Hospital Bag List: What to pack in your hospital bag
Knowing exactly what to put in your labor hospital bag is tougher than it sounds, right? You don’t want to OVER pack and look like you’re moving in, but if you miss something, it could leave you without items you really need. (And trust me, there are some things you’re REALLY gonna need.) So, you googled “what to pack in hospital bag” and found your way to my Hospital Bag Checklist for Mom and Baby.
I promise not to let you down, Mama.
These are my BEST pro mama tips for what to pack in a hospital bag when preparing to give birth. From check in to check out, I’ve got you covered.
This post may contain affiliate links. See my disclosure for details.
Preparing for Labor and Delivery
Labor is a wonderful and unpredictable thing. You never know if it will come early, late, naturally, emergently, or surprise you at the last possible second before you have to be induced (like my first.) So, it’s definitely best to be prepared for anything.
First and foremost, prepare for HOW to go through labor and delivery.
If you haven’t yet, take a high-quality prenatal class. This one is excellent and completely online.
Next, prepare your LIFE for once Baby arrives.
I have a really popular post that has helped a lot of mamas in preparing some last minute must-do’s before bringing home baby. I highly recommend checking the majority of these off your third trimester to-do list as soon as possible.
Once you’ve done both of those important tasks, it’s safe to move on to what to pack in your hospital bag. Try to do your packing by 35 weeks pregnant, to be on the safe side.
Hospital Bag Essentials
First things first…
You probably need more than one duffel bag to cover your needs while you’re at the hospital. BUT you don’t want to overdo it. The following bags should be all you need (and you should consolidate them as much as possible.)Hospital Bag for mom – I know, DUH. But what’s the best KIND of hospital bag for labor? I really like using my medium rolling suitcase (you know, like this kind.) It’s big enough to fit everything I need, so I’m not juggling a bunch of bags. It has a lot of compartments so I can easily access what I need. And it ROLLS, so it’s easy to maneuver in and out of the hospital doors, lobby, waiting room, delivery room, bathroom, mother/baby unit, etc.
Toiletry Bag – Have a smallish bag that you can easily remove from your suitcase and carry into the bathroom with you. DON’T dump all your shower items in the outer pocket of your hospital bag. You want something you can grab quickly and keep organized. This kind hangs, which is super helpful.
Labor Kit – This is MY BEST TIP for pregnant women preparing for labor. Get a small caddy bag (something like this) to put on the table or tray next to your hospital bed. Fill it with everything you plan to use for pain relief, encouragement, comfort, etc. Set it up before things really get started. My labor went from barely anything to I CAN’T EVEN SEE straight in an unexpected 2 seconds. I was so glad this bag was right there and ready. (Keep reading for exactly WHAT to put inside.)
Hospital Bag for Dad – Obviously, your husband or labor partner will need some supplies too. If possible, have their things (or even their entire bag) packed inside of your suitcase to cut down on having so much to carry.
Baby Hospital Bag – I like to use a small personalized tote bag for my newborn’s things. It keeps everything together and is a special keepsake. You honestly don’t need just a ton for Baby, so it doesn’t need to be very big. I pack the tote bag inside of my maternity hospital bag as well.
Snack Bag – You may want to bring some snacks in a small bag as well. In both of my births, they kept me overnight before labor even began. Just in case, have some of your favorite snacks for if you start feeling anxious (or just hungry) before things get started. Also, depending on how long you’re in labor, Dad may need some refueling (Mom usually can’t. No fair, I know.)
Then there’s after Baby arrives. I was STARVING as soon as my babies were born. My husband had snacks ready while I waited for the next meal to be served. Also, snacks at the hospital are pricey and the selection can be lame, so bringing your own may be a good thrifty option.
NOW…what to pack IN your hospital bag…
Hospital Bag for Mom
For your maternity hospital bag you want some basics, some necessities, and some comfort items. This ought to check everything you need off of your hospital bag checklist for mom.
ID and Insurance Card – Keep this somewhere secure, but easily accessible. I don’t really think it’s necessary to bring your purse. Just one more bag to juggle.
