I had no idea what to pack in a hospital bag for labor and delivery. Especially if you are a first-time mom or have had a sizeable gap between kids. If you’ve found yourself on this page, you are not alone. But, you are in good hands. Now that I’ve gone through this myself, during a pandemic even, I’ve learned the hard way what items you might want with you.
Create Your Own Comfort
Of course, as you are reading this list, please keep in mind that everyone has different levels of comfort. My suggestion is to pack whatever you might need or want at the hospital during your stay to feel the most comfortable. I am of the belief that it’s better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.
Given that I gave birth during the pandemic, my husband wasn’t able to leave to get anything I realized I needed. Honestly, you probably won’t want your partner to leave you while you are in labor. And I wouldn’t be surprised if they had a hard time tearing themselves away from that little bundle of joy once you give birth. It’s much easier to plan for what you might need and not need to leave for anything else.
Prepare for More than the Hospital
Preparing your hospital bag in advance can help prevent any last-minute scrambling or missing items once you arrive at the hospital. It can also help to ease anxiety! By checking another item off of your To-Do list, you will feel more prepared and be able to focus on other important tasks, like preparing for The Postpartum Period and your Postpartum Care Items.
Knowing what to pack in your hospital bag for labor can be challenging! I have created a list of the essential items to make it easier for you. There is also a Minimalist Hospital Bag post if that feels more like you. All of these items have been added to my Amazon Storefront’s Hospital Bag List.
When to Pack Your Hospital Bag
Feel free to pack as early as you want, I didn’t pack my bag until I was 38 weeks but there was no real reason to believe that I’d be giving birth any earlier than my expected due date. I’m also known for procrastinating… So feel free to pack whenever it feels best for you! In fact, packing and researching what to pack in your hospital bag for labor and delivery is a part of the nesting process.
When preparing my bag, I kept my checklist near my hospital bag at the door. I kept track of items that I wasn’t going to pack until I was sure I’d be heading to the hospital soon, such as my toothbrush or contact case. Most births are not as you see in the movies, where you are rushing out of the door without a moment to spare. While this is possible, it is not likely in normal and healthy births. Plus, it may give you something to do while in early labor!
What to Pack in Your Hospital Bag
My first recommendation is to check with your hospital to see what they provide and compare it to this list. I have created a Free Hospital Bag Checklist that should be offered to you in a pop-up on this page. If you do not see it, please contact me and I will happily email you my PDF checklist.
Most hospitals will provide a fair amount of postpartum essentials. Keep in mind that some of the ones listed below might be good to pack if you have a strong preference (such as my personal favorite – adult diapers over the mesh ones that hospitals usually provide). You can find these on my list of Postpartum Care Must-Have Items.
Regardless of what you decide to pack for postpartum, pack a small empty bag and take home all of the supplies that you are provided at the hospital. And ask for more before you leave. These will all come in handy when you are recovering at home!
- ID, Insurance Card, and any other necessary hospital paperwork
- Birth plan (if you have one)
- Labor and Delivery Gown
Keep in mind that birth is messy. If you don’t want to use a hospital gown, make sure you choose one that you wouldn’t mind getting messy.
- Nursing Bras
I live and sleep in this one. (use my coupon code AMB-breazieboo to receive $10 off of your first purchase)
- Nursing Robe/Gown
- Disposable undies (in case you don’t like the ones provided)
- Slippers or grippy socks
- Nipple cream if you are breastfeeding. The hospital ran out of lanolin and I was super grateful I had packed this.
- Nipple pads your tender nips will thank me later.
- Soothing Gel Pads for Breastfeeding again… they will thank me later. These are a very important part of the ‘breastfeeding kit’ that I prepared for myself. You can see that full list on Everything You Should Know About Breastfeeding.
- Chapstick Trust me, you’ll want this during labor. This one is my absolute favorite chapstick, it feels so luxurious.
- Makeup Remover Towel This one is my favorite! Reusable, better for your face and better for the environment!
- Scrunchies/Headbands/Hair ties
- 2 pregnancy-sized outfits (Spoiler alert: you won’t be fitting into pre-pregnancy clothes immediately!)
- Makeup (if you plan on using it or taking any pictures)
- Skincare products
- Prenatal Vitamins (and any other supplements or medications you are taking)
- Bellyband This is great for recovery after birth.
- Peri bottle I very much preferred this one to the one provided by the hospital. This one is angled and easier to use.
- Witch hazel wipes These may be provided – check with your hospital.
- Donut Cushion to sit on for the drive home (trust me on this!)
For Both Parents
- Pajamas (2 sets)
- Pillow and pillowcase that you are not attached to – birth is messy. Don’t ruin your favorite pillow or the only matching pillowcase you have for your bedsheets.
- Travel-sized toiletries
- Face wipes (I preferred wipes over a facewash to minimize effort)
- Shampoo/conditioner (or just dry shampoo if you’re like me!)
- Body Wash
- Extra-long phone cord because hospital outlets are in random places.
- Laundry or plastic bags for dirty clothes
- Camera/Camera bag
- Shower flip flops/sandals
- Snacks – Seriously, pack all of the snacks. For energy and nourishment. I was insatiable after birth. And don’t forget to pack some for your birth partner too! Here is a list of Good (and Healthy!) Snacks for your Hospital Bag. Having electrolytes, protein, and maybe a little caffeine were top priorities for me.
- Cooler bag with icepacks. Make sure you ask your provider if there is a fridge provided.
- Refillable water bottle
- Aromatherapy Oil (I chose a lavender roll-on version) – it helped with my anxiety and just in general during labor.
- Portable speaker (charged!) if you plan on playing music to either pump you up or keep you relaxed and focused.
- Entertainment for long labors – we chose to bring cards and our Nintendo Switch. Although phones can be entertaining enough usually.
- Massaging Tools for labor. A tennis ball is great and cheap!
For Your Birth Partner
- Bonding t-shirt like this one in the photo with my husband (because skin-to-skin contact for dads and partners is important too!) We picked a specific shirt for him to have skin-to-skin bonding that way he didn’t have to take off his entire shirt while nurses were in and out of the room. They all commented on how awesome it was!
- 2 outfits
For Your Baby
- Nursing Pillow and Cover
- Breast pump and supplies
- 2 swaddles
- Sleeping outfit
- Mittens (to keep your baby from scratching themselves)
- Nail Clippers This is the one item that I did not anticipate and wish we had packed. The hospital did not provide any service to cut our baby’s nails and I was surprised by how long his nails were after birth!
- Coming home outfit
- Picture outfit because who doesn’t want a sweet little newborn photo?
- Extra outfits in different sizes – you never know what size your baby will need. Some fit into newborn sizes just fine and some need 0-3 month clothing.
- Car seat (with the base already installed in the car)
- Letterboard for pictures
- Diaper bag (filled with the essentials!)
You’ve Got a Friend in Me
Need more love?
Check out these other helpful articles:
- Good (and Healthy!) Snacks for your Hospital Bag
- Postpartum Care Must-Have Items
- Becoming a Mother | Pregnancy, Labor, and Delivery
- Newborn Essentials
- Body Acceptance During Pregnancy
Disclaimer: I only recommend products that I truly love and use. With that being said, this blog post contains affiliate links. At no additional cost to you, these links allow me to receive a small commission to continue providing free content to my readers. I am grateful for your support!