What to Pack in a Hospital Bag

What to Pack in a Hospital Bag

As your delivery date approaches - let’s get an important to-do off of your list - packing your hospital bag. As a doula, I’ve been with hundreds of moms through labor and delivery, and I see which things get used, and which things get left in the bag. I’d love to fill you in on what I see moms actually use from their hospital bag so that you can be prepared for everything.

Personally, I like to prep four different categories:

  • Labor bag
  • Moms Postpartum Necessities
  • Dad’s Necessities
  • Baby's Gear

As a person who loves packing and organizing - there is nothing that makes me more happy than having everything packed and ready to go. To me, a packed hospital bag is a love note to a future self about to have a baby. Every time you look at those bags, future you can thank current you for all you’ve done to make the birth process a simple and straightforward day.

So what should you pack in each of these categories anyways?

Pregnant woman packing Labor BagWhat to pack in your Labor Bag

Items to keep you comfortable during birth:

  • Shoes or slippers you can slip in and out of easily - you will be taking them on and off throughout the day.

  • Grippy Socks to keep you warm.

  • Two or three nursing bras - many moms will ditch the bra when they change into a hospital gown, other moms opt out of the hospital gown and just wear leggings or shorts and a sports bra. Some moms will want a special bra so they can feel beautiful if they are laboring in the tub for a while and that they won’t worry about getting wet.

  • A stroller fan that can clip to the side of the hospital bed: you may go from hot to cold to hot as your hormones change during labor, it can be so nice to have a small fan to clip to the side of your bed.

  • Toiletries - Toothbrush,toothpaste, travel shampoo and conditioner, contact supplies and glasses, soap if you want a nice one, and don’t forget the chapstick. As a doula I’m constantly digging through the cosmetics bag for chapstick! Makeup is completely optional. If you want it, throw it in. But, you’ll look more radiant than ever when you give birth, so you can thank your body for you entering Goddess mode and leave the makeup at home if you prefer.

  • Food - you can eat whatever you want during labor unless you get an epidural. Plus, a little food can make dealing with contractions less difficult, so pack a few light snacks that you enjoy. Date energy bars, yogurt, clementines, blueberries, cheesesticks, your favorite bread and hummus all make good labor snacks. For drinks, pack electrolyte drinks like Nuun tablets, coconut water, or gatorade.

    If you do opt for an epidural, you won’t be able to eat anything and everything, but you also don’t have to completely fast. You can still drink clear liquids.

    Some liquids that can help you keep your energy up are Kettle and Fire Bone Broth which is packed with energy giving protein. Another great option is teas, such as lemon, green tea, chamomile or peppermints, which are full of vitamins and minerals that can keep you feeling steady and even give you a boost of caffeine if you’re used to a daily cup of coffee.

    In fact, my all time favorite drink to grab for moms with an epidural is a Starbucks Honey Citrus Mint Tea. The steamed lemonade, paired with vitamin C giving tea and honey gives energy and can be very grounding throughout the day.

    Want to know a really cool fact - your body uses vitamin C throughout labor to create oxytocin receptors. So whether you are laboring naturally, or supporting your labor with pitocin, which is a synthetic form of oxytocin, keeping yourself hydrated with drinks containing vit C can help your labor progress!

  • A tens unit - a tens unit is a little device you use on your back that sends electronic signals through your body. It feels a bit like a massage chair tingle but is sent with electrodes. It can help interrupt the pain signals the contractions create from traveling to your brain effectively. These can be ordered from amazon and can really help keep pain in check. It’s even helpful for moms planning on getting an epidural to use until they get admitted.

  • Aromatherapy - Some moms like to use aromatherapy during labor. The oils I see moms use are peppermint to help with nausea and the first post baby pee (put a drop or two in the toilet, it will help you go), Bergamot to help ease anxiety (grab a cup of ice water to keep a cool rag in and add a drop of bergamot. It will feel so good when the shakes of transition hit.) Clary Sage (get a diluted massage oil and massage on the lower back or temples, or drop on your hands and inhale. It helps dull aches and can even help contractions stay consistent. Don’t use this one before 38 weeks of pregnancy.)

  • ID, Insurance, paperwork for work.

  • Tech - Chargers for your phones, a laptop or ipad to watch a show, bluetooth speaker to play music, headphones if you like the privacy and help zoning out that headphones give.

  • Your Birth Plan - The staff at the hospital are involved in multiple births at once. It’s a great idea to have a brief summary of who you are and what is important to you in your birth to help them customize their care to you. Make sure to check out week XX to learn more about creating a birth plan that works.

  • A call list - if you have a long list of family and friends you want your partner to text a birth announcement to, it can be helpful to give him a list.

  • Something soft from home - hospitals don’t always give the most warm and friendly vibes. Having a soft blanket, or your own pillow, can be nice to have for parts of labor. Although, keep in mind that labor can be a bit messy, so don’t bring anything you would be disappointed if it got a spot of blood or mucus on it.

  • A water bottle with a straw - when you’re in a hospital bed or trying to grab a small sip between contractions, a drink with a straw is much easier to use and will help you stay hydrated better.

