Have you made a hospital bag checklist and started packing your bag for labor yet?
Get that hospital bag checklist out, and get that hospital bag packed now. It might make you feel better to say, ‘Now I am ready!’
In case you’re wondering what to pack, we’ve compiled an extensive hospital bag checklist for your labor, birth, and postnatal requirements.
Please let us know if we’ve missed something.
Even if you are planning a home birth, still pack a hospital bag for the baby and yourself.
If you need to transfer to the hospital, everything will be ready to go, and the midwives can help you and your baby instead of searching.
Hospital bag checklist: for the mother-to-be
Here’s a list of everything we can think of that you might need on your hospital bag checklist.
1. Clothing items
The more glamorous the better! You’ve just had a baby, and what better way to feel fantastic than having a great pair of comfy pajamas and slippers to wear? These get top priority on the hospital bag checklist.
If you intend to breastfeed, have two-piece pajamas to pack in your hospital bag.
You might wear your pj’s home; if not, pack a ‘going home’ outfit to wear when you leave the hospital.
Comfortable and practical clothes are essential to pack in your hospital bag. If you are going to a birthing center that has a pool, pack a bikini top or something similar.
Take a pair of flip-flops. They are great to wear if you’re in a four-bedroom and have to share the shower room.
2. Underwear, and more underwear
Men’s undies are very comfortable postnatal wear. They have plenty of room, and they’re cheap, so you can throw them away without a worry.
Choose darker-colored underwear if you’re worried about leaks. If you pack enough in your hospital bag to allow for 2 pairs per day, you should be covered.
Don’t forget to pack a separate plastic bag to put your worn underwear in.
Many women prefer big pull-up undies; they’re not glamorous, but they’re comfortable, and good if you have blood loss after the baby is born. We highly recommend having these on your hospital bag checklist.
Keep your feet warm in a cold hospital. Pack nice warm bed socks – one pair per day of your hospital stay.
3. Nursing bra
Pack 2-3 maternity or wire-free bras. Even if you’re not breastfeeding, underwire bras are not the best choice. They can become uncomfortable or cause mastitis by blocking your milk ducts.
Your milk can take days to come in, which means leaks are unlikely to be a problem right away. You can get very hot and sweaty, though, so pack more than one in your hospital bag.
While you’re thinking about maternity bras, if you have been antenatally expressing, don’t forget ‘colostrum’ on your ‘Pack in hospital bag’ checklist.
Double-check you have packed colostrum in an esky. In the rush to leave, most women leave it behind.
This is not only to dry your hair. On a low setting, you can use it to carefully and lightly dry your vulva after a shower.
This method might be particularly appealing if you’ve had stitches and you don’t want to rub the area with a towel.
5. Sanitary pads
Due to the risk of infection, you shouldn’t use tampons after you have given birth.
There are many brands to choose from if you like thin sanitary pads. Unfortunately, most maternity pads are very thick and padded.
Many new mothers find the thicker padding more supportive and protective. You can use ultra-thins when your blood loss slows.
Pack enough in your hospital bag for about 8 per day. If you have big pull-up undies, you’ll find them very convenient.
You can also prepare some frozen pads with witch hazel on them. Just soak pads in a small amount of water, add a few drops of witch hazel, and pop them in the freezer.
Read BellyBelly’s article about post-birth blood loss: Menstruation, Your Period & Blood Loss After Baby. It also contains general information about your cycle and ovulation after birth.
6. Breast pads
You might not need them straight away.
You will only produce small amounts of colostrum for a few days before your milk comes in. This can happen anytime – generally around days 3-4, but sometimes later, especially after a c-section.
By the time you go home, your milk will most likely have come in, so you’ll need a pack or two of breast pads in your hospital bag.
Your hospital bag should contain shampoo and conditioner; toothbrush and toothpaste; face washer, face wash, and soap; a hairbrush; and a shaver (in case you want to shave your underarms). In other words, all the usual ‘going away’ things.
Use deodorant lightly – perhaps not at all – for the first 24 hours after birth, so baby can get used to your unique smell.
Hair ties and hair clips are vital, especially during labor and delivery. Give some to your support person, who can fix your hair while you’re working hard.
Vision glasses or contact lenses, with a lens case, will come in handy if you want to see what’s going on. You might want your sunglasses when you leave the hospital in bright daylight.
8. Arnica or Aromatherapy
Arnica is a homeopathic preparation that helps the healing of bruising and strains – especially in soft tissues.
Many mothers who have given birth, and those who had surgery, find that arnica makes a huge difference in healing.
It’s cheap and available at most pharmacies or health stores.
Arnica is available as a cream (for external muscles etc) and in tablet form. Tablets are what you need.
Check with your healthcare provider for essential oils you can use during labor.
Hospital bag checklist: for baby
Check what your hospital provides in terms of nappies.
Some hospitals provide both disposable and cloth nappies. Some provide cloth only, which means you will have to provide your own disposables; some provide only disposables.
If you bring nappies from home, pack more rather than less.
If it’s your first time changing a nappy, you can get into all sorts of messes (literally) as you’re trying to get the nappy on correctly.
Pack enough for 8 per day. If you run out, which is unlikely, you can always send friends or family out for more.
If you’re bringing cloth nappies, bring a nappy bag to put them in.
It’s likely the hospital will provide some sort of clothing or gowns for the baby. But if you want to bring your own set of clothes, make sure you have all the items clearly marked or named.
Babies regulate their temperature with their heads, so you might not need to pack hats or beanies unless you are outside (when you are going home), if it’s particularly cold, or if you’d like a photo opportunity.
Socks and mittens don’t usually get too dirty, but they are hospital bag essentials. Babies usually have bad circulation to the hands and feet and are almost always cold. Pack one pair per day.
