Sunday 23 October 2016

Ten hospital bag essentials that you may need to pack before labour

You can easily find out the necessary items for a hospital bag. But there are other not so obvious things that will make all the difference, writes Olivia Willis

Olivia Willis

Published 09/09/2015 | 02:30

Labour bag
Labour bag
Pen and Paper
Flip flops

I am done having children and I'll not be found shopping for bottles or soothers, baby car seats or buggies ever again. And, I'm not going to be making a hospital checklist for the labour room again, so as a previous member of the 'Expectant-Mum-Club', I consider it my official duty to impart my wisdom onto the new era of soon-to-be mums.

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There's plenty of information out there on the standard list of things to put in your maternity bag, but what about those extras that you might not have thought about that will make all the difference?

Here's what I wish I'd taken to the hospital, but didn't know about:

Plastic Bag

Don't take this into the hospital but leave it in your car to sit on if your water breaks before or on the way to the hospital. It saves on valeting afterwards and isn't a bad thing to have in your glove box anyway.


When there's work to be done, it's best to have your hair out of your face.


Hospitals zap all the moisture out of your lips upon admission - it happens in an instant!

Chewing Gum

I don't know what kind of desert air they pump through a hospital, but it's dry. Gum is also good for your partner who may have been drinking litres of coffee just before getting up in your face to say you're doing a great job and to practice breathing exercises. Feelings may get hurt if you scream about their smelly breath in the heat of the moment. Best to pack some gum for you both.

Perfume Free Body Wash

The first shower you take after you give birth will be the best shower of your life and the hospital products, if any, aren't great. Perfume free is best for post labour washing.

A Thick Fluffy Towel

Hospital towels are; well… small and scratchy. Bringing your own big soft bath towel and it will help make sure your first post birth shower is a great one.


All the usual hospital bag lists advise that you pack slippers, but you'll be happy you brought your flip-flops. They're perfect for use in the shower (if shower floors that you've not scrubbed clean yourself freak you out) and they are also good to prevent slipping on wet bathroom tiles.

A Phone Charger

Don't forget this. You'll be taking pictures of your new bundle of joy left, right and centre and you don't want to run low on battery. And you might be tweeting, Facebooking, calling, texting and e-mailing, which will all blow through that battery in no time.


Chances are at some stage 'someone' is going to want a snack and the coffee shop will be closed. Depending on what comes on the tray for meals, you might rather skip the hospital food entirely and the vending machine might be your only option.

A Bag in a Bag

You will leave the hospital with more stuff than you came with - guaranteed. Bring an extra bag for all the random stuff you're going to acquire.


You've just given birth to a tiny human - who cares how you look in pictures with your newborn? You will. For the rest of your life, trust me. You'll have secret thoughts about the black circles under your eyes and your pale complexion every time you look at yourself in the pictures.

A Big Envelope/A File

You'll be given lots of papers and pamphlets in the hospital and it's important to keep these all together for easy reference when you get home. If you pack an empty A4 envelope or file you can pop everything together and not have to search the bags and coats when you go home if you need to lay your hands on the information.

Extra Pillow

If you are anything like me you might need a little extra pillow height and the hospital pillows are not the best (bring one with a pillowcase that's distinguishable from the hospital white).

Big Sister or Brother Gift

If you have older children, you could consider having a gift that's from the baby for them to open when they come to visit. They're probably going to feel a little displaced over the next few months so it's a nice way to introduce them to the new addition to the family.

Pen and Paper

There'll be some note taking required. Pack a pen and paper so you can jot it all down. Baby brain is going to kick in and you will not remember the specifics.

Comfortable Going Home Outfit

Let me be brutally honest here, you're not leaving the hospital wearing pre-baby clothes so don't bother packing them. It's tragic, but true. Pack something comfortable. A maxi dress, leggings, yoga pants and a t-shirt. Fashion doesn't matter, just make sure it's comfy.

Even if you are not planning a hospital birth and are preparing for a home birth, it is good to have a bag packed just in case you need to go visit the hospital unexpectedly.

Olivia Willis is the co-founder of, an Irish family website with information for parents, things to do, daily blogs, reviews and expert family advice.

Irish Independent

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