Pregnancy and baby

Pack your bag for labour

What should I pack in my hospital bag?

Media last reviewed: 20/03/2014

Next review due: 20/03/2016

What you'll need for labour and birth

Whether you're planning to have your baby at home, in hospital or at a midwifery unit, you should get a few things ready at least two weeks before your due date.

If you're planning to give birth in a hospital or midwifery unit, your midwife will probably give you a list of what you'll need to pack. You may want to include:

  • something loose and comfortable to wear during labour that doesn't restrict you from moving around or make you too hot – you may need about three changes of clothes
  • two or three comfortable and supportive bras, including nursing bras if you're planning to breastfeed – remember, your breasts will be much larger than usual
  • about 24 super-absorbent sanitary pads
  • your washbag with toothbrush, hairbrush, flannel, soap and other toiletries
  • towels
  • things to help you pass the time and relax – for example, books, magazines or music
  • a sponge or water spray to cool you down
  • front-opening or loose-fitting nighties or tops if you're going to breastfeed
  • dressing gown and slippers
  • five or six pairs of pants
  • a loose, comfortable outfit to wear after you have given birth, and to come home in
  • clothes (including a hat) and nappies for the baby
  • a shawl or blanket to wrap the baby in


Work out how you'll get to the hospital or midwifery unit, because you could need to go there at any time of the day or night. If you're planning to go by car, make sure it's running well and that there's always enough petrol in the tank. If a neighbour has said they will take you, make an alternative arrangement just in case they’re not in.

If you haven’t got a car, you could call a taxi. Or call your maternity unit, which can arrange for an ambulance to pick you up.

Find hospitals with maternity services near you

Home births
If you're planning to give birth at home, discuss your plans and what you need to prepare with your midwife. Think about where in your home you want to give birth. You're likely to need:

  • clean linen and towels
  • clothes (including a hat) and nappies for the baby
  • about 24 super-absorbent sanitary towels

Important numbers

Wherever you're planning to give birth, keep a list of important numbers in your handbag or near the phone. You need to include:

  • your hospital or midwife's phone number
  • your partner or birth partner's phone number
  • your own hospital reference number, which is on your card or notes (you will be asked for this when you phone in)

If you don’t have a phone, ask neighbours if you can use theirs when the time comes.

Some hospitals and midwifery units allow you to use your mobile phone. Check with your midwife. If you can't use your mobile phone, make sure you have a phonecard or change for a payphone.

Stocking up

When you come home, you won't want to do much more than rest and care for your baby, so do as much planning as you can in advance. Stock up on basics, such as toilet paper, sanitary towels and nappies. If you have a freezer, cook some meals in advance and freeze them.

Find out what to expect in the first few days with your baby.


Page last reviewed: 19/01/2015

Next review due: 19/01/2017


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The 6 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

proudmama said on 23 March 2014

Great advice thanks. I found this link very helpful for packing mum & baby essentials too

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mely said on 16 October 2012

I am now 32 weeks and need to start packing soon! The first time around I packed WAY too much. Here's what I've decided was necessary this time:

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krazekt said on 19 September 2012

I am 30 weeks gone and packing my bag now. lol. i was just going to use a baggy t-shirt to breast feed as i dont want to expose myself to everyone. I am quite body conscious so i like the comment about the open pjs. the other things i am going to put in there are bottles and some milk (the cartons) just incase for any reason i cant breastfeed. the babys bag is packed just to finish mine off now. lol

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sarahglandyfi said on 27 November 2011

You do not need a front-opening nightie in order to breastfeed in hospital. A loose fitting pyjama top that drapes over everything is far better, unless you are particularly unselfconscious. Experienced breastfeeders know that it's perfectly possible to do it without anybody seeing any breast, and advice to wear open-front clothing just makes mothers think they will have to expose themselves in order to breastfeed, which would put most women off. Can't imagine who would have put that myth about in their glossy leaflets!!

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lesley1977 said on 13 November 2011

Excellent points about positions in labour. I'm surprised that the midwife says the only answer to pain re;ief is an epidural. I would have thought she would have explained the use of gas and air and pethidin as well, which is all I had and it was fine.

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CateL said on 07 June 2009

Very useful video which reiterates what was said at the Active Birth Workshop at Stepping Hill!

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