What to pack in your hospital bag

Giving birth for the first time is both a joyous and nerve-wrecking experience.

You’re beaming and ecstatic about meeting your baby for the first time, but you’re terrified about the unknown feeling of labor pain and surprises that might arise.

Your first instinct is to bring everything you have to the hospital just in case.

 

What do you realistically need in your hospital bag for labor and delivery?

Before I went to the hospital, I spent hours looking through hospital bag checklists. Asking friends about their experience and what they included in their labor and delivery bag.

I wanted to be prepared, but I didn’t want to overpurchase. What I often heard over and over again is “Don’t overpack.”

Even with that advice, I still overpacked.

Before I go into my realistic hospital bag checklist for moms, dads and babies, here’s an important tip…

A Realistic Hospital Bag Checklist

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read the disclosure for more information.

 

Save money on your labor bag by using:

Amazon Baby Registry

  • Amazon provides you with a one-time 10% discount on select items from your registry, 60 days before your child’s arrival date.
  • If you are an Amazon Prime member, the one-time discount is 15%! Amazon Prime also comes with 20% off diapers and baby food when you have more than 5 subscriptions. The best part about this membership: 2 day FREE shipping and FREE access to movies, TV shows, music and books. You can cancel your other subscriptions!

There are also FREE 90 day returns on baby store purchases. Get the FREE 30 day Amazon Prime trial here. You can cancel at anytime.

Rakuten (formerly Ebates)

  • Before purchasing items on Amazon, go through Rakuten first!
  • Companies pay a commission to Rakuten for advertising on their site. Rakuten then shares that commission with you. Depending on the rates, you could get up to 40% of your purchase price back!
  • Rakuten is FREE to sign up.

For U.S. residents, Rakuten will give you a welcome bonus of $10 after making your first online purchase of $25 or more.

For Canadians, it’s a $5 welcome bonus for signing up. You can read more about how to use Rakuten here!

Now onto what to pack in your hospital bag (PDF is at the bottom for reference)…

 

What to pack in your hospital bag for labor and delivery:

1. ID, health insurance card, hospital paperwork

2. 1 box of energy barsWhether or not you can eat during labor is a topic you should discuss with your doctor. For my experience, I ate Cliff Bars before and after labor.

checklist hospital bag

I checked into the hospital in the evening, was induced with cervadil to soften my cervix and then ate 1 cliff bar before going to bed. When I woke up in the morning, I ate another cliff bar before they broke my water and gave me pitocin. I didn’t eat anything else during labor.

The reason I chose energy bars is because I wanted to eat something that filled me up and gave me energy for labor, but didn’t make me feel too full and uncomfortable. I found the cliff bars hit the spot!

3. Lip balm – During labor, you are constantly breathing through your mouth and drying your lips out which is where lip balm comes in handy.

4. Water bottle – Having a good water bottle is important to stay hydrated throughout labor.

I just brought this Voss water bottle that I’ve been reusing for years because it’s extra large and made of glass so there’s no unwanted flavoring from the bottle.

I have friends that love this Lifefactory water bottle because it’s also made of glass, but has this silicone sleeve for easier gripping and an opening that’s large enough to put ice cubes easily in if you overheat and just need to chomp on cubes.

baby hospital bag checklist pdf

What to pack in your hospital bag after delivery:

5. 1 pack of disposable adult underwear – The hospital had giant adult diapers with the sticky tabs in front. When you’re postpartum, struggling to use the bathroom, and bleeding non-stop, these diapers are challenging to maneuver and get on.

I got my share of blood on the floor and on myself trying to put those diapers in place. The last thing you want to do when you’re postpartum is bend down for anything. Even worse – bend down to clean up blood!

I highly recommend getting the pull-on Depends underwear. You can easily slip it on while you’re on the toilet. Most importantly, it’s comfortable. When you’re looking at the sizing, go with one size up from your pre-pregnancy size. For example, I’m usually a size S and I went with the size S/M.

Hospital Bag Checklist Printable

6. Dark colored clothes that are comfortable enough to sleep in (2 pants, 2 button down shirts for easier breastfeeding, 2 pairs of thick socks to keep you warm). Dark is important because you will have postpartum bleeding or milk stain accidents while guests are there!

For the pants, I just used my maternity leggings. Yes – you will still look 6 months pregnant even after you give birth! It’ll take a few weeks for your uterus to shrink. In total, I actually only used 1 outfit while I was there and I went home in it! It’s always good to bring a second outfit just in case!

Hospital Bag Checklist for Mom and Baby

7. Robe – My hospital room was warm so I didn’t use the robe often. I only used it when I needed to cover up at the hospital when guests came. I did use the robe in my first few months postpartum. It was a quick and comfortable way to warm up and easy to maneuver to breastfeed. If you’ve booked a c-section, I heard a robe is helpful as the operating room can be cold.

8. Nursing bra with no underwire – I only used this nursing bra when I was leaving the hospital. I stayed in my hospital gown the entire time I was there. It was just easier, especially when learning how to breastfeed.

