Let’s dive in shall we? When I used to hear people “pack a hospital bag” I quite simply envisioned a single tote bag. Now that I’m diving into it all, I’ve learned that a suitcase or a weekender is definitely more suitable to fit all the supplies! After all, we’re not just packing for ourselves but baby (and our partner!), too.
I’m just over a month out from my due date, so now is the time where I am starting to pack up. I thought this was a good time, because I want the peace of mind knowing I am ready to go (in case i’m early) and also have less to worry about as my due date approaches – but go at a time that works best for you. I’m also aware that there’s likely going to be stuff I bring that I do not use – so I will update this post baby. I also added in lots of options in case items resonate with some more than others – so you shouldn’t feel pressured to bring everything in this list. You may find bringing *too much* is overwhelming and that’s okay. I hope this helps you on your Hospital Packing Journey.
Download and print this checklist if you want and I’ll dive into everything below!
Update: I’ve updated this list to include what I actually used!
Clothing and accessories:
- Robe/Hospital Gown: I am using the HATCH gown and robe that I received from their “Hatch To Hospital” box! These pieces are incredibly soft and super light. FYI: The hospital will provide you with a gown, but many people prefer to use their own. (Code: SWEATS15). – YES! But not during labor, for the remaining days in the hospital. During labor I used the hospital gown.
- Button Down Nightgowns (2 Pairs): Button downs are the easy access route for skin-to-skin or nursing (if you choose). I was told nightgowns are more comfortable over PJ’s, since wearing pants after labor might not feel as comfortable. You’ll likely want ones in dark colors, as they may easily get stained. Got these ones on Amazon! – YES! Used these for sure.
- Nursing Bra: Definitely bringing my “The Everything Bra” from Bodily. These are a DREAM – so cozy you’ll even want to wear them to bed. This bra is perfect for nursing, because it’s super stretchy which is helpful when first producing milk. (Code: SWEATS15 for 15% off $125+) – YES!
- Pumping Bra: Another must-have! If nursing, it’s possible you might want to start pumping right away. I am using this “Do Anything Bra” from Bodily, designed for pumping. Extremely comfortable. (Code: SWEATS15 for 15% off $125+) – YES! I learned how to pump in the hospital, I was so happy I brought my pumping bras. Leo was in the NICU for 2 days, so I was able to pump colostrum and bring it to him.
- Zip Up Sweater/Cardigan: Hospitals can be quite cool and you’re not going to want to be lifting a hoodie over your head. YES – absolutely.
- Going Home Outfit: You’ll want to go home with a loose and cozy outfit. They say a good rule of thumb is that you’ll likely be the same size you were in 4-6 month maternity clothes. Also bring wide fitting shoes, your feet might be too swollen for sneakers. YES.
- Socks: Who knew that socks would be such a topic! Here are the pairs I’m bringing:
- Cozy Socks: You can get very cold after an epidural/labor and shake. It’s good to have warm socks that are fuzzy or cashmere. NO – I ended up using the hospital socks with grips, they gave me 3 pairs.
- Compression Socks: I’m packing a pair of these compression socks – they do wonders for swelling (which I hear really happens!). YES – I used this after labor.
- Grip Socks/slippers: Many hospitals give grip socks, you might want to bring slippers. NO – I used the hospital grip socks.
- Shower Shoes: A must for the shower! Any waterproof ones will do (flip flops/waterproof Birkenstocks). YES – 100%. I ended up taking 2 body showers.
- Eye Mask: I am someone who needs to sleep in the dark, so this will definitely be a must for me. This mask is not the chicest, but I love that they’re contoured so your lashes don’t hit the mask. – YES.
- Towel: Hospital towels are rough and thin, you’ll probably want to bring your own towel (one that is dark or you don’t care if it gets ruined). I’m going to buy two and leave it there so I don’t have to bother bringing it home. – YES, I almost didn’t bring but SO happy I did.
