Whether you are having your baby at home, in a hospital, or at a midwifery unit, you should get a few things ready at least two weeks before your due date.

Now's the time to gather together all the essentials you'll need during labor and birth and after your baby is born. Even if you're not planning a hospital birth, you may need to go in unexpectedly, so try to have a bag packed by the time you are about 36 weeks pregnant.

Hospitals vary in their policies about what you are allowed to bring with you when you have your baby. You may want to take a few items from home, such as your own pillows, to make the environment more personal. But be aware that hospitals can be short on space.

If you want, pack two bags: one for labor and the hours immediately after your baby is born, and another for a stay on the postnatal ward.

If you're driving to the hospital, you could leave the second bag in the car. If you have a straightforward birth, you may leave the hospital on the same day and not need the second bag at all.

What should I pack in my hospital bag?

Woman getting ready for delivery

Choosing what to put in your hospital bag and packing it ready for the maternity ward is one of the most exciting parts of late pregnancy.

Once you’ve got your hospital bag packed, it’s a good idea to put it in the car or leave it by the front door ready to grab when the time arrives. Remember, if you’re using your own car, make sure you always have enough petrol to get you to the hospital and if you’re getting a lift from someone, it’s a good idea to have a backup in place in case they’re unavailable.

Now might also be a good time to find out what the signs of labor are so you’re ready to go when it’s the real thing!

Packing your bag

If you plan to give birth in a hospital or a midwifery unit, your midwife will probably give you a list of what you will need to pack.
It can be difficult to know what to pack for your baby's birth, especially if you're becoming a mom for the first time. Our packing list for the hospital or birth center will tell you exactly what to include, but for more real-world tips we asked more than a thousand moms for advice. Here's what we think you might need;
  • Something loose and comfortable to wear during labor. It should not 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 are planning to breastfeed. Remember, your breasts will be much larger than usual. 
  • About 24 super-absorbent sanitary towels. 
  • Your wash bag with a toothbrush, hairbrush, flannel, etc.
  • Towels. Bringing your own towel means you have to lug it home again, but many moms felt it was worth it.
  • Stuff to do. Believe it or not, you may have some downtime in the hospital or birthing center, either while waiting for labor to really get going or while recuperating after the birth. Consider packing a couple favorite pastimes. Things that can help you pass the time and relax, e.g. books, magazines, MP3 player. 
  • A sponge or water spray to cool you down. 
  • Front-opening nightdresses if you are going to breastfeed. 
  • Dressing gown. Many moms preferred to ditch the hospital gown in favor of their own clothes. 
  • Roomy footwear or slippers. Your feet may be somewhat swollen after delivery, so pack comfy shoes just in case
  • Sleep helpers. Everyone tells you to sleep when the baby sleeps, but it isn't always easy to reach the land of nod from the hospital. Having a pillow, earplugs and a mask keeps out light and noise.
  • 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.
  • Memory makers like the camera; Memories of your stay in the hospital or birthing center may always be a bit of a blur, but you can document the experience for posterity with a few simple tools.
  • Snacks. Hospitals have gourmet snacks available around the clock, right? Uh, wrong. Pickings might be slim – especially if you find yourself famished in the wee hours. Many times you will feel hungry and don’t want to go out to get something.
  • A small gift for the nurses – they do so much for you during labor and delivery, you'll want a way to show your appreciation. 


Work out how you will get to the hospital or the midwifery unit, as it could be at any time of the day or night. If you are planning to go by car, make sure that it’s running well and that there is always enough petrol in the tank. If a neighbor has said that they will take you, make an alternative arrangement just in case they are not in. If you have not got a car, you could call a taxi. Or call your maternity unit, which can arrange for an ambulance to pick you up. Try to do so in good time.

Home Births

If you are planning to give birth at home, discuss your plans and what you need to prepare with your midwife. You are likely to need the following:
  • Clothes (including a hat) and nappies for the baby 
  • About 24 super-absorbent sanitary towels.
Geoffrey Nevine — IT Services and IT Consulting

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