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This is the only hospital bag checklist you'll need

Zofishan Umair

Zofishan Umair

Zofishan is a journalist, humour columnist, and a mum who has survived nappy explosions mid-air. She has over a decade of experience writing for print and online publications and is currently working on her first book.
Created on May 12, 2024 · 7 mins read
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Pregnancy is quite an adventure, especially that third trimester with a baby bump messing with your center of gravity. As the third trimester inches close, you'll begin to feel a mix of excitement, anticipation, and a lot of exhaustion! (Is hibernation a possibility at this point?) But any moment now, you'd have to reach for your hospital bag and penguin-walk your way our the front door and into the unknown—to the hospital.


Here’s a hospital bag checklist to help you pack those must-haves like your toothbrush, toothpaste, comfortable clothes, and maybe your aromatherapy oils, while also grabbing last-minute items like your phone and charger and of course, your birthing partner.

When to have your hospital bag packed


Most experts recommend having your hospital bag ready by the 36th week of pregnancy. This gives you enough time to gather everything you need without feeling rushed. It’s also a smart move because, well, babies have their own schedules, and some might be a little excited to meet their mom!


Hospital maternity bag checklist for mum


  • Comfortable clothing: Think loose-fitting, breathable, and easy to put on. Trust me; you won’t want anything constricting during labour. Pack comfortable day clothes and a going-home outfit for yourself – again, cute but comfy.
  • A gown and slippers/socks: You may want to be walking the halls of the hospital between contractions or getting your body up after your c-section. Having a comfy gown (because, let’s be real – a hospital gown is not where it’s at) and slip-on shoes or non-slip socks will make you feel less exposed.
  • A nursing bra (or three!): Planning to breastfeed? Wear a nursing bra. Or pack in your hospital bag!
  • Nursing pads, a nursing pillow and nipple cream – and P.S., eco-friendly nursing pads are the way to go!
  • Maternity sanitary pads: You’ll need these post-birth. They’re a bit bulkier than your usual pads, but they’re a lifesaver. Don’t be shy, and pack a couple of adult diapers if you’d rather by safe than sorry.
  • Personal toiletries: Pack your toothbrush, toothpaste, lip balm, shampoo (or dry shampoo!), conditioner, shower gel, face wash, and any other personal care items in travel-size bottles.
  • Other essentials and personal items: Contact lenses, contact lens solution, makeup, dressing gown, you know the drill.
  • Phone charger: You’ll want to capture those precious first moments after the baby arrives and be able to contact friends and family to share the good news. An adapter may also be needed!


Optional comfort items for mum


Labour can be an intense experience, and having comfort measures at hand can make a world of difference. Consider packing massage tools like a handheld massager or massage oil to ease tension during contractions. Essential oils with soothing scents like lavender or peppermint can help create a calming atmosphere in the delivery room.

Your favourite pillow or cushion can provide much-needed comfort in hospital, especially during prolonged labour, and maternity bras can give you a little bit of privacy once bub is in your arms.

In the sometimes long wait before that happens, bring along items like:

  • Music or podcasts: Create a calming playlist or download some calming music that can help keep your mind occupied.
  • Pillow: Hospital pillows aren’t always the comfiest.
  • Eye mask and earplugs: Hospitals can be noisy, so these can help a new mom catch up on some much-needed rest.
  • Magazines or books: For those quiet moments between contractions, or when the baby is asleep and you can’t, flipping through your favorite magazines might be just what you need!

Recovering from birth


Whether you’re planning a vaginal birth or a c-section, your hospital bag needs to be prepared for both scenarios. For mums having a c-section, consider packing comfortable, high-waisted underwear that won’t irritate the incision area. Additionally, loose-fitting clothing is essential, as are abdominal support bands if recommended by your healthcare provider.

Prepare for feeding


Don’t forget to include extra feeding supplies if you plan to breastfeed, such as a breast pump and storage containers. Additionally, having a support system in place for after delivery, such as family or friends to assist with childcare, can be invaluable when there are multiple newborns to care for (lucky you!).