Toiletries + Products:
- Daily Essentials:
- Dental floss, toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, contacts/glasses (if you wear), medication + vitamins (ie prenatals/postnatals). – YES, a must!
- Your daily skincare (face wash, face cream) and don’t forget the body moisturizer! It can be really dry in the hospital and the epidural can make you very dry, too. Also, some recommend makeup remover wipes. – YES.
- Shower Products (shampoo, conditioner, body wash): In case you want to take a shower, some don’t. Also the hospital may provide you with products, but you might prefer your own. – YES, but only used body wash.
- Lip Balm/Nipple Balm: I am actually planning on applying the nipple balm early (a couple weeks before my due date – my mom told me about this hack and said it really helps). You’ll need it for your lips, too! – YES, a must.
- Stool Softener/Laxatives: Take these as soon as you get into the postpartum room, as they can take a while to work. The hospital will likely give you! – They give you colace at the hospital! So while you definitely will need them, no need to bring your own.
- Body Wipes:I am bringing some of my “Walk Out Clean” Shower Wipes from Ducalm, as a way to freshen up sans shower. Many don’t have the energy to shower post labor and these can come to the rescue to give you that post-shower feel. I love that they’re naturally sourced and nontoxic. Use code: SWEATS25 for 25% off. Also on amazon. YES – omg, I was so happy I brought these!
- Nursing Pads: They are for absorbing milk if you’re leaking. While that might not happen for a few days or so, it’s worth packing a few in case. NO – while I definitely need these now, I didn’t start leaking yet.
- Hair Brush / Hair Ties: You’ll probably want to tie your hair up during labor! YES – absolute must.
- Blowdryer: If you do want to shower and wash your hair, you’ll be happy you don’t have to air dry it. If you prefer to not do your hair and just body shower, bring a shower cap. NO – I didn’t end up bringing either. Not necessary.
- Dry Shampoo: Instead of a hair wash, this could definitely come in handy. YES – this came in handy.
- Makeup: Very optional. Some people like it for hospital photos. NO – Last thing that was on my mind was makeup.
- Extra Long Phone Charger (10 ft): Outlets are few and far between – so long cord is necessary to reach the bed. Here is the link to mine! YES – a must!
- Portable Fan: This was a definite must for so many women in labor! They were so happy they brought it. NO – but it depends on your situation. My labor and delivery room was ice cold and I got the serious shakes from labor. I was freezing.
- Notebook + pen (birth story): If you plan on writing your story. You can also type it out, but some find it cathartic to write it out. NO – but my husband wrote down minute by minute notes about what happened, so happy he did!
- Nursing Pillow: Some people say it’s worth it to bring, others say it’s not (some hospitals also provide or you can just use a pillow). I have the “My Brest Friend ” which is quite large, so I may leave this at home, depending on how much stuff I have. NO – too much stuff, used pillows in hospital. But My Brest Friend is SO much better than pillows.
- Hydration Packets: Bringing a few packs of Needed Hydration Support – which is designed for pregnancy and postpartum. These help for optimal hydration and contain electrolytes. Being well hydrated is crucial for delivery and lactation. I love that they’re only sweetened with real fruit – no sugar added. Code: SWEATS20 (20% off one time orders or first 3 month subscription). YES – I put these in water, you are SO thirsty after labor. I also got sick from the epidural, I needed the electrolytes.
- Birth plan: If you want to have one – I linked a very basic one! However, this is totally your call and tons of templates online. You can definitely just vocalize it as you go, or maybe you are fine with whatever the doctor suggests (that’s me!) – It was good for me to have it ready, but then they asked me I just said things vocally.
- ID / Insurance Card – YES of course.
- Water bottle: You’ll be very thirsty after labor, so a big water bottle is essential. I will be pouring my hydration packets in here, too! – YES. The hospital just gave big plastic cups of water and a jug, having my bottle was great.
