If it's getting closer to your due date, your nesting instincts might be starting to kick in. Maybe the nursery plans are taking shape, baby's wardrobe is starting to fill up... but what about the hospital bag?
It's not the most exciting part of baby prep, but definitely not one to neglect. Packing up everything you need before you go into labour will help your hospital experience be as smooth as possible — no need to turn the car around!
You've got enough going on, so we're here to help make hospital packing a breeze. Bust out your notepad, make yourself a cuppa, and settle in for our ultimate hospital bag checklist.
When should you pack your hospital bag?
You've probably watched enough movies to know it by now — when it comes to babies, anything can happen. The last thing you want is for your waters to break, and to be stuck scrambling to find a fresh pair of undies!
Many hospitals recommend having your hospital bag ready to go from at least 28 weeks onwards . This means that you're prepared to head off whenever you need to, especially if early labour happens.
Because you're likely to feel tired later in your third trimester, you could start putting items aside as you think of them (some resources say 29 weeks is a good time to start doing this) . That way when it comes time to pack, you won't be as overwhelmed.
Side note: even if you're planning to have a home birth, it can be a good idea to pack a bag just in case you need to be transferred to the hospital . Avoid the scramble, it never hurts to be extra prepared.
Grab a little hamper or make a space in your home to start your hospital bag collection — you'll thank us later. But let's back up for a minute... what do you actually need to bring along for you and bub?
What does the hospital provide?
Every hospital experience will be different. Some might provide you with loads of supplies on your arrival, others might only keep the basics on hand.
This can also vary depending on whether you give birth at a public hospital, private hospital or birth centre.
In general, most hospitals will have some supplies of the basics— blankets, nappies, baby wraps, maternity pads, and other essentials .
Depending on where you give birth, there will be rules regarding what's provided for you and your new baby, as well as what you can bring from home.
The other to consider when packing is the length of your hospital stay. Some people go home hours after giving birth, while some stay for 1-2 nights (vaginal birth), or 2-3 nights (caesarean) . Your length of stay will influence how much you need to pack for you and the baby.
We've done some of the research, and have a pretty good idea of all the essentials most hospitals recommend you bring with you.
If in you're in doubt about what their policies are, have a chat with your midwife or hospital staff — they'll let you know if your bag needs a reshuffle.
What to pack in your hospital bag
Alright, let's get down to it. Here's the ultimate hospital bag checklist our team has put together. First off, your section:
Clothing and apparel
- comfy dressing gown (to chill out in during early labour)
- slippers or nonslip socks
- pyjamas, nightie or an oversized T-shirt that can get messy/you feel comfortable giving birth in.
- a few pairs of comfortable cotton underwear (hospitals recommend a larger size for comfort)
- a supportive bra, or nursing bra if you plan to breastfeed
- loose fitting tops/pyjamas with easy access for breastfeeding
- comfortable clothes to wear home or during the day after labour
- breast pads
- comfortable shoes
- a bag to put any dirty laundry in to take home
- contact lenses if you need them (your glasses might fog up during birth!).
- hair ties or hairband and a brush
- toothbrush and toothpaste
- shampoo, conditioner, body wash, and face wash/other skincare
- lip balm, nipple cream (to heal cracked and sore nipples), and any other toiletries you think you may need
- maternity pads or 'super' sanitary pads 
- your own towel just in case you need a spare 
- your Postpartum Recovery Kit, complete with the Peri Bottle, Mesh Panties, Soothing Padsicles, Nourishing Cream, Healing Foam and Postnatal Vitamins to give you the best start to your postpartum recovery and feeling like yourself again
- A Sitz Bath to soothe your sore bits after birth.
Toiletries (nice to haves)
- massage oil
- essential oils/ aromatherapy oils and diffuser (check if these are allowed at your hospital/birth centre)
- mouthwash and dry shampoo (especially if you don't feel up to getting out of bed) .
- your birth plan or preference sheet
- obstetrician or GP details
- medicare or private health insurance details
- antenatal records
- relevant X-rays, scans or pathology results
- list of important phone numbers in case you are unable to use/access your mobile phone .
Other important stuff
- medication! Don't forget any regular meds you take, or check with your hospital/GP if they'll be provided to you during birth.
- your own pillow (you might not love the hospital pillows)
- phone and charger
- a wide-necked water bottle (to fit ice chips in during labour) 
- a notepad and pen to keep track of the baby's feeding, and to write down questions to ask your care team
- breast pump, bottles and formula if you need them
- snacks and things to help you keep hydrated — sports drinks, lemonade, coconut water, or diluted juice .
- magazines, books or podcasts for early labour
- camera and charger
- a device to play music on (if allowed) and a speaker
- change for the vending machines, and cash for parking
- labour helping items — like a tens machine if you have one, wheat pack, fan or water sprayer 
- a breastfeeding cover
- a baby book to record memories in if you feel like it.
What to pack in your baby's hospital bag
Good work, you're halfway there! Here's your bag checklist for baby:
Clothing and apparel
- different sized jumpsuits
- singlets and socks
- muslin wraps or swaddles
- baby's going home outfit 
- mittens (to prevent scratches), a hat/beanie, and booties 
- baby blanket (not too heavy).
- disposable nappies and nappy rash/protective cream
- baby wipes
- baby bath solution or soap .
Other important stuff
- baby capsule or carrier (usually required, hospitals prefer this and might not let you walk around with your baby in your arms)
- an approved car seat to take baby home (make sure it's properly fit checked, as hospitals don't check this for you) 
- frozen breastmilk (if you plan to use it and the hospital has somewhere to store it for you).
What your partner or support partner should pack
Maybe they aren't the stars of the show, but we can't forget your support person/birthing partner. Here's what they should bring along:
- pyjamas (if they'll be staying overnight with you)
- comfortable clothing/a change of clothes
- comfortable shoes
- a pair of bathers (in case you have a water birth)
- phone and charger
- water bottle
- change for the vending machine
- a list of important phone numbers (in case they can't access their mobile, and need to update people on your progress
- a copy of your birth plan (so they can advocate for you if needed)
- books, music, magazines or podcasts to entertain them during early labour.
What should you not bring to the hospital?
Despite us writing you the hospital bag checklist to end all hospital bag checklists, it's important to remember that there won't always be a tonne of storage space available in your birth suite or on the ward .
If you're wanting to pack something that's not listed above (or in the optional/check if allowed category), it's best to check with your hospital in advance.
Definitely leave your valuables at home— staff will be so busy looking after you and there is no guarantee valuables can be kept safe .
In a nutshell, don't bring along 7 suitcases worth of things, or it might get a little tight in the room. A couple of bags is usually enough— one for you and your partner, and one bag with all your baby gear.
Or, if you like to be super organised: one bag for things you need during labour, and an extra bag with everything you need after the baby's arrival.
Other things to plan ahead of time
Phew! Packing's done, you can put your hospital bag back in the cupboard for now. Before you treat yourself (you deserve it), there are a couple more things to think about.
It's a good idea to plan your route to the hospital in advance, and transport/how you're going to get there. This will help reduce stress when it's go time. Make sure you'll have enough petrol in the car — keep it topped up if you can, to be safe .
Think about what you and your new family will need when you get home from the hospital e.g. a safe place for the baby to sleep, some easy-to-heat meals when you don't feel like cooking, and frozen colostrum or formula.
Finally, don't forget childcare and pet sitting! If you have other children or fur-children at home, organise someone to care for them while you're away. This is especially important in case you end up staying in the hospital for a little longer than planned .
That's it! You're all set and on your way to meeting baby. Now put your feet up for a little while.