Packing your hospital bag

Packing your hospital bag

Here is the ultimate list and tips on what to pack in your hospital bag. Anita is a GentleBirth Instructor and Doula in Ballydesmond, Co. Cork and this topic ALWAYS comes up with couples. What should I put into my hospital bags?? The guessing is no more, have a read of the suggested items and tips and adapted it to suit you.

Even if your planning a homebirth, it is always a good idea to have a small bag packed incase you or baby need to go to the hospital unexpectedly. Some of the stuff you will need regardless of where you are having your baby.

Tip #1: From around 30 weeks I would recommend to start picking up bits and pieces that you need, you don’t have to pack them just yet, but keep them all together in a basket/bag/box and tell your birth partner where they are. 

If like me you like to have a system in place when packing, I would advise having separate bags with you for each section of labour and postpartum time, try and keep your bags small as space is pretty tight in hospitals. I have broken down the list into 5 bags, don’t be alarmed it makes sense when you read through.

  1. Labour ward bag
  2. ** Birth partner bag
  3. Post birth bag
  4. Baby bag
  5. Going home bag


Labour Ward Bag: 

This is the bag you will take into the hospital with you when you are in labour. This is essential your Labour Toolkit bag. Have a read of last weeks blog post on your labour toolkit and take from it what you need. Think, what are the comfort measures you want in this bag? along with the necessary items that you will need.

  • A copy of your Birth Preference. Here is a blog post I wrote previously on the importance of having your birth preference
  • Hospital file (if you have yours, some hospitals are gone digital so you may not have one)
  • Clothes to labour in – How do you want to feel during labour? maybe a sports bra and yoga pants or shorts? Your super hero t-shirt? Loose button down shirt?
  • Swimsuit / bikini top and bottoms. If you are planning on using the pool / shower / bath, what do you want to wear? or do you prefer going natural?
  • Flip flops / slippers/ slip on sandles
  • Glasses – if you normally wear contacts it might be handy to have your glasses with you.
  • Phone with GentleBirth App and headphones. Tip #2 don’t forget to download the app on your birth partners phone so you have back up just incase you need it, you can log in using your own log in details
  • TENS machine and spare batteries and pads
  • Rescue remedy spray or dropper
  • Essential oils and carrier oil – consult a qualified aromatherapist if you plan on using essential oils
  • Positive affirmation signs/notes
  • Cold Compress
  • Warm compress Tip #3 Have some heat packs from the pharmacy in your bag, these heat up really fast and you don’t have to worry about getting hot water. 
  • Facial spray
  • lip balm
  • Hair tie and clips
  • Food and snacks, mints, chewing gum, lollipop
  • Water, fruit juice, energy drink, smoothie
  • Baby’s outfit (nappy, vest, babygro) Tip #4 Have these in a ziplock bag so it is easy to get them. Remember if your doing skin to skin, you might not need them straight away. 
  • Clean clothes or PJ’s for mom, underware and a few maternity pads

** Birth Partners Bag

This only needs to be a small little backpack or even a large ziplock bag in moms bag. It is just some of the essentials for the birth partner to have on the day.

  • A copy of your birth preference
  • Camera and spare batteries
  • Change for the carpark
  • Food and snacks
  • Water and drinks
  • Change of clothes and wash bag with toothbrush, toothpaste, deodrant etc. Tip #5 These can be left in the car if needed, but handy to have as hospitals can be warm regardless of the time of year and it’s nice to freshen up. 


Post Birth Bag

The post birth bag is what you will need for the remainder of your stay in the hospital. You might be in for 1-2 nights, but its no harm to have a few extra bits put aside and leave at home so if your stay is extended for whatever reason your birth partner can bring it in.

Tip #6 the post birth bag can be left in the car and your birth partner can grab it when you need it. The hospital labour rooms can be small so you don’t want too much clutter around the place. 

