Packing your bag for labour and birth

As you near the end of your pregnancy it’s time to get ready to meet your new baby. Packing your hospital bag is a great way to get prepared. Here, we will talk you through what you need.

You'll need to pack a bag if you're going into hospital or birth centre. Even if you're planning a home birth it's good to have one ready just in case you need to go in.

You might give birth on your due date but don't bet on this! Packing your bag a few weeks early will mean you have everything you want with you when you go into labour. You'll also need to pack some items for your baby.

You will also need to get a few other things sorted, such as a car seat to bring your baby home in and essentials for the early days. It’s a good idea to have everything ready by no later than 37 weeks.

Watch our 'Get packing' film to find out where to start:


What to pack for labour and birth

You may prefer to have two bags: one for labour and one for you and your baby after you have given birth. It can be handy to pack them both into a suitcase with wheels so that you, your partner or a friend can pull it along.

Although some parents and their babies can go home soon after the birth, it makes sense to pack for at least a couple of days, just in case. This is even more worthwhile if the place you are planning to give birth is not easy to get to from your home.

Your bag for labour

Remember to pack the following:

  • your antenatal notes – it is vital to have these with you.  Keep them with you at all times during the last few months of pregnancy
  • 1 or 2 comfy nighties or big t-shirts. Labour rooms are warm, so you’ll need something cool and loose
  • drinks and snacks for you and your birth partner if you have one, as labour can take a long time. You can bring something to give you an energy boost, but you may not want anything rich or heavy
  • something to read, watch, play or listen to – you may find this helpful in the early stages of labour
  • a face cloth, and water in a spray bottle, to help keep you cool and fresh
  • lip balm to stop your lips getting dry
  • hair bobbles or a headband to keep long hair out of the way
  • a pillow from home if you would find this a comfort
  • bank cards and change for the taxi or carpark
  • your phone
  • headphones
  • any chargers you might need
  • toothbrush, toothpaste and any other toiletries you might want, including shower gel and shampoo
  • a TENS machine if you want to use one – find out more about pain relief in labour
  • any medications you are taking
  • a comfy change of clothes.

If you have a birth partner, they might also want to bring spare underwear and a toothbrush. If the labour is long, they may end up staying with you all night. Sometimes, they can also stay the night if you are kept in after your birth, but this will depend on hospital policy. 

“With both my pregnancies I packed a nappy, hat and vest in a zip seal bag at the top of my bag so my birth partner could find them quickly.”


Your bag for after the birth

You'll need:

  • a couple of front-opening nighties or loose shirts so you can breastfeed (if you choose to) and snuggle your baby skin-to-skin
  • sterile bottles, teats and formula if you’re bottle-feeding
  • a light dressing gown and slippers
  • a couple of packets of maternity pads or super-size sanitary pads for the bleeding you will have after the birth. Do not use tampons
  • 5 or 6 pairs of knickers. You may also want to bring some paper ones that you can bin
  • 2 or 3 nursing bras or comfy bras. Remember that your breasts will be much larger than usual
  • breast pads to soak up leaking breast milk. You may need these even if you have no plans to breastfeed
  • nipple cream to heal any sore or cracked nipples for when (if) you first start to breastfeed
  • clothes to come home in. You will still have a bit of a bump once your baby is born so keep your outfit comfy and loose
  • up to 5 sleepsuits and vests for your baby
  • a pack of nappies for newborns
  • cotton wool, which you can use with warm water to clean your baby. Avoid wipes for the first few weeks, as newborn skin is so sensitive. 
  • a baby blanket or shawl
  • clothes for your baby to come home in. This might include a hat, scratch mittens, socks and a pram suit if it is going to be cold outside. 

Your hospital will likely be able to provide some basic items, such as towels and blankets. The lists above should cover the main things you need, but you could ask your midwife for a specific list for your hospital or birth centre.

Find out more about getting ready to have your baby

NHS (2024) Pack your bag for labour. Available at: (Accessed February 2024) (Page last reviewed 10/01/2024. Next review due 10/01/2027) 

NHS (2022) Tips for new parents. Available at: (Accessed February 2024) (Page last reviewed 09/11/2022. Next review due 09/11/2025)

Review dates
Reviewed: 29 February 2024
Next review: 28 February 2027