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Packing Your Labour Hospital Bag

When should I start packing my labour hospital bag?

We advise you to start packing your labour hospital bag around 34-35 weeks of pregnancy. It’s much better to be prepared early even if you add a few items to your bags nearer to your due date. If you went into labour early, this is one less thing to stress over!

Don’t be one of those people!

Everyone needs tips to pack their hospital bag! As midwives, we see loads of women rock up to hospital looking like they need a pack horse to help with all their bags! It’s as though they’re stopping for a month which (you definitely don’t want to do and) is totally impractical! There’s no room to swing a cat in the rooms and bays in most hospitals and pets aren’t allowed anyway! So what should you take in your hospital bag for labour?

Don’t be conned!

You can find loads of lists online suggesting what you should pack in your hospital bag. Be aware that a lot of those lists are actually written by shops or companies trying to sell you products. Just pack what you need for staying overnight. Have two separate bags – one for you and one for the baby because it’s much easier to find things. Take what you think you’ll need for staying one night. Then if you end up needing to stay longer, you can have another bag back at home. Send your partner or another family member to go and grab it if necessary. In this extra bag at home, have more supplies ready; more underwear for you, more nappies, more baby grows etc. We know of a woman who sent her husband home to get more knickers for her. Not finding them anywhere, he brought back his underwear! Not so helpful!


Know what’s what & what’s where!

For birth partners it’s really useful if you know what’s what and where it is in the hospital bags. So if she’s asking you for a ‘scrunchie’ are you aware what that is and can you find it? (We don’t mean to be patronising but let’s face it, women sometimes talk a different language! You don’t want to be asking for a translation when she’s in labour! She’s hopefully going to be focused on the task in hand! She doesn’t need to be distracted by you fumbling though the bags, mumbling what’s a scrunchie anyway?!)

Baby’s first outfit – check!

Another tip when packing your hospital bag, is to put the baby’s first outfit in a separate sandwich bag. What is needed for their first outfit? Well, a vest (the undergarment without legs but may or may not have arms), a baby grow (also known as a sleep suit just to confuse matters – they’re the same thing!), a hat, a nappy, and a cardigan. We don’t normally suggest that babies wear hats indoors but we do for the first 24 hours. They’re not very good at regulating their temperature in the first 24 hours. Therefore we do encourage hats to be worn then.

If you have to go to theatre, the midwife will very often ask you for a hat and nappy. Scrambling through the bags trying to decipher what’s needed and where it is, can be a bit awkward! When they’re ready in a sandwich bag you can just grab that! Boy scouts have it right with their motto – be prepared!

You may want to have other sandwich bags labelled, categorising other items in your bag. Etsy sell nicely labelled packing bags especially for labour but ultimately they are expensive sandwich bags with swirly writing on! You could easily create your own! But what do you actually need to pack and take to hospital? You’ll probably find our list helpful & remember – we’re not selling you any products!

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