Here's what you'll need to pack for labor and after—and what you don't—in your hospital bag.
Your due date is approaching, and you know it’s time to pack your hospital bag. If you’re not sure where to start, here are some ideas.
When to Pack Your Hospital Bag
Ideally, you should have your bag ready to go (besides last-minute items like your toothbrush) by 36 weeks or 37 weeks pregnant, just in case you go into labor before your due date.
Some items are essential (you’ll need a car seat, for example); others will make you feel comfy and remind you of home.
Here’s an extensive list of everything you may want or need with you in the hospital.
What to Pack in Hospital Bag for Mom
First pack your hospital bag for yourself.
Your birth plan. Print a few copies—one for your chart, some for your labor nurse(s) and perhaps another to tape up in your hospital room. It’s a good idea to highlight some key points for quick reference.
A robe. A comfortable robe is one of the best postpartum clothing items out there.
Toiletries. Don’t forget these! You’ll want your hair brush, regular or dry shampoo, toothbrush and toothpaste, deodorant, lip balm, extra hair ties and face wipes (in case you’re not up to showering right away). Remember extra contacts and/or glasses, if you wear them.
Comfortable clothes. If you plan on breastfeeding after delivery, pack a nursing bra or tank in your bag. Pair your tank top with a soft, loose pant like joggers or lightweight sleep pants. If you plan on laboring in water at any point, pack a dark-colored sports bra or a bathing suit top. For footwear, slipper socks are great for keeping cozy. Bring slip-on shoes like Birkenstocks, Crocs or flip-flops for going home. Your feet might be swollen from IV fluids (and hey, pregnancy), so you’ll be thankful for shoes you can easily slip on.
Drinks. Pack a reusable water bottle and, if you want something more than water, an electrolyte drink, like Gatorade or coconut water.
An extra-long cell phone charging cord. Hospital beds are notoriously far away from an electrical outlet, and you’ll want a fully charged phone for all the pictures you are about to take of your new baby and video chatting with excited friends and family.
Bath towel. As it turns out, hospital towels are the exact opposite of luxurious hotel towels—thin, scratchy and entirely too small. You may find yourself happy that you brought a towel from home for your first post-delivery shower.
Adult diapers. The hospital will hook you up with pads and those mesh underwear, but adult diapers, like Depends, are more comfortable and secure.
Portable bluetooth speaker and Spotify playlist. Playing music during labor can be an asset for some. If you make a playlist, add a lot of songs to it—labor can last 24-plus straight hours, and you don’t want to listen to the same 10 songs over and over…and over the entire time. Though you may find you just want silence!
What to Pack in Hospital Bag for Baby
After your hospital bag has everything for you, then move on to the essentials for baby.
A car seat. If you’re driving home, this is non-negotiable—they won’t let you take your baby home from the hospital without a car seat, and it should be already installed.
A going-home outfit. Pack two different outfits in different sizes because you don’t know how big or small your baby will be! Aim for one outfit in newborn size and one 0-3 months. Don’t forget hats and/or socks, if weather appropriate.
Your pediatrician’s contact information. The doctors and nurses will ask you for this information several times, so it’s good to have it handy. Include the email or fax number for the pediatrician’s office so they can easily forward your baby’s medical records.
Bottles, if you’re using. If you plan to bottle-feed from the get go, pack at least two for the hospital. If you plan to formula feed, pack some of your preferred brand, as well, though the hospital will most likely have samples for you.
Do not bring diapers or wipes! The hospital has all the diapers and wipes you’ll need.
What Your Partner or Support Person Should Pack
If you have a partner or support person attending the birth and staying in the hospital or birthing center with you, remind them to pack some things as well. In addition to clothes and toiletries (partners want to brush their teeth too!), here are some things to bring.
Lots of snacks! Try to pack something from each of these categories: salty (like pretzels or goldfish crackers), sweet (such as hard candies, M&M’s or gummy bears), protein (think beef jerky or protein bars) and healthy/fresh (dried fruit or carrot sticks, for example). The laboring parent will appreciate these post-birth too. During Covid-19, most hospitals aren’t allowing people to leave and come back, so the snacks you bring will be extra important! Also look into restaurants nearby that deliver. (Check with your hospital or birthing center for their specific guidelines.) And bring a reusable water bottle.
Book/iPad/laptop/headphones & general entertainment. Download a few new podcasts to listen to in case there is some down time.
A lightweight sleeping bag and pillow. Hospital sheets and pillows can be scratchy and thin.
Once you pack your bag, you’ll be all set to head to the hospital when baby is ready to come.