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Packing a bag for labour

Whether you’re planning to give birth at home or in hospital, it’s a good idea to gather things together for your delivery beforehand.

Pregnancy is supposed to last about 40 weeks, but babies arrive when they’re ready so packing your bag in advance will help you feel prepared for your little one’s arrival.

Essentials for you

  • Nightwear or open front shirts for skin-to-skin contact with your baby and breast feeding
  • Dressing gown and slippers or flip flops. A pair of warm socks might be useful if it’s winter time
  • Bras. If you’re planning to breastfeed, you’ll need nursing bras which are easier to use if you are breastfeeding and a pack of breast pads to absorb any leaks
  • Absorbent maternity pads (not tampons) and some knickers to hold the pads in place
  • A towel and washbag with toiletries. Think about what you need to keep you clean and comfortable
  • Birth plan. Don’t forget to have your maternity notes to hand, as well as contact numbers for your midwife, partner, friends and family
  • Cool, loose-fitting clothing to change into after the birth or to go home in

Nice to have

  • Music to listen to and magazines and books to read
  • Snacks and bottles of water
  • Some money
  • Notebook and pen. You may want to jot down feed times or any questions or worries to ask professionals
  • Chargers for electronic devices

Pregnant lady packing a bag

Essentials for your baby

Your midwife will talk to you about what to bring for your baby, but you’ll certainly need:

  • Muslin squares – useful for mopping up dribble, sick and milk
  • Cotton vests – choose ones with ‘envelope’ necks which are easier to put on and take off your baby
  • Sleep suits – those which fasten down the front are good to start with, especially until you get used to handling your baby
  • Light weight baby blanket – preferably cellular type. It’s important to follow safe sleep advice when using blankets.
  • Nappies – newborn size
  • Cotton wool pads – good to use with warm water for cleaning the baby in the early days
  • Outerwear-clothes for when it’s time to go home
  • Car seat – appropriate car seat for that first trip home
  • Regardless of your feeding choice you will need to bring in your own supply of formula as hospitals don’t keep a supply. You can buy a starter kit that has a supply of ready made formula in bottles.

What should your partner bring?

Your partner should also give some thought to what they need to have ready too – just in case things start moving more quickly than you were expecting!

Comfy clothing is a wise choice, and it’s advisable to bring some snacks and drinks. Your partner should also think about bringing:

  • A mobile phone or phone card to keep in touch with family and friends
  • A camera – these are special moments you’ll want to treasure!
  • Money for car parking and extras
  • Books or magazines
  • Snacks and bottles of water
  • A spare t-shirt to encourage skin-to-skin

Home births

Your midwife will advise you on practical preparations for a home birth, but you’ll certainly need comfy clothes, nursing bras, breast pads and absorbent sanitary towels. Make sure you have plenty of clean towels and clothes for your baby too.

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Page last reviewed: 25-01-2023

Next review due: 25-01-2026