Vests or singlets are important to keep the baby warm, so pack 1-2 vests per day.
It isn’t a problem if you pack larger sizes than you need; vests tend to be longer rather than wider as the sizes go up.
Grow suits and Wondersuits are brilliant. They cover all of the baby’s body, and some even have special cuffs so they also act as mittens to cover the hands.
In total, allow for about 2 outfits per day, in case of nappy leaks or spills.
You can always send your partner, family, or friends out for more clothing if you need it, or you can borrow the gowns provided by the hospital.
3. Wipes, creams, and lotions
The hospital will most likely provide these as well.
Don’t rush out and spend money on all the available lotions and creams. Many of them are highly fragranced and might irritate your baby’s skin or cause a rash. Even some ‘baby’ brands have irritants in them.
How do you know what to buy?
Read the ingredients label. If there is anything in the list you can’t pronounce, or you need a science degree to understand what it is, then it has chemicals in it. And that’s not good for your baby’s skin.
Some products say ‘organic’ but might have only one organic ingredient in them. Look for the ACO (Australian Certified Organic) symbol on the products; this means the whole product is certified organic, not just one or two of the ingredients.
Instead of wipes, it’s better to use cotton wool and water for a newborn, or perhaps a face washer and water. Water is best for a baby’s very sensitive, newborn skin.
4. Bunny rugs and wraps
Pack one for each day. They might not get dirty at all but, when it comes to baby, it’s always better to have too many rather than too few – especially when those nappies leak. And boy do they leak!
Muslin wraps are great, and so are the stretchy cotton ones. Pack some in your hospital bag.
When wrapping a baby, the stretch factor really helps you tuck them in tight. The stiffer ones are harder to tuck in; if you don’t quite have enough fabric to tuck into a baby, then the whole wrap just falls apart.
5. Face washers/cloth nappies
Even if you plan on using disposables, cloth nappies are the best thing for other uses.
You can put them over your shoulder when burping the baby (to catch any possets or vomit), or place them under the baby when you change a nappy. They are so handy you should take a few with you wherever you go.
Face washers might be sufficient for you while you’re in the hospital and for bathing the baby. The hospital will usually provide them. If you want your own, then pack them into the baby hospital bag.
6. Bottlefeeding needs
If you are planning to bottlefeed your baby, the hospital will probably have everything you need. If you have a special brand you like, you might like to pack them in the baby hospital bag, too.
7. Car seat
This obviously doesn’t fit into a hospital bag. You will need a car seat, though, to take your baby home.
Make sure it is fitted correctly in your car, and you know how to use it.
It can be fiddly, especially when you are trying to secure your little one in it for the first time.
Labor Bag Extras
1. Toilet paper
You might want to pack your own extra soft toilet paper. It is bad enough going to any toilet that has terrible toilet paper, but after you’ve had a baby, you’ll particularly appreciate the extra softness.
2. Non-plastic bendy straws
When things get serious, straws with bends in them are great to put in your drinks. That way your support people can put the drink to your mouth and you only have to drink through the straw, without worrying about holding the bottle. Another essential!
3. Lip balm or cream
Your lips can get very dry in a hospital, and it’s nice to have moist lips during and after labor and delivery. A non-invasive lip balm is vital in labor when you are working so hard and your lips get parched.
Extra soft tissues are a great labor bag extra. Tissues containing aloe vera are ideal – for any small spills, leaks or messes, or anything else you might need tissues for, especially if your hospital doesn’t provide boxes of tissues.
It’s not likely you will need much entertainment when you have a new baby but, if you like, pack your favorite magazines and books.
Hospitals have rest times for new mothers, but if you can’t sleep because of the huge rush of adrenaline you get from labor, you can always relax with your favorite reading material or a baby book.
Pack your phone and charger in your hospital bag. You’ll need it when you’re ready to announce the birth, and if you want to scroll your social media at 3 am while feeding the baby.
Keep in mind, though, you will be very tired after giving birth, and it’s really important to get lots of rest.
6. Gentle laxatives
You’ll need to check with your pharmacist or doctor about which brands are suitable.
It’s common to be constipated after childbirth, or you might be afraid to use your bowels because of soreness and internal bruising.
Most likely, your hospital will provide laxatives. Common brands include aspartame and other artificial sweeteners, which are bad for you. Read the labels.
Your bottom is a sensitive area and can be very sore after childbirth. Stool softeners can help.
7. Diary and writing materials
While it is fresh in your head, why not write down what you experience throughout labor and delivery?
It’s amazing how quickly time passes and how quickly you forget. Even a paragraph about your emotions can make a beautiful keepsake to share with your baby one day.
For birth announcements, you might want to bring cards, pens, and paper.
Pack this material in your hospital bag, with your purse, money cards, Medicare, and insurance card.
8. Camera and video camera
If you plan to record the labor and birth, don’t forget to pack your camera and camcorder, or phone and charger. Hospital bag essentials!
This is allowed as long as there are no staff members in the video. Even if you aren’t sure whether you’ll take pictures and film, pack them in case you change your mind.
These moments happen only once, and when they’re gone… they’re gone.
9. Labor aids
It’s a good idea to pack a separate bag with labor aids, for easy access, rather than have your partner search among your clothes for things when you really need them.
Include snacks for your birth partner (the hospital food might not suit), some reading material, a wheat bag, and some massage or essential oils for you.
Pack something extra for your partner to wear; it’s easy to get wet when helping you in the shower or bath.
Other labor aids might be: pillows from home, as sometimes the hospital provides only one pillow per room, and yours will have your smell on them, which is great for labor; a birthing ball; relaxing music; or pictures for visualization.
Anything else you think of – just pack in a hospital bag!