I spent a lot of time searching for hospital bag checklists when I was pregnant and most of them had me wondering “do I REALLY need all of this stuff?” I didn’t want to show up with a huge suitcase and only use half the stuff in there, but I also didn’t want to be missing something I wished I had. Being a first-time mom, I didn’t know what to expect or what I would want to have with me.
If you’re in the same situation, I put together a list of hospital bag essentials for mom, dad, and baby that we actually used or wished we had during my labor and delivery hospital stay.
When Should You Pack Your Hospital Bag?
Pack early! I don’t think it’s possible to pack your bag too early, but it’s definite possible to pack it too late!
I like to be organized – I’m a checklist kind of person and have a tendency to be over-prepared. I planned on packing my hospital bag at 35 weeks thinking that would give me plenty of time in case the baby came early.
Despite all of my hospital bag checklist searching online, I was incredibly unprepared when my water broke at 34 weeks in the middle of the night and I had to frantically pack things I thought I would need. I was supposed to have 5 more weeks to think about this and pack…
So, start packing your bag sooner rather than later!
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What To Pack For Labor And Delivery
You’re going to get hot and sweaty when those contractions get intense. Pack some hair ties so you can keep your hair out of your face and off your neck.
Robe or cardigan
On the opposite spectrum, hospitals are usually cold, so if labor takes a while to ramp up you’ll be glad to have a robe to keep warm.
I had a lightweight robe with me that came in handy the first few hours at the hospital.
It was also nice to have something to throw on over my clothes during the hospital stay afterwards that opened in the front to make breastfeeding a little easier.
Being in labor is hard work and after you deliver your perfect little bundle of joy you’re going to be hungry!
Yes, the hospital likely has a cafeteria and vending machines, but the cafeteria might not be open at the time you want food and you might be craving something the vending machines don’t have. Not to mention dad will probably get hungry while you’re in labor and need some snacks too!
Like I said, I was not prepared to go into labor at 34 weeks, so even though I had a grocery list made with the snacks I wanted to bring, I hadn’t actually gotten them yet. We quickly scoured the cabinets for something to take with us to the hospital and ended up with some pop tarts and granola bars. They did the trick when we were starving, but I was definitely craving different snacks!
Hospitals are dry, so don’t forget to pack your lip balm. I was glad I remembered to throw this in my bag before we left for the hospital.
I used the water bottle the hospital provided, but I wished I had brought my own. Something like this that’s big with a straw is great.
Phone and charger
Don’t forget your phone and charger. The hospital bed might be far away from an outlet so if you have an extra long charging cord make sure to pack it. You don’t want your phone to be out of battery when your baby is born and you want to take pictures!
What To Pack For Hospital Stay After Delivery
Make sure you include any toiletries you normally use. The hospital can provide most of these for you, but having your own can make you more comfortable.
Things like your toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, soap, and deodorant are nice to have. If you are extra prepared, grab these in the travel size so they take up less space in your suitcase.
If you plan on breastfeeding pack a couple nursing bras. No one fully warned me about what happens to your boobs after you give birth and your milk comes in – make sure you have comfortable bras in a size larger than your normal size.
My favorite nursing bras are these. I wear a lot of sports bras and these were the best ones I could find that are comparable to a racerback sports bra.
You’ll probably want out of the hospital gown soon after delivery and nightgowns are easy to throw on in place of it. I have this sleeveless nightgown and this short sleeved nightgown and they were perfect for right after delivery and for sleeping at night.
The nurses will be in your room to check on you frequently and nightgowns were less of a hassle than pants for those first few hours after delivery.
Open-front shirts or nursing tank tops
Breastfeeding is HARD. It does not come easy and naturally to everyone. You’re going to get lots and lots of help from nurses and lactation consultants while you’re staying at the hospital. Having shirts that open in the front make it a little easier.
You’re probably going to want 2 or 3 shirts because milk and spit up gets everywhere.
I mostly wore regular camis and tank tops that I could pull down with a cardigan or zip up fleece over the top. Nursing tank tops are another great option. I tried a few different kinds and they would have been perfect if I wasn’t so tall (they were like belly shirts on me and that’s definitely not what you want to be wearing after giving birth!). So, wear whatever you are most comfortable in.
Sweatpants and leggings
Pack a couple pairs of sweatpants and leggings. You’re going to want something comfortable to wear when you’re ready to get out of your hospital gown or nightgowns.
Slip on shoes or fuzzy no-slip socks
The hospital will probably provide you with socks. I used the hospital socks during labor and delivery.
But, during the hospital stay after, I was glad I had my own socks and slip on shoes to walk around in. My baby was in the NICU so walking to and from my room in my own socks and shoes was more comfortable than wearing the fashionable mustard yellow socks the hospital provided.
This one is optional. Yes, the hospital provides you with pads. Yes, they are huge. Yes, they are necessary. However, after the first day I really wished I had something a little smaller and a little more comfortable.
This is optional too. You’ll get some delightful mesh underwear to wear at the hospital, but if you want something of your own make sure to pack them. Similar to the pads, I used the mesh underwear for the first day, and then was much more comfortable in my own after that. If you do bring your own underwear, don’t bring your favorite pairs. They can get pretty messy.
If your milk comes in and you start to leak, these will save you from changing your bra and shirt a bunch of times every day. Disposable nursing pads are convenient when you’re staying at the hospital so you don’t have to save them to wash when you get home.
Postpartum is messy. Make sure you have some sort of bag to stash your dirty clothes until you get home and can throw them in the laundry.
What To Pack For Dad in Hospital Bag
Change of clothes
If dad will be staying at the hospital with you he’ll need another set or two of clothes.
The same goes for toiletries – if dad is staying overnight, he’ll probably want his own toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, etc. The hospital will have most of what you need, but it’s nice to have your own items.
Make sure you pack snacks for dad too! He might not be the one in labor, but being the support person can be hard work too.
What To Pack For Baby in Hospital Bag
The hospital provides all the essentials you need for your baby while you are staying there like diapers and wipes. Ours even had swaddles and clothes to use. You really don’t need much for your baby at the hospital, but here are a couple things to consider.
Going home outfit
Pack a couple different outfits in different sizes since you won’t really know what size your baby is until they’re born. Don’t forget a hat if it’s going to be cold!
If it’s cold outside at the time you’re due, pack a small blanket to cover up your baby in the car seat when you take them home.
Don’t stress too much about what to bring to the hospital with you. Realistically, if you show up at the hospital in labor with nothing packed you’ll be fine. They will provide everything you and your baby need – it’s just nice to have some of your own things for comfort. Happy packing, momma!