What to Pack in a Hospital Bag for Labor and Delivery
As you approach the end of your pregnancy in the third trimester, you'll be reminded several times to pack and prepare your hospital bag for when you go into labor.
This is the bag or suitcase you fill with essentials for you as you go through labor and delivery, plus some items for your newborn baby when he or she is born.
You may want to begin packing your bag around 35 weeks of pregnancy, but have it completely ready for your 37th week when the potential for going into labor increases. Here you'll find what to pack for you, your baby, and for your spouse or partner who may coach you through labor and delivery.
Hospital Bag Checklist
Dad or Partner
swaddler or swaddling blanket
going home outfit
books or magazines
coat and hat (for cold temps)
tablet or e-reader
nursing nightgowns or pjs (2-3)
change for vending machine
cell phone and charger
cell phone and charger
toiletries and makeup
extra change of clothes
tablet, e-reader, and charger
camera and batteries
books or magazines
Boppy or nursing pillow
insurance forms and insurance card
pen and paper
going home outfit for mom
What to Pack for Labor
In your bag, you'll want to have items to help you through your labor. If you're a first-time mom expecting a natural delivery, you'll want some items to help you through the long hours you'll be in the laboring room. For those expecting a c-section, you'll want some items to keep yourself busy as you wait for the operation to begin.
Here are some items to have while in labor or waiting (not all are necessary):
- Bathrobe. If you're having an uncomplicated labor and your doctor wants you to get up and walk, wearing a bathrobe is a comfortable way to waddle around the hospital corridors without showing off your rear end. Chances are you'll need to wear a hospital gown while in labor, but these gowns often do not have closures in the back to keep you covered.
- Socks or slippers with grips/treads. While you're walking the halls during labor, you'll want to have sturdy slippers with treads or socks with grips so that you don't slip and fall.
- Chapstick or lip gloss. You'll be doing a lot of breathing, most likely through your mouth. Keep your lips moist with chapstick or lip gloss.
- Hair band, hair clip, or barrette. If you have longer hair, you'll want to keep your hair off of your neck and out of your face. You'll most likely be a bit warm and you won't want to be bothered with pushing your hair out of your face while also pushing out the baby.
- Hard candies. With the okay of your doctor, bring along a few hard candies so that your mouth doesn't get dry. Preggie Pops or Drops are great for this purpose.
- Cell Phone and Charger. During labor, you or your partner can use your phone to make calls or text updates to family or friends. If you have a smart phone, you can post updates on your social networks as well.
- Tablet or e-reader, and charger. These devices can be used to keep you or your partner busy as you wait during labor or for a c-section.
- Camera or video camera, and batteries. If you want to document any aspect of the labor and delivery, you'll want to have your camera or video recording device with fresh batteries to capture any special moments.
- Books, magazines, puzzle books, etc. These things can provide pleasant distractions and give you something to do while waiting.
Along with all of your other belongings, you'll want to have these important documents with you in your bag:
- Pre-registration forms (if your doctor supplies them)
- Insurance forms
- Insurance card(s)
- Photo ID (driver's license should be fine)
- Birth plan (If you have written a birth plan, you'll want to bring several copies with you for the nurses and the doctor.)
Once the baby is born, there are a few items you may want to have:
- Camera with batteries. Capture your baby's first moments.
- Baby book. You or your spouse/partner can record the specifics from the baby's birth, plus have the baby's footprints stamped inside.
- Pillow from home. Hospital pillows tend not to be comfortable. A pillow from home will help you sleep and rest a bit better.
- Nursing nightgowns or pajamas. Once you're up and out of bed, you may want some of your own clothes to wear. If you're nursing, bring some nursing nightgowns or pajamas that are comfortable. If you're not nursing, bring comfortable nightgowns or pajamas.
- Nursing bras and bra pads. For nursing moms, a nursing bra or two can help, along with pad inserts for any breast milk leakage. If you're bottle feeding, a regular bra or two will help, but you'll also need pad inserts for leakage.
- Toiletries. After giving birth, you should be able to take a shower. Bring toiletries such as shampoo, conditioner, body wash, lotion, deodorant, a brush or comb, toothbrush, toothpaste, mouth wash, and your makeup.
- Sani-pads. After giving birth, you may bleed for a few weeks, but especially in the first few days after. The hospital may supply you with pads, but if you prefer a specific brand, bring along some of your own.
- Comfortable underwear. The hospital may give you some disposable underwear to have after delivery, but you can bring some of your own if you wish, especially for when you go home.
- Lanolin. If you're nursing, you can bring along some breast cream, such as lanolin.
- Boppy or other nursing pillow. While not necessary, a Boppy or other nursing pillow can help when feeding the baby since hospital pillows are not as supportive. These are especially helpful for those with painful c-section incisions.
