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How to pick out the right content for your hospital labor bag

Updated on April 2, 2013

What should a good hospital bag contain?

What should you include when packing your hospital bag? Which items should be on the list of "must haves" for labour and which can you leave at home or not purchase at all? Those are a hard question, especially if you like me are a first time mom. Because even after going to prenatal classes and with hours and hours of research, it is impossible to comprehend how it will be to go into the life changing miracolous experience of giving birth to a baby.

That is why even though my midwife recommended having the hospital bag packed and ready to go at week 28, it is not until now in week 36 that I finally feel like I have gathered enough information to put together my own hospital bag.

The content has been chosen based on information from my midwife, hours of crawling through forum debates and expert articles on the subject and more importantly listening to the advice of my dear friends who already went through the experience.

Packing the hospital bag has been both exciting and frustrating and I figured that it might be helpful for others to get a bit of insight in the essential things that should be in the bag you bring with you for labour.

I have divided the article into three sections, one for the items for your newborn baby, one for the content you will need yourself and a small paragraph on things for your partner.

If you have already gone through labour, feel free to leave a comment in the end with advice on your "must have" item for the hospital bag.

The picture shows a bit of the items in my hospital bag. Please do not use the image without permission.

Packing for the newborn

Receiving blanket or shawl - Must Have item for the baby hospital bag

After 9 months in your warm, snug womb it can be quite a shock for a baby to enter the outside world. A baby's body temperature will drop much faster than ours and as such it is very important to ensure that the baby is kept warm with a nice soft blanket.

A shawl or blanket can also be used to swaddle the baby, replicating the comfort of the womb and helping an upset, crying baby rest.

List of items to include in your hospital bag for the baby

  1. Nappies for newborn
  2. Towel
  3. Muslin cloth
  4. Cotton mittens

    Also called scratch mittens. Babies can not control their movements when born and may end up accidentally scratching themselves when they are flailing around. Cotton mittens will prevent this issue and keep your little ones hands nice and warm as well.

  5. Baby grows
  6. Baby Vests
  7. Socks
  8. Baby Bonnet or Hat

    Babies loose heat very quickly. A bonnet or hat will help them preserve their body temperature. Also make sure you have skin contact with the baby as much as possible to help them regulate their temperature.

  9. Shawl or Blanket
  10. Baby Soap, Shampoo and Oil
  11. Cotton Wool
  12. Wash Basin
  13. Baby Comb
  14. Infant Car Seat
  15. Going home outfit

How much clothes should you bring for the baby?

If you are having a normal labour with no complications you will likely stay in the hospital for 2 days, but to be sure always bring a little more clothes than necessary and also contact your hospital or midwife before delivery for information on how much clothes is needed.

Some hospitals will provide clothes for the baby during the stay so you only have to worry about the cute going home outfit.

The same may be true for diapers and other things on the list.

Packing for the labouring mom

Front opened nursing nightgown

When your baby is born and you are still in the hospital you might not have the privacy you could wish for. You may have to share your room with other new moms and their visitors and you will have to deal with hospital staff running in and out the room to check on you and the baby.

Having a front opened nightgown will help you keep a bit of modesty while breastfeeding your little new wonder.

Nicole Nursing Nightgown Size: Medium
Nicole Nursing Nightgown Size: Medium

Who says you can not look cute after giving birth? This beautiful, light little nightdress allows you to look nice while nursing your newborn and without having to share the moment with the entire world.

Made out of cotton this is soft and comfortable to wear.

Please note that if you have bigger breasts you may need to adjust the nursing slits slightly for a better fit.


List of items to include in your hospital bag for the labouring mom

  1. Water or Juice
  2. Dressing gown
  3. Facecloth/Sponge
  4. Slippers
  5. Shower Flip-flops
  6. Toiletries
  7. Shower gel
  8. Nursing bras
  9. Disposable panties

    After giving birth there will be some after effects and bleeding, bringing disposable panties allow you to just change into a new pair and throw the old ones away instead of having to deal with the mess. That way you can spend more time focusing on your little new wonder.

  10. Maternity pads
  11. Towel
  12. Lip balm

    When you have been doing your breathing excersizes through all the contractions, you will love having a soothing lip balm for your dry lips.

  13. Camera
  14. Entertainment - Books, iPad, iPod, MP4 player, Laptop, Boardgames, Pack of cards, etc.
  15. Nightdress/Pyjamas with front fastening
  16. Pack of bendy drinking straws

    When the contractions get really bad it will be helpful to have your birth partner hold the drink for you so you only have to worry about drinking.

When packing for yourself

When you are picking out clothes and outfits for yourself, make sure to think comfort and usability rather than style.

While it is always nice to look good, the most important thing in the first days after labour is to ensure that you are comfortable so you can worry about getting used to your new role, rather than being in discomfort due to a bad nightgown.

Packing for the birth partner

Digital Camera for taking those first precious pictures

The birth partner has to wear many hats. They need to support the labouring mother, they need to run errands to pick up everything that was forgotten, they need to communicate with the nursing staff and midwife, they have to stay calm while listening to their loved one in pain and all this while trying to control their own emotions on what may be the biggest day of their life.

They also need to be the photographer who ensures that the little new addition to the family and to be up to that task they need a camera.

Canon PowerShot ELPH 100 HS 12.1 MP CMOS Digital Camera with 4X Optical Zoom (Blue)
Canon PowerShot ELPH 100 HS 12.1 MP CMOS Digital Camera with 4X Optical Zoom (Blue)

I use a Canon camera myself that is an slightly older version of this one and I have found it easy to use and very good quality for the price.

In the hospital you don't need a super fancy camera, but you do need one that wont require super human skills to handle.

This one is great for the job, although make sure that the person in charge of taking pictures has done a couple of test shots at home so they are familar with the camera and don't have to mess around to find the right buttons when push (litterally) comes to show.


List of items to include in your hospital bag for the birth partner

  1. Snacks and Drinks
  2. Entertainment
  3. Camera
  4. List of phone numbers

For your partner

Keep in mind that labour can be a long, long event and while you will be busy dealing with contractions and sleeping/resting inbetween, your partner will largely feel put on the sideline.

Let your partner bring some entertainment for themselves to help pass the time. Ensure that it is something that can be easily paused though as you will need them to help you through each set of contractions.

Example of items to add to the hospital bag

Wondering what other moms have brought to the delivery room? Check out this video by babbajessica for inspiration for your own hospital bag.

Prepacked hospital bags from eBay

If you feel shopping for everything for the hospital bag is a bit overwhelming, then you are not alone. I had the same feeling when looking over my list of items to purchase and aquire.

If the task seems too monumental, then you can get prepacked bags on eBay that has most of the essential stuff for the baby. Then all you have to do is add a few things for yourself and your partner and maybe buy a really cute going home outfit for the newborn.

If you have gone through labour, I am sure you had one item that you just couldn't have done without or maybe you were unlucky and hadn't packed this particular object, but in hindsight you wish you had.

Feel free to share with us new moms to be, which particular item we should not leave out of our hospital labour bag.

What is your number one must have for the hospital bag?

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