Birth Plan – I think one of the biggest mistakes a pregnant mama can make is clinging too tightly to her birth plan. BUT I think having a general outline of your overall desires for your labor experience is a good idea. It can also be really helpful for your birth partner. Keep your birth plan accessible and lay it on the table next to your bed when you’re getting settled.
Phone/Camera and Chargers – Keep your phone charged and your memory freed up! After you give birth you may want to ask a nurse to snap some pictures of the moments just after Baby arrives. Heck, my nurses just grabbed my phone and took some shots without asking…but I was so thankful for that later. Keep your phone next to your bed so that someone can capture those sweet special first minutes of life.
Toiletries – (Again, I’d keep these in a small toiletry bag.) Shampoo, conditioner, comb, body wash, toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, moisturizer, razor, tweezers, makeup removing cloths, etc. Basically anything you need to make you feel refreshed, clean and like YOU.
Zipper Sports Bra or Delivery Gown – I put A LOT of thought into what I wanted to labor and birth in. I didn’t want to go nude, but a robe seemed hot and a labor gown would be ripped off immediately after delivery to do skin to skin. I considered a nursing bra, but I didn’t like the idea of my newborn laying on the band. I used a regular sports bra in my first birth and it got all tangled in my iv tubes when I tried to take it off. Then, it occurred to me: the perfect labor and delivery solution! You’re covered during labor, then can easily disrobe for skin to skin and breastfeeding. It’s breathable and helps you feel ready to WORK. It also works as a comfy bra for breastfeeding around the house later on too.
Put this on RIGHT when you get to the hospital! Again, you just can’t predict how quickly labor will go. And once you reach a certain point, there’s no stopping to change clothes.
Socks – Many women say their feet get cold during labor. These labor socks are super cute and fun. Why not, right?
Water Bottle – Drink as much water as they’ll allow before/during labor. Then drink A TON after to prepare for breastfeeding.
This is MY FAVORITE water bottle. It’s honestly amazing for new moms because it’s non-plastic, insulated, big (but not heavy,) and super easy to loop one finger around while juggling a diaper bag, a newborn, your phone, wallet, keys, and the dirty diaper you need to toss in the trash on the way out.
THIS Breastfeeding Pillow – I don’t know why the Boppy pillow is the more popular pillow for new moms. This one works for everything you need and is just better. I labored leaning against this pillow twice and it’s amazing. It was the ONLY thing that kept me comfortable in my third trimester too. It’s honestly the best pregnancy pillow/breastfeeding pillow ever. I loved having it to breastfeed while me and Baby got used to each other at the hospital, then later at home. It’s great for doing tummy time too. I rave about it more here.
Slippers – For wearing around hospital room while laboring and walking the hall during recovery. I recommend either a comfortable slip-on shoe or slippers you can easily get on, but also won’t flop off your feet while you walk during labor…because you don’t need something annoying you right then.
Makeup – I’m all about forgetting the makeup during birth. I’d much rather see a photo of an exhausted, sweaty, splotchy, REAL-looking mama moments after she gives birth. BUT I can also see the benefit of being able to touch up a little on Day 2 so you feel human and can enjoy your pictures a little more when you’re looking back. Use waterproof in case of tears!
Again, be real and do you, but if you’re sitting around waiting to pop during your last few days of pregnancy, consider painting your toenails a fun color and shaving your legs. (I realize that’s actually asking a lot at this point…maybe hubby can help.) Feeling somewhat put-together during this experience will serve you well.
Keep all the following items in a little bag (like this) next to your bed for immediate access.
Hair ties, Bobby Pins, Headband – Your hair might look cray…and that’s ok. But you’re going to want it up or back out of your face and off of your neck.
Have your labor hairstyle chosen beforehand. If you have time before labor gets intense, do your hair so that it’s comfortable and out of the way.
Lip Balm – This is one thing I didn’t think I’d need, but totally did. I’m not an avid lip balm user, but having this during labor was great. All those breathing exercises really dry out your lips. I really like this kind because the taste/scent wasn’t nauseating for me.
Lotion – If your birth partner will be massaging you at all during labor (which I highly recommend!) you’ll want some nice, lightweight lotion with a fresh light scent. I LOVE this kind and it’s great for babies too.
