Skip to main content

Hospital bag checklist: What to pack for your labor and delivery stay

Here are the items you should pack in your bag for your hospital trip

Pregnant woman packing a hospital bag
JGI/Jamie Grill / Getty Images

Throughout your pregnancy, you’ve probably spent a lot of time planning. From organizing the nursery to buying the baby clothes and stocking up on supplies, you’re ready to finally welcome your little one, but first, you need to plan one more thing. Packing your hospital bag for your labor and delivery stay is just as important as planning for your new baby’s arrival, and we’re here to help you with a handy hospital bag checklist, so you won’t forget anything.

When to pack the bag

One thing we know about babies is that they are unpredictable, and as much as you have planned their arrival around your due date, things can change quickly! That means you really don’t want to be waiting until the last minute to pack that hospital bag. Due dates aren’t always accurate and sometimes babies come earlier than expected, and you can get overwhelmed and tired as you near the end of your pregnancy.

You’ll want to have your hospital bag packed and ready to go early in your third trimester. Make sure your partner or any other support person is aware of where your bag is so they can grab it, especially if you aren’t home when you need to go to the hospital.

Open suitcase with packing cubes
Image used with permission by copyright holder

What to pack for mom

Your time in the hospital will hopefully be brief with your baby, but you still want to ensure you’re comfortable and have everything you need. First, you need to consider what you’re going to wear at the hospital and when you leave the hospital. Remember, your body will undergo a lot of changes after delivery (but maybe not as much as you think) and comfort will be key.

Choose loose-fitting items without pesky seams that will rub against sore and tender skin. Picking the right underwear is also very important, especially if you end up undergoing a cesarean section. You’ll want cotton underwear that has a higher waist so it won’t irritate any stitches and will accommodate postpartum pads.

Here are some handy checklists to mark off:

Clothing

  • Maternity underwear or comfortable underwear that you are OK with getting ruined
  • Nursing bras or other bras that are comfortable and provide support
  • Socks, like slipper socks for slippery hospital floors and/or slippers
  • Comfortable loungewear, whether that’s pajamas or joggers, or a robe — you want layers since the hospital could run hot or cold
  • Slip-on shoes because you may not want to be bending over to tie laces after having a baby
  • Comfortable going home outfit

Toiletries

  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Hairbrush/comb and any scrunchies, elastics, or clips you may want to put your hair up
  • Lip balm, lotion, and any makeup you may want
  • Deodorant, face wash, shampoo, and conditioner
  • Absorbent maxi pads (the hospital will have some, this is if you want to have your own)
  • Towel from home — hospital towels can be small and scratchy

Other

  • ID and insurance card
  • Pens for all those forms you’ll be filling out
  • Cell phone charger
  • Birth plan (if applicable)
  • Glasses if you wear them
  • Book or magazine for a long labor
  • A few light snacks
  • An extra bag to pack gifts and samples the hospital provides

What to pack for baby

The hospital will have everything you need for your baby during your stay, including diapers, wipes, blankets, and gowns, but you’ll want to have a few special things packed for your little one for their first trip home.

  • Going home outfit and hat (you may want to pack two options in different sizes)
  • Blanket for warmth
  • Receiving blankets or burp cloths for quick clean-ups on the way home
  • Car seat
  • Pediatrician information
  • Bottles if you’re not planning to breastfeed

Pregnant woman in labor at hospital

What to pack for any labor and delivery support people

Although mom and baby are the priority when packing for a hospital stay, your partner or labor support person may also need a few supplies. Packing a few snacks, like granola bars and energy drinks, can come in handy, especially if you labor overnight. Cafeterias will be closed and having something quick to grab can help your partner stay energized without having to leave your side.

They should also have a change of clothes and a small bag of personal toiletry items to freshen up with, especially if they don’t want to leave the hospital. Your partner may also want to download a few episodes of a favorite show, bring a book, or have some games handy to pass away some of those long hours in the hospital.

Should you bring multiple bags?

