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Want to know what you actually need in your hospital bag for labour, post-labour and your new baby? Here’s my checklist based on my personal experiences.
Plus I’ve also included a printable hospital bag checklist PDF you can download and print, PLUS a google sheet checklist you can copy and save. Scroll to the end of the post to download both.
Read on to discover why I recommend the labor and post-labor essentials on the checklist and for some useful shopping links to buy the things to put in your hospital bag. Plus, if you like to get organized digitally, rather than with printables, scroll down to grab a copy of my google sheet hospital checklist with budget tracker.
WHEN TO PACK YOUR HOSPITAL BAG
If you want to be prepared for every baby labor and birthing eventuality you should ideally pack your hospital bag once you reach 32 – 35 weeks of pregnancy.
That way you are totally prepared on the practical side of things. This means both you and your birthing partner can focus on the job at hand, of getting you and your baby through labor and birth safely and happily. Even if your baby decides to come early.
Packing your bag in good time will also give you peace of mind in the last few weeks of your pregnancy. Plus you won’t find yourself hastily throwing random stuff into a bag whilst in the early stages of labor.
You can always add preparing for packing your hospital bag to the list of things you are going to buy for your new baby, you will likely have some stuff to hand, but there are quite a few things that are extra.
Some moms-to-be add stuff for their hospital bag to their baby registry list, though there is debate over the etiquette of this. I’d suggest you know best about how your friends and family would feel about it, so go with your gut.
WHAT TO PACK IN YOUR HOSPITAL BAG FOR LABOUR/DELIVERY
If I could give you one piece of advice it would be to stick to putting only essentials in your hospital bag for labor, delivery and postpartum. This way you will have everything that you and your newborn need without feeling overwhelmed by a hospital bag full of everything but the kitchen sink.
So, at this point, you may well be wondering what the essentials actually are.
Which is why I’ve put together this hospital bag essentials checklist, a concise list of the essentials that you will need for yourself, your newborn baby and the baby’s father or your birthing partner, whilst you are in hospital.
HOSPITAL BAG CHECKLIST: THE ABSOLUTE ESSENTIALS
1. MUM-TO-BE DURING LABOUR
- A couple of changes of sleepwear or loungewear. Bear in mind you will need easy access when the time comes to push!!
- A robe because your body temperature can go up and down during labor
- A couple of pairs of socks (dark colour preferable), for the same reason as you need a robe.
- Flip flops for going to bathroom/shower
- Earplugs in case you need to block out background noise / have a chance to sleep during an extended labor
- Antibacterial hand gel and wipes
- Refillable water bottle with straw because you will get seriously dehydrated and it’s easier to drink through a straw when you’re dealing with labor. (This water bottle is perfect)
- Hair clips/bands to keep your hair off your face
- Lip balm because your lips will inevitably get parched
- Birthing ball take your own birthing ball if your hospital doesn’t have them, one like this birthing ball that gets several thousand great reviews
- Cell phone charger, given our cell phones, are our everything, you don’t want yours to run out of juice!
- A small amount of cash, just in case for taxis, coffees or snacks, magazines
- Non-perishable snacks – healthy, low GI snacks to keep you going during labor
2. MUM-TO-BE FOR POSTPARTUM
- Maternity pads, you need a highly absorbent pad postpartum, because there is a lot of lochia (postpartum vaginal discharge made up of blood, mucus and uterine lining) to come out. These Always Infinity Flex Foam pads are brilliant because they have a high absorbency and wings, but they are slim fitting, so you won’t have a huge chunk of pad irritating your sore vaginal area.
- Postpartum panties to keep you more comfortable after giving birth. Buy high waisted pants that can easily fit a maternity pad. Some new mums prefer disposable mesh pants, but I think it’s better to buy something like these high waisted cotton pants that you can use until you no longer need them, then discard them.
- Sleep nursing bra, this is a nursing bra that is comfortable to wear at night / whilst you are lying in bed, rather than a bra you buy for support. This wrap-front sleep nursing bra is really popular and has a lot of great reviews from happy new moms.
- Nursing pads to soak up leaking milk. Don’t buy disposable pads, you can be kind to the environment by buying these super-soft, washable, reusable pads, like Bamboobies bamboo nursing pads, which get absolutely brilliant five-star reviews and often come top on lists of best nursing pads.
- Nipple cream, your nipples will get sore if you don’t use nipple cream to keep them moisturized and protected. I suggest you use a plant-based cream like Motherlove Nipple Cream. It is lanolin-free and doesn’t need to be washed off before nursing your baby.
- Your own pillow in a non-white pillowcase, because hospital pillows are notoriously awful. Why a non-white pillowcase? Because you don’t want your pillow getting mixed up with hospital pillows if you get moved around. Don’t bother bringing a nursing pillow, hospital pillows actually make great nursing pillows (especially as you’re likely to be nursing from bed, rather than sitting in a chair)
- Peri bottle, the hospital is likely to provide peri bottles, however, this Frida Mom Upside Down peri bottle gets a ridiculous amount of five-star reviews, so if you don’t want to take any chances managing your sore undercarriage, I’d suggest getting one! I didn’t have one and I can tell you, I was not a happy new mom ‘down there’ during the time I spent in hospital postpartum.
- Peri spray, now this isn’t strictly an essential unless you consider maximising your chances of minimising discomfort is important to you 😉 Earth Mama Herbal Perineal Spray is a totally natural, paraben-free spray that will cool and soothe your sore perineal area. With a huge 74% five-star reviews from soothed new moms, this spray is an essential treat-to-self to add to your hospital bag.
Do also read my post on your what you need in a postpartum care kit for after you give birth, at the hospital and at home.
