How to tweak your hospital bag for a pandemic

What to pack in your hospital bag during Covid 19

Chances are, you’ve spent the past several months dreaming of the day you finally get to meet your baby. You’ve stocked up on baby gear, decorated the nursery and maybe even figured out how to correctly install that infant car seat. But don’t forget one of the most important third trimester to-dos: deciding what to pack in your hospital bag—for baby, you and your partner.

So where to start? With the uncertainty of Covid-19 still looming over our heads, you might be anxious about whether there are any special things you should be including to keep you safe at the hospital. For the most part it’s business as usual, says Nicola Oliver, pre- and postnatal fitness expert and educator at The Fit Midwife, although there are a few extra pandemic-related things you may want to bring just in case. “I would always suggest that mums and dads bring their own masks as a precaution,” says Nicola, a practicing UK-trained midwife who is currently helping to deliver babies at a hospital in Dubai, “not gloves necessarily as there is probably more than enough stock of that in the hospital, but it’s definitely worth bringing your own mask just in case.”

But don’t worry that you’ll have to be doing your birth breathing through layers of material: “Most women in labour are not being required to wear masks at the moment, and nor do I think they should be expected to,” says Nicola.

Nevertheless, it is crucial to check out your individual birth hospital’s policies, says Cecile de Scally, midwife and sleep expert at Malaak Mama & Baby Care: “These might have changed during the current coronavirus situation to ensure that you and your newborn are safe – please check your local hospital to find out all the dos and don’ts.”

You should also plan to bring enough supplies of activities, food and drinks so that you or your husband or birth partner won’t have to keep leaving and re-entering the hospital room or ward. “Even as things relax it’s still not a good idea to be wandering around a hospital,” says midwife Nicola Oliver. “We still need to minimize the number of times that people are leaving the ward and traipsing round the hospital, because if you’re visiting Starbucks seven times in 12 hours then you’re increasing your risk of exposure massively. Bring things to keep you in the room – download some movies, get some Netflix going, and plan to stay in the room as much as possible.”

And finally – when should you have got all of this packed by? Elli Kasbi, founder of children’s clothing and interiors brand Elli Junior says: “They say timing is everything—but when it comes to choosing when to pack your hospital bag, you have a little flexibility. We suggest you start packing between 35 – 37 weeks – remember, you can always re-pack if you think you want to add something in last minute!”

Read more: How will Covid-19 affect my birth in the UAE?

Labour Bag Checklist  

Birth Preferences List or Birth Plan
Your important documents folder (including Emirates IDs, attested marriage certificate, passports with visas in and insurance cards and documentation)
Lip balm (hospitals are very dry)
Slip-on slippers
Distractions; like your phone or a tablet to watch a movie on or a good book to read
Good music to help calm you or for you to dance to if you want to help labour along! If you are hypnobirthing then bring your visualization tracks along
Snacks (energy-giving foods that will give you a boost without making you feel sick like dates and crackers are good. Also include Dad and all the favourite things he likes to munch on too so that you can both avoid needing to leave the room as much as possible)
Water bottle (if you like your own)
Essential oil spray or Essential oils to help set a calming atmosphere
Pashmina (used for both warmth and to cover your head when relaxing and using the birthing ball)
Birthing Ball
Your own comfortable pillow, with coloured case so you don’t mix it up with the hospital pillows
Your own comfortable clothes (preferably something you will be happy to throw away if too soiled)
Comfortable bra (not restrictive). Opt for a nursing bra with clips if you are hoping to breastfeed
Chargers for all your electronics


Mum’s Personal Checklist

Important inclusions include:

All personal items like

Especially moisturiser (coconut oil Is perfect)
Any bath soaps/shampoo that you prefer


Suggestion: leave all your jewellery safely at home

Other essentials are:

Breast pads
Nursing bra
Nursing Pillow
Nursing Cover
Maternity sanitary towels or heavy-flow sanitary towels (you will bleed as if you’re having a very heavy period for several days to weeks after birth, whether you deliver vaginally or via C-section)
Disposable pants or knickers that you don’t mind getting potentially soiled (many hospitals will provide you with disposable briefs). You may also want to check out absorbent underwear such as Modi Bodi
3-4 sets of comfortable clothing, slip on shoes (ensure everything is loose fitting)
3 pairs of pyjamas (Please ensure that these are easy to remove for breastfeeding)
Dressing Gown plus something comfortable to go home in

Read more: 9 Post-birth truths no-one else will tell you

For baby

What to pack in your baby’s bag

6 long sleeve Baby Gros
6 singlets (short sleeve under garments)
6 swaddles or light blankets  
3 sets of socks
2 hats
Bum cream of your choice
Cotton wool, to be soaked in water for nappy changes (newborn skin is too sensitive for wipes)
Newborn nappies (many hospitals will provide so just bring a few as back-up)
Baby bath towel
Car seat to go home in (reminder to Dad to please try and fit this before you go to the hospital)


Malaak’s Cecile De Scally suggests you also bring two large muslin cloths: “Before you go to the hospital, place them in your bed or sleep with them so they smell of you, fold and place into a zip lock bag (these are for the hospital to use when drying your baby). In a normal birth one can be placed onto your abdomen prior to baby’s arrival. If for any reason you are having a caesarean section; one of these can be placed on the infant warmer.”

“The theory behind this,” explains Cecile, ‘is it means that your baby is dried with something very gentle and smelling of you, meaning your baby is reassured by your smell and not over stimulated.’

For Dad

3 sets of clean clothes
slip on shoes
3 pairs of pyjamas or shorts
shaving kit

Dads, you are in charge of all the important documents so make sure you have a folder at the ready – this should contain copies of and originals if you can of the following:

Emirates ID
Attested marriage certificate
Insurance card and if possible, a copy of any pre-authorizations related to the pregnancy


Don’t forget your COVID essentials! These include:

disposable gloves
hand sanitizer


Cecile says ‘your hospital may well provide a lot of these in the room however you may feel more comfortable with your own, and you will need them en-route to hospital, and once you leave. In general pack as little as possible especially at this moment as your stay may be a lot shorter during these uncertain times.’

Midwife Nicola Oliver adds: “Minimising visitors is always a good idea. Yes, Dubai is open but Coronavirus hasn’t vanished. I would be advising mums and dads to have no visitors in the hospital if at all possible, and minimize any visitors to the home, ensuring that if you are introducing baby to any family members you need to make sure they have been social distancing and taking precautions for their exposure so that they’re not a risk to the newest member of their family.”

Read more:
Birth story: “I hadn’t even packed my hospital bag!”

Which UAE hospital should I give birth in?

Giving birth in UAE: Your hospital bag checklist