Now is not the time to overpack, and most people leave the hospital with more than what they arrived with. Between gifts for the baby, hospital supplies, and the paperwork that comes with having a newborn, you will have your hands full when leaving the hospital. That being said, having one bag with your essentials, one for the baby, and one for any extras you may have thought to bring can help you easily access what you need during your hospital stay.

For new mothers who give birth without any complications, the typical hospital stay is between one and two days, so there’s no need to pack for an extended stay. Should you require a more lengthy stay, you can always have a backup bag at home ready for someone to bring for you.

Make your trip to the hospital as stress-free as possible by having everything you need packed and ready to go at least a few weeks before your due date. These items are just a guideline to help you decide what you want to pack in your own bag. Everyone’s needs are different, and the most important thing is that you’ve planned properly and are ready to go before your baby arrives.

Editors' Recommendations

Kelli Catana
Contributor
Kelli is a freelance writer who has covered the world of entertainment, pop culture, parenting, and lifestyle for various…
How do you determine fetal weight? Use an estimated fetal weight calculator
Here's why estimated fetal weight is important
A pregnant woman holding a laptop in her lap while holding her belly

Expectant parents are curious about every aspect of their unborn child. Whether it's finding out the gender or using those 3d sonogram images to see if the baby has hair, there's endless fascination in finding out everything possible before the baby is born, and that includes birth weight. Knowing how much your baby weighs while in the womb isn't just a good way to help mentally prepare for childbirth, but it's also an important marker for fetal development that can impact wellness outcomes during childhood and adolescence.

Low birth weight can affect brain development in infancy and childhood, as studies have shown that it impacts cerebral cortex development well into adolescence. The cerebral cortex is the area of the brain responsible for functions such as consciousness, thought, emotion, reasoning, language, and memory. It's a pretty big deal.

Read more
We love these creative maternity photoshoot ideas
Maternity shots that will stand out more than your belly
A couple with their hands over pregnant belly.

When someone shows you their maternity pictures, you'll probably look at the same types of poses over and over again. So, when it's your turn to capture that belly on film, you want to make sure your pictures don't look like everyone else's. If you can't think of how to snap pictures of your growing bump, give one of these different themes a try. Capture the magic with inspiration from any of these maternity photoshoot ideas.
The more, the merrier
Here are some ideas that involve more than Mom.

Invite everyone in the shot
Do you have furry, four-legged children? Include them. Do you have older children? Make sure they get in there. Have a partner? Maybe get one or two with them, as well. Yes, the focus is on the pregnant person, but that doesn't mean you can't get a few shots with those you love the most.
Take this one further
Let's get even more into this idea. If you have multiple generations of females alive and well, try getting a photo of them all together.
Take things outside
Consider these ideas that include the outdoors.

Read more
What is nesting? Everything you need to know about this totally normal behavior
From feathery moms to human moms, nesting is a part of preparing for having a baby
Pregnant woman planning for baby.

From strange food cravings to constant body changes to not being able to tie your shoes, pregnancy brings about quite a few interesting shifts in life. One part of pregnancy that might seem to come out of nowhere is a fun stage called "nesting." If a vision of a bird prepping a nest for their little ones comes to mind, you are on the right track. It is along the same lines, but for people. Here's what nesting means when it doesn't relate to furry or feathery animals.

Nesting basics
What nesting is
From squirrels to cats, moms-to-be of various species have the need to create a space for their little one's arrival. Nesting is the urge to organize, clean, and prep the home for baby. It's that second wind feeling mom feels to get everything ready. And to double-check everything is ready. And maybe triple-check.
When nesting starts
A woman might feel the urge to start nesting toward the end of pregnancy or the third trimester, but it could hit in the fourth trimester. The feeling could come a few weeks before the baby's due date or as late as the week before. Every pregnancy is different, so the exact week varies, but if you are past the second trimester, the urge to redo the house isn't too far away.
Why nesting happens
The surge of adrenaline, hormones, and estrogen during the third trimester gives pregnant women a burst of energy to get things done. There's also the evolutionary factor where a mother is getting ready to protect their young.

Read more