Baby and You

Maternity Bag Essentials

A993NM High angle view of a pregnant woman sitting on her couch, packing an overnight bag for the hospital.
Packing a maternity bag is a vital part of preparing for your new arrival. Claire Muffett-Reece looks at the essential items the whole family needs to ensure your birth is as calm as can be



Towards the end of your pregnancy it’s best to carry them with you whenever you leave the house, so stick a note on the top of your maternity bag reminding you to pack them as you leave the house!


You could be in labour for a while, so packing your smartphone and charger helps you stay in touch with friends and family, as well as passing the time through the wonders of social media.


Keep energy levels up with snacks such as bananas and cereal bars. Check with your midwife before eating anything and avoid anything too heavy – as sickness is a common side effect during labour.


A TENS machine is great for managing contractions due to the small electrical pulses it transmits through your body. Ask if your hospital has a supply to use, or rent one from a high street pharmacy instead.


Labour is a messy business, so use a large T-shirt for giving birth rather than anything new. A bikini is great for temporarily covering up if you feel shy for a water birth, and pack socks to stop your feet getting cold.


Many women find music soothing when labour kicks in, so ask your hospital if you can bring your own speakers in or see if they have their own you can use to listen to your pre-prepared labour play-list.


Giving birth is far from glamorous, so unpack that make-up bag and instead pop in a pack of face wipes, some hairbands and a pot of lip balm to stop your pout from drying out. You’ll thank us for it!



Your midwife will encourage you to bath or shower after giving birth, so remember a towel and flannel you don’t mind throwing away, as well as soap, toothpaste and your toothbrush to help you feel ‘new’ again.


Stick to basics and pack deodorant, dry shampoo, a hairbrush and some concealer, remembering to avoid dousing yourself in fragrance as your baby may well be sensitive to overpowering smells.


You’ll be desperate to slip in to clean pyjamas after giving birth, choosing a maternity pair with buttons for breastfeeding access. A dressing gown and slippers are also wise, for comfort about the ward.


At least two nursing bras are ideal, in case you don’t quite get to grips with breast pads in your sleepy state, as well as four or five pairs of cheap knickers you definitely won’t mind throwing away.


Most hospitals should supply you with some sanitary pads, but it’s still vital you include a couple of packs of your own, as well as breast pads to prevent you leaking breast milk on to clothes and bedding.


Your midwife will want to know how well your baby is feeding in the first few hours, so a notepad and pen is handy for monitoring your little one’s feeding, sleeping and toilet habits.


No – not high heels and skinny jeans! It’s all about comfort, avoiding tight-fitting waistbands until your tummy and uterus shrinks back to its normal size. Jogging bottoms and a breast-feeding top is ideal.

Baby essentials


Pack sleepsuits in a couple of different newborn sizes to ensure the correct fit. Vests, a hat, socks and a snowsuit if it’s cold are essential, too, as well as a blanket to keep them snug in the hospital cot.


Breastfeeding is best and there is a wide range of support in hospital to help with this. Should you choose not to check with your hospital policy surrounding what formula and bottles they may or may not provide.


A pack of newborn nappies should keep you going, remembering you can use up to 12 a day on your new addition! Nappy sacks, baby wipes or cotton wool is also a must to keep them fresh and clean.



Loose change will come in handy, be it for trips for coffee or for the car park. Get them to pack a pen and paper in case you are allowed to put a ‘Partner In Labour’ note on your car window to avoid extortionate charges!


Your partner will get hungry too, so help them avoid the unhealthy vending machine options by getting them to include cereal bars, isotonic drinks and fruit in their bag.


They’ll be responsible for letting friends and family know how your labour is progressing – so get them to pack a charger. A camcorder is also an option, should you want them to film parts of the birth!


A spare change of clothes in the car is wise, in case you are in labour for a while. Swimming trunks and an old towel are also a good idea, should you want them in the birthing pool with you at any time.


Chances are you’re going to be in an irritable mood, so make sure they pack a toothbrush, toothpaste and deodorant so you don’t yell at them that they stink halfway through a contraction!


The excitement of your impending arrival may cause your partner to chatter when all you want to do is sleep, so get them to pack a good book to keep them quiet when you feel like relaxing.


The newborn car seat is the most important item on their packing list, making sure it has been properly fitted and tested to ensure you both know how it works with ease.

Going home

No matter how short or long your hospital stay, the thought of returning home and going it alone is an anxious time for most new parents, so it’s wise to stock up with a few essentials to ensure you are as prepared as can be. Sanitary towels, toilet roll and nappies should all be stockpiled to keep those first few days ticking over, as well as milk, tea and biscuits to replenish never-ending visitors. It’s also worth spending those last couple of weeks cooking up a storm, making batches of your favourite meals that can be frozen and defrosted when needed.



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