This site has limited support for your browser. We recommend switching to Edge, Chrome, Safari, or Firefox.


hospital bag checklist, what to pack in your hospital bag, labour bag

Hospital Bag Checklist: What To Pack in Your Maternity Bag According to Midwives, Medics & Mums

hosptial packing list, what to pack for hospital, labour list, c section list

Planning for birth can feel overwhelming, which is why packing the hospital bag is a pregnancy task that divides us mums. You’re either in the camp that says, ‘I’ve had my labour outfit and newborn essentials by the door since 32 weeks,’ or in Camp Procrastination, where at 38 weeks, the only bag by the front door is your reusable Aldi shopping bag.

Plus, 67% of FTC mums report they’re unsure about what to pack in their hospital bag for their baby. Short sleeve or long sleeve babygrows? Vests or onesies? Tiny clothes can be a minefield. 

No matter which camp you belong to (no judgement), it's essential to ensure your hospital bag is fully stocked for both you and your new arrival(s). The same applies to mums planning a homebirth: according to The Birthplace Study, 45% of first-time mothers giving birth at home are transferred to a hospital at some point, compared to 12% of mothers who have previously given birth

But, don't panic and over do it. Maternity wards aren't known to be overly spacious and your birth partner can always whizz home (when baby arrives) to collect any post-birth essentials you're suddenly craving. 

Your definitive guide to packing your hospital bag, courtesy of those in the know

To simplify the task of packing your delivery bag, we consulted with 9,000 FTC mums, midwives, and medics to create the ultimate hospital bag checklist.

When to pack your hospital bag

There is no perfect time as pregnancy and preferences vary. For example, you might find comfort in being organised early on. Or, you might find that you don’t have the mental energy or capacity to throw things in a bag until the final stretch. That said, only 1 in 20 babies arrive on their due date so the NHS notes it’s good to be packed by full term (37 weeks) and plan for your pregnancy. These questions might help guide your decision: 

  • Am I high risk and is early labour likely?
  • Do I need to order any specific products ahead of time?
  • Am I close enough to the hospital / shops if my birth partner needs to collect “extra supplies”? 

How to pack your hospital bag

You can either pack one larger bag and use packing cubes or smaller bags to separate yours and the baby's items, or opt for two smaller bags—one for labour and another for post-delivery essentials for you and the baby. For instance, while your wash kit may not be necessary during intense surges, you'll appreciate having your face wash and clean underwear on hand for freshening up after delivery, especially while your partner is taking care of the baby.

FTC TIP: It can be handy to split your hospital bag packing process into four needs:

  • Items for labour
  • Items for after birth 
  • Items for baby 
  • Items for birth partner

Your hospital bag checklist

Firstly, let’s start with non-negotiable essentials. Put these items in first so they're not forgotten.

  • Two copies of your birth preferences (one for your partner, one for the midwife)
  • Hospital notes
  • Your regular medications

What to pack for labour

  • A TENS machine if you plan to use one
  • A spare pillow and pillow case (optional, but can be comforting)
  • Loose, comfortable clothing to wear during labour
  • A bikini top or lightweight bra if you plan to wear one in the birthing pool
  • A dressing gown can be useful if you strip off in labour but then need to walk to the communal toilets 
  • A battery powered fan and water spray to help you keep cool
  • Lip balm
  • Hairbands
  • Body lotion or massage oil – some women may find a back massage from a partner relaxing during labour
  • Phone and phone charger (an extra-long charging cable or battery pack can be useful)
  • Water bottle with a straw – useful if you end up hanging over a pool edge or drinking on all fours 
  • Snacks & sweets that aren’t an effort to eat
  • Thirst quenching drinks
  • An eye mask for moving between brightly lit areas 
  • Movies, playlists or podcasts downloaded to your device for the earlier stages of labour 

Feeling slightly diva-ish for prioritising your lip balm over your sanitary pads? Rest assured, you're far from being over the top. 'Ensuring comfort during labor can lead to a calmer, more relaxed birthing experience, so don't overlook those small comforts when packing your bag,' advises Pip Davies, a seasoned NHS Midwifery Sister and the author of 'Midwife Pip’s Guide to a Positive Birth.' She emphasises, 'Lip balm is essential, as lips often become very chapped during labour, particularly if you're using gas and air for pain relief.

midwife pip davies

FTC ASKS: Pip Davies, NHS Midwifery Sister

Which essential item did you overlook for your last birth that you'll be sure to pack in your bag next time?

“A special, favourite body wash for that post-birth shower. There really is no shower like that post birth one, feeling your postnatal body for the first time, recognising the huge journey you have just been on is so raw and grounding. A wash that feels just that extra bit indulgent, makes you feel great and allows you to take a mini pause to recognise that your body has just done something miraculous,” shared Pip. 

What to pack for after birth

  • Soft bras, including nursing options if you plan to breastfeed
  • Comfy, button through sleepwear 
  • Socks to keep your feet toasty
  • Flip flops for in the shower
  • Slippers for walking around the ward
  • A wash bag of your essentials like a toothbrush, hairbrush, shampoo, conditioner, soap, and flannel
  • Fibre-rich snacks to ease digestion post-birth. Our team loved instant porridge pots or peanut butter sachets and oatcakes
  • Your favourite tea bags or instant hot drinks. FYI peppermint tea is a soothing option for c-section stressed tums
  • 5 or 6 pairs of comfy, cotton knickers
  • Breast pads to mop up leaky boobs
  • 2 packets of super-absorbent sanitary or maternity pads for post-birth bleeding
  • An eye mask to block out light on a brightly lit ward
  • A towel
  • Spare glasses or contact lenses
  • A notebook, useful for jotting down questions for doctors or nurses, and capturing the first moments of motherhood
  • Nipple balm to soothe breastfeeding discomfort
  • Earplugs as postnatal wards can be noisy

What to pack for a c-section

Around 1 in 4 pregnant women in the UK has a caesarean birth. If you're planning a c-section, then think ahead about your post-surgery comfort. We suggest packing:

  • Loose clothing, such as c-section trousers, that won’t sit on your scar dressing 

  • Several pairs of high-waisted cotton knickers. Low rise underwear may rub your wound

  • Peppermint tea bags - this herbal tea can help to soothe the pain of trapped wind, which you may have after surgery

dr anna cantlay, c section recovery

FTC ASKS: DR Anna Cantlay, GP & Chief Medical Officer at For The Creators

What item do you think is brilliant to pack for c-section recovery? 

Medical-grade silicone gel sheets may help improve the appearance of your c-section scar. Once the scar has healed, I recommend daily scar massage with a natural oil or balm to also support healing and scar tissue. 

What to pack for your newborn

  • Plenty of nappies
  • Bodysuits, vests and sleepsuits (newborn and tiny baby sizes to be prepared for all birth weights)
  • An outfit for going home in (weather appropriate)
  • A hat, socks or booties and scratch mittens (newborns get cold easily)
  • A shawl or blanket
  • Muslin squares
  • A car seat for the trip home
  • Some ready-made formula bottles
  • Confidence - you've got this 

Baby bags to use as mini hospital bags

Read more on The Delivery

Use coupon code WELCOME10 for £10 off your first order when you spend £60.