Getting ready to give birth

What to pack in your hospital bag: the top 10 items for your hospital bag checklist

Have you packed your hospital bag yet? From sleep suits to baby wipes, our checklist reveals the top 10 most important things to bring with you wherever you choose to give birth.

Share this

As your due date gets closer, it’s very sensible to pack a bag full of labour essentials that you can grab on the way out of the door. But what should you put in this vital bag? The best people to ask are those who have been through labour themselves, so we surveyed around 2,000 parents to find out what they had in their hospital bag. We also asked them to tell us that one thing they forgot that would have made a big difference.

Still deciding where to give birth? Use our Birth Choice tool to help you decide if a birth centre, labour ward or home birth would be best for you.

Stock up on sleep suits

The number one thing to put in your hospital bag is enough sleep suits, hats and nappies – newborns are messy eaters and can get through a stack of clean clothes and nappies faster than you might expect. It’s important to be as comfortable as possible too, and our survey results show that it’s worth bringing maternity sanitary pads, your own cosy nightgown and some old, comfy knickers that you don’t mind throwing away.

Woman with baby

Parents recommend bringing some of your own toiletries with you, as well as a blanket to keep your newborn cosy, and your mobile phone to stay in touch with everyone and take photos of your little boy or girl (or have someone less busy/exhausted take photos for you).

The top 10 most popular hospital bag items are:

  1. Sleep suits, hats and nappies for baby
  2. Maternity sanitary pads
  3. Toiletries
  4. Blanket for baby
  5. A change of clothes for you to go home in
  6. Mobile phone and a charger
  7. Nightgown
  8. Old disposable knickers
  9. Your birth plan and maternity medical notes
  10. Cotton wool or baby wipes

The hospital bag wishlist

When you’re in a hurry to get out the door, it’s easy to forget something that you’ll really miss once you’re 12 hours into labour (which is why it’s a good idea to plan in advance with your birth partner). The parents in our survey told us about those handy items that they forgot, or simply didn’t realise they would need.

Lots of the parents wished they had food with them – snacks to get you through the long hours of waiting, high energy foods to give you a boost (one parent wished for a ‘massive Galaxy bar’), or simply something to make up for disappointing hospital food. With all the toing and froing in the maternity ward, it’s easy to miss out on a meal.

Clothes came up again as a popular answer, so it’s probably worth packing extra just in case you’re away from home for longer than expected or get through your clean clothes really quickly. One parent was taken by surprise:

More spare clothes – both my children were in NICU after they were born and I ran out of clothes after a couple of days!

Your little one might need extra clothes too. One parent recommended:

Bring enough clean clothes for baby. We stayed in for two days and she vomited through about 8 outfits!

Thinking outside the bag

There were a few unorthodox hospital bag recommendations too – here are some of our favourites:

  • ‘Gin’
  • ‘A hospital!’
  • ‘A how-to handbook’
  • ‘An escape kit’
  • ‘My sanity’

Dads have some great ideas too:

  • ‘Sky Sports’
  • ‘Strong painkillers of my own!’
  • ‘You’d have to ask my wife – probably wine though!’

We’ve got a special checklist for dads or whoever your birthing partner may be – they have a vital role to play in keeping you comfortable and relaxed.

Get your maternity bag ready

It’s never too soon to pack your hospital bag. The last thing you want to do when labour kicks in is spend half an hour trying to find the sleep suits and nappies you bought in the sales two months ago.

If you’re not sure where to start, use our hospital bag checklist, which has everything you need for before and after labour, plus some handy extras inspired by our survey results. If you’re planning a home birth instead, try our home birth checklist to make sure you remember the essentials. If you’re still deciding where to give birth, our handy Birth Choice tool will help you decide which local unit is right for you or whether a home birth is the best option.

One last tip from us – don’t forget your baby’s car seat, as you won’t be allowed to leave the hospital without it. Our tough tests uncover the Best Buy child car seats, giving you extra peace of mind at a busy, stressful and very memorable time.

Honest birth stories from real mums

Watch our videos of nine mums talking about why they decided to give birth in a birth centre, on a labour ward or at home, and what their experiences were like. Here’s a sneak peek:

More from Which?

Share this
Advice for every step of your pregnancy

We can support you on your journey as a parent with relevant news, advice and information on Which? services directly to your inbox.