What snacks to pack in your hospital bag


Labour can be long, and you’ll need energy. Whilst you won’t feel up to eating a whole, you’ll be grateful for some high-energy and easily digestible goodies. After all, hospital food is not exactly known for its Michelin rating, and you can’t guarantee the hospital vending machines will have a healthy variety.

  • Granola or protein bars: Compact, quick, and drizzled in a bit of chocolate (if you get the good kind) – these will fill you up with some fibre, carbs, and protein.
  • Trail mix: A combo of nuts, dried fruit, and maybe a sweet treat or two will go down stunningly when you’re peckish and a teensy bit hangry.
  • Fresh fruit: Opt for juicy fruit that packs easy and is less likely to “smoosh” at the bottom of our bag. Think apples, pears, and bananas – or make a fruit salad to cover your bases.
  • Water, water and more water: Between nerves and labour, dry lips and mouths can be a thing. A reusable water bottle will also be your best friend – along with the aforementioned lip balm.

What your partner or support person should pack


  • Change of clothes: Labour can be messy (who am I kidding, it IS messy!), so pack toiletries like an extra pair of clothes, a toothbrush, contact lenses, and a pillow along with something comfortable to wear home on the car ride.
  • Entertainment: Waiting time is long, so magazines, snacks, and drinks can keep them occupied during the waiting game.

Hospital bag checklist for baby


With mom essentials sorted, it’s time to focus on the hospital bag checklist for newest and cutest best friend.

  • Clothes: Pack baby gear such as a few onesies, sleepers, and tiny socks. And one outfit for going home!
  • Toiletries: Consider things like cotton buds, cotton balls, baby wipes, baby soap and cream.
  • Swaddling blankets: Several pairs of these cosy wraps help your baby feel secure and warm.
  • Disposable nappies and wipes: Stock up on newborn-sized nappies and plenty of wipes. Most hospitals provide these, but it’s good to have some extras.
  • Nappy rash cream: It is important to start using this from the start so that they don’t have to deal with any rashes.
  • Hat and mittens: Newborns can be a bit chilly, so a newborn hat and mittens are a must.
  • Burp cloth: Feeding can get a little messy, too; these are great to throw over your shoulder when burping a baby or wiping up feed messes.
  • Baby blanket: A soft, cuddly blanket can make your baby feel at home. You might also want to pack a bath towel for them too.
  • Car seat: A car seat or baby capsule is non-negotiable for the first ride home. You won’t be allowed to leave the hospital without a properly installed car seat so make sure you buy and install one well before your expected due date.

Some nice-to-haves for when your little one comes into the world could be a dummy to give them comfort or a baby book to record those precious first moments early.

Hospital bag packing for multiples
Expectant parents who are preparing for twins or more have unique needs when it comes to their hospital bag checklist. They should consider doubling up on essentials like baby clothes, nappies, and blankets. Organisation is key, so packing each baby’s items in separate, labeled bags can simplify things during a hectic hospital stay.

The less exciting admin side


A few admin items you should keep in your hospital bag:

  1. Hospital forms: Ensure you have your pre-registration forms and picture ID readily accessible. Try to fill out any necessary paperwork ahead of time so you don’t need to be worried about it once you’re admitted.
  2. Contact list: Have a list of phone numbers for friends and family you’d like to notify after the birth.
  3. Insurance information: Keep a copy of your insurance card handy.
  4. Birth plan and medicare card: If you have a birth plan, ensure it’s packed and ready to be discussed with your healthcare team.

And now, to the hospital! (Or birthing centre)


So, there you have it, the ultimate hospital bag checklist to make your delivery day and stay smoother. With all the essentials and a few creature comforts, you’ll be well-prepared to crazy drive your way to the delivery room.

Because with your hospital bag packed, there’s just one thing left to do… have that baby!

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