What you Actually Need in Your Hospital Bag

Pregnant woman sitting on the floor packing her hospital bag

Table of Contents

So, what do you actually need in your hospital bag? I’m here to tell you, because I already did the thing where I packed way too much and regretted it. At the same time, I forgot a couple of items I wished I’d brought. Go me!

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What you actually need in your hospital bag is obviously all up to you, but I thought I’d share my list here! This is what I brought after my first time around the block. I’m definitely not going to be that mom hauling three bags into L&D again.

The super obvious hospital bag essentials

  • Any hospital paperwork
  • Your IDs
  • Baby’s car seat
  • Your phone + charger

What to pack in the baby’s hospital bag + what to leave at home

I regret bringing a million outfits for my daughter when I went to the hospital to have her. We ended up using about two outfits from the eight or so that I brought, haha. I didn’t end up needing extra pacifiers or a hat, because the hospital gave them to me.

Here’s what I’d recommend bringing!

  • A couple of swaddles or other blankets.
  • A pair of socks.
  • A couple of side-snap shirts (side-snaps help avoid irritating the umbilical cord stump).
  • A going-home outfit, if you’re doing that. If you’re not going all-out with the outfit, I recommend a simple, stretchy zip-up sleeper or a sleep sack. Makes things so easy!
  • A hat, if it’s cold out.
  • Diapers and a pack of wipes (your hospital may provide these, but it’s better to bring some with you just in case!)
  • Hospital bag essentials for you
  • A comfortable, loose-fitting outfit to go home in.
  • Toiletries (Toothbrush, toothpaste, face wash, deodorant, moisturizer, any makeup, hairbrush, shampoo, conditioner, etc.)
  • A comfortable dressing gown or labor robe. Even if you’re not a robe girl, robes make it easy to cover up quickly when visitors come in to meet the baby.
  • Nightgown/pajamas.
  • 2-3 nursing bras (if breastfeeding) or 2-3 comfy bras if not breastfeeding.
  • Nipple cream (if breastfeeding).
  • Breast pads (For leaks, will likely happen whether you’re breastfeeding or not).
  • For your partner or whoever will be with you during labor + recovery
  • A change of clothes
  • Toiletries
  • Some snacks and drinks
  • Camera, if you want them to take pictures or record video
  • Extra camera batteries
  • They should wear comfortable shoes
  • An app to time contractions
  • Pillow and blanket if they’re sleeping over
  • Things to make you more comfortable
  • Comfy socks or slippers or both. Your feet will probably get cold. Just trust me on this one. Make sure they are anti-slip! No matter how you give birth, you’ll be a little shaky and unstable afterward and it’s a really good idea to have some non-slip socks.
  • Some pillows. The pillows at the hospital are sometimes pretty thin and you’ll only have a couple of them. Bring some comfy pillows from home – and don’t forget one for whoever will be staying in the recovery room with you, especially if they’ll be there overnight!
  • Chapstick. I forgot this even though it’s on every single hospital bag checklist ever. I really, really wished I had some chapstick. Bring chapstick!
  • Hairbands or hair ties for longer hair. If you are probably the type of person who doesn’t want her hair in her face while giving birth, I strongly recommend bringing a thick headband or at least a few hair ties or a cute scrunchie to tame your locks. I have long hair and thought I might make it look cute in the delivery room, but nope – I just threw it up in a bun to get it out of my way.
  • Earplugs. If you have an overnight stay you might want these, but a lot of people don’t want them so that they can hear their baby better at night. Totally a personal preference!
  • Hand cream. My hands got super dry in the hospital.
  • Dry shampoo. Even if you manage to get to the shower quickly, you’ll appreciate having some dry shampoo on-hand to freshen up for photos – and for yourself! It’s kinda hard not to look like a grease-ball after having a baby… dry shampoo to the rescue. Grab a little baby trial size one so that it doesn’t take up too much space in your hospital bag.
  • Things to help you get more comfortable during labor
  • I didn’t opt to bring any of these things, but a couple of my friends have talked about how they really appreciated having these on-hand during labor.
  • A movie to watch, a game to play, or a book to read. (I might have taken a book, but my epidural wore off quickly and there is no way I was going to be reading during labor… LOL).
  • Some of your favorite music.
  • Your birth plan, if you have one.
  • Water spray to cool down.
  • A portable fan to clip onto your hospital bed. A friend told me about this idea and I thought it was nothing short of genius.

Stuff to make you feel more human after giving birth

While these are all totally optional, don’t underestimate this section. Almost no one enjoys hospital stays and I can guarantee you that you’ll be a lot more comfortable with a few things to make you feel more like yourself during that first couple of days postpartum.

Packing a small bag of essentials will help you breathe a little easier. Here are some ideas to make you feel better at the hospital:

  • Nice, trial-size toiletries that you enjoy using. I splurged on a few nice skincare items that I don’t normally use. You might appreciate a little extra pampering post-baby. I chose a moisturizer and a facial scrub that both smell amazing – they really lifted my spirits when I was able to escape to the bathroom for some alone time.
  • Something that smells good. Check with your hospital, but you might be able to bring a small candle or a diffuser to your labor room and postpartum delivery room. Your hospital bag must-haves are really whatever makes you feel great! If you love a warm, familiar smell then see if you can bring something that reminds you of home.
  • A pretty robe/nursing gown. If being comfy AND looking cute post-delivery is a priority for you, I’ve got some good news for you. There are some SUPER adorable robes that are meant for the labor and delivery room. Some of them even come with a matching swaddle for your baby. So freaking cute.
  • Your own pads and underwear. Bringing your own from home, just in case, is a good idea. Sometimes the stuff the hospital gives you is completely fine, but sometimes it’s super uncomfortable or just doesn’t fit right. Bring a bag of large maxi pads and several pairs of big, comfortable underwear (probably older ones) to avoid an undergarment crisis.

At the end of the day, bring whatever will make you feel comfortable. If you’re worried that you might need something but you don’t want to carry a million bags up to the hospital’s third floor, pack a bag of things you might need and leave it in your car. And if you end up needing it, ask a relative or friend to go grab it for you.

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Hey! I'm a freelance writer and a mom of three. I've been blogging for over 10 years now and def I write posts here about working from home as a parent, mindful parenting, and tips for how to develop a more sustainable home.

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