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Planning Ahead - Your Go-To Guide to Packing for the Birth Centre

Did you know that only 4 out of 100 babies are born on their exact due date?! You never know when baby will arrive, so plan what you can ahead of time! Even though it will be a short stay, taking the time to plan and pack for the birth centre helps make sure that you, your partner, or support person and new baby have everything needed to feel comfortable while there.

Be ready to grab and go!

It’s a good idea to have your bag packed and ready to go a few weeks before your due date - your baby could surprise you and come earlier than you think! Typically, labour starts between 38 to 42 weeks (about 1 to 2 weeks before or after your due date). 

Packing for you

You don’t need much as your birth centre will provide many items you need. Take a housecoat, pajamas or other comfortable clothing, as well as cozy socks to keep your feet warm. You’ll also need 3 pairs of maternity underwear, 2 nursing bras, and loose-fitting or maternity clothes for going home. Moving around during labour can help move your baby along, so pack slippers or other comfortable shoes.

For toiletries, bring:

  • a toothbrush and toothpaste

  • deodorant

  • shampoo

  • unscented lotion

  • feminine pads for heavier flows

  • breast pads

  • a blood glucose monitor (if you use one)

Get in your comfort zone

Staying calm and focused can help you work with your body and manage your pain during labour.

You may find it helpful to make a list of ways to relax ahead of time, and pack the items that you might want to bring, such as:

  • your own pillows (use bright or patterned pillow cases so they don’t get mixed up with those the hospital provides)

  • a favorite picture (to help you focus)

  • an audio book, music, relaxation sounds, or something to read

  • a mobile device (remember to bring a charger)

  • a water bottle with your name written on it (staying hydrated is important!)

  • a tennis ball and unscented massage oils or lotions for massage

  • a Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) machine if you choose to use for pain relief (rent or buy one as they are not always available at birth centres)


You may not be able to leave to get food, so make sure your partner or support person has drinks and snacks for both of you. If you’re not bringing a cell phone, you’ll need coins for the payphone (yes, hospitals still have payphones!) and any phone numbers you may need.

Packing for your baby

Keep it simple: 1 or 2 receiving blankets, newborn diapers (cloth or disposable), a hat, 1 to 2 undershirts and sleepers, and clothes for going home. Look for clothes that are easy to put on and take off.

Your partner or support person

Your partner or support person also may need a few essential items to keep them comfortable during your labour:

  • change of clothes

  • comfortable footwear

  • bathing suit (to support you in the shower)

  • toiletries and other personal supplies

The fine print

Keep the following documents handy, so they’re easy to find when you arrive at the birth centre:

Prenatal Health Record (including a list of any medications you take)

Alberta Personal Health Card

Social Insurance Number

phone number of a relative or another contact person

your birth wishes (you can find a guide to this on

Once you’ve packed, make sure that you and your partner or support person both know where the bag is stored so that you can grab and go! If you plan on using a birth ball, keep it close to your bag, too! And don’t forget: now is the time to install your rear-facing car seat for baby!

Download the packing list for the birth centre from the Printables section of

The Healthy Parents, Healthy Children (HPHC) team is part of the larger Healthy Children and Families Team at Alberta Health Services. Visit or find them on Facebook. For questions or comments, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. 


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