What to pack and bring with you for the birth of your baby

packing for baby

As a midwife, over the years I have seen all kinds of hospital bags. Small compact bags with only the essentials (that lead to heated conversations of, “how could you forget this” or “I told you we needed that”), to everything-but-the-kitchen-sink bags and far too big to fit inside the delivery room storage cupboard.

When organising a hospital bag for the birth of your baby, pack items you’ll need during labour, delivery as well as after your baby is born. I recommend splitting yours and baby’s things into separate places/compartments in the bag so they are easy for you, or your birthing partner, to find (packing some essentials for your birthing partner always helps too!).

You never know when your baby will arrive so being organised and having your bags packed early always helps. Here’s a list of things that will come in very handy when the time comes:

During labour and birth

  • Your birth plan and maternity notes (if you carry a paper copy).
  • Night shirts that button down the front and have sleeves that are either short or easily rolled up, preferably in a lightweight fabric to ensure you don’t get too hot.
  • Lightweight dressing gown.
  • Slippers – ones designed to easily slip on are handy and allow for some stretch if needed.
  • Socks – quite stretchy and not going to be too tight around the ankles.
  • Lip balm.
  • Water spray is great and comes in handy, especially when you’re feeling hot. Alternatively a flannel or sponge can help with this too.
  • Snacks and drinks to help keep your energy levels up. This is extremely important during labour.
  • Wet wipes to help you feel refreshed now and then.
  • Hair clips/bobbles and a hairbrush.
  • Your mobile phone and charger.
  • Pre-plan your music that you may want to have playing.
  • Sometimes it’s handy to bring your own pillow or two as extra pillows are sometimes not easy to find.
  • Using your own birthing ball. Your birthing ball is specifically designed for the use of pregnant women during labour.
packing for hospital

If you are planning to use a TENS machine as a form of pain relief during labour, here’s some useful tips about the TENS machine.

For your baby after birth (delivery room)

  • A small woollen or cotton hat.
  • A vest.
  • A simple buttoned front babygrow.
  • Your baby’s own blanket if you prefer.
  • Ideally a thin woollen or cotton one.
  • Newborn sized nappies.

Occasionally the delivery room will include a piece of equipment called a resuscitaire, often behind a curtain in a corner of the room. Midwives will sometimes place your baby’s clothes under the heater of the resuscitaire to warm them up when we are anticipating that your baby’s arrival is imminent.

For you after birth

  • Maternity pads – the big thick ones are the best and you will need at least two packs.
  • Big, comfy knickers.
  • Supportive nursing bras – ideally two or three as sometimes one might just not be comfortable.
  • Breast pads in case you have any leaks.
  • Button up nightshirts (especially if planning to breastfeed).
  • Toiletries, wash items (nothing too perfumed if planning to breastfeed) toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant.
  • Some loose, comfy clothing to wear when going home.

Things for baby

  • Babygrows and vests. Plenty of easy button up the front are helpful for quick changes.
  • Nappies.
  • Muslin cloths or bibs.
  • Cotton wool or cotton wipes – it’s kinder to use warm water and cotton wool on baby’s skin during nappy changes.
  • A baby blanket or shawl for going home.
  • Going home outfit with a hat.
  • Car seat that you will have ideally practised putting in and taking out of your car beforehand.

Birthing partner

Your birthing partner may wish to pack some things for themselves that they might like to have which could include:

  • Mobile phone and charger.
  • Plenty of snacks and drinks.
  • Glasses or spare contact lenses if relevant.
  • Small pillow – inflatable flight pillows are always easy to pack.
  • Any devices such as an iPad and charger.

Just to say, if you’re planning to birth your baby at home, maybe consider having a bag ready with the essentials for you and baby just in case you need to transfer to a maternity unit.

Also, if you’re thinking of having battery operated fairy lights or tea lights, maybe discuss this with your midwife as they may already provide them in delivery rooms.


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