need. At a minimum you will need to take your health insurance information, hospital forms and Medicare cards.
What should I pack for labour?
- Your Medicare card, details of your health insurance(if you have private insurance) and any hospital paperwork you need.
- Your birth plan and maternity notes or antenatal card, if you were given one.
- Old nightdress, large t-shirt or a sarong to wear in labour. If you are being induced or need antibiotics you may have a cannula/IV to navigate around – a sarong is a great option to work with this!
- Dressing gown. This will be useful if you end up pacing hospital corridors in early labour. You’ll probably also want one on the postnatal ward. Hospitals can be very warm, so a lightweight one may be better. Very hand for a cover up in case on unexpected visitors.
- Backless slippers that are easy to get on and off. Thongs work well, too.
- Socks. Believe it or not, your feet can get cold during labour.
- Massage oil or lotion if you’d like to be massaged during your labour. You may also like to borrow or invest in a massage roller or similar aid, so your birth partner can massage you for longer.
- Birth ball. This can help you find different position in labour, and may also help you manage the pain of contractions. Check whether the hospital has the right size for you. If not, take your own. Remember to bring a pump so your birth partner can inflate it for you.
- Snacks and drinks for during and after the birth. Most women are able to eat and drink during labour, and it can help keep your energy levels up. The hospital will have food and drink available, but you may prefer to pack a few things that you know you like. Choose carb-packed snacks that give slow-release energy to keep you going. Fruit, unsalted nuts, chips, muesli bars, honey sandwiches or honey straws, and popcorn are all good options. You may also want some mints or boiled sweets to freshen your mouth. And pack some coconut water or a few iso tonic sports drinks, which are great for giving you a boost when you need it most.
- Things to help you relax or pass the time, such as books, magazines, games, knitting or a tablet. You may also want to download some fun and distracting apps on your phone to keep you occupied during early labour.
- Lip balm. Your lips can dry out quickly on a warm labour ward, particularly if you’re using gas.
- Glasses or contact lenses, if you wear them. Note that your glasses may fog up when you’re in the throes of labour, and you won’t be able to wear contacts if you’re having a cesarean.
- Hairbands, clips or a headband. If you have long hair, you may want it tied up or clipped back. And if your hair is shorter, you can keep it off your face with a soft headband.
- Pillows. The hospital may not have enough to make you really comfortable. A V-shaped pillow can give you extra support when breastfeeding your baby, too.
- Toiletries and tissues, in case you want to freshen up during a long labour.
- Music. Create a playlist of upbeat and soothing tracks to distract, calm and inspire you during labour. Some hospitals won’t let you plug chargers and other things in, so take a battery-operated device if you don’t think your phone battery will last.
- Oil burner, if you’d like to use aromatherapy oils. Check with your hospital because most have won’t allow open flames, but you may be able to use an electric burner.
What should my birth partner pack?
- Water spray or a hand-held fan to cool you down while you’re in labour.
- Comfortable shoes. They may be pacing the corridors!
- A change of clothes. Your birth partner may not get the chance to have a shower for quite a while!
- Bendy straws to help you to have a drink during labour. If you bring reusable straws, don’t forget to take them when you leave the delivery suite.
- Swimwear, if they want to support you in the shower or join you in a birth pool or bath.
- Mobile phone and charger. If they’re planning to take photos of your newborn on their phone, make sure that they have enough storage available.
- Digital camera or camcorder, if you want them to take professional-quality photos or video of the birth and early moments with your baby. Before doing any filming, though, check with the hospital, because not all of them allow filming in delivery or operating rooms.
- Snacks and drinks. You don’t want a dehydrated, hungry birth partner looking after you. If they bring some snacks and drinks with them, they can stay with you rather than leaving the room to search for food!
- Spare change for the car park or vending machines.
Bag 2: What to pack for Mum after birth
In most cases you will stay for between 2 – 7 days at hospital, depending on a range of outcomes. You will still have all of the items you took in for your labour, and it can be a good idea to ask your partner/support team to reorganise your bag for you for easy access, and take home any soiled clothes after the labour. Remember that your partner will be able to leave and pick up anything in particular that you need if you’ve forgotten something or run out!
- A going-home outfit. You’ll need loose comfortable clothes to wear while you’re in hospital and for the journey home. It will take a while for your tummy to go down, so you’ll probably still need your maternity clothes when you get home.
- Nursing bras. Bring two or three if you plan to breastfeed.
- Breast pads. You’ll need these even if you don’t plan to breastfeed, because your breasts will still produce milk after the birth.
- Nipple cream. This will come in handy as you and your baby get the hang of breastfeeding.
- Maternity pads. Bring a couple of packs.
- Night shirt or t-shirt. Front-opening shirts or pyjamas are useful in the early days of breastfeeding.
- Toiletries. Decant these into smaller bottles, or buy travel versions, to save on space in the postnatal ward or your room. You may prefer to choose unscented versions, so your baby can get used to your natural scent. Include all your regular toiletries, such as shampoo, conditioner, soap or body wash, face washer, toothbrush and toothpaste. Also pack your hairbrush and any other accessories you think you may want to get ready for those early pics of you and your baby.
- Old or cheap underwear, or disposable undies. Don’t bring your best ones as they will get messy. Big cotton undies can be useful if you end up having a c-section, because they won’t rub your wound.
- Eye mask and ear plugs, to help you sleep on a brightly lit, noisy ward. Always make sure you can still hear you newborn baby
- A notepad or journal and pen or pencil if you want to track your baby’s feeding sessions, and for writing down questions for your midwife or doctor, noting what the pediatrician says, jotting down memories of your baby’s first few days and so on.
Bag 3: What to pack for your new baby after birth
- Two or three rompers or bodysuits for your baby to wear while you’re in hospital. Pack more if you know that you’ll be staying in hospital for more than a couple of days. Check with your hospital some provide little tie back gowns for the newborns.
- Socks or soft booties, and mittens. Pack a few pairs, depending on how long you’ll be in hospital.
- Hat. This will help keep your newborn warm when he’s not sleeping.
- One outfit for the trip home (all-in-one stretchy outfits are easiest).
- Baby blanket. Although hospitals can be very warm, your baby may need a blanket if it’s chilly outside when you leave.
- Your newborn will go through as many as 12 nappies in a day. Some hospitals supply a pack of disposable nappies, but you’ll probably need to bring extra ones if you’re staying in hospital for more than a day or two.
- Wipes or cotton wool. Your newborn’s skin will be very delicate, so many experts recommend using cotton wool and water for nappy changes at first, rather than baby wipes. Some hospitals will provide you with a small bag of cotton wool balls, but you may need to bring more. If you do choose to use wipes, though, opt for ones that are free from alcohol and fragrance.
- Muslin squares or burp cloths for mopping up any milk your baby brings up (posseting). Many parents say these are among the most useful bits of baby gear!
- An infant car seat. You won’t be able to leave the hospital by car without one. In the weeks leading up to the birth, practice using the seat by buckling a large doll or teddy into it. If you’re using a capsule or travel-system seat, it’s a good idea for you or your birth partner to also practice fitting the seat in your car, so you’ll be able to do it with minimum fuss on the day and a lot less stress. It’s probably best to leave it in the car until you’re ready to leave hospital, as car seats can take up a lot of room.
- Gifts for older siblings. Some parents bring gifts for the new baby to “give” to big brothers and sisters.