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29 Essential Items to Pack in Your Hospital Bag

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You’re getting ready for baby’s big debut, but you’re wondering what essential items to pack in your hospital bag. Don’t forget your support person will also need a hospital bag. And the baby will need one as well. It’s going to feel like you’re packing as much as a vacation (just without the relaxation). Don’t worry, we have a checklist for you to keep it all straight.

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When should you pack your hospital bag?

A typical pregnancy lasts 40 weeks, so somewhere between 35-37 weeks is ideal. It gives you enough time to gather the essentials, if you still need to purchase them, and you’re not running the risk of waiting until you’re in labor and throwing a bag together. Plus, it gives you an easy task while waddling through your third trimester. I would suggest helping your support person with their bag as well. Can’t be too overprepared in this situation.

What essential items do you pack in your hospital bag?

Mom’s Hospital Bag

essential items to pack in your hospital bag

ID and Insurance Card

I recommend getting a small wristlet to keep your ID and insurance card in, so it doesn’t get lost at the hospital. This one is nice because you can easily secure it in the bag.

woman writing in journal
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Birth Plan

Make 3-4 copies of your birth plan. Give one to the nurse, so she can put it in your file. You can also give one to the doctor. Keep one within reach and make your support person aware of your wishes. Once things get going, you may need someone to advocate for you, so they should know how you want things done. Keep one copy in your bag, as a backup.

essential items to pack in your hospital bag

Delivery Gown

Gone are the days you have to deliver your baby wearing a hospital gown. You absolutely can, if you wish. (I did because I didn’t want to worry about my own clothes would look like after.)  But you can choose to wear you own clothes or none at all (something to think about when you write your birth plan). If you do choose to wear your own clothes, I suggest something soft, loose, and dark colored. This delivery gown is perfect, as it has snaps in the back for an epidural, snaps at the shoulder for skin-to-skin and breastfeeding, and a loose front flap for monitoring, exams and delivery.

essential items to pack in your hospital bag

Robe

Also gone are the days when you spend your whole hospital stay laboring in bed. Unless you or the baby need monitored, you will most like be allowed to walk the hallways, so you’ll want a comfy robe for some privacy, especially if you choose to wear the hospital gown (they are not made for pregnant bellies). A robe is also nice to have once the visitors start making their way to see the baby. And you can get one to match your delivery gown!

essential items to pack in your hospital bag
essential items to pack in your hospital bag

Slippers or Flip Flops

Again, if you plan on walking the hallways during labor, you’ll want some slippers you can easily slide on and off. Flip flops are great when using the bathroom or if you want to wear them in the shower.

essential items to pack in your hospital bag

Non-Slip Socks

Non-slip socks are also great for walking around in the hospital, but I wore mine throughout labor and delivery. It was my comfort item, as I always wear socks. I suggest getting a dark-colored pair, if you plan on wearing during delivery.

essential items to pack in your hospital bag

Front Close Sports Bra

I don’t do anything without a bra. Childbirth was no different. (There is a lot of sweating, as you can imagine.) If you’re a little more well-endowed and want some support or if you’re just not comfortable without one, I suggest getting a front close sports bra. It makes skin-to-skin contact much easier after birth (if that’s something you wish for).

pair of glasses
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Glasses or Contacts

Just like I always wear a bra, I always wear contacts when I know I’m going to be sweating a lot. I don’t want my glasses sliding all over my face. It’s just my personal preference but something for you to think about. Whichever you choose to wear during labor, make sure you take both. This is a momentous occasion; you want to see every minute of it.

essential items to pack in your hospital bag
essential items to pack in your hospital bag

Hair Ties or Clips

I feel like I’m on repeat, but labor and delivery is a sweaty process, so you’re going to want to keep your hair out of the way. Get a hair tie that doesn’t pull or knot easily and one that you’ll be comfortable resting your head against. You can also get some clips, if you just want to keep the front of your hair away from your face.

essential items to pack in your hospital bag

Tennis Ball (or other pain-relieving device)

This is a personal preference and something I found very helpful during my childbirth class. The instructor had our partners rub different items on our backs to massage them. The ones that worked best for me were a tennis ball and a paint roller (of all things). So you can bet I brought both to the hospital. Turns out the tennis ball worked the best by just sticking it between my back and the bed. It spent a good chunk of time there while I was in labor, and it remained there for the entire delivery. Find what works for you, and make sure to pack it!