Essential oils – These are LIFE SAVERS during labor. At one point, I was so nauseous that I couldn’t open my eyes. Out of nowhere, my husband started massaging my hands with lotion and lavender oil (I like this brand because it’s inexpensive and also safe for little ones.) It was sooooo relaxing. It was the best I felt in an hour and gave me some much needed relief before the big finale. There are some amazing ways to use essential oils during labor. This list is great.
Wash Cloth – Another thing my hubby did to comfort me during some of the roughest parts for labor was bringing me a cool wet cloth to put on my head. This was AMAZING in the moment. Next time, I think I’ll bring my own so that it’s a little softer and he doesn’t have to search for one in the heated moment.
Handheld Fan – When things get real, it gets HOT. A little fan and the illusion of some fresh air will make all the difference.
Affirmation Cards, Scripture, ect. – If you’re using any kind of encouragement in your birth plan, keep these in your labor kit next to your bed. It’d be super sad to forget you have them or have to dig for them when you need them.
Consider having a birth plan cheat sheet for your birth partner. If Hubby is overwhelmed or just forgets the plan, it’ll be good for him to have that reminder to massage your back, turn on your music, read you your birth affirmations, pray with you, etc. You don’t really want to have to ask for it and you may not even know what you need in the moment.
Thank you notes and pens – There’s a good chance you’ll bond with a nurse or two during this life-changing experience. I still remember my nurses’ names and faces perfectly. I remember the words they said to get me through some of my fear and pain. Having a couple note cards and pens with you will give you the opportunity to thank them. (Sidenote: These are my FAVORITE pens for stuff like this!)
Hospital Bag Checklist for AFTER Delivery
When making your hospital bag checklist for labor, don’t forget to include postpartum necessities for just after delivery.
Pads – The hospital will provide you with some giant pads/net panties. They sound awful, but they’re actually kinda great. But some women prefer to use their own pads and you’re going to need them once you get home anyway, so pack a few in case you find them more comfortable. I always recommend this kind for postpartum bleeding.
Extra Undies – I also always suggest new mamas have some too-large cheap granny panties (like these) ready for postpartum. You can toss them if they get ruined and they’ll fit more comfortably than your pre-pregnancy undies. Pack 1-2 pair in your hospital bag for going home.
Postpartum Spray – Some hospitals provide a numbing spray or foam for pain relief “down there.” Mine was an expensive, medicine-based product that I didn’t mind using at the hospital, but once I got home I much preferred using something more natural that I could use liberally. This is a very popular mommy spray for postpartum care. Pack it in your hospital bag just in case nothing is provided, then use it (a lot) once you’re home.
Spray some on your tender areas just before you’re discharged. The ride home could be a bit uncomfortable for you, so this will help.
Breast pads – Breast milk usually doesn’t come in for several days after delivery, but you may need to stay longer than expected OR you could get your milk the DAY AFTER delivery like I did. Hello! Wasn’t expecting that. Pack a few breast pads (I like this brand) because it can be a bit messy before things regulate.
Nipple butter – Breastfeeding might hurt a bit when you get started as your body adjusts. (Hospitals usually have lactation consultants available to come in and see how you’re doing. I highly recommend doing this if your insurance covers it! It can be really helpful.) Too much pain is probably a sign that something isn’t clicking quite right at first. But even if things are perfect, it’s a good idea to have some nipple butter ready to soothe any pain you might experience. Definitely pack some in your hospital bag. This kind is fantastic.
There is an inexpensive online course called The Ultimate Breastfeeding Class by Milkology that is wonderful. It’s so great for preparing for some of the unknowns of Breastfeeding and she even offers a pumping course for moms planning to return to work after Baby is born.
Loose night gown – Pack a comfy nightgown that you can easily breastfeed in to wear during recovery at the hospital. I liked having something prettier than a hospital gown, but that felt like wearing nothing because I was sore. Something like this. I also felt like I could bond with my baby more in this and do extra skin to skin.Robe – Bring a lightweight robe to wear over your nightgown. One, you might get cold. Two, I felt super awkward when my in-laws came to meet Baby and I was half-naked. This gorgeous pregnancy/breastfeeding robe would be perfect.
