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What to pack in a hospital bag

Find out what to pack in your hospital bag, when to pack a hospital bag, and what you don’t actually need in a hospital bag


If your due date is coming up quickly, it’s time to pack a hospital bag.


Don’t put off packing a hospital bag!  It can be anxiety-inducing, because it makes the birth “real.”  But trust us – you will be glad you packed a hospital bag sooner than later.


Have your hospital bag ready to go no later than 36 or 37 weeks.  You want to be prepared in case you go into labor before your due date.


Some things are must-haves.  For example, you need a car seat installed in order to leave the hospital.  But it’s also important to bring along other things for your own comfort and peace of mind.


Here’s our guide to everything you will need (or want) to pack in your hospital bag.


What to pack for baby


A car seat.  This needs to be installed.  They won’t let you take your baby home from the hospital without a car seat.


A going-home outfit.  This can be tricky because you don’t yet know how large your baby will be.  Pack two outfits just to be safe.  One outfit should be newborn-size and the other should be 0-3 months.  If it’s cold, pack a hat, socks, or sweatshirt as well.


Your pediatrician’s contact info.  The doctors and nurses will ask you for this information.  Write it down on a post-it and throw it in your bag for quick reference.  Include a fax number for the pediatrician’s office so they can easily forward medical records.


Bottles.  If you plan to bottle-feed, make sure to pack two or three bottles for the hospital.


Do not bring diapers or wipes.  The hospital has you covered on baby diapers and wipes.  In fact, it’s a good idea to stash some of the free diapers and wipes in your bag on the way out of the hospital.


What to pack for you


Your birth plan.  If you have a written birth plan, print a few copies.  You will be scrambling when baby comes and will be glad you have it written down.  Bring a couple copies for your chart and labor nurses.  It can be beneficial to underline or highlight some key points for quick reference.


A robe.  A comfy robe is one of the best postpartum clothing items out there.  Bring your own to make things feels a bit more homey in the hospital.


Toiletries.  Don’t forget your hair brush, shampoo, toothbrush and toothpaste, deodorant, lip balm, hair ties and face wipes.  Remember your glasses if you wear them.


Comfy clothes.  Pair a comfortable top with a loose pant like joggers or lightweight sleeping pants/ pajamas.  Another option is packing a PJ set.  Postpartum leggings can also be a great and comfy option.  Overall, comfort is key.  Slipper socks and slippers are cozy and easy shoes.  Bring slip-on shoes like flip-flops or crocs for the journey home.  Feet swelling is common post-partum so you’ll be grateful for shoes that fit easily.


Drinks.  Bring a reusable water bottle.  If you want something more than water, coconut water or Gatorade are both good options.


An extra-long phone charger.  Hospital beds are generally pretty far from electrical outlets.  You will want a fully charged phone for taking pictures, talking to loved ones, or passing the time.


Nipple cream.  If you’re planning to breastfeed, your nipples will likely need a cream.  The hospital has some options, but if you have breastfed before and have a preferred choice, make sure to pack it.


Pillows and towels.  Hospital towels are lame.  They scratch, they are thin and non-absorbent.  They have been washed a zillion times.  You’ll be thankful you brought a newer towel from.  Bring your pillow from home for added comfort as well.


Adult diapers.  The hospital provides pads and mesh underwear.  But many moms prefer adult diapers, like Depends, for comfort and security.


Portable speaker and/or music streaming playlist.  Playing music during labor can be soothing, distracting, or inspiring.  If you think you want music during labor, make sure to prepare an exhaustive playlist beforehand.  Labor can last 24-plus straight hours!  Don’t get stuck listening to the same 15 songs.


What your partner should pack


If you have a partner who will be in the birthing center, remind them to pack some things as well.


In addition to clothes and toiletries, here are some things to consider.


Book/iPad/headphones & general entertainment.  Download a new audiobook, a movie, or some podcasts to listen to if you have some down time.


A lightweight sleeping bag, blanket and pillow.  Hospital sheets and pillows can be sub-par and uncomfortable.


Snacks!  We saved the most important for last.  You can’t overpack snacks – you will want some non-hospital food to eat.  Try to pack something, sweet, protein-filled, and healthy.  Mama will appreciate these post-birth, too.


Once you pack your bag, you are all set to head to the hospital when baby arrives.