Hospital Bag Size: How Big Is Too Big?

A hospital bag is one of the many things you need to get ready before your due date.

If you’ve read my post on easily forgettable hospital bag items and this post on what to pack in dad’s hospital bag, then you’re probably 99% hospital bag ready.

But what about your hospital bag size? What size should your hospital bag be? What type of bag should you use?

Is a suitcase too big for a hospital bag? What hospital bag size is acceptable and wouldn’t appear ridiculous?

These are probably the questions on your mind now. 

The size of the hospital bag you decide to go with will depend on a few factors. Your personal preferences, your budget, the number of babies you’re having and where you’re having your baby.

Let’s take a deeper look into this.

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WHO NEEDS A HOSPITAL BAG? 

If you’re planning to have a hospital birth, giving birth at a birth centre or even preparing for a home birth, you need a hospital bag.

It’s a good idea to pack a hospital bag for a home birth just in case you need to transfer to the hospital. This could happen if a complication arises. For example, your baby pooping in the womb. 

The midwives will want to perform some checks to be sure your baby hasn’t ingested any of the meconium (the first poop of a newborn baby).

Hence, the need for a trip to the hospital.

HOSPITAL BAG OR SUITCASE?

Before we talk about the size of your hospital bag, it’s important to first address what is the best luggage to pack your things for your hospital or birth centre delivery.

Do you use a hospital bag or a suitcase? You can use either or both. It all depends on your lifestyle, place of birth and the number of babies you’re expecting and your budget.

Your Lifestyle

If you’re a minimalist, you’ll most likely have fewer things to pack, so one bag should suffice. 

Some women also simply prefer a bag to a suitcase or vice-versa.

Place of birth

You may need to pack more things from home if you live further away from the hospital and you’re not mobile. To avoid long trips to and fro the hospital.

This would mean carrying bigger luggage usually a suitcase.

Make a note to ask your midwife or doctor what they’ll provide for you during labour. 

This way you know what you need to bring with you and what you don’t need to bother with.

For instance, most NHS Hospitals in the UK, have birthing balls so you won’t need to bring yours in if you’d like to labour with one as I did.

Also, in many American hospitals, you get to take everything in your hospital room home because you paid for it all! 

So, you’ll need some extra space for all those goodies.

Number of babies expected

If you are expecting twins or multiples, you may find it easier to use both a suitcase and bag for your hospital bag because of all the extra stuff you’ll need to pack with you.

Your Budget

Suitcases in general cost more than bags. 

Depending on your budget, you can go for a more affordable option (bag) or the pricier option (suitcase). Especially if you need to buy a piece of luggage and don’t own any before now.

what type of bag to use for hospital bag

PROS AND CONS OF A SUITCASE AND BAG

A suitcase has the advantage of being compact- so all your belongings will be in one place. 

Also, having a hospital bag on wheels like a suitcase means your stuff will be easier to carry and transport around. 

This will be especially beneficial if you are not mobile and can’t leave an “in-case-you-need-it” bag in the car.

A disadvantage of using a suitcase for a hospital bag is that you can easily overpack. 

Because there’s more room, you may end up filling your suitcase with some unnecessary things you wouldn’t use in the hospital.

Also, it may be harder to find things in a suitcase if you don’t use an organiser.

A bag, on the other hand, is particularly helpful to keep things separate. Having a different bag for mummy, daddy and baby can help you easily find whatever it is you need.

One disadvantage of having separate bags is that you’re more likely to forget one bag at home especially if the hubby is in charge. Lol. 

WHAT SIZE SHOULD YOUR HOSPITAL BAG BE?

To avoid looking like Prince Akeem arriving at Queens Airport with a bazillion bags in Coming to America, here’s what I recommend:

A medium to large-sized suitcase or bag is usually sufficient for all your needs. For separate bags for baby, mum and dad, use small to medium-sized bags. 

Note that this might vary if you are having multiples, scheduled for an induction, or planned a home birth.

If you are packing a single bag like a weekender, duffel or cabin bag, then get a large size bag that opens wide so you can easily see what’s inside. Or otherwise, two medium-sized bags.

A medium-sized suitcase is just as good and should contain everything you need for baby, dad and mum.

You can use these packing cubes to separate each person’s items for easy identification. 

Having your baby on a budget? Then large ziplock bags work great as organizers. Just make sure to properly label them for easy recognition.

You can also add a cute medium-sized drawstring backpack bag for snacks.

A large suitcase is good for inductions. Inductions can take from a few hours to a couple of days to get going.

If you are scheduled for an induction, you will appreciate having lots of stuff in with you to keep you comfortable and entertained.

THE BEST HOSPITAL BAGS FOR LABOUR

First, you DON’T need to buy a new bag or suitcase. 

Having a baby can be expensive, using a bag you already own is a good way to save money. 

But if you do need to buy a hospital bag, here are some of my top recommendations.

#1. Cabin case expandable suitcase

An expandable cabin suitcase is a great choice for a hospital bag. The fact that it is expandable means you have a little more room to pack any last minute hospital bag items.

#2. Weekend bag

If you would rather use a bag or want separate bags then weekend bags are great. 

They are big, spacious and open. And also you can get pretty ones here

The good news is many weekend bags have wheels which will make them easier to carry. Try to get one with a pull-out handle for convenience. 

Gym bags, duffel bags and holdalls are good options too.

#3. Baby’s changing bag

Some women prefer to use their baby’s changing bag to hold all their baby things. 

This is what I did. I didn’t want to spend extra money on a hospital bag, so I used the bags I had at home.

#4. Large suitcase

This is perfect for women having Inductions, those expecting multiples and if you want to bring as much as possible to make you comfortable.

#5. Bag for snacks

A waterproof drawstring bag is a great bag for snacks. Just make sure you don’t forget your snack bag at home because your partner will need to eat to keep up his/her strength during labour.

#6. Backpack for dad

Some dads prefer to pack their things in a backpack as it’s handier.

#7. Back up bag in the car

It’s a good idea to pack a bag with extra stuff for everyone. If you have to stay extra days in the hospital for any reason, then your partner won’t have to run back and forth.

You can keep this extra bag in the boot of your car or at home by the front door if you’re not mobile.

If you don’t end up using it, then you’ll just unpack the bag when you get home and are settled in with your newborn baby.

In Conclusion

I hope this post has clarified any questions you had about the size of your hospital bag.

Knowing the type and size of the bag to take into the hospital when having your baby will make you feel more confident.

Other related posts you may like to read are:

Here’s praying for a safe birth and a healthy baby for you!

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