Preparing for birth: What you need in your hospital bag

Be prepared for when your waters break with our top tips and ideas for creating a hospital bag checklist for you and baby.

Updated

newborn baby blankets in green, grey and blue

Key items to remember

  • Have comfy clothes for labour and travelling home.
  • Have a wash bag for cleaning up after birth.
  • Nappies and wipes as essentials for baby.
  • Ensure you have weather-appropriate items for baby, such as hats, mittens and more.
  • Don’t forget a car seat for your baby.
Is your due date just around the corner? Then it's time to start preparing for labour! Follow our top tips for creating a hospital bag checklist (for mum and baby) to form part of your preparation for labour.
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Maternity hospital bag checklist: What to pack in your hospital bag for baby and you

When you’re preparing for labour, there are a few essentials you must add to your hospital bag. Try this maternity bag checklis to get started:

Maternity bag essentials for you

  1. Birth plan and hospital notes. If your notes are online, make sure you have a smartphone or tablet with the app.
  2. Clothes. These should include nightwear and a comfy, loose-fitting outfit to wear home.
  3. Maternity bra. You want to be comfortable for labour.
  4. Nursing bras and breast pads (if you plan to breastfeed).
  5. Comfy cotton underwear. Make sure you pack a few pairs. You may also want to include disposable pants or maternity pads.
  6. Hairbrush and hair bands/clips to keep your hair in check during labour.
  7. Snacks and drinks - childbirth is hard work!
  8. Books, magazines, music or anything else to help you pass the time. Labour can be long, and boring, at times.
  9. A wash bag. This should include the following items: towel, toothpaste, toothbrush, deodorant, shower gel, moisturiser and flannel.

 

Maternty bag essentials for baby

  1. Clothes. You'll need a few bodysuits, sleepsuits, and vests as newborns can make a lot of mess! Also pack a hat, socks, and scratch mittens.
  2. An outfit for going home that’s weather appropriate. Safety note: make sure your baby is not wearing a coat in their car seat - you want the seat belt to hold them firmly.
  3. Nappies. Whether you're a cloth-bum-mum or using disposables, pack a few in newborn size.
  4. Wipes or cotton balls to clean up messes during nappy changes. For newborns, it's advised to use plain water and gentle cotton wool to wash them.
  5. A blanket and muslin squares. These can help babies feel more comfortable and help mop-up spills and stains like spit-up.
  6. A car seat. Most hospitals will not allow you to leave without one. For safety, test fitting the car seat in your car prior to your baby’s arrival.

We also recommend washing all clothing with a baby-safe detergent such as Breeze before use.

 

What will happen during labour? A mini guide to labor 

Now you have a newborn baby hospital bag checklist, for you and your newborn, it's important to know what to expect when the big moment finally comes. Each pregnancy and birth is unique, however here's a rough guide to the stages of labour:

Stage 1: Waters break

This is generally the longest stage. Contractions are often a little irregular as your cervix starts to dilate. 

Stage 2: Contractions

Also known as “established labor”. You'll be around 3cm dilated and experiencing regular contractions every 3-5 minutes.

Stage 3: Time to push!

Once you’re fully dilated, it's time to find a comfortable birthing position to bring new life into the world.

Stage 4: Post-natal

Immediately after birth, your body begins to reset itself. During this stage, you'll pass the placenta, and some women will be given drugs to assist if required.

 
Although each story is different, labour can last on average somewhere between 6-20 hours!

What happens after birth? The start of the fourth trimester

The time after your baby’s birth is also known as the fourth trimester. This starts with skin-to-skin contact and your baby’s first feed. At some point after your baby is born the umbilical cord will be cut. Next, you can shower, clean yourself up, have a short walk, and enjoy some food or drink to aid your recovery. After that, it's all about enjoying your new adventure as a parent.

Originally published