essential items to pack in your hospital bag

Water Bottle

Labor can last for hours, make sure you stay hydrated. During delivery, you will be sweating and breathing hard, and you can become dehydrated quickly. Also, if you plan on breastfeeding, it takes a lot of water to make breastmilk. Make sure you have a water bottle, so you can keep track of your water intake.

essential items to pack in your hospital bag

Chap Stick

With all that pushing and heavy breathing, you are going to be parched. That’s why you’re packing a water bottle! But your lips are going to be so dry, they’ll feel like sandpaper. Be sure to bring some chap stick.

essential items to pack in your hospital bag
woman holding cell phone
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essential items to pack in your hospital bag

Phone and Extra Long Charge Cord

The hospital beds are no where near the wall. Make sure you have an extra long charge cord for your phone, whether it’s an iPhone or an Android. Not only will you be making calls and posting to social media once your little one arrives, but you may need your phone for music or to play games during labor.

essential items to pack in your hospital bag

Nursing Bras

If you plan on breastfeeding, pack a few nursing bras for your hospital stay, and also make sure you have one for the day you leave. Your little one will inevitably want to nurse right before you leave the hospital, and this will make it so much easier. These ones are nice, as there are no clips to unfasten. Just pull the cup down and let baby latch.

essential items to pack in your hospital bag
essential items to pack in your hospital bag

Nursing Pads

You probably won’t need many while you’re in the hospital, as your milk doesn’t come in for a couple days. It’s nice to have a pair for the day you leave, just in case you start leaking and need to make a stop before you get home. The Medela nursing pads are slimmer for under your clothes, while the Lansinoh nursing pads are nicer for overnight.

essential items to pack in your hospital bag

Nipple Cream

You and your baby are new to breastfeeding, and so are your nipples. They can become sore very quickly once your baby finds out what’s going on there. And if your little one starts cluster feeding in the hospital, you could be really sore before you even get home. Use this nipple cream; it’s safe for mom, safe for baby, and it even works great on healing your dry hands.

essential items to pack in your hospital bag

Nipple Shields

I want to say you don’t technically need to pack nipple shields, as I got mine from the hospital. However, if I ever have another baby, I’m definitely including it in my bag. It saved me from giving up on breastfeeding. It elongates the nipple, and makes it easier for baby to breastfeed. It’s definitely worth a try, if you’re having trouble.

essential items to pack in your hospital bag

Toiletries (Shampoo, Soap, Hairbrush, Toothbrush, Toothpaste, Deodorant)

The first shower you have after giving birth will be THE BEST shower you have EVER taken! Don’t get crazy and pack up everything from your bathroom, but having a few essentials from home will make you feel even more like yourself. Pick up one of these toiletry kits. It has everything you need, and it comes in that handy bag, so you can just throw it in your hospital bag.

cosmetics and bag
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Makeup (optional)

I don’t think you need to be doing your makeup while you recover from childbirth. You are busy learning everything to take of a new little person. However, if you usually wear makeup, this is just another thing to make you feel a little more like you. Some days, I didn’t even have time to eat my meals, so the day I left the hospital, I threw on some makeup, just to feel a little more put together.

essential items to pack in your hospital bag

Comfy Clothes

If you want to live in hospital gowns and a robe for your entire stay, that’s absolutely fine. But if you’d like to wear your own clothes, make sure they are comfortable. Don’t pack anything from your pre-pregnancy wardrobe (it won’t fit just yet). Make sure it’s something that’s not too tight around your belly, as you may have stitches from a c-section. It should also have easy access for breastfeeding, like these pajamas with front close snaps.

essential items to pack in your hospital bag

Comfy Shoes

Some kind of slip-on shoes will be best. You probably haven’t worn anything with laces in months anyhow. And after you deliver, your feet and ankles can be swollen. I would suggest getting the shoes well before your hospital stay, so you have time to break them in.

essential items to pack in your hospital bag

Going Home Outfit

If you want something special to match your little one’s outfit, or if you just want something new. Just make sure it follows the rules of comfort and plan room for a somewhat smaller bump. (It won’t be gone just yet.) Try a nursing dress for ultimate comfort and ease.

essential items to pack in your hospital bag

Drawstring Bag

Pack this drawstring bag to bring home all the extras you’re going to get at the hospital. They’ll give you diapers and wipes, plus a lot of paperwork on baby. Then, there’s your personal care items: pads, mesh underwear (use them and ask for more – nothing else holds everything in place as well), Dermoplast pain relieving spray, hemorrhoid cream, witch hazel pads, perineal bottle, a doughnut (to sit on for the ride home). Take it all; you’ll need it!

essential items to pack in your hospital bag

Hospital Bag

Can’t forget the thing you need to pack all this in. I suggest either a backpack or small carry-on (with wheels). You shouldn’t be lifting anything too heavy, and you’ll have your new baby when you leave. Get this two-piece set, and you’ll having a rolling bag for you and a matching bag for your support person!

