When it comes to packing your hospital bag it’s best to have it packed around a month in advance if you go into Labour early you want to be as prepared as possible so you can focus on the birth! It’s difficult to judge how much stuff you will need as there’s no way of telling how long your labour will last, so it’s a good idea to pack an extra bag full of spares just in case. You can leave this at home and your birthing partner can bring it to you if required, though you may not need it at all.
Your birth plan and maternity notes – these are vital for ensuring the birth goes the way you have planned
Important phone numbers written on paper – these are good to have in case your mobile battery runs flat
Old, comfy t-shirt or nightie – to wear during labour
Thick socks –During labour, blood flow to the uterus increases, causing feet to become cold
Dressing gown – You might find yourself pacing corridors in early labour and you’ll also need one for the postnatal ward. Keep it lightweight for comfort and go for darker colours as these won’t show any stains.
Slippers – a pair of slip-ons that are easy to get on and off are best
Snacks and drinks – You don’t know how long you’ll be in labour for, and standard meal times can go out the window
Pillows – If you have been using maternity pillows to sleep or relax at home you may wish to bring them with you to help you get comfortable during labour. These can also assist with feeds after the birth.
Something to tie your hair up – things can get very sweaty and you may feel more comfortable with it out of the way. A hairbrush is also useful for this reason.
Music – Take your MP3 player if it will help you relax
Things to help you pass time or relax – such as books, magazines or a tablet computer
For after the birth
Fresh underwear and pyjamas – for your stay on the postnatal ward. Include two or three nursing bras and several pairs of old/disposable cotton knickers. Front opening shirts are best if you plan on breastfeeding.
An outfit for your journey home – This should be loose and comfortable. It will take a while for your bump to shrink so you will probably be in maternity clothes for a while after the birth.
Breast pads – even if you don’t plan on breastfeeding, these will be useful until your milk has dried up
Maternity pads – maternity pads are bigger and a lot more absorbent than sanitary towels. You will probably need to change your pad every couple of hours immediately after the birth, so pack a good supply
Toiletries – it’s best to buy travel versions or decant into smaller containers to save space. Try limiting your toiletries to the basics: shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, facewash, deodourant, moisturiser, toothpaste, toothbrush.
Camera – For snapping loads of pictures for the beautiful new addition to your family!
Towels – The softer the better, as you will likely be very sensitive following the birth
Sleeping mask and earplugs – these can be useful for helping you sleep on a noisy, brightly lit ward
Two or three baby grows and vests
Baby blanket – It may be chilly when you leave hospital. If your baby is born in winter you should pack a heavier jacket or snowsuit as well as a blanket.
Nappies and nappy cream – Your newborn may go through ten a day – make sure you buy the newborn-sized nappies.
A couple of pairs of socks or booties
A couple of hats – for keeping baby cosy
Bibs – These will save you having to change a whole outfit if baby brings up milk
Baby car seat – If you’re travelling home by car make sure you and your birth partner have a car seat ready that you have already practiced using.
It seems like a lot, but think how relieved you will feel if you go into labour unexpectedly and all of your things are ready to go. Once you’ve packed your bag, you can sit back with a cup of tea and relax waiting for baby to arrive.