Packing the Hospital Bag: A Pregnancy Rite of Passage

“Have you got your hospital bag packed?” This question starts popping up a lot as your due date nears. It’s either another confusing thing on your to-do list, something you’re diligently researching, or something you really don’t see the point in — so many mum-friends have told you they didn’t use half the stuff in theirs! Totally. Birth is an unpredictable and wild ride, anything can happen. You might not have time to take your knickers off let alone set up an oil diffuser. But that’s exactly why the process of packing your hospital bag is so important, you can’t control much in birth, except what you bring to the birthing suite. 


Hospital bag packing is as much about mental preparation as the stuff itself. Planning, gathering the items you’ll have with you for labour, helps you visualise the game plan. Packing your clothes, toiletries and comfort items is like putting on your armour. Picking out the first outfit your baby will wear might make your stomach flip, and remind you of the end goal. Here, we’ve categorised what to pack, and some of the packing processes not to be missed.

Write a list

As you’re researching, you might keep your first list on your phone for easy access, but at some point, write it down and stick it on your fridge. This means your partner can contribute, and thoughtful family and friends might offer to pick up some bits for you. Plus, it’s much more satisfying ticking something off with pen and paper than a screen-tap.

For you- maternity care

  • Button-down pyjamas. The more fabulous, the better.
  • A robe. Again, fabulous.
  • Slippers. You guessed it! Fabulous. 
  • Maternity bras x 3.
  • Soft, stretchy, high-waisted underpants x 7. Go a size up to accommodate for maternity pads.
  • Maternity pads.
  • Something comfy to wear home. This can be confusing: you won’t be pregnant, but you’re not exactly going to slip into your old jeans. Your best bet is a favourite (loose) dress, or soft, elasticated pants or tights. Activewear is in. Embrace it.
  • Bits for your boobs. Again, no one knows what your experience of breastfeeding will be like, but it’s worth being prepared for those first attempts. Breast pads (to absorb leakage), nipple shields (your midwives might discourage you using these, but if it’s the difference between being able to breastfeed and not, we think they’ve worth having), ice packs (for when your milk first comes in) and a natural nipple balm (it doubles as a lip balm). It’s also a great idea to pack your Haakaa Breast Pump (this little pack comes with breast pads). The Haakaa is a very gentle pump that won't over-stimulate or mess with your supply, but will catch extra milk that can be popped in a bottle. Then someone else can feed the baby while you get some much-earned sleep.
  • Toiletries. Include whatever you’ll need to feel normal, but don’t forget cleanser, moisturiser, body wash, toothbrush, toothpaste, a pack of hairbands, bobby pins, a hairbrush, shampoo, conditioner, dry shampoo, deodorant and makeup wipes. 

Do the washing

The cutest load of washing you’ll ever do, is the tiny singlets, onesies, hats and wraps that will clothe your newborn in their first few days. Use normal washing powder (unscented), skip the softener, and peg it out in the sunshine to dry.

For baby

Choose your bag

If you thought your new baby bag could double as your hospital bag, you’d be wrong. Don’t worry, you’re not the first woman to underestimate her packing. We recommend a small(ish) suitcase. Wheels make it extra easy and there will be extra room for gifts and paperwork when you’re packing to come home.

For your support 

  • Snacks! Pack a variety, because you never know what you’ll feel like, just be sure to include something with some sustenance like protein balls, dried fruit or a yummy trail mix.
  • Travel pillow.
  • Reusable water bottles.
  • Phone chargers (one for each phone).
  • Laptop with pre-downloaded movies, TV episodes, audiobooks, podcasts and music.
  • Headphones (there’s enough cords and wires in a birthing suite. You don’t want to add more).
  • Change of clothes.
  • Swimwear (if a waterbirth is on the cards).
  • A notebook with all your existing medical details, and to write down any medical information you receive about the birth.

Pop your bag by the door

Now you pack, seal it up, and put it by the door ready to go. Goodluck pal, you got this.