Regardless of whether you have chosen to give birth at home, in a birth centre or hospital you should still have a birth bag packed and ready. It just means you’ve got everything organised in one place. Reducing the likelihood of a last minute dash around the house trying to find everything you need for labour!
Birth centres and hospitals have limited space, so you will be encouraged to leave some items in the car until they are needed, likewise when you have finished with certain items, and they can be returned to the car. For this reason, we have split your packing list into sections.
Download the checklist: New Life birth bag checklist.
Your birth bag
- Hand held maternity notes
- A copy of your birth plan, download our handy guide that helps you write your birth plan, including an easy-to-use template
- Glasses and spare contact lenses, if you wear them
- A nightie (or two) – something loose and comfortable that you don’t mind getting dirty
- A dressing gown and slippers
- Flip flops! You’re likely to be using communal showers on the postnatal ward, so it’s nicer to have flip flops than bare feet!
- Lip balm. Another must- gas and air can make your lips very dry
- Relaxation items such as, music, hypnobirthing tracks, magazines, books, etc.
- Your own pillow – but remember to use a distinguishing pillow case!
- A TENS machine if you plan to use one
- Water spray or a flannel to cool you down
- Isotonic drinks and high energy snacks
- Prescribed medications (not supplements). Remember to let your midwife know of any medications you are taking.
Your post-birth bag
- A fresh nightgown, which opens at the front so you can easily feed your baby
- A few pairs of granny pants (no-one said labour was glamorous!)
- Thick maternity sanitary pads
- Nipple cream – breastfeeding can sometimes make your nipples sore
- Your mobile and a charger (just remember to take the charger home!!)
- Snacks, so you don’t have to rely solely on hospital food or vending machines
- Toiletries: a toothbrush, toothpaste, shower gel, shampoo, conditioner, body lotion, face wash, moisturiser, lip balm, deodorant, a hair brush
- Make up, if you wear it, for all those photos!
- Spare contact lenses, if you wear them
- Comfortable nursing bras or regular bras. Whether or not you choose to breastfeed, your breasts are likely to be tender and swollen when your milk comes in. A good bra can provide some comfort.
- Breast pads – to help absorb any leaks
- A notepad and pen, or phone / tablet. Track your baby’s feeding sessions, write down any questions you have for the nurse, make a note of anything the nurses and doctors tell you.
- A going home outfit. Bring something comfortable and easy to get into and a pair of comfortable shoes. Remember, you will still look 5-6 months pregnant.
Note: it can be in your labour bag, just be sure to pack in a logical order.
Birth partner’s bag
- Plenty of loose change – for the car park, vending machines etc.
- Digital camera, camcorder, or smart phone – remember to charge the batteries! (Check that your hospital or birth centre allows camcorders)
- Toothbrush and toothpaste – cleaning your teeth is a quick and easy way to freshen up when tired
- A comfortable change of clothes to freshen up in case of a long labour. Birth centres are warm, so bring layers to avoid overheating.
- Swimwear, if your partner is planning a water birth. You may not get in the pool with her, but it’s good to have the option – otherwise you may end up in just your underwear!
- Painkillers and any prescribed medication you might need – these won’t be provided by the hospital
- Snacks and drinks for you and your partner, so you don’t have to solely rely on hospital food and vending machines
- Some sandwiches or other filling food. The cafés aren’t open 24 hours a day, and you’ll need to keep your strength up!
- Something to entertain yourself with. There can be a lot of down time in early labour, and your partner may not always feel like chatting
- Glasses and spare contact lenses, if you wear them
- Comfortable shoes – you’ll find you do more walking than you expect, supporting your partner, pacing up and down corridors and climbing stairs
- Massage aids and oils – massage is a natural form of pain relief
- A list of phone numbers or WhatsApp group of friends and family members, who you want to inform of the birth
- Anything that is on your partner’s list. Once your partner goes into labour, her needs become your responsibility!
Your baby’s bag
- A few changes of clothes, in case you need to stay in hospital. Pop each outfit in a zip lock bag for easy use.
- If you plan to formula feed, some ready-made bottles (most hospitals provide formula, but it will be the cheapest brand on the market. If you want to use a specific brand it’s best to bring your own.)
- Nappies – bring a couple of different sizes (just a few of each in a couple of zip lock bags) as you don’t know how big your baby is going to be.
- Cotton wool for cleaning your baby – don’t use wet wipes until your baby is at least 6 weeks old, just water and cotton wool.
- A going home outfit. Including, a vest, babygro, cardigan, hat and coat. Even during summer the air will be cool for a newborn
- A blanket to tuck around the baby in the car seat
- A car seat – but don’t bring it into hospital until you have been discharged!
What not to pack!
- Excess cash or other valuables
- A breast pump – the hospital will supply this, if required
- Sterilising equipment – the hospital will supply this, if required
- Toys or baby equipment