Babies can be unpredictable, so we've prepared a handy hospital bag checklist to help you pack your bags in advance.
“I’ll get to it tomorrow!” — the famous last words of a parent who didn’t pack their maternity hospital bag in time. A hospital bag is a suitcase or kit bag containing all the things you’ll need at the hospital. Even if you plan to give birth at home, or a designated birthing centre, it’s wise to have your hospital bag checklist ticked off. Essential items such as maternity pads and toothpaste should be ready to go for any situation before and after childbirth. One of the most special days of your life is around the corner! Are you ready?
Your hospital bag should have all the essentials needed to spend 1-3 days away from home. This includes comfy pyjamas, slippers and a bunch of supplies to make the experience as comfortable as possible. Remember that labour is physically demanding and in some cases, it lasts longer than 8 hours!
If you opt for a home birth, you’ll still want access to all the supplies mentioned above. Make sure all these items are readily available in the birthing room or nearby. In addition, you can refer to the list below for some home birth extras:
A selection of travel-sized toiletries are a must-have for your maternity hospital bag. Although some hospitals supply basic toiletries, it won’t hurt to have your favourite lotion or deodorant readily available.
Your newborn baby will need their own set of supplies for their time at the hospital. To make things easier, pack a separate bag for the baby with clothes, nappies and all the other essentials.
If you're a birth partner, you have the important job of providing ultimate support at the hospital. Mum needs snacks? You better have them. And of course, you should bring along a few items to make your time at the hospital more comfortable — you’re in it for the long haul.
Having everything ready means no one will need to run around pulling together an emergency bag for you and forgetting to pack a toothbrush! Your hospital bag should contain all the items you’ll need during labour and immediately after birth — for both you and your baby. Any kind of bag is fine, although one with extra pockets will be beneficial.
Be prepared for your birth plan to change
A hospital stay can vary in length depending on whether you have a vaginal birth or a caesarean section (C-section). An average stay for a vaginal birth is around one day, while mothers who have C-sections can expect to stay around three days. Remember, birth can be unpredictable, so make sure you’re packed for a longer hospital stay, even if your first choice is to deliver vaginally.
Read our pregnancy advice article to feel as prepared as possible.
Your hospital bag will typically be as big as a weekend travel bag — perhaps a medium-sized duffel bag or a small suitcase. It helps to have a bag that opens wide, making it easy to access everything you have packed.
Most people need two hospital bags — one for mum and another for the baby. However, you should keep in mind that hospital rooms are often quite small. If you would like an extra bag with postpartum essentials and clothes, you can potentially leave that one in the car and have someone bring it to you later.
The best snacks for a hospital bag are tasty, light and easy to eat without making a mess. Consider healthy snacks such as veggies, nuts, fruit, breakfast bars, crackers and sandwiches. Foods that are low in fat and sugar prevent nausea. On the other hand, you can bring a few delicious sugary snacks to boost energy levels.
There are plenty of items to pack in your hospital bag when giving birth. But if you have limited time to pack, here’s what you really need:
Depending on the length of your stay, you’ll need between 20 and 30 nappies in your hospital bag. Newborns typically go through 10 to 12 nappies in a day, so make sure you have enough!