Congratulations on your pregnancy, mama! Pregnancy and motherhood is such an exciting transformative time, and we cannot wait for you to experience it all! As your due date draws near, you will need to start planning what to pack in your hospital bag. We know that can be a daunting task, especially for those notorious for over or under-packing. To help you with this momentous task, we have reached out to the Hotmilk Community for their must-have Hospital Bag items for mums who are giving birth in a hospital or the birthing centre.
Getting your hospital bag packed will put your mind at ease and make your labour, birth and hospital stay more comfortable. We suggest starting with the essentials and then moving into the nice-to-have items if you have space. You can start collecting items for your hospital bag anytime in the second or third trimester but aim to be packed and ready to go around 36 or 37 weeks, as labour can start early, and you don't want to be packing at the last minute. Some essential items may take some time to organise, such as a car seat, so best to tick this one off early.
We recommend packing two bags for the hospital, one for you and one for the baby. Your bag can be split into two sections. Section one is everything you need for labour and birth. Section two is everything you need post-birth. The second bag is for your baby and should include everything they need, such as clothing, blankets and nappies.
Depending on your labour and birth, your hospital stay could be one night or five. It is important to keep this in mind when you are packing. You can either pack for the full five nights or pack an extra bag to leave at home that your support person can pick up if needed.
To make packing your bag a little easier, we have split our list by mum, baby and support person. Happy packing.
Your Hospital Bag Checklists
Mum's hospital bag checklist
Whether you have a vaginal birth, intervention or a c-section, there are a few things you can do pre-labour to help create a positive environment.
- Educate yourself and your support team on what to expect during labour and birth.
- Create a birth plan, but be open-minded, knowing that things don't always go to plan.
- Empower your support team to advocate on your behalf.
- Create an atmosphere where you are comfortable; some women find music and dim lighting helps.
When packing for your labour and birth, it is important that you think about what gives you comfort and try to include those items.
Essential items for labour and birth:
- A loose shirt, t-shirt or robe. This will be great for when you are not in the shower. It provides comfort, coverage and is easy to get on and off.
- Slides, crocs or thongs. Footwear that can get wet but is also easy to get on and off is essential.
- Hair accessories - hair clips, ties and bands, anything that keeps your hair off your face.
- Lip balm.
- Easy-to-eat snacks, nuts, lollies and crackers are all great options.
- A water bottle with a straw. This makes sipping water throughout labour a lot easier.
- Sports drinks it is easy to get dehydrated during labour. A sports drink full of electrolytes is a great option.
- Music - We suggest creating a few different playlists; as your labour progresses, you may want to switch from relaxing meditative music to something more upbeat. Make sure you add a lot of songs to your playlist —labour can last 24-plus hours, and you don't want to listen to the same 10 songs over and over the entire time.
- Headphones or a portable speaker. Some women prefer listening to music via headphones to tune out the other noises in the room. Others prefer to play music on a speaker. We suggest packing both; that way, you have options.
- Birth Plan - print several copies for your support team, plus any other documentation you have been asked to bring by the hospital or birth centre. Once again, you and your support team need to be prepared for plans to change.
Essential items for your hospital stay:
- A fresh change of clothes to wear after birth. We love maternity PJs or a loungewear set. If breastfeeding, ensure you have a comfortable nursing bra or cami. We have a range of items perfect for the hospital bag.
- Maternity pads and comfortable underwear. We suggest taking a variety of underwear styles to allow for any tender areas. For example, a bikini cut may irritate a C-section scar. We have a variety of soft, breathable briefs available to try - The My Necessity Bamboo Briefs, Over the Bump Brief and Serenity Bamboo Brief.
- Maternity bra. For this stage, you really want soft, comfortable nursing bras that will keep you covered and allow for growth when the milk comes in after birth. Be prepared, when the milk first comes in after you’ve delivered your baby, the breasts will be quite swollen, this doesn’t last forever, once you have established a routine for regular feeding, they will settle, so don’t panic! However, do ensure you have bras that are either stretchy, or 1-2 cup sizes bigger to see you through this stage. Don't forget our Bamboo Nursing Pads, as the breasts will likely leak between feeding your baby. It’s also a great idea to wear a nursing camisole or nursing nightie, as these will keep your tummy covered while you’re breastfeeding, which is great for when you have all your visitors!
- Toiletries. These are essential. You will want your hairbrush, regular and-/or dry shampoo, toothbrush and toothpaste, deodorant, nipple balm, extra hair ties, face wipes and body wash.
- A plastic or wet bag for your labour/birth clothing.
- Paperwork, check with your hospital on what 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).
Essential items for your baby:
After your hospital bag has everything for you, then move on to the essentials for the baby.
- A car seat. If you're driving home, this is non-negotiable—they won't let you take your baby home from the hospital without a car seat installed. A lot of retailers will help with the installation. Make sure to ask when you are making your purchase. If you are somewhere like London, you might be planning to Black Cab home; if this is the case, you will need to take your baby capsule and pram.
- A going-home outfit. Pack a number of outfits in different sizes, as you won't know how big or small they are until they arrive. When in doubt, go with a newborn and 0-3 months. Also, remember hats and/or socks. If the outfits you are packing are new, ensure they have been washed with sensitive detergent beforehand.
- Your paediatrician's contact information. The doctors and nurses will ask you for this information several times, so it's good to have it handy. Include the email or fax number for the paediatrician's office so they can easily forward your baby's medical records.
- A warm blanket and swaddle.
Essential items for your birthing partner:
- Board shorts or swimwear. This will make it easier for your support person to help you while you're in the shower or bath.
- At least one change of clothing. Remember, your birthing partner may be in the hospital for a number of days.
- Snacks and drinks. Also, scope out where the vending machines and the coffee is located.
- Painkillers in case of headache!
- Phone charger. We suggest getting one with an extra-long cord. It can be difficult to find a PowerPoint in a hospital.
- A tablet or laptop. All labours are different, but in some cases there is downtime.
- Camera. There are so many beautiful moments during labour and birth you don't want to miss. If you have a camera, bring it along.
- If you are planning on staying at the hospital or birthing centre, you will also need toiletries and PJs.
- Positive birthing affirmations
- Battery powered candles or fairy lights
- Aromatherapy (e.g. massage oils or essential oils with a diffuser)
- A Swiss ball for labour.
- Tens machines or birthing combs are both great pain management tools.
- Whether breastfeeding or bottle feeding, a breastfeeding pillow will make life a lot easier.
For your support team:
- A box of chocolates is always appreciated. These can usually be purchased at the hospital. There might be one primary midwife you want to thank, or it could be the entire team.
- Granola bars
- Protein bars
- Fresh fruit
- Beef jerky
- Nuts or trail mix
- Dried fruit
- Easy to eat lollies - m&ms or gummies
- Electrolyte drinks
All the best for your labour, birth and motherhood journey!