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 getting your hospital bag ready. We asked our customers and fans what they recommended, and brainstormed all the essentails we had (or wished we'd had!) to put together the ULTIMATE Hospital Bag List for Baby and Mum for giving birth in a hospital or birthing centre.
[Don't have time to read the whole thing? Head to the bottom of the page to download your printable version]
What to Pack in Hospital Bag for Mum & Baby
We recommend keeping everything organised by packing 3 separate bags:
- A small size bag with a change of clothes and everything you need for labour and birth ,
- A medium size bag with baby essentials such as clothes, blankets, nappies and skin care and
- An overnight size bag with everything you need during your hospital stay. Remember to include a bag to put your dirty laundry in!
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 can bring in on day 2 or 3 for you.
Make sure you check with your hospital on what hospital 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. You can also print our Hospital Bag Checklist down below so you don't forget anything.
You can also check out our favourite products for birth and straight after birth in our Hospital Bag Essentials category here.
Your Hospital Bag Checklists
1. Hospital Bag Checklist for Birth
Regardless of whether you have a natural birth, some intervention or a c-section, you can create a relaxing and positive environment around yourself by preparing yourself with information about your birthing options, and by bringing your choice of music, aromatherapy, and positive affirmation cards. 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), and during a c-section you might find your playlist and essential oils are helpful for relaxation. It is a great idea to have a think about what kinds of things you normally would find relaxing and include those.
Make sure you check with your hospital or birth centers what paperwork they need. At a minimum you will need to take your health insurance information, hospital forms and Medicare cards. You can also think about what information or moments you want to record for your Baby Book as a keepsake!
- big loose t-shirt, or sarong or wrap around gown to wear when you're not in the shower. 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!
- thongs or slip on shoes that are easy to put on and off and that can get wet, hospital floors can be cold!
- hair tie, bobby pins, or hair band to hold your hair back off your face
- lip balm - you might find your lips get quite dry during labour, so lip balm can really help!
- sports drink and/or lollies for an energy boost - you may also want fruit and nut mix, muesli bars or crackers
- music and music player (some labour rooms include cd players or docking stations. Check with your hospital) You may want to have relaxing or meditative music, or more intense music to match your labour!
- Some mums also swear by taking an iPod filled with your favourite music and ear phones to help you tune out the other noises in the room. On the other hand having music for everyone gets the whole support team in the same 'zone' as you, which can be helpful!
- Birth Plan - several copies for your husband to give to the midwives, plus any other documentation you have been asked to bring by the hospital or birth centre.
- A fresh change of clothes to wear after birth, make sure you have a nursing top you can easily breastfeed in!
- Maternity pads, socks, shoes and comfy undies to wear afterwards. Loose pants (you may be feeling tender all over).
- Toiletries so you can take a shower after birth and put on fresh clothes
- Plastic bag to take soiled clothes home in
- A warm baby onesie and blanket for your baby
For your birthing partner:
- board shorts or swimmers to help you while you're in the shower or bath
- a change of clothes for afterwards
- snacks and drinks (it's a looooooonnnng haul!) and change for the vending machines
- Pain killers in case of headache!
- mobile phone charger (you don't want a flat phone when it's time to send out the news!)
- Positive birthing affirmations
- a camera or video (or just your iphone with a charger)
- hair brush
- aromatherapy (e.g. massage oils, or essential oils with a diffuser)
- extra soft toilet paper for afterwards!
- a breastfeeding friendly wrap or jumper to wear afterwards
- A really nice body wash for after the birth to make you feel pampered, but remember to avoid fragrances, as the smell can overwhelm your baby. In the early days your baby needs to smell you to feel comforted.
For your support team:
- a box of roses or packet of Tim Tams to give to the midwives who supported you (you may like to take one for the midwife/s who spent the most time with you, and one for all of the staff that helped you during your hospital stay)
- a thank you card (or maybe a couple in case there is someone in particular you would like to acknowledge) to fill in before you leave the hospital
Great idea: take a box of roses or packet of Tim Tams to give to the midwives who supported you (you may like to take one for the midwife who spent the most time with you, and one for all of the staff when you leave the hospital)
- Cheryl Sheriff, from Ideal Birth
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2. Hospital Bag Checklist for Mum
Generally 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!
