When expecting a baby, there are many tasks to be completed and checked off before you become a parent. Your hospital bag is just one thing among many that need to be prepped.
Your hospital bag should be packed and ready to go weeks before your due date to prevent any surprises. Consider this article your hospital bag checklist, as we will outline all the necessities needed to prep you for your big day.
- When to Pack Your Hospital Bag?
- Hospital Bag Checklist for Mom
- Hospital Bag Checklist for Baby
- Hospital Bag for Partner or Support Person
- What NOT to Bring to the Hospital?
When to Pack Your Hospital Bag?
Most people recommend that your back your hospital bag at least 4-weeks before your due date. However, if you are expecting multiples or are at risk for pre-term labor, you should back your bag even sooner.
While the majority of the items in your labor hospital bag will be for mom, having a small “dad” hospital bag as well is a great idea!
It is suggested you keep your hospital bag by the door so you can grab it and go! Depending on the climate where you live, you may wish to keep your bag in the car; that way, if you head into labor while at work, you’ll be ready to go!
Hospital Bag Checklist for Mom
You may not realize how many hospital bag necessities there are, and you don’t want to be missing an essential item on the day of labor. There are also things to pack for the day or two after labor when you’ll still be in the hospital recovering.
- Photo Id
- Copy of Insurance Card
- Robe & Slippers
- Fuzzy Socks
- Lip Balm
- Outfit to go home in
- Newborn outfit
- Phone charger
- Book or Kindle
- Gums or Mint
- Breastfeeding pillow
- Nipple pads
- Nursing pads
The above list is just a starter list. In the upcoming sections, we will cover these items and more in-depth.
Documents & Cash
A printed copy of your birth plan is a must in your labor bag. Even if you have a copy saved electronically, it is wise to have an additional copy.
If you have one, your birth plan tells your medical team your preferences on different procedures, interventions, and pain management.
You likely carry your photo ID in your wallet but make a copy of the front and back and stick it in your delivery bag.
Like your photo ID, make a copy of the front and back of your insurance card and tuck it into your bag with your other important documents.
Most hospitals do their intake online, but if you have any forms that need to be filled out, make copies and keep one in your bag.
While most places accept cards, it is always wise to have some cash on hand. Cash is helpful for vending machines and small incidentals. Have $20, which includes several $1 bills.
Bring along a small bottle of your favorite shampoo, condition, and body wash. It will make that first shower post-baby much more enjoyable. You should also have a toothbrush, toothpaste, and face wash or facial wipes.
Pack some lotion in your labor bag. Foot and back massages with your favorite lotion can be quite a relief during a long labor.
Lip balm is essential for every maternity bag. No one wants dry, chapped lips when they are giving birth. Plus, the scent of your favorite balm is very relaxing.
Extra-Absorbent Maxi Pads
The hospital will likely provide you with a few pads but be sure to add some extra-absorbent maxi pads to your hospital packing list. Purchase some of the Perineal cold packs to alternate use with regular maxi pads.
Be sure to pack a headband or ponytail holder in your labor bag. It will help keep your hair out of your face during the more stressful parts of labor.
Fluffy, cozy socks will keep your feet warm. Hospital bedding can be a little sparse, so warm fuzzy socks can keep your feet comfy.
You will need slippers for turns around the maternity ward and trips to the bathroom. If your socks have grip soles, you may not need additional slippers. Hospital slippers tend to be flimsy.
You may find a bathrobe or maternity robe the most comfortable thing to wear pre-labor. You will be given a hospital gown, but a cozy robe or oversized sweatshirt to put over the top will make you feel cozier.
Comfortable Going-Home Outfit
Your “mom hospital bag” must contain a comfortable outfit to go home in. You will want loose-fitting pants with an elastic waist and a maternity top. If you know you are having a C-section, a lightweight dress may be most comfortable.
If it is warm enough, add flip-flops to your hospital bag list. If not, pack slip-on, flat shoes. You will not feel like tying shoes, and your feet might be swollen.
Reusable Water Bottle
Be sure to include a refillable water bottle on your hospital checklist. It may be easier for your partner to refill your water rather than rely on the nurses.
Snacks to ear during Labor
Labor can be a long and arduous process, so pack some healthy protein-fueled snacks. Unfortunately, you won’t be allowed to eat once the epidural has been administered. However, depending on your birth plan, that might take some time.
Snacks for After Delivery
You are going to be hungry after you deliver a baby. The hospital will offer you a meal, but you might want some extra snacks to tide you over. Unfortunately, it can sometimes be a while before you get your meal.
Book or Kindle
You could be in labor for hours, waiting to dilate. However, once you’ve received your epidural, you will have little to no discomfort until it gets close to delivery time. Bring a book or your kindle along to pass the time.
Earphones are one of the hospital bag essentials. You can listen to music or audiobooks to pass the time. Music can also help you focus as you experience more difficult contractions.
