Congrats - you're having a baby! With so much to organize before your little cherub arrives, one of the most important things to do is to pack the bag you will be taking to hospital.
Packing your bag for the hospital can be an exciting yet overwhelming task. You don't want to overpack, but you also don't want to risk missing anything. Not only will you be packing for yourself, but you may also be packing for your birth partner, and of course, your baby (or like me, babies!).
Keep reading for the ultimate hospital bag checklist and printable copy. I have linked the products I used.
When To Pack Your Hospital Bag
You should pack your hospital bag generally three weeks before your due date. This changes if you have a high-risk pregnancy - carrying multiples or other complications such as pre-eclampsia or previous pre-term pregnancies. In this case, your bag should be packed a few weeks earlier than the general three weeks. If you are having a scheduled C-section, then you should also prepare your bag a couple of weeks in advance of that date, should you go into natural labor earlier than expected.
How Long To Pack For
You may wonder how many days you are likely to stay in hospital after giving birth, and therefore how long to pack for. This can vary depending on what kind of delivery you are having. Generally, if you are having a healthy, vaginal delivery then you are likely to stay for 1-2 nights. If you are scheduled in for a C-section, this may be longer - around 3-4 days. However, the duration you stay in hospital greatly depends on where in the world you are. Here in the Netherlands, its very common to go home on the same day you deliver if its a 'normal' vaginal delivery, and around 2 days for C-section as long as there are no complications. Speaking of complications, deliveries are very unpredictable and can be full of surprises (I can attest!) so there could be a small chance you are there longer than intended. Keep this in mind when packing.
What To Pack In Your Hospital Bag - Checklist
I have broken this down into sections to make packing easier. Pro tip - divide the items in each section in separate packing cubes or extra large zip lock bags (IKEA ones work great), clearly labeling what is in each bag. It is very likely your birthing partner will be in charge of your belongings and dressing the baby so labeling each bag will make it very easy for them, eg. 'baby's first outfit' bag will contain baby's clothes, body vest, hat, nameplate etc.
For Hospital Check In And Labour
- photo ID (drivers license or passport)
- insurance card
- coins for a wheelchair
- 2 printed copies of your birth plan
- birthing nightie that opens for immediate skin to skin and easy feeding access*
- cosy fuzzy socks
- toiletry bag with the typical toiletries that include lip-balm, face towel, hair ties, and any medication you are on
- glasses if you wear contact lenses
- energizing snacks** - bone broth, nuts, protein bars, and isotonic drinks
- TENS machine if you plan to use one
* most hospitals provide gowns when the epidural is administered, should you choose to take it. These have back access which is required. I took my own birthing clothes but ended up wearing the hospital gown.
** some hospitals have strict rules on what you can and cannot eat if you are going under general anesthetic when having a C-section. Check this with your medical team. Most hospitals also provide food - I was given things like ice lollies, icy strawberry lemonade, sandwiches, and even offered full meals.
- phone charger
- camera/ cell phone
- iPad/ Kindle/ Laptop
- portable speaker (or laptop) for music during labour
- rubber flip flops for showering
- comfortable slippers (I took these Llani shearling embellished ones, perfect for swollen feet and made me feel so good!)
- 2 sets of loose, breathable pyjamas (hormones can make you feel very hot)
- loose daytime clothes
- perineal bottle for the bathroom as you want to avoid toilet paper
- perineal cooling spray, witch hazel or aloe vera (that contains no alcohol) for soothing after delivery
- lanolin based nipple gel
- cotton high waisted underwear (6 pack)
- 3 nursing bras (I highly recommend these)
- three pairs of socks
- nursing pillow (helpful even if you are not breastfeeding)
- going home outfit (and keep footwear in mind as feet may still be swollen)
For multiples, adjust the amount accordingly.
- 2 muslin cloths - 2 cotton baby hats - 2 cotton long sleeve onesies with scratch mittens and foot socks inbuilt, size 50 (newborn) - 2 cotton long sleeve onesies with scratch mittens and foot socks inbuilt, size 56 (0-3 months) - 2 half sleeved body vests
- going home outfit - 2 blankets (cotton cellular or fleece depending on season) - 2 cardigans/ sweaters
- baby pram suit or jacket (depending on season)
- car seat (many hospitals will not let you leave without this)
- accessories for first photos (nameplates, etc)
*Many hospitals provide nappies, formula, baby bottles, creams, vaseline, baby bathing supplies (cleansing gel, towels, etc) so it is not necessary to pack these items, however it is best to check with your hospital first.
I hope this checklist helps you when packing your bag for the hospital! Download a printable version below.