Once I got home from the hospital, I did use the nursing bra every time I left the house. It was comfortable and inexpensive. It has easy-to-use nursing clips. I’ve tried similar nursing bras without underwires from other retailers and this one is the cheapest for relatively good quality.

hospital bag list for mom

9. Nursing pillow – Here’s the nursing pillow I recommend. I left mine at home and I regretted it! When you’re postpartum, your body is weak so every little aid helps!

what to pack in labor bag

10. Toiletries (toothbrush, toothpaste, face wash, moisturizer, shampoo, conditioner, deodorant etc.) – You could also bring a hairbrush and makeup for the first family portrait. I never ended up using the shampoo and conditioner because I didn’t need to take a shower while I was there.

11. Phone and charger – This is not only handy for contacting family and friends, but also to keep track of baby feeding times.

12. Paper file folder – Some type of file folder or holder to store all of the baby paperwork and information you’ll receive helps! The hospital paperwork is just the beginning. I had dozens of important papers for my daughter filed by the end of her first year!

Keeping everything in one place at the beginning ensures you don’t lose any important papers. You can always organize it later on when you leave the hospital!

Hospital Bag Checklist for Labor

13. Prenatal vitamins – This is something I forgot to take! Perhaps ask your significant other to remind you to take these.

Hospital Bag Checklist for Dad:

14. Camera unless he is planning on using his phone

15. Phone and charger

16. Change of clothes

17. Pillow and blanket

18. Snacks

Hospital Bag Checklist for Baby:

19. 1 pack of Diapers (20+ diapers) and Wipes – I only used a handful of diapers and wipes, but it was good to have extra just in case we had to stay more days.

20. Kleenex – I initially used this to quickly wipe my hands at the changing area and not leave the baby unattended (i.e. go to the bathroom to wash my hands). When I got home, I realized it was more cost efficient to use a washable towel.

21. Vaseline or alternative bum cream – I used this to be able to easily remove the meconium poop.

22. Car seat

23. Car seat canopy – This car seat canopy was handy to block the wind when we walked her out of the hospital for the first time.

what to pack in hospital bag for labor

24. Going home outfit – I picked a onesie with folded out mittens, a sweater and a toque because my baby was born in winter.

25. Blanket – I used a baby blanket to put on the baby while she was outside in the car seat because I delivered in winter.

If you’re delivering in the spring or summer, I recommend using the aden and anais muslin blankets because they can also be used as a burp cloth, nursing cover, tummy time mat etc.

Hospital Bag Checklist

26. Diaper Backpack – Putting all of the things you need for your baby in the diaper bag will keep things organized during your hospital stay.

I highly recommend carefully selecting your diaper bag. My first diaper bag was a messenger bag, which only had a few compartments. When I was planning a flight across the country with my baby, I quickly realized this diaper bag wouldn’t do.

I needed a diaper bag with:

  • Many more pockets to keep things secure, separate and easy to locate
  • A backpack configuration so I could be completely and comfortably hands-free as I was traveling solo with my baby on a plane
  • Is gender neutral in color so her dad could use it
  • Has a back pocket so I don’t have to worry about guarding my personal valuables

I came across the Ferlin travel diaper bag and I love it.

But…

If I were to pick now, I would instead select this KidisPro diaper backpack. This bag is very similar to the Ferlin backpack – even down to the comfortable ergonomic straps, BUT it has a laptop/tablet specific pocket. During my maternity leave, I often found myself carrying both my diaper backpack and my laptop bag. Having an all-in-one would be ideal!

Hospital Bag Essentials

 

Here’s what’s NOT on my hospital bag essentials:

  • Slippers – I just used my warm winter socks when I was walking around.
  • Birth plan – I didn’t pull this out once. I just went with the flow of what happened.
  • Nursing tank top – I didn’t use this as I already had the nursing bra. In hindsight, I should have just brought either the nursing bra or nursing tank top to the hospital.
  • Cotton underwear – I just used the Depends underwear.
  • Nursing pads – Even when my milk came in several days after I had already left the hospital, I didn’t end up needing these.
  • Nipple cream – My nipples cracked a week or so after I had already left the hospital, but even then, I only used saliva to heal them so I didn’t end up using this.
  • Flip flops – I didn’t need them because I didn’t end up taking a shower at the hospital.
  • Lotion for massage, personal focal point, gum or hard candy – I didn’t end up using any of these tools during labor. Every person’s labor is different. If I have a second child, I might bring these again just in case.
  • Baby sleepers – I packed so many outfits, but my baby slept in a swaddled hospital blanket the whole time she was there. I only ended up using the going home outfit.
  • Personal pillow – I found the hospital pillows were sufficient. I’ve heard moms recommend bringing this if you want a little piece of home to make you feel comfortable. If you do bring one, I’ve heard it’s best to bring a colored pillow to distinguish from the hospital’s pillows.
  • A book for light reading – I brought educational baby books like What to Expect the First Year and Baby 411 to the hospital and didn’t read them once! When I wanted to read something, I just checked my phone.
  • A baby book for memories – I was so overwhelmed and tired after the baby was born that I forgot to record anything. If this is important to you, you might want to ask your significant other to manage this.