Baby Keepsake Book
Bring along your baby’s keepsake books so that you can record those first memories while they are still fresh. If you back a separate baby hospital bag, slip this item in there.
Long Cellphone Charging Cord
Your standard length cord won’t cut it. So when packing for the hospital, make sure you have an extra-long charging cord so it will reach you sitting in bed.
Tablet or Laptop
Be sure to bring along your tablet or laptop. Your Hospital TV may not have all the shows you feel like binge-watching while in labor.
Most of us take pictures on our phones these days but pack your camera in your labor hospital bag if you enjoy photography.
One of your hospital bag must-haves is a BlueTooth speaker. This way, you can play your delivery playlist and don’t need to worry about earbuds while in active labor.
When making your hospital bag checklist for mom, include a birth playlist. Pre-plan all your favorite music on your favorite music app and have it ready to go on demand!
Baby delivery is no joke, and you will get hot and sweaty! There was a heatwave when my first son was born, and no fans could be found at the hospital. Avoid my mistake and pack a portable fan.
Pre and Post Delivery
Extra Pairs of Underwear
Your pregnancy hospital bag must contain extra undies. Make sure they are large and comfy and ones you won’t care about if they are ruined. You could purchase disposable postpartum undies as well as a safeguard.
Now it is time to start wearing nursing bras! Pack a few into your hospital bag as you may experience some unexpected leaks until you get used to nursing and using nursing pads. The pullover style was my favorite.
Nursing pads are a must now. Even if you decide not to breastfeed, you will need to use nursing pads until your milk has dried up to prevent leaks.
Bring along lanolin nipple cream. Learning to breastfeed can create sore and cracked nipples as your baby learns to latch. Lanolin cream can prevent some of the soreness and redness.
A supportive nursing pillow is a must. You can keep this in the car until the baby arrives, but you will need it to start feeding your little one. The My Best Friend nursing pillow is what I used. The pocket on the front was handy for holding my chapstick and phone!
Matching Hospital Outfits for You and Baby
If you want something more comfortable than the hospital gown, purchase a labor gown. Baby Be Mine has matching sets so your little one can wear the same outfit for an adorable photo.
Postpartum Recovery Kit
The hospital will provide most of the items for you while you are in their care but purchasing this kit to have when you get home will be a lifesaver. The Frida Mom Post Partum Kit has everything you need to help heal and feel better.
Hospital Bag Checklist for Baby
Approved Infant Car Seat
Obviously, the car seat will not be in your bag, but it is something to put on the baby bag checklist. In addition, your car seat needs to be correctly installed before you can take your baby home. The CDC has resources to help you install the seat correctly.
Coming Home Outfit
You will want to have two different outfits in two different sizes since you won’t know your baby’s exact weight and size. A newborn outfit and a 0-3 month outfit are ideal.
Little heads need some warmth the first few days as they acclimate to the environment outside the womb. The hospital will provide you a newborn hat but feel free to bring your own to match their new outfit.
Newborns have jerky movements, and they are liable to scratch their faces until they get control of their body movements. Little mittens can protect them and you from scratches.
Part of your baby hospital outfit should be socks or botties. Your newborn’s body is used to a warm environment, so the warmer you can keep them the first few days, the better.
You may want a blanket for the car ride home. Babies should not wear coats or heavy clothing in their car seats. If the weather is chilly, you can tuck a warm blanket around them after they’ve been buckled in.
Pediatrician Contract Information
The final item on your baby hospital bag checklist should be your pediatrician’s contact information. Once your child is born, you will need to call and set up a newborn appointment.
Hospital Bag for Partner or Support Person
Snacks are essential to pack in hospital bags for fathers and partners. Mothers are not allowed to eat anything once the epidural has been administered, but snacks will prevent your support person from having to make frequent cafeteria trips.
It is wise to have some cash, in small bills, in your hospital bag. Cash will be handy for vending machines and other minor incidental purchases.
Reusable Water Bottle
Bringing along a reusable water bottle will save you money since you won’t have to buy expensive, disposable water bottles from the cafeteria.
Camera or Video Camera
Of all the things to pack in a hospital bag, don’t forget a camera! Even if you take pictures on your phone, you may wish to have a video recorder or separate camera to document this special event.
Long Cellphone Charging Cord
You will need a cord long enough to give you some freedom of movement. Purchase an extra-long cord so you will be able to stretch from the wall to the bed if needed.
Tablet or Laptop
Bring along your tablet or laptop so you can squeeze in some extra work or binge-watch some TV. You may have hours of waiting before anything exciting happens.
You will only need a bathing suit if your partner is planning a water birth. Pack an old one you don’t mind tossing out or purchase a cheap one for the birth.
