Packing your bag for labour and birth

As you reach the end of your pregnancy, it's time to get ready for when your baby arrives. That includes packing your hospital bag.

Download our packing checklist for labour and birth

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.

As well as packing for the hospital, you'll also need to have a few things ready and waiting, such as a car seat to bring your baby home and essentials for the early days. It’s a good idea to have everything ready by 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 separate bags: One for labour and one for you and your baby after you've given birth. You could pack both into a suitcase with wheels so you can pull it easily.

Although some women and their babies can go home very quickly after the birth, pack for at least a couple of days, just in case – especially if the planned place of birth is not easy to get to from home.

Your bag for labour

  • Your antenatal notes - it's important to have these with you when you go into hospital. Keep them with you wherever you go in the last couple of weeks.
  • One or two comfortable nightdresses or big T-shirts that are cool and loose (labour rooms are warm).
  • Drinks and snacks: labour can take a long time. Your birth partner will need food and drink too.
  • Something to read, watch or listen to, or a game to play - you may find distractions helpful in the early stages of labour.
  • A face cloth or flannel and water in a spray bottle to help keep you cool and fresh.
  • Lip balm to stop your lips getting dry.
  • A pillow from home if you would find this comforting.
  • Change for the taxi or car park.
  • Your mobile phone and/or a camera.
  • Any chargers you might need (phone, dvd, camera).
  • Toothbrush, toothpaste and other toiletry items, including shower gel and shampoo.
  • Change of clothes.

Your birth partner might want to bring a spare underwear and toothbrush as well. If the labour is long they may end up staying with you over night.

Your bag for after the birth

  • A couple of front-opening nightdresses or loose shirts so you can breastfeed and snuggle your baby skin-to-skin
  • Light dressing gown and slippers
  • Disposable knickers or old ones you can throw away
  • Extra-absorbent sanitary towels for the bleeding you'll have after the birth, called lochia (you won't be able to use tampons)
  • Two or three nursing or ordinary bras - bear in mind that your breasts will be much larger than usual
  • Breast pads to soak up leaking breast milk – you may need these even if you don't plan to breastfeed
  • If you are going to breastfeed you may want to take a nipple cream. These creams can help to heal any sore or cracked nipples that may occur in the early days of breastfeeding.
  • Clothes to come home in - you'll still have a bit of a bump so pack loose comfortable clothes
  • Up to five sleepsuits and vests or babygrows
  • A pack of newborn nappies
  • Cotton wool
  • A baby blanket or shawl
  • Clothes for your baby to come home in, including a hat, scratch mittens and socks

The hospital will probably have basic items for the baby, such as towels and blankets. The lists above should cover everything but ask your midwife if they also provide a list specific to your hospital or birth centre.

Sources

  1. NHS Choices [accessed 13/1/15] NHS Breastfeeding problems  http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/pages/breastfeeding-problems.aspx
  2. The Lullaby Trust (formerly FSID) [accessed 29/04/2015] Matresses and bedding http://www.lullabytrust.org.uk/mattresses-and-bedding
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Last reviewed on April 1st, 2015. Next review date April 1st, 2018.

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Comments

  • By Louisa (not verified) on 16 Aug 2018 - 16:04

    I am in lots of pain. Doctor says I cannot use normal painkiller and treatment as I am pregnant. Is baby fine, will she be okay if I go into labour while I still have the shingles? Will I be able to breatfeed her as well.
    Thanks in advance.

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 17 Aug 2018 - 12:55

    Sorry to hear that you have been diagnosed with possible shingles in this pregnancy, it is completely understandable that you are worried about taking any medication and any effects this may have on your baby. As with any medication in pregnancy, it is a question of weighing up the risks against the reason why you have been prescribed the medication in the first place. It is very difficult to know about the safety of medication in pregnancy as it is difficult to carried out the necessary studies to be able to provide the evidence base needed to say if something is safe or unsafe to take.

    The effects of shingles in pregnancy will depend on how many weeks pregnant you are. Before 28 weeks there is a small risk of the baby developing fetal varicella syndrome (FVS) which can damage the baby’s skin, eyes, legs, arms, brain , bladder or bowel. After 28 weeks the virus can stay in the baby’s body which is unlikely to cause the baby harm but means they are more likely to have shingles when they are very young. After 36 weeks if you baby has the virus then they could be born with chicken pox which would need treatment.

    I hope this helps, if we can support you further then please do be in touch.

  • By Georgia (not verified) on 23 Apr 2018 - 08:26

    I’m 36 weeks today and I’m showing 5 out of 6 signs that I am in early labour but I’m not having contractions. Am I just being paranoid that I’m in early labour?

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 23 Apr 2018 - 16:06

    Hi Georgia, Labour could start at any time. True definition is 'Regular painful contractions with dilatation of the cervix'. If you think that you want support, please contact your midwife or your maternity department.

  • By Anonymous (not verified) on 25 Nov 2017 - 11:56

    Hey im 30 weeks now, I haven't planned anything for the baby, got raped after my mom passed away early this year and she was the only person who could give me a full support,ive decided to keep the baby but it's really hard since i don't have a full support,please help

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 27 Nov 2017 - 10:11

    So sorry that you are on your own. This is a very difficult time for you. I hope that you are having some good antenatal care. Please feel able to contact us 0800 0147 800 and we will do our best to support you or suggest local support networks.

  • By Charlotte (not verified) on 23 Oct 2017 - 21:08

    had to visit the hospital at 32 weeks due to sharp pains in my uterus I was sent home as they said there was nothing wrong with me but ever since that day I've had less movement, do I need to worry about this?

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 24 Oct 2017 - 10:22

    Hi Charlotte,
    Thank you for posting. I'm sorry to hear that you have been to hospital with sharp uterine pains. I am concerned that you have experienced less movements since then ( not sure when this was).
    You need to go back to the hospital today and get checked out. Babies movement is first felt between 16-24 weeks and then the number of movements increases until 32 weeks when they stay roughly the same. If you feel that your baby's pattern has reduced you need to be seen.
    https://www.tommys.org/sites/default/files/RFM-Infographic_0.pdf
    Please remember we are here to talk weekdays 9-5 pm on 0800 0147 800 if you have any concerns.

    Best wishes
    Anna-Tommy's Midwife

  • By Anonymous (not verified) on 10 Oct 2017 - 20:02

    35 wks and I'm absolutely petrified. It's all I keep thinking about!

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 11 Oct 2017 - 14:43

    Hi, Can you tell us what it is that you are particularly worried about? Is this your first baby? Have you got support? You can talk to your midwife about your concerns or give us a call here at Tommy's . Take care

  • By Abigail (not verified) on 31 May 2017 - 08:53

    I am 30weeks pregnant,I get back and lower abdominal pains that come and go,my baby is extra active making me tired all day and night..Every morning I experience a moderate leakage of pale bloody fluids from my vagina,, am I alright Rilly???,am scared

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 31 May 2017 - 11:29

    Hi Abigail
    If you are 30 weeks pregnant, having leakage from the vagina and abdominal pains, then it is vital that you take yourself into hospital with your pregnancy notes urgently, to be reviewed by a midwife and obstetric doctor on the labour ward/triage/day assessment unit. It is possible that your body is going into early labour. Please take good care of yoursefl!

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