WUKA experts discuss what to pack in your hospital bag for mum, baby and partner- plus the essentials you’ll need for a comfortable postpartum experience.
Hospital Bag Checklist
When it comes to packing your hospital bag, there are so many guides and checklists out there, it can all feel more than a little overwhelming. But how much of the ‘must-have’ items really are essential, and how much is just taking up room in your bag?
We’ve tried to keep it concise, practical and helpful, so you can focus on the important job of preparing fro your precious new arrival.
Hospital bag for you
You’ll need a separate bag from baby, or at the very least a separate bag for pre and post birth. It’s a great idea to have one main bag that you can fit a smaller bag inside; alternatively, keep your post-birth bag in the car for after baby has arrived, to save taking up too much space on the labour and delivery ward.
Your main bag should be around the size of a weekend bag, with the following items inside.
- Hospital notes
- Birth plan- if you have one
- Mini fan- hospitals can be really hot, especially on the maternity ward!
- Long nightie/ t-shirt- ideal for giving birth in, so something you don’t mind potentially getting stained. If you plan to use the birthing pool, bring clothes that are suitable for this too.
- High waisted period pants- perfect for while you’re in early labour, to gently support your bump and to absorb any leaks.
- Refillable water bottle- it’s so essential to stay hydrated!
- Snacks- again, it’s so important to stay fuelled during labour.
- Soft washcloths- these are great for your birthing partner to soak in cool water and press against your forehead.
- Lip balm
- Hairbrush and bobbles
- Headphones- you could be in this for the long-haul, and hospitals are noisy places. Plus, if you have a birthing playlist, you’ll want to be able to listen to it, so make sure they’re charged and ready to go!
- Eye mask and ear plugs- another great way to block out some of the sounds while you concentrate on the job in hand!
- Toiletry bag
- Heat pack/ hot water bottle- could be helpful to ease contractions.
- Pain relief- your hospital may ask you to bring your own paracetamol, so it’s handy to have a pack ready to go in case.
- Long phone charger- you definitely want to be able to take all those newborn photos and update the world on your new arrival!
- Flip flops, slippers or cosy socks- flip flops for the shower, and slippers or socks for cosying up with your baby.
- WUKA Super heavy/ heavy flow period pants- essential to absorb postpartum flow (lochia). Browse our Postpartum Collection to find the right fit for you.
- Pillow- sometimes we just need our own pillow, and it’s absolutely fine if you take yours to hospital, especially if you’re likely to need to stay overnight.
- Clothes to change into- after that first shower, it can feel so good to get dressed into ‘proper’ clothes again! Make sure your outfit is loose fitting, nothing that can press or dig into your tummy, and if you’re breastfeeding make sure you have easy access for that too.
- Nursing/ maternity bra- even if you’re not breastfeeding, a good supportive bra is a must.
- Nipple pads- to help protect your clothes from leaks.
- Soap/ shower gel
- Shampoo & conditioner
- Dressing gown
- Toothbrush and toothpaste
Of course, this is not an exhaustive list, and there will be things on here that you won’t want to bring- but these are the things that our mums told us were definitely most useful for them, so we hope it helps you too!
Hospital bag for baby
There are a few essentials that you will need to bring for your baby. Bear in mind that clothing should be washed before first use, so leave time to do this before you pack.
- Nappies- go for the newborn size, or smaller if you know you’ll be delivering early. You will need around 20, but pack just five or six in this bag, and ask your partner to bring the rest so you can save room.
- Cotton wool/ bamboo cloths- to gently clean the nappy area. Warm water only, no wipes!
- Vests- around six
- Scratch mittens- around three pairs
- Sleep suits- around six
- Hats- around three
- Muslin cloths- around three
- Equipment for feeding- bottles, formula and sterilisation equipment for formula feeding, breastfeeding pillow and breast pump if required.
- Soft blankets
- Going home outfit
- Colostrum (if you’ve stored it in advance)
Again, this is just a guide. You may be home sooner than you thought, but there could always be a chance of at least one night in hospital, so having enough clothes for your baby is always a good idea. And yes, the vests and hats are essential, despite the warmth of the hospital- newborn babies cannot regulate their own body temperatures, so they need to be wrapped up.
Hospital bag for birthing partner
Yes, even your birthing partner will need a bag, although they can get away with packing a little more lightly! We recommend they bring:
- Snacks- they won’t be fed while you’re in the hospital, so bringing their own food will mean they can stay with you rather than leaving to re-fuel.
- Book- ok, so your partner does have the important job of supporting you during labour, but there could be moments where you sleep, and there could be lots of waiting around too. A book can’t hurt!
- Phone numbers of friends and family- make sure their phone is updated so that the good news can be shared!
- Change of clothes- you never know how long you’ll be at the hospital for, so a change of clothes is a good idea.
- Cash for vending machines and parking- most hospitals will take cards, but have some cash on hand just in case.
- Toiletry bag- again, it could be a long visit, so being able to freshen up can make a huge difference.
When to pack your hospital bag
The NHS advises that your hospital bag should be packed from around three weeks before delivery, but it’s up to you. If you like to be organised, go for it, and if you know that your baby will be delivered early, then it makes sense to be ready early. Keep it in a handy place by the door so that you can just grab it when the time comes.
Oh, and don’t forget your car seat!
Which week is best to pack my hospital bag?
Your hospital bag should be packed and ready to go by week 37, but some like to get ready earlier than that. Speak to your doctor or midwife if the plan is to deliver early.
What kind of bag is best for my hospital bag?
You don’t need anything too big, as there really won’t be room for much at the hospital- but you do need enough space to fit everything in. A weekend sized bag should be fine for you, and a smaller bag for baby.
What do you put in your hospital bag?
There are some essentials that you definitely need to pack (hospital notes, birth plan, clothes & toiletries, etc) and some items that are nice to have, but can be left out if you run out of space. For baby, you definitely need nappies, clothes and feeding equipment.
Do you need to take nappies in your hospital bag?
Yes, the hospital will expect you to provide nappies for your baby, so make sure you bring at least 6. You can buy more at the hospital, or leave extras with your birthing partner.