how to pack your hospital bag for childbirth.
If you’re getting into the end stages of pregnancy, the chances are you’ve thought about whether you need to pack a hospital bag for birth. Or, in fact, if and why you need to pack one at all.
Getting your hospital bag ready can help take some pressure off by knowing you’re ready in case of an emergency, as well as just ease your mental load in general (we know you’ve got a lot on your mind already mum-to-be). So along with our free downloadable baby hospital bag checklists for labour, birth, and postpartum, we’ve also put together some useful info and tips for how you can pack your hospital bag.
And yes, we might be calling it a hospital bag, but having a bag prepared for home births can be just as useful. Not only can it make it easier for your partner or midwives to access items, rather than having to search around the home, but it also means that everything is ready to go if you do need to transfer for any reason.
When should I pack my hospital bag?
Once you decide on where you’re giving birth, the next question you might have is when to prepare your hospital bag for delivery.
We recommend thinking about gathering all the big and little things to pack your hospital bag around week 28 or 29, just as you ease into that third trimester. This will give you enough time to check what your hospital and midwives recommend for you, as well as any other suggestions from birth checklists.
You can then pack your hospital bag between weeks 30 and 36, although prepping and packing closer to the 30-week mark will mean you’re prepared in case you do go into labour early.
What size hospital bag do I need?
The size you need for your hospital bag will come down to a few factors such as where you plan on giving birth, what type of birth you’re having, the length of your hospital stay, and how many babies you are expecting.
Most public hospitals likely won’t have room for multiple suitcases, so only recommend bringing what you need for a night or two. While private hospitals and birthing clinics will likely have more room available if you’re staying multiple nights.
Any large bag or suitcase can be used as a maternity bag if it’s the only bag you’re taking, though the chances are that it will have to stay on the floor of the hospital (or as out-of-the-way as possible). If packing one large suitcase, we’d suggest making use of each compartment for labour, baby, and postpartum to make it easier to navigate.
Or, if there’s room, you can pack several smaller bags to keep these pre- and post-birth items organised.
What should I pack in my maternity hospital bag?
Everyone is different, and what you want to have on hand during labour or birth will likely depend on the type of birth you have, as well as your own personal choices.
First, if you’re having a hospital birth, see what the hospital does or doesn’t provide. This will help you decide whether you need to pack items like nappies, maternity pads, or towels. Otherwise, here’s a quick guide to what hospital bag essentials you might find useful.
Hospital bag for Mum
Most of what goes into your hospital bag is going to be for you mama. Not only do you want to be prepared for birth and postpartum care, but you also need to think about what you’re going to wear in hospital.
Starting with labour and birth, some essentials include:
- Your birth plan and medical records
- Comfy outfits, underwear, or pajamas (think about access if you choose to breastfeed afterwards)
- Warm socks or non-slip slippers
- Comfy or oversized clothes for labour
- A water bottle and snacks
- Essential toiletries
- Entertainment like earphones, books, magazines etc. to help pass those early stages of labour
Once your little one has made their way into the world, you’ll also want to have a few items on hand for your post-birth care:
- Front opening pyjamas/dressing gown for breastfeeding
- Period underwear and/or maternity pads and adult nappies
- Another water bottle or spray bottle (for care down there)
- Comfy maternity bras
- Laundry bags to send or take home washing
- And if you do choose to breastfeed, nipple balm and/or a nipple shield
Remember, you’ll likely be able to send your partner or any visiting family members home with items like dirty laundry or gifts you receive, so they can also pick you (or baby) up a fresh change of clothes if your stay ends up longer than expected.
Download our full hospital bag checklist for Mum here.
Hospital bag for baby
Babies go through a lot of clothes during the newborn phrase, not to mention keeping them clean and comfortable. As a quick guide, we recommend the following essentials for what your newborn will need in hospital:
- 3-4 newborn-size bodysuits
- 3-4 newborn-size zip onesies
- At least 1 warm blanket and 1 swaddle
- Newborn nappies and baby wipes (if these aren’t provided by the hospital)
- Multiple cloth nappies and a laundry bag (if using reusable nappies)
- Baby formula and bottles (if you’re not breastfeeding)
Download our full hospital bag checklist for baby here.
Hospital bag for C-section or twins/multiple births
If you’re preparing for twins or multiple births, think about what items you need to double (or triple etc.) to make sure you have enough on hand. This is where a larger maternity suitcase might come in handy.
For those booked in for a C-section, most of what you’ll want to pack is the same. This includes maternity pads, as you’ll likely still experience vaginal bleeding after birth.
Additional birthing bag items to think about packing for a C-section are:
- Loose and comfortable underwear that won’t rub on your wound
- Comfortable clothes like loose dresses that aren’t going to rub
- A nursing pillow to prop baby up and away from your incision when feeding
Hospital bag for Dads and Partners
Dads and birth partners may need to think about how long they’re going to spend in hospital both supporting Mum during the birth, as well as hanging out with their precious newborn. Closed-toe shoes for birth will come in handy, as will a change of clothes for afterwards. Plus, don’t forget about snacks, water, and even a pillow if you’re planning on getting comfortable.
What should you not pack in your hospital bag?
Most hospitals recommend not packing many valuables into your birthing bag in case anything gets lost. Large amounts of cash, credit cards (unless needed), jewellery, or larger electronics like laptops can stay home for now.
Whether packing your bag for a hospital or home birth, having everything ready to go can be reassuring when you’re in those final stages of pregnancy.
So, when you’re ready, head on over to download our full free Australian hospital bag checklists for labour, baby, postpartum, and partners, and breathe that little bit easier knowing that you’ve got everything under control.