Going Home Outfit – Pack a long dress or VERY loose leggings with a loose top for going home. Something that puts little to no pressure on your midsection.
Your tummy will be a little tender and an emergency C-section is never outside the realm of possibility. Make sure the top is breastfeeding friendly (button down or can easily pull aside.) I recommend planning an outfit that will go with the shoes you will wear to the hospital so you don’t have to bring extra.
Socks – Don’t forget to pack a couple pair of extra socks for recovery, especially if you prefer to sleep in socks. You probably won’t want to wear your labor socks after they get “messy.” Go with loose socks because your feet might swell a bit after giving birth.
Flip flops – The Mother/Baby rooms in our hospital had tiny tile showers that weren’t exactly luxurious. You might want to wear plastic sandals in the shower to protect your feet. But even if it’s gross, showering after giving birth is a must and you’ll feel like a new woman! (It also feels super weird to be so much lighter and less ROUND when you’re washing up!)
Nursing bra – I didn’t care to wear a bra in the hospital after giving birth, but you might want one on when visitors come and for your drive home. These are my two favorite nursing bras: for every day and for around the house.
Sound Machine App – After Baby is born, you’re going to need SLEEP. All of you. You can request minimum visits from nurses so that you can get some extra rest, but it can be super annoying to hear all the goings-on through the paper-thin hospital walls ALL NIGHT LONG. Think newborn babies screaming, new moms stressing, night shift nurses working, etc. Using this sound machine app will save you. We like the “wind in trees” setting.
OR if you haven’t gotten Baby a sound machine yet (DO) this portable one will fit easily in your hospital bag and work perfectly in the nursery, on trips, etc. We have two.
Hospital Bag for Baby
Now on to what to pack in hospital bag for baby. Like I mentioned earlier, I think this is something pregnant moms-to-be can stress over too much. It’s far more important to prepare everything baby needs AT HOME (see my tips on exactly how to do that.)
For your baby hospital bag you can actually keep it fairly simple. But I do think there are a few must-haves you don’t want to leave out.
Here’s a simple, but complete hospital bag checklist for baby:
Onesies – Bring 2-3 simple (newborn size) onesies for Baby to wear during after birth. Honestly, babies are swaddled A LOT during the first few days, so it’s unlikely you’ll be doing a lot of wardrobe changes.
If you happen to have a preemie size onesie, toss it in the hospital bag for baby too, just in case you end up in labor early or Baby is just born teeny tiny.
Soft blanket – The hospital will have a newborn swaddle blanket, but I like to also have a soft blankey to lay baby and to cover him up while doing skin to skin. I also used it to cover my babies’ laps on the drive home.Nail Clippers – My second baby was born with some claws. I literally had to clip his nails the night he was born. These are THE BEST baby nail clippers you can use. You get so much more control so it’s not quite so terrifying to clip those tiny newborn nails (which are usually useless anyway.) Bring them with you just in case your baby has really long nails at birth.
Going Home outfit – This one is fun! Choose a cute little outfit (newborn size) to dress Baby in for the journey home. You’ll be taking a lot of pictures that day!
Socks – Tiny baby socks are a must! 2-3 pair should be plenty and don’t be surprised if they slip right off. My babies’ socks never stay on!
Car seat – The staff at the hospital has to check to make sure your car seat is up to safety standards before you leave. If it’s a carrier, you can leave the base locked into the car and strap Baby into the carrier before you leave your room. We use this convertible car seat, so I held Baby in the wheelchair and the nurse watched us strap him in down at the car.
Hospital Bag Checklist for Dad
Let’s be honest. Giving birth is mostly about mama and baby. BUT Daddy matters too! He helped make that little one and hopefully will be a major part of helping you during labor. He will need a few comfort items and necessities as well. These are also good ideas for any birth partner to pack in their hospital bag.
Water bottle – My hospital provided me with a cup for rehydrating after birth, but of course my husband needed water too, especially during the long labor hours. Make sure he brings a good insulated water bottle and keeps it filled.
