Anticipating your baby's arrival is an exciting and often busy time. One thing on every parent-to-be's prep list is packing the hospital bag. But knowing what to pack can be overwhelming. You don't want to forget any essentials. Our packing list breaks it down to help you pack a brilliant hospital bag for mum, baby, and your birthing partner.
Bonus: Scroll to the end to download our free printable hospital bag packing checklist.
When to pack your hospital bag?
Many care providers will encourage you to start packing your bag from about 35 weeks. This allows you to be ready just in case your little one makes an early entrance earthside!
What kind of hospital bag is best?
There are many options available, but the most eco-friendly hospital bag is one you already own. Whether that’s a suitcase that rolls on wheels, a duffel bag or a backpack. In terms of size, one you would use as a carry-on for plane travel is perfect. Whatever bag you choose, you can also add wet bags to separate the contents of each bag into neat and tidy compartments.
How many bags should I take?
Think about having three essential bags for the birth of your little one. Why? When you're in labour or recovering in bed, you want to make it as easy as possible to direct any support person to grab what you need. By choosing three individual bags (or a suitcase with two halves—one for mum, one for bub), it's easier for everyone to find what you need.
Hospital bag for mum
This will contain everything you need to feel comfortable while recovering and snuggling with your newborn during labour, including clothes, toiletries and pads.
Hospital bag for baby
This will have everything a baby might need in their first few days earthside, including clothes, nappies and wipes.
Hospital bag for birthing partner + labour
This will include their overnight essentials and anything you want them to be responsible for (like your birth plan, snacks & hydration) during labour.
What to pack in my hospital bag?
Pack for the length of your hospital stay. In most cases, you can expect to take your baby home between 24-48 hours after a normal vaginal birth or between 2-5 days after a caesarean section.
We’ve included suggestions of eco-friendly brands we love to help you keep your sustainable values intact.
Sidenote: Even if you’re planning a home birth, it’s nice to have birth bags ready just in case you need to go to the hospital. It will also keep everything organised at home when it’s go-time!
Ok, it’s time to dive into our hospital bag essentials packing checklists. And don’t forget to scroll to the end of this blog to download our free printable hospital bag checklist.
Hospital bag for mum checklist
Button down pyjamas
If you’re breastfeeding, button-down tops will be your new BFF. Pack two sets. We love the 100% French flax linen sleepwear by Bed Threads and the range of ethically made options by Bhumi.
You can't go past a luxurious robe for post-shower happiness or lounging about with your newborn. We love the soft day-spa-worthy waffle bathrobe by Ettitude.
Socks and/or Slippers
Keep toes snug as you shuffle about the hospital. We love the stylish slippers, slides and socks by Deiji Studios.
Hospitals get chilly, so don’t forget to pack something warm.
Loose fitting, soft fabrics, button-downs, and cosiness is key. Feel extra special in I Love Linen. Luxury french linen loungewear
Slip-on when showering or taking a short stroll to gaze at your little one. We love the thongs and slides by indosole (they’re made from discarded tires!).
Choose soft, flexible fabrics that allow for growth when your milk comes in after birth. Pack three or more. We love the soft and stylish GOTS-certified organic cotton maternity bras by Juem, the stretchy moisture-wicking triangle bralettes by Boody, and the feminine and flexible postpartum bras by Hotmilk.
Your breasts will likely leak between feeds as they adjust to your baby's needs. Six to eight pairs are a good start. Our EcoNaps reusable bamboo nursing pads catch leaks and feel gentle on delicate skin.
Full briefs are great on postpartum tummies and won’t sit on c-section stitches. Pack eight or more pairs and consider sizing-up. We love the soft, sustainable and supportive full briefs by Boody and the postpartum recovery briefs designed to hold a heat/cold pack by Bare Mum.
The days after birth will be a little messy down there. We love the cloud-like comfort of Maternity Pads by TOM Organic and the healing properties that come with the Herbal Infused Postpartum Pads by Bare Mum.
Going minimal and scent-free is best for new babies.
Pack your usual daily toiletries like toothpaste, toothbrush, deodorant, hair brush, hair ties, vitamins, shampoo, conditioner and body wash to feel fresh and human again.
This gets its own line on the checklist as it’s sooo important in labour (all that breathing and air-con can make lips dry). We love the pint-sized vegan lip balms by Hurraw!.
Breast milk is an incredible natural healer for nourishing sore nipples. Simply squeeze, massage and let air dry. However, for extra TLC, We love the Nipple Balm by Willow By The Sea, Boobie Balm by Being Skincare, Organic Nipple Balm by Little Bairn, Nipple Cream by Mere and Boob Balm by Madre.
Great to have in case of tearing or tenderness. We love the Peri Spray by Mere Botanicals. It can also be used on caesarean section wounds.
Ice packs (aka padsicles)
Reduce swelling and soothe sore bits after birth. The soothing single-use perineum padsicles by Bubba Bump are great for your hospital bag, but a reusable and washable pad is a better environmental option when you get home. We love the warm & cool insert by Bare Mum (plus it’s the prettiest padsicle we’ve ever seen!).