  • Dark coloured Pj’s x2, if your planning on breastfeeding or wanting to do skin to skin opt for button down or nursing style. Remember the heat in hospitals!! so nice loose comfortable pj’s instead of fleecy pj’s.
  • Leggings – I had a pair of leggings that I wore under a shirt style Pj top and it worked really well. My daughter was in NICU for 5 days so it was great to have this option as I didn’t feel like I was in Pj’s.
  • Nightgown – dark coloured. Honestly, I didn’t use this, I don’t normal use a night gown but if you do it might be handy to have.
  • Underwear – high waist and dark colour underwear are more comfortable, especially if you have opted for or had to have a cesarean as the high waist go above the scar.
  • Nursing bras
  • Medication (if your on medication already e.g. asthma / thyroid / diabetes etcs)
  • 2 packets of maternity pads Tip #7 Have more maternity pads or regular pads at home, I had to send my poor hubby out every day for more pads, all the hospital list said 2 packets and that is what I got, nobody mentioned about having some at home!!
  • Breast pads
  • Nipple cream
  • Nipple compress – I like the multimam brand, keep some at home and have in the fridge!!
  • Nipple shields – hospital usually have them
  • Phone charger
  • Arnica to help with recovery
  • Sports cap bottle for when you need to go to the loo, spraying water while weeing helps with the sting.
  • Witch hazel
  • Shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, deodorant, cleanser, face cream, toothbrush , toothpaste, handcream, hairbrush, hair ties and clips, make up. Tip #8 Treat yourself to some nice travel size products, you deserve it and smelling good will make you feel good. 
  • Face cloth x2
  • Bath towel and hand towel or hair turban (opt for dark colours)
  • Flip flops or slip on sandles for the shower (you might have these packed in your labour bag!)
  • Money for snacks
  • Notepad and pen, just handy to have
  • A large A4 envelop for all the information sheets you get about post pregnancy care etc.
  • Plastic Bag for dirty clothes, somehow you accumulate stuff in the hospital too so its just handy to have a spare bag.

The baby bag

I like to pack the baby stuff separate, or if you have a suitcase with 2 separate compartments you could use one side for you and one side for baby.

  • 8 vests
  • 8 babygros
  • 1-2 cardigans
  • Mittens-  we didn’t use mittens as baby’s bare hands are their first comfort and they use them to help find their way breastfeeding and as comfort. Tip #9 If you do decide to use them check if the babygro’s have mittens built into them. 
  • Baby hat – we didn’t use them, but opt for a bigger size as they tend to be small fitting
  • muslin cloths
  • Bibs
  • Soothers – be careful of using them in the early days of breastfeeding as they can lead to nipple confusion. Remember baby will want to be fed on demand and while a soother serves a purpose you want baby to be suckling to stimulate milk supply.
  • Nappies – If your opting for cloth nappies in the hospital, have a wet bag for them to go into separately and your family and friends can always take them home each day.
  • Nappy bags
  • hand sanitiser
  • Water wipes or cotton wool and water
  • Vaseline – Tip #10 we had packed sudocrem for when I was expecting my first, however the midwives in CUMH said vaseline was better as newborns poo can be quite sticky. 
  • Baby towel with hood if your opting to wash baby – we choose to not wash baby, except for top and tail.


Going Home Bag

These can all be left at home and bought in the day you get to go home

For Baby:

  • Carseat
  • Cellular blanket
  • Going home outfit

For Mom:

  • Going home outfit, pick something loose and comfortable, I like yoga pants, nursing t-shirt, flip flops or runners and zip up cardigan or a maxi dress and cardigan. Remember you will still have a little bump and you want to be comfortable
  • 2 rolled up towels that mom can sit on (The towels are placed under each butt check and thigh) to keep pressure off perineum especially if you had stitches.


I hope you found this list informative and helpful as you get your hospital bag ready. Is there anything else you packed that you found helpful? or anything you packed and didn’t need or use?

If you would like further information on the GentleBirth Workshops (group and private workshops available) or the Birth Doula service and packages that are available, you can read the links for more information or contact Anita on 087-1917907

GentleBirth FAQ

Doula Packages and Doula FAQ’s

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