Optional Items

These are nice to have items from home, if you absolutely need them. Otherwise, it’s easier to not have to carry any additional items.

woman sleeping on pillows
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Bed Pillow

The hospital has pillows, but if your pillow is special and you can’t sleep without it. Take it. Make yourself comfortable. A good idea is to put one in the car to sit on for the ride home. Things will be sore down there; the less bumpy, the better.

woman holding blanket
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Blanket

Again, the hospital has sheets and blankets, but if you have a special one you can’t live without, bring it too.

essential items to pack in your hospital bag

Birthing Ball

If you plan on using a birthing ball, check with your hospital before dragging yours along. They usually keep these on hand. If you do plan on bringing your own, deflate it before you go to the hospital. If it’s a windy day, you don’t want to be chasing that thing through the parking lot.

essential items to pack in your hospital bag

Nursing Pillow

If you plan on nursing, you’ll want to get a nursing pillow. Check with the hospital before dragging yours along. They usually keep pillows available for use. The nurses or lactation consultants will be able to show you different nursing positions as well.

Related: 13 Essential Products for Breastfeeding

essential items to pack in your hospital bag

Breast Pump

Again, check with your hospital. They should have breast pumps on hand for you to use. This is also nice as you could try one, before you buy it. However, if you already have one and would like personal instruction on how to use it, then bring it too. Find out what to pack in your breast pump bag.

Related: 15 Best Products for Pumping Moms

essential items to pack in your hospital bag: white luggage, red backpack, and red flip flops

Dad’s Hospital Bag

man holding his head on side of bed
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

Sleepwear

Hospitals now know the importance of dad being present during labor, delivery, and postpartum, so there is usually somewhere for dad to spend the night: a couch or reclining chair. So, plan to bring something to sleep in, just make sure it’s visitor-ready, as the nurses will be in throughout the night to check on mom and baby.

man in closet
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Change of Clothes

The shower will most likely be available for dad, as well as mom, so bring a change of clothes for the day after delivery.

five pair of glasses
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Glasses or Contacts

If your spouse is planning on spending the night, make sure he packs his glasses and extra contacts.

essential items to pack in your hospital bag

Toiletries

Pack the basics: shampoo, soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant. Enough to get the job done. Get a preassembled kit, and throw it in the bag ahead of time.

pillows stacked on bed
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Bed Pillow and Blanket

The hospital has pillows for moms, maybe dads. You can check ahead of time, but I say let dad pack his own bed pillow. He already has to sleep in that reclining chair. And a cozy blanket is a must.

essential items to pack in your hospital bag

Snacks

Have snacks for dad so he can grab something quickly and get back to helping you. You won’t be eating anything until after the baby comes, but it might be nice to have a snack ready to go, if you need it after. Get protein snacks to keep dad’s energy up and so mom can recharge.

man holding cell phone
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Phone and Charge Cord

Dad will have better access to the outlets, so he doesn’t need an extra long charge cord, but make sure you pack the regular one and the phone!

essential items to pack in your hospital bag

Tablet (optional)

If you’re planning on having music, or playing games, or watching TV shows/movies, have it all set up and ready on your tablet, and pack it in dad’s bag. He’s in charge of the electronics. (It’s a guy thing.) If you’re getting a new tablet, make sure that it has enough storage for any shows or movies you want to download.

essential items to pack in your hospital bag

Camera (optional)

Your phone camera works wonderfully at taking newborn pictures, but if you have a camera you want to bring, do it! Make sure the batteries are charged (or bring the charger) and you have room on your SD cards. (Babies fill those things up quickly.) I love my Nikon D series camera. This camera comes with an 18-55mm lens, which is perfect for close up photos, and is video capable. It’s the perfect camera for doing at-home baby photo shoots!

