A no BS, realistic guide to what you actually need to pack in your hospital bag for labour and delivery. A guide to make sure you pack all these must have items in your hospital bag for a successful childbirth experience.
So it’s finally that time in your pregnancy where it is time to start thinking about packing your hospital bag! But where do you even start? Unless you have had a baby before its hard to know how much stuff you need and what will be provided to you.
When I packed my bag I researched way to much and had so much information that I totally over packed. Seriously you should have seen what my husband had to haul to the hotel (Yes I said hotel, its not a typo- check out my 31 hour birth story here).
When to pack your bag
I went a little overboard on this one and was packed by 30 weeks which was certainly overkill. The thought of not having my hospital bag ready though and suddenly going into labour terrified me, so I just did it to get it over with.
Most people pack their bags by 36-37 weeks. This way you arnt caught off guard if you go into labour a bit early.
How Much Should I bring?
I brought everything minus the kitchen sink with me, and how much did I use? Maybe 50% of it. Seriously, there is no need to pack 3 huge bags (baby, mom and dad) like I did – it just ends up sitting there unused and is just in the way when you are trying to leave to head out to deliver your baby.
Things to Keep in Mind
- You will want to be comfortable
- Bring baby essentials only
- Bring essentials for your partner
Okay, now that we have covered the basics, here is what you should pack
Hospital Bag Packing Guide
1. Socks or slippers
The hospital floor is disgusting. As a nurse I cannot tell you how many repulsive things land on the floor and even though it is cleaned, you couldn’t pay me to walk around in bare feet. So bring something easy to either keep on like socks or slip on like slippers. I personally preferred slippers because my feet were so hot when I was in labour.
The hospital is so dry. Not only that, but when you are in labour you may or may not be able to drink and trying to breathe through contractions both make your lips. Bring a chapstick with you so you don’t have to deal with chapped lips on top of all the other fun things you will get to deal with postpartum.
You might also like my post on what REALLY HAPPENS DURING THE POSTPARTUM PHASE.
3. Water bottle
The hospital will likely supply you with a jug of ice water and a little cup. I hated both of those, the cup was too small or I would knock my jug on myself when a contraction came. It was just completely annoying. I made my husband go buy me a water bottle at the gift shop so I could just keep it beside me in the bed and grab it when I needed. It seems like overkill but it really made me more comfortable, and when your getting ready to push out a watermelon it is the little things that make all the difference!
4. Birth Plan
If you made one you will want to bring it with you and give it to the hospital staff as soon as you arrive. This is super important especially if you have a lot of specific things you wish to have happen or not happen during your labour and delivery. You can check out my post on how to write a birth plan HERE.
The specifics here will be different for everyone. What I can tell you is that the shower after you have your baby will feel like the most glorious moment ever. I bought special soaps, shampoo and lotions just to give myself a treat – Afterall I did just birth a human. Some things you will want to bring are:
- Hair ties
- Shampoo and conditioner
- Toothbrush and toothpaste
6. Nursing Supplies
- A stretchy nursing bra – your milk may or may not come in during your stay and your breasts can increase an entire cup size when it does so something stretchy is helpful to accommodate this
- Nipple cream
- Nursing shirt
- Cover up – This one is a personal choice but if you feel uncomfortable bearing it all you may want a cover up. Keep in mind though that nurses and lactation consultants will be wanting a look to check on babies latch and help you starting to breastfeed.
Check out my post on HOW TO BECOME A BREASTFEEDING EXPERT DURING PREGNANCY for more details on how to prepare.
7. Comfortable clothing
I cannot stress enough to bring a comfortable outfit and a spare outfit (spit up and leaky boobs happen so come prepared). No one can predict how your baby will be delivered and what toll it can take on your body so come ready with items that are appropriate for either a c-section or a vaginal birth.
Also, keep in mind you will still look about 6 months pregnant when you leave, so leave those cute little skinny jeans at home! I brought stretchy maternity yoga leggings with a waistband that could either be pulled up over my belly or folded down over itself, a breastfeeding t-shirt and cardigan.
8. Phone and Charger
You will want to be in contact with family and also many people take pictures and videos on their phones. Trust me you will want these and the hospital will not supply a charger if your phone dies.
9. Other things to consider
You may have noticed I didn’t include anything about a labour gown, housecoat, towels, pads, peri wash bottles, or perineal spray. That is because my hospital provided all of those to me!
Don’t be afraid to call the labour and delivery ward and find out what they will provide you. There is no sense in packing it if they will provide it to you – especially if you are already paying for it!
1. Diapers & Wipes
Yes the hospital will provide you with both, but if you are specific about the brand you will definitely want to bring your own. I also wanted to have some for the way home as we had a bit of a drive. Don’t go crazy here though your baby will only pee 1-3 times a day for the first few days and may only have 1 bowel movement a day, so leave the economy size pack at home.
2. Receiving blanket
While the hospital has some, I always found the material to be a bit rough and preferred to have my own receiving blankets.
3. Swaddle blanket
I always recommend first time parents bring their own swaddle blanket so the nurses can show you how to do a nice tight swaddle on your own blanket! Seriously, its so much easier to learn and practice on what you will actually be using, especially when that sleep exhaustion kicks in when you get home.
4. Nursing pillow
The hospital will supply you with pillows, but they will likely be flat and slide around quite a bit. I didn’t bring mine and it was one of my biggest regrets. Even after only being in the hospital less than 24 hours after childbirth, I started having some minor upper back pain due to leaning over trying to get into the correct position to breastfeed. I really wish I had brought my breastfeeding pillow, so learn from my mistake!
5. Baby clothing
No one ever knows how big or tiny their baby will actually be, so I feel like everyone has a tendency to over pack here. But keep It to a minimum. Dress for function over style. Trust me, your one day old does not need a pair of jeans and button up shirt.
Stick to the essentials: footed sleepers or Long-sleeved onesie with stretchy pants, and a hat. If you are worried about the outfit being too small or too big pack the same amount of clothing in newborn and 0-3 months. (Obviously, you may need more or less layers depending on the season, but a good rule of thumb is that a newborn will need one more layer than you are wearing to be comfortable)
6. Diaper rash cream
Those little bottoms are not used to being wiped, or having a diaper on all the time. Prevent a rash before it happens!
My husband literally threw together his bag after my water broke (read more about that here) – I was so stressed out about it, but he had it all together in about 5 minutes flat. Here is what he packed:
- Change of comfy clothes
- Wallet and change for vending machine
- Phone and charger
I know that this list could go on forever, but I wanted it to be REALISTIC and to the point – not a never ending list on how to move yourself into the hospital. Trust me your partner will thank you when they don’t have to lug in three different bags while pushing you in a wheelchair.
Wondering what the postpartum phase is really like? Checkout my COMPLETE POSTPARTUM GUIDE HERE.
Don’t forget to grab your FREE hospital bag checklist here.
Were there other items you couldn’t live without in your hospital bag? I would love to hear from you in the comments.