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What to bring to the hospital when you're having a baby

A pregnant mother sits on her bed, with baby clothes laid out in front of her.
Only taking what you need to the hospital will make the experience less stressful for you and easier for staff.

You’re having a baby, congratulations! Whether this is your first baby or one of several, the weeks leading up to giving birth can be exciting, scary and overwhelming all at once. You’ll have lots of things to do and prepare, including the bag you’ll bring to the hospital.

With the help of the midwives at Ipswich Hospital, we’ve put together a list of the things you should bring with you to the hospital, and some things you shouldn’t!

To bring:

Maternity pads – after giving birth, either vaginally or by caesarean, you’ll have bleeding like a period for a few weeks. This can be heavy, especially in the first few days, so bring a lot of special maternity pads with you. Tampons and menstrual cups shouldn’t be used for the first six weeks after birth, as these can increase the chance of infection.

Comfy underwear (that you don’t mind throwing away) – after giving birth you’re most likely going to be tender and tired down below. Large comfortable undies that will hold a pad are recommended. Bring some that you don’t mind throwing away if they get messy – think your old, holey pairs rather than your brand new, lacy lingerie. And don’t worry, the staff have seen it all and are definitely not judging your daggy undies! They’ll just be pleased you’re comfortable.

Clothes for you – most women bring plenty of clothes for their new baby (often even too much clothing) but some don’t think much about clothes for themselves. Bring a few changes of comfortable, soft clothing, considering what will be easiest to breastfeed in if you plan to do so. Dark clothing, not lights or whites, are best to minimise staining from any spills or leaks.

Clothes for your baby – bring a few changes of clothing for bub. Our midwives recommend onesie jumpsuits with arms and legs, cotton singlets and soft, warm hats.

Nappies – you’re going to want a whole pack of newborn nappies and baby wipes – it’s surprising how much stuff can come out of a tiny, new human! When it comes to nappies, it’s better to err on the side of having too many than not enough.

Formula – if you’re planning to formula feed, you’ll need to bring your chosen brand of formula along with you. The hospital will have some on hand, but not enough to supply bub’s every meal or a choice of every brand.

Toiletries – bring along your own soap, shampoo and toothbrush, as well as any necessary toiletries you want to use for baby in their first few days (they don’t need the whole kit and caboodle – just the basics will do).

Slip on shoes – you might not feel like or be able to bend down to put shoes on after you've given birth. A comfy pair of slip on shoes can be just the ticket, over options with laces, buckles or zips.

Snacks – when breastfeeding, women often become really hungry. Have healthy snacks on hand to keep you full, including something to munch on during the night if you’re up with baby. You can read more about the types of food and how much food your body needs while breastfeeding on Raising Children.

Vases – this probably won’t be something that you’ll bring yourself, but it’s important to know that there won’t always be heaps of spare vases around for holding flowers. Ask your partner or a key family member or friend to politely let visitors know that if they want to bring flowers, they should also bring in a vase or container, or wait to send them to your home when you all leave the hospital.

Necessities for partners and support people – there are a few things the person or people coming with you to the hospital should bring along, that can get forgotten when all the focus is on mum and bub. Many women like to spend time in water (a shower, tub or birthing pool) during labour. If your support person is going to get in with you, they might want to bring swimwear or a dry change of clothes for afterwards. They should also bring closed-in shoes, so that they can go into the theatre with you if you need any surgery. It's a good idea for everyone to have their own snacks and water on hand - it's a long process for everyone involved, and a little food and hydration can go a long way to keeping everyone calm and comfortable.

A newborn baby lies in between two stacks of nappies.

Don’t bring:

Your own towels – there will be plenty at the hospital and no new mum needs excess laundry!

Large suitcases – there won’t be room for large bulky items and bags around your bed and things like suitcases can be a hazard if staff need to get to you. Try to keep your possessions limited to what will fit in an overnight bag. This goes for presents, too. If you receive lots of large gifts from visitors, ask someone take them home for you at the end of the day.

Too many clothes for bub – you might have spent ages picking out baby’s first outfit or their “going home” clothes, or you might have received lots of gifts of clothes people expect you to dress baby in straight away. You don’t need to bring everything with you – a few changes of comfortable, easy clothes will be best. Remember, most new babies will only need to change outfits once a day, and you’ll most likely leave the hospital after a couple of days.

A pregnant mum holds up a onesie as she packs her hospital bag.

There are a lot of exciting things to plan when you’re having a baby. Remember that anything you forget, your partner, a family member or friend can always bring from home or nip out and buy for you. Don’t let hospital packing stress you out: have a think about what you’ll take in the weeks leading up to you due date and remember that only bringing the essentials will make things easier for you.

Last updated: 30 January 2018