As your due date approaches, you’ve got a lot on your mind. One important task you’ll need to complete a few weeks before delivery is to pack your hospital bag. We recommend having your bag packed from about 32 weeks in case you go into early labor. Even if the bag ends up sitting by your door for weeks, you’ll feel better knowing you’re prepared. And the last thing you want is to be running around trying to pack while you’re in labor!
But what do you really need? What can you leave at home? Here’s a hospital bag checklist to get you started. We’ve divided the list into essential items and a few options for added comfort.
Whether you are in the hospital for a few hours or a couple of days, there are a few important items you’ll want to include in your hospital bag.
- Birth plan – print out a few copies, one for your doctor and nurses, one for your birth partner, and one for you.
- Cell phone charger – you’ll want to let friends and family know, via text or email, when your little bundle arrives, so pack an extra charger so you can share the news without worrying about your phone’s battery life.
- Baby outfit – you’ll need something for the baby to wear home from the hospital, so pack a couple of sleeper sets or pajamas. It doesn’t hurt to pack two different sizes, as you won’t know for sure how big your baby will be. If you live in a cold climate, be sure to pack a hat, extra blanket, and socks or booties.
- Nipple cream – the hospital may have some, but it’s a good idea to pack a tube of nipple cream in your hospital bag. Your nipples will likely feel sore and chapped as you learn how to breastfeed, and a lanolin-based cream provides soothing relief.
- Baby diapers and wipes – the hospital will have plenty of diapers and baby wipes on hand, so don’t worry about bringing too many, unless you plan on using cloth diapers. If so, bring a zip-up laundry bag to store soiled diapers until you get home.
- Vaseline or diaper cream – diaper cream will soon become a staple of your diaper bag, but here’s a handy hospital tip: after your baby is born, smear some Vaseline or diaper cream on their bottom. It makes cleaning up the first sticky meconium poop much easier!
- Copies of insurance and ID documents – chances are you will have your wallet with you, but it’s wise to keep copies of your documents in your hospital bag in case you don’t have a chance to grab your wallet on your way to the hospital.
- Hair ties – if you have long hair, pack a couple of hair elastics or clips so you can keep your hair out of your face during delivery.
- Change of clothes – you may not need them if you end up going home the same day, but pack an extra pair of comfortable clothes, like your favorite t-shirt and stretchy sweatpants. Don’t forget spare underwear! If you plan on nursing, bring along a nursing bra or stretchy tank top.
- Eye care – do you wear glasses or contact lenses? Have a spare contact lens case and solution packed so you can pop out your contacts at the hospital. If you wear glasses, make sure to pack them or keep a spare set in your hospital bag. You’ll likely prefer wearing them over contact lenses immediately after delivery.
- Towel (for the car) – throw an old towel in the back of the car. You can sit on it on the way to the hospital, which will help with any mess if your water breaks en route.
- Snacks – your doctor may not want you to eat once labor progresses past a certain point. But it’s a good idea to keep some crackers or granola bars on hand, especially if labor moves slowly. Don’t forget to pack snacks for your birth partner!
- Water bottle – labor is hard work, and it’s important to keep up your fluids the whole time. Ask your birth partner to be in charge of giving you regular sips of water throughout the delivery.
- Pads – the hospital will likely provide you with pads to wear post-delivery, but it doesn’t hurt to have a few extras on hand. Some moms also find that adult diapers such as Depends are more comfortable than the scratchy pads the hospital provides.
While these items aren’t absolutely essential, packing a few extra comfort pieces won’t hurt if you’ve got the room in your bag.
- Deodorant – there’s a good chance you’ll work up a sweat during delivery, and while you may not have a chance to shower, having the ability to put on deodorant can help you feel a little more human.
- Perineal spray – add this to your bag for some soothing post-partum relief.
- Robe – you’ll feel better wearing something comfortable and fuzzy from home, either while you wait for labor to progress or while you’re resting post-delivery.
- Slippers – hospital floors are not only cold but full of germs. Pack a pair of slip-on socks or slippers to walk around in while you’re there.
- Toothbrush and toothpaste – after being in the hospital for a few hours, you’ll be grateful for the simple act of brushing your teeth.
- Hairbrush – after delivery the last thing you’ll be thinking about is your appearance. But at some point, before you leave the hospital, you may want to run a brush through your hair.
- Music – while some women want total silence during labor, others find music soothing. It also helps pass the time in the hospital. Why not put together a ‘labor playlist’ on your phone and pack some portable speakers?
- Lip balm – keep a moisturizing lip balm handy for chapped lips during and after delivery.
- A pillow – if you need to remain in the hospital post-delivery, you may appreciate having something more comfortable than a stiff hospital pillow.