Now’s the time to gather together all the essentials you’ll need during labour and birth and for after your baby is born. Even if you’re not planning a hospital birth, you may need to go in unexpectedly, so try to have a bag packed by the time you are about 36 weeks pregnant.

Hospitals vary in their policies about what you are allowed to bring with you when you have your baby. You may want to take a few items from home, such as your own pillows, to make the environment more personal. But be aware that hospitals can be short on space.

If you want, pack two bags: one for labour and the hours immediately after your baby is born, and another for a stay on the postnatal ward.

If you’re driving to hospital, you could leave the second bag in the car. If you have a straightforward birth, you may leave hospital on the same day and not need the second bag at all.

For You

  • Your maternity notes including your birth plan.
  • A nightdress to wear while giving birth and one to wear afterwards – ideally with buttons
  • Plenty of underwear including nursing bra if planning to breastfeed
  • Dressing gown
  • Slippers
  • A fan to help keep you cool
  • MP3 player
  • Books / magazines
  • Wash-bag / toiletries – consider using travel size items to save space
  • Your own towel
  • Breast pads
  • Maternity pads
  • Comfortable clothes to wear going home
  • A carrier bag or two to put dirty washing in

For Your Baby

  • Socks or booties
  • Scratch mitts
  • Hat
  • Vests
  • Babygro / sleep-suits
  • Going home outfit including cardigan, coat or snowsuit
  • Blankets
  • Nappies
  • Wipes
  • Baby towel
  • Muslin cloths
  • Cotton wool balls

For Your Partner

  • Change of clothes for freshening up
  • A camera including spare battery
  • Handheld game system / books for entertainment while waiting
  • Snacks / money for buying snacks for you both
  • Mobile phone and charger with list of phone numbers if not programmed in

It is recommended that all of baby’s clothes, blankets and muslin cloths should be washed with non bio, so plan in a time to get this done and everything ironed ready to pack.

You may not wish to take everything to the hospital right away, remember that your partner or another family member can pop home to collect things such as your going home outfit or anything you find you need more of, so if you’re struggling for space just pack the essentials you will need to begin with.  If you’re kept in you can send your partner home to get more things, for example the baby’s car seat for traveling home.

Remember it’s no good having a hospital bag if it’s not with you, so if you take any trips away put the hospital bag in your car boot and also note the telephone number of the nearest maternity ward, just in case, and ensure you take your maternity notes with you as well.  Remember, it’s always best to be prepared!