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.

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.
  • 1 or 2 comfortable nightdresses or big t-shirts that are cool and loose (labour rooms are warm)
  • Drinks and snacks – labour can take a long time so it’s a good idea to pack drinks and snacks for you and your birth partner
  • 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
  • Hair bobbles or a headband to keep long hair out of the way
  • A pillow from home (with pillowcases) 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, camera)
  • Toothbrush, toothpaste and other toiletry items, 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’re taking
  • 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.

“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

  • A couple of front-opening nightdresses 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
  • Light dressing gown and slippers
  • A couple of packets of super-absorbent sanitary or maternity pads
  • 5 or 6 pairs of knickers – you may also want to bring some disposable ones
  • Extra-absorbent sanitary towels for the bleeding you'll have after the birth, called lochia (you won't be able to use tampons)
  • 2 or 3 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 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 5 sleepsuits and vests or baby grows
  • 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 specific list for your hospital or birth centre.

More about bringing baby home

  • A photo of a Britax Romer BABY-SAFE i-SIZE


    Choosing a car seat for your baby

    The safest way to transport your baby is in a well-fitted car seat that is right for their size and weight. It is also the law to do so.

  • Two bags on a white bed sheet with a Britax baby i-size car seat and the words 'Let's get packing!'

    Bringing baby home

    Everything you need to know about getting ready for labour, birth and bringing your new baby home, including when and what to pack, the essentials you need at home and how you might be feeling.

  • Packed bag for hospital.


    Hospital bag packing

    I'm signed up to various weekly 'newsletters' that tell you what to expect each week of your pregnancy and give information on various topics and things to think about as the weeks tick by.

  • New mum changing her baby's nappy

    What you will need for your baby

    As well as packing your hospital bag for labour, you'll need a few things at home for after your baby is born. Here's a helpful list.

    Last reviewed on September 9th, 2019. Next review date September 9th, 2022.

    Was this information useful?

    Yes No


    Please note that these comments are monitored but not answered by Tommy’s. Please call your GP or maternity unit if you have concerns about your health or your baby’s health.
    • By Dikeledi (not verified) on 22 Feb 2020 - 11:04

      Hi Tommy
      I'm 34 years old and 36 weeks pregnant. I went to doctor they said my baby is breech, I got refferal letter to hospital, I went there they told me that the head is down. I went again to different doctor (private) he told me the baby is breech as well, however I fell the kicked on top of my belly, so I m confused pls help me.

    • By Hannah (not verified) on 18 Nov 2019 - 09:35

      I had 2 normal births in 2000 & 2001 and then a c, section with my 3rd child, he was born in 2013. I suffered the last 4 years with a severe form of migraine called Hemiplegic Migraine, anything can cause 1, for example, a steroid injection caused my first one, a common cold caused another, tonsillitis caused another, being shocked caused another, I don't want to risk the pain of labour causing another one as they can leave me paralyzed, unable to talk or swallow or in the case of my last migraine I was left blind for 2 weeks.
      I'm 26+5 currently and I have asked for another C - Section but the registrar I have seen has dismissed my migraines as just heavy headaches.
      I'm terrified of giving birth this time around. I'm also suffering with PGP which is quite severe I had to go sick from work.
      I'm very stressed and tearful everyday. Can you advise what I should do?

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 19 Nov 2019 - 16:57

      Hi Hannah
      Ask to speak to a Consultant Midwife or the Head of Midwifery. Your own midwife can give you the email or telephone number, alternatively you can call the hospital main switchboard and ask for the telephone number of either practitioner. Some hospitals might not have a Consultant Midwife, but they may have a Birth Planning Midwife. They can see you, talk through your worries and I am sure they will agree that an elective C/S sounds like the right plan of care for you in relation to your medical history.
      Take care, Tommy's Midwife

    • By Kirsty Carter (not verified) on 15 Oct 2019 - 23:53

      I fractured my back roughly 7yrs ago. Since becoming pregnant I've had less pain but more recently I have had pains in both hips and knees. I am 29+3days. My next midwife appointment isnt until 31st October what shall I do?

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 16 Oct 2019 - 10:22

      Hi Kirsty. You can go into your maternity triage unit for review by a midwife and obstetric doctor. They can refer you for a physiotherapy review. You could be suffereing with Pelvic Girdle Pain of pregnancy, which is very common. Some women benefit from being fitted with a support belt. You can be seen anytime in your maternity unit, so don't wait to see your own midwife if you are in pain. Take care, Tommy's Midwife

    • By Particulars (not verified) on 22 Dec 2018 - 12:46

      Hello Tommy, please am in my 33 weeks of pregnancy and am having some pain in my abdomen and Virgina and also difficult to sleep. Thanks

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 3 Jan 2019 - 16:40

      I hope that you have been seen by a midwife or doctor by now to review your pain but if you haven't and the pain is continuing then please ring your maternity unit today.
      Best wishes
      Tommy's midwife

    • By Monica (not verified) on 27 Nov 2018 - 14:07

      I'm 34 weeks and I'm having alot more pressure and I'm peeing like every 20 minutes. Some lightning pains into the vaginal area and only a few times I have felt some discomfort in my back. I been having more discharge . What does all of this mean?

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 28 Nov 2018 - 15:15

      Hi Monica
      The baby is getting larger now, as is your bump and this means that the head is likely to be pushing on your bladder more- hence why you are passing urine more frequently. If you your urine stings, burns or smells different, then please go get your urine tested to check for infection.
      Discomfort in your lower back can also be caused by urine infection. So worth getting seen. Increased discharge is normal, but as long as it is not red, pink, green or brown. It should be clear for it to be normal and should have no bad odour to it.
      Take care- Tommy's Midwife

    • By Jade (not verified) on 6 Nov 2018 - 10:35

      I’m 32 weeks and I’ve been having constant back pains feet are itchy&hands , I’m losing discharge for down below which has a wired smell to It my boobs have been leaking for quite some days now they baby Isn’t in a pattern of moving when normally they are ment to be he just has the odd 2/3 mins when he’s moves unless I mess about with my stomach I’ve got midwife today at 4 so I was gunna wait till then to let her know ?

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 9 Nov 2018 - 14:10

      Hi Jade,
      I am afraid this is an non urgent response service, it is great to hear to you had a midwife appointment and I hope you got the support you needed.
      Best wishes
      Tommy's midwife

    • 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.
      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!

    Add new comment