If you're having a hospital birth, you'll need to bring a bunch of things with you for your labour and time on the maternity ward.


You'll need hospital bag essentials for labour and straight after birth. Knowing you've got a pre-packed hospital bag all ready to go will be a weight off your mind in the days coming up to your due date.

There’s lots to pack, from the practical - birth plan, any medical notes, breast pads and maternity pads – to the more comfy such as clothes and toiletries.

You might also want to think about preparing a second bag to be taken in later if you stay in hospital for some time.

You'll want to think about what to put in:

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So what's going in your hospital bag?

Here's our guide based on advice that members of our MadeForMums community have shared with us. We've divided it into essentials and nice-to-haves...

Your hospital bag essentials

  • Birth plan
  • Medical notes
  • Maternity bra
  • Comfortable, loose maternity clothing for labour. Maybe take a spare set, in case you need to change.
  • Snacks, water, drinks for labour
  • Cereal bars, snacks, water, small juice cartons to have post-birth for energy
  • Toiletries, including lip balm, hair bands and hairbrush
  • Towels
  • Flannel
  • Underwear, either very comfy old ones or disposable paper ones
  • 1 pack maternity pads (check our pick of the best maternity pads)
  • Nursing bra
  • Breast pads
  • Smart-looking, comfortable, loose maternity clothing or nightwear for after birth
  • Nightwear or large top, front-opening options will make breastfeeding easier
  • Dressing gown
  • Slippers
  • Plastic bag for dirty clothing
  • Antiseptic cleaning wipes, for the shared toilets if you’re worried about quality of hospital cleanliness

Bag: from MadeForMums community member Florence

Your hospital bag nice-to-haves:

  • iPad / tablet
  • Magazines/books
  • Extra pillow
  • Water spray
  • Birth ball, if you plan to use
  • TENS machine, if you plan to use
  • Aromatherapy oils, if you plan to use
  • Make-up, if you're the sort that likes to put on a bit of a lippie before a pic – because that first 'mum-and-baby' pic will be a precious one
  • Hot water bottle, for backache
  • Sleep bras, if you tend to wear them
  • Plastic water jug – post-birth, pouring water on yourself as you pee can make things feel less sore

Download our checklist


What to bring later if you stay on the maternity ward a bit longer (your second hospital bag):

  • Maternity pads
  • 2 nursing bras
  • Underwear, either very comfy old ones or disposable paper ones
  • Change of nightwear
  • Comfy, loose clothing
  • Comfy outfit to go home in
  • Ear plugs, in case ward is noisy at night
  • Nipple cream

Download our checklist


Bag: from MadeForMums community member Emma

What to pack for your birth partner

  • Snacks and drinks
  • Change of clothes
  • Blanket
  • Magazines/book
  • Toiletries, such as deodorant, toothbrush, toothpaste
  • Money
  • Change for the hospital car park
  • Camera
  • Mobile phone – yours and his
  • Chargers for camera and mobile phones
  • List of phone numbers, in case you can’t use mobile

Download our checklist

What to pack for your baby

  • 12-15 nappies
  • Nappy bags/sacks
  • Fold-up changing mat or towel
  • Small pack wipes
  • Cotton wool balls
  • 2-3 bodysuits
  • 2-3 vests
  • Hat
  • Scratch mittens
  • 1 pair socks/baggies/booties
  • Muslin squares
  • Blanket, for the trip home
  • Car seat, ready for the trip home from the hospital

Download our checklist


Bag: from MadeForMums community member Florence

When should you pack your hospital bag?

Packing your hospital bag, or labour bag, is actually a lovely thing to do. Most mums we spoke to pack their bag by around 35 weeks of pregnancy - some do it several weeks earlier, some leave it the last moment.

Not all babies arrive on their due date, so it’s reassuring to be prepared for birth well in advance.

Once your hospital bag is packed, it can just sit there waiting expectantly!

Can you pack too much?

“To be honest, I find you never end up needing much of it," says Rebecca, who is a member of the MadeForMums community. "So take the essentials and get folk to bring other bits in as and when you require them.”

"When I had my daughter I had a labour bag, a baby bag and ward bag," confesses Wendy, another member of our community.

"I can vividly remember the midwife bringing a shopping trolley into the delivery room to transfer us down to the ward.

"I think they must have got a trolley for those of us who like to over-prepare. Even with three bags still had MIL bringing stuff in that I forgot!”

What if you're having a home birth?

Even if you’re planning to have your baby at home, have a bag packed just in case you need in go into the hospital.

Hopefully everything will go to plan and you’ll remain at home through your labour – in which case, the packed bag may not go to waste as it’ll be handy to have everything you need all in one place.

And if only we'd known...

“My hospital provided nappies and sanitary towels so I ended up not using the ones had packed. Check with your midwife at your hospital – if I’d known, I could have saved so much room!” says Laura, a member of our MadeForMums community.

“If you’re planning to bottle-feed, most hospitals supply formula milk – mine did. Give your midwife or hospital a ring if you’re unsure,” says Donna, also a member of our community.

What are mums packing in their hospital bags?

And finally...

Read more



Tara BreathnachContent Editor and Social Media Producer

Tara is mum to 1 daughter, Bodhi Rae, and has worked as Content Editor and Social Media Producer at MadeForMums since 2015