- Headphones + Distracting material: You might want to think about books/kindle, computer/iPad, books, etc for downtime (especially if you end up staying longer than a couple days). I hear some even bring a Fire Stick or Roku to watch their shows (Netflix/Amazon Prime). However, not every hospital might have the capability, you might be better off using your own devices and pre-downloading movies and shows. – NO. Shocking. In the hospital it’s hard enough to sleep, so any chance I could get in between being with my newborn, responding to friends and family, recovering and talking to nurses I was sleeping.
- Pillow + Blanket: You’ll be very thankful to bring your own pillow. We are going to bring pillows and blankets that we can just leave there. – YES. We were so glad we had our own pillows, but did not bring a blanket. Was totally fine with hospital one.
For Support Partner/Dad:
- Pillow + blanket for dad will also be necessary.
- Shower Shoes/Sandals: In case he wants to shower.
- 2-3 comfortable outfits: Whatever your partner would be most comfortable in. A zip up sweater or button down top for skin-to-skin as well.
- PJ’s or anything they are comfortable sleeping in.
- 3-4 underwear / socks
- Toiletries: Anything needed for daily use (shower, dental, skincare, etc).
- Medication: Any medication needed, including ibuprofen (just in case for headaches, etc). The hospital cannot give out any medication to your partner because they are not a patient.
- Distracting material: Same as mom (computer, books, ipad, etc).
- Extra long charger as well!
- Towel for the shower.
- Going Home Onesies (x2): In two different sizes (Newborn + 0-3 months) Some babies are too big for a newborn onesie right away, others might be swimming in a 0-3 month, so it’s good to have options. Outfits with pants at the bottom are essential for the car seat. YES – A must. Leo was newborn size, glad we brought both.
- Velcro Swaddle: The hospital will give you a swaddle blanket, but it’s recommended to bring your own swaddle. Not only for cute newborn pictures, but to make it easier on you, since you will have to constantly swaddle the baby in the hospital. NO – didnt use! I was shocked at this. The nurses kept helping us re-swaddle or swaddle him.
- Electric Nail File: I’m bringing this electric nail file – I’ve heard some babies come out with long nails and a lot of moms recommend bringing. NO – he did scratch himself though. We waited until we got home to deal with his nails.
- Car Seat (Installed): They won’t let you leave the hospital with an installed car seat, so make sure to set this up in advance. We are using the Doona! YES – of course. I recommend getting it checked in advance, too!
- Pediatrician Information: You will tell the hospital who your pediatrician is and they will contact them. If they don’t send information straight to the doctor directly, ask for the nursery information and records from the hospital to bring to your first appointment (2-3 days after hospital discharge). YES – but had all the info in my phone.
- Birth Announcement Email (ready to go): Might be helpful to have this planned in advance, including who you will send it to in an email draft. You can fill out the details of the baby name/date etc when you want to send it. NO! Haha, we just texted family and friends and left it up to my husband and parents to tell most people.
- Diaper Bag: All the baby essentials can go in the diaper bag! I’m bringing the Caraa sport. YES – but more for compartmentalizing and bringing supplies home.
- Receiving Blanket: Optional, because the hospital should provide but you might want to bring your own. Blankets keep your baby warm on the way home and also cover the baby during skin-to-skin. I am fine with the hospital one to save space. NO – used the one they gave!
- Pacifiers/Wipes/Formula: Most hospitals provide these, so I didn’t add them to the checklist, but you can double check with yours since every hospital is different. NO – the hospital gave so much.
- Extra Bag for Supplies: So many you will want to take home! More below on this. YES – they give you SO much in terms of stuff for baby and recovery.
- Snacks: Lots of snacks for you and your support partner! Depending on your labor, you likely won’t be able to eat anything (other than clear liquids) until afterwards. You’ll want snacks for post-labor and throughout your stay. Here are some snack ideas: (YES to the below! LOTS of food!)
- Agni Chocolate Chip Cookies: My goodness, I am 100% bringing these! I discovered them on my Hatch Baby Moon Trip and became addicted. They are nutrient dense, organic, delicious and actually designed to help with lactation support. Win, win!