3. FOR BABY
- Diapers, most hospitals provide diapers, but it’s worth having a couple of newborn diapers in your hospital bag just in case
- Diaper cream, I absolutely adore the scent of this Weleda Calendula diaper cream and used it throughout the time my daughter was in diapers. Plus it is certified natural, so no unnecessary chemicals!
- Baby wipes, just make sure they are as environmentally-friendly as possible. Wipes are one of the scourges of our planet (your newborn baby’s planet!). So buy-wisely. I can’t quite get my head around reusable wipes, but these Eco by Naty baby wipes are plastic-free, made from compostable plant-based ingredients and are PH balanced with no nasty chemicals.
- Sleepsuits, take a couple of simple sleepsuits to dress your baby in. You can start getting fancy with clothes once you’re both home!
- Going home outfit, not exactly essential, though do pack accordingly if your baby will be leaving hospital in the depths of winter
- Baby blanket, something lovely to swaddle your baby in
- Formula, now this may be controversial and I wholeheartedly agree that breast is best and loved breastfeeding my daughter once we got going, but hear me out on this. My daughter had a tricky birth, to say the least, and as a result, my first milk (colostrum) was fed to her by bottle and she needed formula to top up her feeds until I was able to produce enough milk. I much preferred to give her my choice of organic baby formula, rather than the mass-market formula the hospital had. I’d feel the same if for some reason my milk didn’t come in or I just couldn’t breastfeed.
Now, something I confess that my husband and I didn’t really think about, but should have when planning for me giving birth, was packing a hospital bag for him! It is something we both regret because he spent a LONG time supporting me. A LONG time sitting on cold, hard plastic chairs with no comfort and not a lot to do, other than support me.
Clearly, I had the worse end of the deal on comfort, as I was going through an induction and then birthing our baby, but even so, there is no need to make unnecessarily uncomfortable for our birthing partners!!
So, here’s a list of things to consider packing in a hospital bag for the baby’s daddy/birthing partner.
4. FOR DAD / BIRTHING PARTNER
- Healthy non-perishable snacks, they need the energy to keep going too!
- Pillow and blanket, for making sitting/sleeping in uncomfortable hospital chairs slightly more pleasant
- Reading material/Kindle, to keep boredom at bay, yes really
- Toothbrush, toothpaste and face wash to freshen up and feel better
- Infant car seat, this is a big thing that the daddy/birthing partner can take control of. You can’t leave hospital without a car seat. One tip, make sure to practice getting it in and out of your car before you bring it to the hospital
So there you have it. An essential list of stuff to pack in your hospital bag. PLUS FREE printable hospital bag checklist for labor and delivery, PLUS FREE google sheet hospital bag checklist and budget tracker.
YOUR HOSPITAL BAG DOESN’T HAVE TO BE COMPLICATED
If you take anything from this post, please let it be that your hospital bag for labor and the birth of your baby doesn’t have to be complicated. Don’t get stressed trying to fill with things for every eventuality. There is a reason that your hospital bag can also be known as a ‘go bag’! It’s because you want to be able to grab it and go. You can’t do that if it weighs a ton!
In fact, here’s a few things that I suggest you definitely leave out of your hospital bag…
THINGS TO LEAVE OUT OF YOUR HOSPITAL BAG
- Books – the chances are that you will be far too distracted to do any reading. You can always scroll on your phone if you need a distraction or ask your birthing partner to buy you a magazine. Stuff you can dip and dip out of is much better than expecting to read War & Peace whilst in labor
- Breast pump – don’t worry about pumping until breastfeeding is established. If you want to breastfeed and are finding it hard, the hospital will be able to provide you with a breast pump to use
- Jewelry – the safest place for it is at home
- Stacks of diapers – as per the list, it’s worth having a couple to hand, but the hospital will have a good supply of diapers
- Lots of cute
baby clothes – as per the list, keep it simple, more is less with a newborn in the hospital
WHAT TO USE FOR YOUR HOSPITAL BAG: SUITCASE OR BAG?
Let’s shift the focus slightly from your hospital bag checklist to what to actually pack all the stuff on your checklist in!
Everyone talks about hospital bags, or go-bags, but in reality it’s a good to use a small suitcase to transport all your essentials to hospital. You can even share the space in the suitcase with your birthing partner and baby!
Why a suitcase? Well for starters, a suitcase on wheels is far easier to handle than having to worry about carrying a heavy bag. You can also usually get more in a suitcase than in any overnight bags you have.
FREE PRINTABLE HOSPITAL BAG CHECKLISTS
I’ve put everything mentioned on the checklist above onto two free PDF printable hospital bag checklists. I’ve designed a bright colourful checklist and a simple minimal design checklist.
Alongside the PDF checklists I’ve also created a google sheet hospital bag checklist and
budget tracker. The google sheet checklist is perfect if you’d rather get organised digitally rather than with printouts.
HOW TO DOWNLOAD YOUR FREE PDF PRINTABLES AND GOOGLE SHEET
If you are already a subscriber to Mums Make Lists you can go right ahead and click the image or link below to download your copy of the free printable template.
Yet to subscribe? Then you will need to unlock this exclusive content by subscribing. It literally takes seconds, you just need to enter your email address.
Click the images or the links below to grab your downloads.
Instructions for getting your copy of the google sheet: Simply follow the instructions that appear once you have clicked on the download link to copy and save your copy.
I really hope this hospital bag checklist post has been of use. If you’re just starting out on your pregnancy journey you will hopefully also find useful my posts on essentials to buy for your newborn baby and my ultimate baby registry checklist.
I’ve also got a whole bunch of new mom and baby posts that you might find useful.
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