Pregnant woman preparing labor bagWhat To Pack In Your Postpartum Bag

  • A Robe or Sweatshirt that opens in the front. Your baby will benefit from skin to skin throughout the first months of life. And letting them snuggle their body up against yours is a wonderful way to support your milk coming in and your baby latching properly if you are planning to breastfeed. It can feel much more comfortable to wear a simple robe or sweatshirt that you can wrap around you and baby than the hospital gown.

  • Depends. The hospital will have gigantic pads and mesh underwear if you’d like to use it - but Depends are a much more comfortable option for those first days when you still may be bleeding quite a bit.

  • Leggings for 2-5 days. You will likely spend one to two days in the hospital, or maybe even three or four if you have a surgical birth. Of course, you don’t have to wear any pants while you are there, but if you have visitors, or if you want to be up and moving at all, you may want pants or a maxi dress or nightgown that you feel cozy in.

  • Another pair of grippy socks or two so you can walk around your room without slipping.

  • Cute going home outfit.

  • Breast pump + nipple cream. Your hospital should provide you with many essentials such as a peri bottle, and they will have breast pumps there, but I always recommend moms bring their own so that their nurse can help them learn to use the one they have and the one they will use when they get home. Taking it out of the box and putting it together is often the most difficult part of using a breast pump. Those things can seem intimidating! But trust me, they are pretty simple.

  • Milk Tea to help your milk come in if you are breastfeeding.

    If you aren’t breastfeeding - look into what supplies you might want to help prevent your milk from coming in. Usually you want a super tight sports bra, ice compresses (which the hospital can provide) and sage tea.

  • Colostrum if you expressed and saved any in the last weeks of pregnancy. Since this needs to be kept cool, it is a quick last minute grab if you plan on bringing it.

What To Pack In Your Partner’s Bag

Your partner won’t need as many supplies as you, but they don’t want to be running back and forth from the hospital every time they need something either. Here are a few things partners should have with them in their go bag.

  • A few button up shirts or zip up hoodies so they can also do skin to skin. If you want your partner to do skin to skin right after you do, encourage them to wear a button down or zip up shirt to the birth. If you are giving birth via surgery, your partner can even do skin to skin with your little one in the OR if you aren’t going to.
  • 3-5 days worth of clothing. Most births will be about a 12-18 hour process once you check in, with a day or two of recovery. But, inductions can last anywhere from one to three days, and surgery can add a day or two of time at the hospital as well. Most partners need a few more outfits than they anticipate.
  • Something warm for night. You will be provided with many more blankets than your partner. Many of the hospitals I have been in are very cold, so it is nice when a birth partner has something warm they can easily access.
  • Snacks + a water bottle. Whatever they like.
  • Technology. Their phone, (which I assume is also their camera), charger, a tablet or computer for when you two are passing time in postpartum, headphones if they will watch anything while you are asleep

Nuna PIPA Aire RX infrant car seatWhat To Pack In Your Baby Bag

The hospital will have almost everything your baby needs, from onsies and hats, to diapers, to diaper cream and formula if you are planning on supplementing or not breastfeeding. Literally, all you really need for your baby is a car seat to bring them home in.

  • A car seat for going home
  • Any outfits you want pictures of them wearing in the hospital
  • Any blankets you want pictures of them snuggled up with in the hospital

The Best Hospital Bags

  • Mommy + Daddy Bags
    • These stylish Mommy + Daddy bags are such a fun way to commemorate the significance of your baby’s birthday. Practicality doesn’t have to come at the expense of fun. Like your wedding, your baby’s actual day of being born only happens once and marks a significant transformation in your life. Why not celebrate that with a hospital bag that helps you embrace the joy of the change? Not only do these have enough space to pack everything you need for labor and recovery, but they will look great in photos, and bring an extra spark of joy as you leave for the hospital.

      Plus, there is always a plus, did you notice the doctor's bag opening and pockets?! This means that no matter how much you pack in these bags, you will be able to find what you need quickly when you need it.

  • Storksak Travel Cabin Carry On
    • The Storksak Travel Cabin CarryOn is stylish and functional, making it perfect for a mama to take to the hospital for her baby’s birth day or on her first get away with her baby (better yet, both!) The compartments make it easy to organize essentials for labor, postpartum and baby all in one bag. Plus, it can be used again and again as you visit family, take a first roadtrip or escape to a beautiful getaway as a family +1.

  • Petunia Pickle Bottom Intermix Live For The Weekend Bag
    • If you love a bag that keeps you stylish and organized, the Petunia Pickle Bottom Intermix Live For the Weekend Bag is the hospital grab bag for you. Not only is the exterior chic, but it has plenty of pockets to organize all the little things you will need throughout your time at the hospital. After the hospital, you can use it as a diaper bag or a quick grab bag for weekend travel. Not to mention the design and details of this bag give glam mom vibes like nothing else. This is a bag that makes a statement in the best way possible.

Final Thoughts On Packing A Hospital Bag

You have worked so hard every day to create this baby. I hope you get the chance to celebrate and enjoy the significance of welcoming a new life. Thank you for all you are doing mama! You’ve got this! 


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Meet Suzzie Vehrs!


Suzzie Vehrs is a mama of two vibrant and growing kids. As a certified doula she loves helping moms know how to prepare for birth and create beautiful beginnings. Her goal is to help moms dream about, align with and experience a healthy, happy birth.

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