Snacks – It’s easy to pack the snack bag with your favorites for after baby is born, but make sure Hubby has a few of his own things in there too. He’s gonna need refueling during labor and his meals might be delayed if Baby is fussy or you just need to sleep. Have him pack a few healthy snacks and a couple treats.
Cash and Coins – There may be times when you need cash or change for vending machines, coffee, and the cafeteria. Have a bit on-hand just in case.
Phone and Charger – Again, make sure his memory is freed up and his phone is charged. Lots of pictures and phone calls will be happening!
Pillow – The hospital may provide one, but it will likely be thin. Trust me, you want your support person to be as rested as possible. He may also want to bring a small throw blanket. The hospital may only provide a light sheet and it could get cold.
If you’re worried about carrying in too much stuff (especially pillows and bulky items,) just leave them in the car. Your husband can always run out and grab what you need and you won’t have to worry about going without.
Toiletries – He will just need the basics. Shampoo, soap, razor, deodorant, etc.
Tylenol and Pepto – The last thing anybody needs is the birth partner not being at the top of their game because of a tension headache or bad reaction to the hospital cafeteria food. Be prepared. (The gift shop probably has these, but you know they overcharge like whoa.)
Comfortable clothes and shoes – Make sure he packs something comfortable for supporting you during labor and the first day with Baby. There’s a good chance he will need to nap at random times and wearing sweatpants or shorts will make that more comfortable. Good shoes are also a must for all those errand runs to the car and cafeteria.
Extra Clothes – Have Dad pack one extra outfit, just in case Baby “messes” all over him or in case of staying an extra night if your doctor sees fit.
Socks & Undies – 2-3 pairs should do it.
PJ’s – My husband just slept in sweatpants and a t-shirt. Remind him that nurses will be in and out and you never know how early the day will start, so wearing something that counts as day clothing may be a smart idea.
Slippers – Slippers or shoes he can easily slip on for errands or walking in the hallway.
Going home clothes – One outfit for going home as a family of 3!
Contact Numbers – Always be prepared. Have a list of contacts for who you want Dad to contact just in case of any emergencies with you or Baby. (Make sure he knows this is his job so you don’t have to worry.)
You may also want to leave him a list of who to text after Baby arrives, especially if family and friends are anxiously waiting to hear.
It is NOT your job to update the world the moment you have your baby. Be IN the moment and enjoy it! Also, I was totally out of it for a while and texting a bunch of people was not a priority while recovering, learning to breastfeed, and trying to SLEEP. Feel the freedom to turn off your phone because it will probably be blowing up with congratulations messages. Take your time getting back to people. They will understand!
AFTER your Hospital Bag Checklist is Complete
Ok, that wasn’t so bad was it? Figuring out what I should pack for the hospital for baby (and myself) was way more stressful than it needed to be. Hopefully you won’t have to worry about it so much. This is a wonderful time in your life! My hope is to take as much of the stress out of it as possible.
Between preparing for baby, preparing for breastfeeding, preparing for postpartum, and oh yeah, preparing to GIVE BIRTH, you have enough to worry about! What to pack in your hospital bag for labor shouldn’t be one of those things!
And to help ease the worry about all of your pre-baby needs, I have some excellent resources for you.
3rd Trimester Resources:
These are GREAT resources to help you prepare for labor and life with a baby:
Prepare for Labor and Delivery:
Labor Class – an excellent online course that covers everything you’ll need to know.
Prepare for Breastfeeding:
Breastfeeding Course – an affordable and thorough breastfeeding prep course.
Prepare for Postpartum:
Prepare for Postpartum – my post on preparing for postpartum recovery while you’re still pregnant.
Prepare for life with a Newborn:
Prepare for Baby – my post on the last minute things you should do to prep for bringing home Baby.
Practical Baby Items – my post on the practical baby stuff to buy before birth (aka: what you probably won’t get at your baby shower.)
Completing Your Hospital List (Check!)
Ok Mama, remember, you got this! If you ever need a thing, please reach out. I LOVE helping new moms and I’m always around. Now go pack that hospital bag!
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