- Salty snacks: Rhythm Food Snacks, Crispy Chickpeas, Crackers, Pretzels, whatever you like!
- Fruit (there’s no mini fridge, FYI!) Bananas and apples are good choices.
- Nuts, Protein Bars and Nut Butters (individually packed).
- Mint/Gum/Candy: During labor, when you can’t eat, something to suck on. – YES to gum. The epidural made me so nauseous too.
- Comfort Items for the Room:
- Bluetooth Speakers: Make a playlist so you can have music to listen to during labor. YES to playlist, no to speakers. Our room had an alexa and our iPhone speaker more than enough. We listened to Kygo and it was everything during pushing.
- Wickless candles: These can set more of a vibe in the drab and sterile hospital room. You can find ones here that are battery-powered (since you can’t light real candles). NO – didn’t bring.
- Aromatherapy Oils: Many hospitals provide them, but you can bring your own. My hospital also doesn’t allow for diffusers – FYI! No – didn’t use.
- Pictures from home might be comforting, especially as something to stare at during labor.
- Gift for Nurses: Not necessary, but a very nice gesture! It doesn’t have to be anything too fancy. Some ideas of gifts: Starbucks Gift Cards, Healthy Snacks, Amazon Gift Cards, Face Masks/Skincare, Candy, Lip Balm and Pens (they love pens!). Also a hand written card to the hospital administration about the amazing care you received will be the best gift of all. YES – we wrote them each a card and gave them all Starbucks gift cards. Our nurses were INCREDIBLE.
- Night Light: I’ve heard this is helpful for night feeds, so you don’t have to turn on all the fluorescent lights in the hospital room. This one is battery powered. NO – we didn’t use, iPhone light was fine.
- Sound Machine App: “White Noise Deep Sleep Sounds” app is great, instead of bringing your machine for one less item to pack. YES – we used the app! The hospital was so noisy.
- Masks – YES.
Hospital Tips + What To Take Home:
Products that the hospital will provide: ice packs, peri squirt bottles, witch hazel pads, mesh underwear, maxi pads and many other products mom needs. They will also have a ton of products for baby including diapers, wipes, gauze, hat, swaddle, and more. Ask for extra!
- Use the pump at the hospital and take parts home (regardless of brand). Have the in hospital lactation consultant help you make sure you have the right size breast shield.
- If you’re having a boy and planning on a circumcision, take home lots of gauze and vaseline (or other branded ointment they have). You will use it for a week or so after circumcision.
Extra Items To Have at Home:
Good idea to gather some or all in advance so you can be prepared.
- Pads / Diapers for Mom: Depending on how many the hospital gives you, it might be good to have extra on hand for when those run out. YES – when I got home I used the “always discreet” padded underwear, they were the best purchase. Next time, I’d bring them to the hospital, they were so much better than the pads and mesh underwear they give you.
- Period Underwear: You may prefer to wear these to feel more normal when you’re still bleeding, but not quite ready to wear regular underwear. Thinx is a great brand. NO – the always discreet were great, this way I wouldn’t have to wash so many pairs of underwear so often. You change your pads/diapers very often.
- Tylenol Extra Strength – Yes, still using the ones they gave me at hospital.
- Stool Softeners / Laxatives – Oh yes, you’ll need colace for a while. They gave me a lot at the hospital, still using them.
- Motrin (High Dosage): You’ll likely get a prescription and pick this up on your way home from hospital and alternate it with the Tylenol. – No, just using the Tylenol.
- Breast Massager: For lactation and mastitis prevention. You can also use techniques with your hands and a warm cloth, you don’t need to buy this! YES – I love the one from La Vie, game changer!
- Pump (make sure to clean the parts in advance so you don’t have to worry about it). It’s also recommended you test out using it, too. – YES, using the Spectra S1 which I got from insurance.
I hope this list was helpful! Let me know if there were any must-haves I didn’t add or anything you didn’t find was necessary.