 

Related Baby Tips Articles:

 

When should I pack my hospital bag for labor?

Pack by the 8 month mark!

I waited until the day I was induced to FINISH packing. What a mistake! Do not do this!

I actually started packing by month 8. Every time I went back to continue packing, my clothes kept getting mixed into my husband’s clothes. My baby’s little outfit got lumped in the diaper pile.  I then repacked everything into packing organizers, which is what I should have done from the beginning.

When I first heard about packing organizers, I thought it was ridiculous to spend money on a bag that you’re essentially putting inside another bag.

These organizers were worth it! They saved so much time because I knew exactly where everything was! There was no fumbling around at the hospital.

I’m also a frequent traveler. These cubes have made traveling more organized and effortless.

hospital bag checklist for mom

In hindsight, another thing I should have done is put all of her stuff in the diaper bag to keep things even more organized.

The diaper bag I initially bought was more of a hand bag so it didn’t fit everything I needed for the hospital.

I eventually got a diaper backpack because I was taking a flight with my baby and needed to be hands-free. I love this backpack because it has more compartments and functionality than most diaper bags. I’ve actually used one of the packing organizers in the diaper bag to make things even more organized!

If I have a second child, I’ll definitely be bringing this backpack to the hospital with me!

what to pack for labor

Related: Baby’s First Flight? Here are my Best Tips for Flying with a Baby on a Plane.

 

Where should you put your hospital bag for birth?

Once your bag(s) is packed, keep it in an accessible area like by the front door or in the car.

You might need to grab it quickly. Don’t forget to tell your partner and family where you’ve placed your hospital bag for delivery in case you’re not the one having to grab it last minute!

 

Hospital Bag Checklist Notes

 

1) Quantities may vary depending on your length of stay.

I was at the hospital for a total of 2 days from induction to discharge so quantities reflect this amount of stay.

If you’re at the hospital for longer than 48 hours, you might want to add more disposable adult underwear, clothes, diapers and wipes.

 

2) Before you do any packing, check with your hospital to ask what they do and do not provide you.

Our hospital had a website with a labor bag checklist. If your hospital doesn’t have one, contact the hospital’s maternity ward and ask their nurses what the hospital provides.

Realistic Hospital Bag Checklist

My hospital only provided a few adult diapers. They didn’t provide any baby essentials like diapers, wipes etc.

They had a vending machine where you could purchase these items at ridiculously inflated prices.

 

3) Speak to your maternity ward if you’re checking out without an infant car seat.

Some maternity wards have specific check-out procedures if you don’t have an infant car seat.

For example, if you have a convertible car seat, some nurses might not be willing to go to your car with you to check that you’ve secured the baby to the car seat.

 

4) Confirm your accommodations in advance

Are you going to have a private room? Can your partner stay there overnight?

In my hospital, the policies stated that I had to have a private room in order for my partner to stay in the room overnight. It couldn’t even be a semi-private room.

 

You can print this 1 page Hospital Bag Checklist PDF here.

This hospital bag checklist printable has essentials broken down into areas for mom, dad and baby. There are also important notes below.

Realistic Hospital Bag Checklist

 

Final Thoughts on the Hospital Bag Checklist PDF

Every parent’s experience and preferences are different. If I have another baby, I will definitely create a more realistic hospital bag checklist

I hope this list provides you with some insight about what can happen and what to expect.

 

In case you missed it above, you can save money on your labor bag for the hospital by signing up for:

Amazon Baby Registry

  • Amazon provides you with a one-time 10% discount on select items from your registry, 60 days before your child’s arrival date.
  • If you are an Amazon Prime member, the one-time discount is 15%! Amazon Prime also comes with 20% off diapers and baby food when you have more than 5 subscriptions. The best part about this membership: 2 day FREE shipping and FREE access to movies, TV shows, music and books. You can cancel your other subscriptions!

There are also FREE 90 day returns on baby store purchases. Get the FREE 30 day Amazon Prime trial here. You can cancel at anytime.

Rakuten (formerly Ebates)

  • Before purchasing items on Amazon, go through Rakuten first!
  • Companies pay a commission to Rakuten for advertising on their site. Rakuten then shares that commission with you. Depending on the rates, you could get up to 40% of your purchase price back!
  • Rakuten is FREE to sign up.

For U.S. residents, Rakuten will give you a welcome bonus of $10 after making your first online purchase of $25 or more.

For Canadians, it’s a $5 welcome bonus for signing up. You can read more about how to use Rakuten here!

 

Related Baby Tips Articles:

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Hospital Bag Essentials Checklist for Mom, Dad and Baby

 

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What I actually used from my Hospital Bag Checklist
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