- comfortable, dark coloured undies (yes there will be leakages and the maternity pads are rather large!). Some mums swear by granny undies to help hold your stomach, another mum recommends taking soft cotton boxers in case you have a ceasarean (even if you're not planning to), so that the boxers can go up over the scar (or hipsters to sit under the scar) to avoid irritation.
- relaxed fit breastfeeding singlets/tops and sleepwear for easy baby feeding sessions or your transitional maternity wear (maternity wear with breastfeeding access), if you have it, to get you through at least a 4 day stay.
- an expectation that your stomach will probably still look about 20 weeks pregnant (it takes a while to go back to its pre-pregnancy size!)
- nursing bras or nursing singlets (no underwire to make sure you're not cutting off any milk ducts)
- Socks/slippers and dressing gown or jumpers (hospitals are cold!)
- comfortable shoes you can slip on easily
- 2 packets of maternity pads (these are larger than regular pads. You may continue bleeding for up to 6 weeks after giving birth, however the bleeding should subside after the first few days)
- Nipple cream to help heal your nipples while breastfeeding (it does get better!)
- Breast pads / nursing pads (disposable is good for hospital, cloth is great once you're home)
- scent free toiletries - small shampoo and conditioners OR dry shampoo plus your normal toiletries (toothbrush, toothpaste, face wash, moisturiser etc). Your baby will be overwhelmed with smells, sounds and lights. It is best to avoid fragrances in the first few months so that your baby can just smell you and be comforted.
- Phone charger
- change for vending machines (just in case!)
- contact lenses or glasses if you need them
- Your own pillow if you're particular about pillows :)
- Moisturiser - we like coconut oil butter, which is also great for your baby if they have some dry patches, others also recommend pawpaw
- Any other body wash or moisturiser with no or low fragrance
- Any snacks e.g. fruit and nut mix, snakes etc
- Lactation Cookies or Breastfeeding Tea are handy to snack on
- Raspberry Leaf Tea to help your womb start to recover
- a good book to read or a laptop and charger if you're really keen to watch your fav shows!
- eye mask if you're sensitive to light
- a "New Baby" keepsake book to start recording details about your new baby (trust me this gets out of date very quickly once you get home - it's a great idea to get started while you're at hospital!)
- A list of potential baby names!
If you have older children
- a gift from your newborn to any siblings is a great idea
- activities (coloured pencils, books, stickers) for any older children to keep them occupied during visits
3. Hospital Bag Checklist for Baby
- Many hospitals include nappies, onesies, and blankets so check with your hospital before packing your bag
- Newborn Nappies, Baby Wipes, Baby Blankets (if not supplied by the hospital)
- 4 x warm Baby Clothes, including baby singlets, and baby socks (if not supplied by the hospital)
- Baby hats and baby mittens (although we recommend only using the hat/beanie while your bub is sleeping, and not when bub is attached to you or partner, especially straight after birth. Your body temperature will keep your baby warm, and smelling your baby’s head is important for bonding – it can stimulate the flow of oxytocins which is also good for breastfeeding)
- Baby Moisturiser – we love organic coconut oil, but always test for allergies before using all over! Other baby toiletries are not usually necessary – just water is enough in the early days, and is better for sensitive skin.
- Going home baby clothes and baby blanket
- REMEMBER to have your approved car seat fitted well before your due date! Alternatively, you can find a capsule hire service that you can get someone to install for you while you're at the hospital.
Good to know: have an expectation that your stomach will probably still look about 20 weeks pregnant (it takes a while to go back to its pre-pregnancy size!)
- Sheree (experienced mum!)
Lauren from Style by Lauren Clare shares what she has packed in her Hospital Bag with us:
Join our Milk and Love Mums group over on Facebook and join the conversation. We'd love to see you!
About the Author
Corryn is a lover of coffee, hugs and sunshine. Mum of 3 and founder of Milk and Love, Corryn loves chatting to new mums and pregnant mums. She has extensive breastfeeding experience, and is an advocate for gentle parenting, cosleeping and looking after Mum's mental health... read more about Corryn here