- Pen and paper. It's handy to have a pen and some paper with you for making lists, such as feedings, diaper changes, or who came to visit (for sending cards later on).
- Snacks. Ever have hospital food? Much of the time, it isn't the best, plus there are no snacks given in between if you get hungry. Unless you need to be on a specific diet after delivery, bring some snacks such as crackers, dry cereal, or healthy snack bars.
- Going home outfit. You'll want something comfortable for when you go home. Don't think you'll be able to fit into those pre-pregnancy jeans just yet, though. Stick with stretchy materials or even some of your maternity clothes that will still fit you after delivery.
While your spouse or partner may not be staying overnight with you (although some do), it's nice to have some things on hand for them, such as:
- Snacks. Having snacks available for your labor coach during labor means that he won't need to leave your side to go get food.
- Entertainment. Dad will be waiting alongside of you as you labor, so it's helpful to have some books, magazines, puzzle books, tablet, or e-reader for him as well.
- Change for vending machines. Having extra change helps for getting drinks or small snacks during labor and delivery. Also, bring some money for food or coffee in the cafeteria.
- Extra clothes and a pillow. If you are laboring into the night, or your spouse/partner wants to stay with you after the baby is born, it'd be nice to have a change of clothes and a pillow to be comfortable.
Packing for your baby is perhaps the most exciting part. You'll be bringing home your newborn boy or girl very soon!
This list is rather short, mostly because you'll find that your hospital will provide the bulk of items, such as diapers, wipes, bottles (if bottle feeding), receiving blankets, hats, and onesies. In fact, you may find that the hospital will actually send many of these items home with you! If you want to be certain, call ahead and ask what will be provided.
Here are a few items you'll need for the baby:
- Swaddlers. While the hospital staff can teach you the art of swaddling with receiving blankets, it can be nice to have some swaddlers on hand, especially if you end up having a little escape artist!
- Going home outfit. Choose a cute little outfit for going home, and remember to take a lot of pictures! You won't really need any other clothes; in fact, it's better not to dress the baby up while in the hospital because the nurses and doctors will be coming in to check him or her often and it can be a hassle to take off and put back on clothes. The baby will mostly wear a onesie while in the hospital.
- Coat and hat. Unless you're taking home your newborn in the dead heat of summer, you should bring a coat and a hat for your newborn.
- Car seat. While this isn't something you pack in the bag, you still need to have it ready for when the baby arrives. Either place it by the door or install it in the car around 37 weeks of pregnancy.
When to Pack and What Kind of Bag
As mentioned above, you may want to begin packing your hospital bag around 35 weeks of pregnancy. Try to have it ready and in an easy-to-reach spot by the time you reach 37 weeks. You don't want to be scrambling at the last minute for things you need while you're in labor!
There are several options for a hospital 'bag':
- Small rolling suitcase
- Tote bag
- Gym bag
- Small travel bag
Whichever you decide to use, make sure not to overfill it. You don't want it falling apart as you're trying to make it out the door in labor!
If you want to keep the bag light, pack a separate bag for your going home essentials, like your going home outfit, the baby's going home outfit, etc. Have your spouse, partner, friend, or family member bring it to you the morning you'll be going home.
Also, to keep the bag light, use travel sized products or samples for your toiletries. Stock up on these throughout your pregnancy.
Note: Below is a video of a mom explaining what she did and didn't use from her hospital bag. Everyone's experience is different, but it is worth seeing her perspective. For instance, she had a natural birth and not a c-section, so she did not find the Boppy pillow useful. I did find it very useful with my two c-sections.
This is a great bag that can hold everything you need during labor and delivery. Once the baby is born, it's great to use for travelling, for the beach, or for transporting baby essentials. I have one, and I love it!
Bringing Baby Home
It's possible that when you are packing to go home from the hospital that you find you have more stuff leaving than what you came in with! How is that possible?
For one, hospital staff usually sends you home with diapers, wipes, baby samples, forms, folders, and little toiletry items. It can be helpful to have a spare bag, like a shopping bag or reusable bag, to carry these items home in.
You also need to consider how you'll transport the gifts from any visitors you have while in the hospital. An extra bag can be useful for transporting these items as well.
To reduce the amount of things you'll be carrying out when you're bringing the baby home, have your spouse or partner bring the gifts home as they come in. Also send home anything you found that you don't need while in the hospital.
On your way out, you may not be able to carry anything heavy (especially if you have had a c-section), so keeping bags and belongings light is helpful to your spouse or partner.
When I was reading this, I was:
If you're in the third trimester, start thinking about packing your bag! The birth of your baby is not too far away, and you'll want to be prepared.
Have fun, and best wishes with the rest of your pregnancy!