Baby’s Hospital Bag

essential items to pack in your hospital bag

Car Seat

Ok, so the car seat technically doesn’t go in the baby’s bag, but it is the #1 thing you need to take the baby home from the hospital. They won’t let you leave without seeing it. So, it’s super important! Make sure you install it well before your due date, and have it checked at a child safety seat inspection station, if you have any concerns. I recommend the Chicco Bravo Travel System. You get the car seat and base, and the car seat fits right into the stroller.

mom, baby and pediatrician in doctor office
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Pediatrician’s Information

Your baby needs to see his pediatrician within 3 days of his birth, and the hospital wants to know who his doctor will be. Make sure you have this information handy.

essential items to pack in your hospital bag

3-4 Newborn Onesies

I was able to dress my son however I wanted during our hospital stay, so that meant I had to bring clothes. Check with your hospital, as some give you clothes during you stay. Your baby will most often be swaddled, so a onesie is probably all you need. Plus, the nurses come and do their checks regularly, and if you breastfeed, skin-to-skin is always good, so you don’t need glamourous two- or three-piece outfits. But do pack a few onesies, as you may be cleaning up a diaper blowout.

essential items to pack in your hospital bag

Going Home Outfit

Pack a special outfit for your baby to leave the hospital. Maybe it matches the outfit you chose for yourself. If not, that’s fine. But this is your baby’s debut into the world, make it special!

essential items to pack in your hospital bag

Portable Sound Machine

Your baby is used to being in your womb: cramped, warm, dark, noisy. All of a sudden here it is in the hospital: wide open, cold, bright, noisy – but not the same. Get a portable sound machine to put in the bassinet. I love this one and still use it. It has four sounds – the waves sound like being in the womb (at least, I think they do).

Related: Best Sound Machines for Babies

essential items to pack in your hospital bag

Pacifier

This one is completely up to you because pacifiers can cause nipple confusion, if you are breastfeeding. If you are planning on using one, I didn’t want you to forget it. It might come in handy if you have a long car ride home. These pacifiers are best for breastfed babies, as the nipples are made from silicone and are the perfect size for smaller mouths.

baby swaddled in blankets
Photo by Marcin Jozwiak from Pexels

Baby Blanket

The hospital provides you with a blanket during your stay, but that’s probably the only thing they don’t let you take (which is heartbreaking, since they’re the only blanket that is the perfect swaddle size). So why take you own blanket? You can use it to cover your baby once you put him in the car seat. Choose the blanket depending on the weather: warm and snuggly for the winter, or a nice, light muslin for the summer.

essential items to pack in your hospital bag

Baby Book

Why would I tell you to drag your (most likely giant) baby book to the hospital? To get those footprints! When the nurses take a footprint for the baby’s file, ask if they will do one for your baby book, too.

essential items to pack in your hospital bag

Diaper Bag

You need a bag to carry all of baby’s items. The diaper bag is the best option, and it will get you used to carrying it. This one is great, as it has labeled pockets for bottles, diapers, wipes, and pacifiers, so you don’t spend long looking for exactly what you need. It also comes with a wipes container and changing pad. It’s also a bag dad won’t mind carrying.

Related: 30 Best Diaper Bag Alternatives

What should you not pack in your hospital bag?

Maybe even more important than knowing what essential items to pack to pack in your hospital bag, is knowing what not to pack. This is not the time to overpack. Remember, you’ll be bringing an extra person home with you.

1. Pre-Pregnancy Clothes (or anything very fancy)

They won’t fit yet (I’m sorry, we’ve all been there). And you’re not going to want to feel like dressing up. Comfy cottons are going to be your go-to for a while.

2. Lots of Cash/Credit Cards

You need your ID and insurance card. Your meals are provided, and there’s nowhere to shop, except the hospital gift shop. Leave your money and credit cards at home, and you don’t have to worry about losing them. Have your partner bring theirs, if it makes you feel better.

3. Jewelry

Just another thing to worry about and possibly lose. You have enough other things on your mind right now. Just leave the jewelry at home.

4. Books/Magazines

You may have time to read during labor, but I suggest downloading reading material to your tablet.

5. Diapers/Wipes

The hospital will provide you with these items and send some home with you, as well. Also, if you have a boy and choose to get him circumcised, they provide the items necessary to take care of the circumcision.

6. Postpartum Care Items

The hospital provides you with these items as well. That’s why you were smart and packed an extra drawstring bag. Good thinking momma!

Conclusion

There you have it. All the essential items to pack in your hospital bag, your partner’s bag, and your brand new baby’s bag. Good job momma! You got this.

Don’t forget your checklist!

essential items to pack in hospital bag: pregnant woman outside with her hand on her belly

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