A Change of Underwear
You might be spending a night or two at the hospital, so pack as if you were going on a weekend away. You may want to toss in some extra socks.
Pack a clean, fresh shirt or two. You want comfortable clothes, so a t-shirt or something else cozy is a good idea.
Toss a pair of pajamas into your bag in case you end up spending the night. Many maternity suites have a pull-out couch or reclining chair for partners to sleep on.
Pack a toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, body wash, deodorant, and any other personal needs for a stay overnight. If you shave daily, pack a razor and shave gel too.
Bring along some reading material to pass the time. You could also pack a kindle, so you have access to multiple books and magazines.
Gum, Mints, Lip Balm
Simple things like gum, mints, and lip balm can make you feel fresh. Chewing gum can also help with nervous energy.
A Travel Pillow
You may wish to nap or might be spending the night at the hospital. Pack a travel pillow for comfort. Consider an inflatable pillow, so it doesn’t take up space in your bag.
Even with many restrictions lifted, hospitals still require face masks. You also want to pack hand sanitizer and wipes to clean any surfaces. If you have been vaccinated, make a copy of your card and bring that as well.
What NOT to Bring to the Hospital?
You can pare down the list above to create a simple hospital bag checklist, or you may know of a few additional essentials you will need, for example, prescription medications, contact solution, extra glasses. However, there are some specific items you do not need to bring, nor should you bring along to the hospital.
The hospital will supply you with the diapers and need while you are there. So if you had these listed, you could remove them from your baby hospital bag checklist. You should probably pack some wipes, though, as not all hospitals supply them. Hospitals will supply you with disposable washcloths you can use, so the wipe decision is up to you.
Jewelry or other Valuables
You will likely have your phone, camera, and maybe a laptop but beyond those essentials, leave all other valuables at home. If you are rushed into an emergency c-section, they may remove all your jewelry before surgery, or your fingers may become so swollen it has to be cut off.
Too much Clothing
You only need to pack two outfits in your hospital baby bag. Pack a newborn size and a 0-3 month size outfit. While you and your baby are patients in the hospital, they will dress your baby in a gown or onesie so you won’t need personal clothes for them. In addition, you will likely be heading straight home from the hospital, so there is no need for extra clothing for traveling.
Clothing or Items You Don’t Want to be Ruined
Giving birth is a messy process, and you will be leaking fluids and blood for a few days, so don’t pack anything you don’t want to be ruined. Of course, you’ll be wearing maxi pads and nursing pads, but as any woman knows, pads leak; to be safe, leave the good clothing at home.
Some scents can be very soothing and relaxing, but you will knot be allowed to light a candle in the hospital room. If you have a home birth, that decision is up to you. Instead of candles, consider a small, portable oil diffuser and essential oils to help you relax.
What week should you pack your hospital bag?
Pack your bag no later than week 36. However, if you are expecting multiples or are at risk for preterm birth, you may wish to have it packed as soon as 32 weeks.
What should you pack in your hospital bag for labor?
Your birth plan, ID, insurance card, a headband or ponytail holder, lotion, lip balm, cozy socks, a bathrobe, a water bottle, snacks, toiletries, and entertainment like a book and a tablet.
What should you not pack in your hospital bag?
Diapers, jewelry or other valuables, extra baby clothing (stick to one or two outfits), candles, and clothing you do not want to be ruined.
What do I pack in my partner’s hospital bag?
Your partner should pack a change of clothes, a travel pillow, toiletries, and entertainment for themselves such as a book or laptop. In addition, they should have cash, a camera, and an extra-long charging cable.
What do partners do during labor?
They are there to support as the mom gives birth. They can give massages, play games, talk, and when the time comes to push, they should help out in whatever way the medical team and mom need.
What should partners bring to the hospital for birth?
They may wish to have a bathing suit if it is water birth. Otherwise, they will want snacks, a water bottle, gum or mints, a camera, and their partner’s favorite massage oils or lotions.
Do I need to bring a pacifier to the hospital?
Yes. Most hospitals will not supply one. It is recommended you don’t give a baby a pacifier until they are 4-weeks old because it can interfere with learning how to latch onto the nipple.
Do I need to bring a towel to the hospital?
No, the hospital will provide you with a towel when you shower. However, they will be like hotel towels, so if you prefer your own, by all means, bring one.
How many maternity pads do I need for the hospital?
The hospital should provide you with maternity pads while you are there, but you might need some extra so bring a large pack as you will need to change your pad every couple hours the first 24-48 hours after birth.
What should I wear during labor and delivery?
The hospital will provide you with a hospital gown. If you’d rather bring your own, you can purchase maternity gowns online. Keep in mind whatever you wear will be ruined.
Does the hospital give you a peri bottle?
Yes. The hospital will provide you with a peri bottle to use each time you go to the restroom after birth. In addition, they will likely provide you a clean bottle set and supplies to take home as well.