Rough toilet paper isn’t fun post labour, so be kind to your sensitive bits with soft postpartum wipes. We love the plant-based and biodegradable postpartum witch hazel recovery wipes by Bubba Bump.
Water bottle with straw
A bottle you can take quick sips between contractions will be your best friend, so trust us when we say opt for one with a straw vs. a twist top lid. We love the Pargo Project Insulated sports bottle with straw lid
It can be bright in hospitals at all hours. An eye mask will help you catch some precious extra zzz’s. We love the silky-soft and sustainable CleanBamboo™ eye mask by ettitude.
Laundry bag / wet bag
Your labour clothes and underwear will get a little messy (#realtalk). Stash them in a waterproof laundry bag until you get home. Our reusable EcoNaps Overnighter Wet Bag is a perfect size.
A fluffy dark towel
Your own towel will be cosier than most starched hospital towels. Plus the dark colour will disguise vaginal bleeding (which is completely normal after a vaginal birth or c-section by the way), but the sight of it on white hospital towels could make you feel a little woozy.
- Practical things
Don’t forget to pack your phone, phone charger, headphones, wallet and medicare card.
- Going home outfit
You likely want to take a photo leaving the hospital with your new baby (it’s a huge life moment!), so pack a cute yet comfy outfit to wear out of the hospital and homebound.
Hospital bag for baby checklist
- Newborn nappies
Packing disposable nappies in your hospital bag is a great idea for your baby's first poop (which is sticky, thick and dark in colour!). Pack around 20 nappies. We love the plant-based newborn nappies by Ecoriginals. Once you’ve settled in at home, you can then switch to reusable nappies (like ours) that fit little newborns.
Pack reusable wipes (like our super soft bamboo cloth wipes) to bathe baby and some disposable wipes (like these 100% biodegradable wipes by Ecoriginals) for nappy changes.
Choose onesies with foot and hand covers to keep your little one cosy. Pack four or five. We recommend packing simple clothing and saving fiddly outfits (with buttons or two-piece sets) for home. Keep this on top of the bag so it can be put on your baby after some beautiful skin-to-skin time. Here are a few newborn clothing ranges we love:
- 100% organic cotton baby bodysuits and rompers
- 100% organic cotton baby basics range by Illoura
- Organic bamboo baby clothes by Boody
- 100% Organic cotton all-in-ones by Nature Baby
Organic cotton zip growsuit by susukoshi
Keep your baby warm and comfy with a base layer in natural organic fibres. Pack four or five. We love the organic cotton unisex singlets by pure baby,
- Beanie / bonnet
Cos little tootsies can get cold, even in a footed onesie. We love the buttery soft bamboo socks from Halo & Horns Company.
Swaddling is recommended for tiny newborns so pack a couple of your faves. We love the soft organic cotton swaddles by banabae.
To snuggle with your baby, tuck into their bassinet, or keep them cosy for the car journey home. We love the gentle heirloom baby blankets by Aster & Oak that contain no nasties or wool irritants or the organic cotton jersey wraps by Aster & Oak.
Baby book / medical record
Keep these handy for midwives and hospital staff to note down all the essentials from birth.
Laundry bag / wet bag
Pack one for baby’s spills and blowouts. Our reusable EcoNaps Day Tripper Wet Bag is made from recycled materials and is the perfect size.
Going home outfit
Just like mama, your little one will love the memories created with pictures in a sweet going-home outfit.
Hospital bag for birth partner checklist
Let your birth partner keep this close and communicate wishes to your birth team when you’re in labour.
Affirmation cards, battery-operated tealight candles, essential oils, a TENS machine, birth comb, music or anything else can aid your labour. Have your birth partner bring these and set them up in your birth suite for you. We love the birth comb and affirmation cards by Wholesome Birthkeeper or mama mantra cards by Seasons of Mama.
Pack enough to give you both an energy boost during labour. Think bananas, grapes, apples, dates, bliss balls, jellybeans, nuts and muesli bars.
Coconut water and your favourite tea will be a friend in labour. Pack a reusable keep cup for spill-free, easy sipping.
So your birthing partner can join you in the pool if you choose a water birth.
Change of clothes
Enough for an overnight stay. Often the birth partner can pop home for more things if they’re going to stay longer.
Basic daily toiletries.
Phone, headphones, phone charger, wallet, house keys(!) and camera.
There you have it—our hospital bag packing list with an eco-friendly spin. There are other things you’ll want to have at home when you return from the hospital (like belly oils/butters, nourishing soups/foods, lactation cookies, snacks, drinks, bath salts, teas and so much more), but we’ll cover that on another blog.
Over to you!
What are your best hospital bag packing tips? Have we missed any of your hospital bag must-haves? Share your favourite tips and products on this Instagram post to help other parents pack their hospital bag with confidence.
Print this hospital bag checklist and be ready to go without wondering “have I packed everything?” when labour begins.