Throughout my pregnancy, the number one comment I ALWAYS get is, “You’re not gonna need that.” And this goes for so many things — whether it’s baby registry items or things I’ve bought for the nursery.
While “experienced” mamas might say that I’m overpreparing and not going to use half of it, I like to think of it like this:
You can book a flight, see that they serve food, and bring nothing; you can also assume they’ll provide a thin blanket and pillow. Then when you arrive, you may be greeted with cardboard-passed-off-as-food and no blanket/pillow on a 10-hour flight.
How disappointing is that?
I choose to fly prepared. I pack healthy snacks, salty snacks, sweet snacks, and I bring my own meal. I’ve got travel-sized toiletries, a face mask, facial mist, my own silk pillowcase, cozy layers, and all the things I need to make the journey the most comfortable it can be.
Even if it’s “extra,” I like being in control of my own comfort and having peace of mind—even if I don’t actually use everything.
And that’s how I’m planning for labor!
I’m not the type of person who lives life solely off of baseline needs; I’m a planner — and I like gadgets and comforts. So, I start off by saying this so that you can decide where you fall on the spectrum.
You absolutely do not NEED all of this, however, there are some things you might want, that could make the overall experience that much better. Consider these hospital bag essentials (with a few extras to make you more comfortable!).
Here’s what to pack in your hospital bag for labor!
Things to Prepare Ahead of Time
Things to Prepare Ahead of Time:
- Install the baby’s car seat
- Do a dry run of the drive to the hospital! You’ll want to know where to go.
Things to Have on Hand:
- Birth Plan
- Insurance Card
- Cash (In case the hospital uses vending machines for snacks and drinks)
My Hospital Bags
What do you pack in a hospital bag?
Because I’m coming well-stocked and as prepared as possible, I have multiple hospital bags packed so I’ve broken it down by bag and what’s inside.
Wondering when to pack a hospital bag?
As a general rule of thumb, it’s good to have your hospital bag ready to go between 32 and 35 weeks — as your baby may arrive a bit earlier than planned. I’d suggest starting the packing process around the start of your 3rd trimester (or at about 28 weeks).
While you may want to wait, I mentioned above that I am a planner and wanted to check “hospital bag for mom” off my list so I didn’t have to worry about it.
Here’s a breakdown of the hospital bags I’m bringing:
- Personal Hospital Bag (personal items plus postpartum items)
- Labor and Delivery Bag
- Diaper Bag (for baby and breastfeeding)
- Linen Bag
- Partner’s Bag
- Cooler Bag (for snacks and placenta if you are encapsulating it)
- Gift Baskets for Nursing Staff
Personal Hospital Bag
I have all of this packed in my Beis carry-on suitcase. I packed my personal items in one half and all the other postpartum items in the other half.
The hospital will provide most of these items, however, I wanted to have my own organic products. I’m still planning on using a lot of their provided items (which I’m sharing in the next section).
Hospital-Provided Items for Postpartum Recovery
These are things to consider not packing, but I wanted to outline them so you had an idea of what most hospitals provide postpartum.
- Peri Bottle
- Breast Pump
- Postpartum Pads
- Postpartum Mesh Underwear
- Skin Numbing Spray (for tearing and recovery)
- Witch Hazel Pads
- Pain Meds
- “Puppy Pads” for Leaks
- Sitz Bath
Labor & Delivery Bag
Continuing on the hospital bag checklist for mom are all the essentials for labor and delivery…including entertainment in case the wait is long!
While hospital rooms aren’t known for being especially cozy, there are a few things I’m bringing to make it room comfortable. You may want to add these to your pregnancy hospital bag checklist.
Electronics & Entertainment
These are all things that I’m bringing to assist me in labor and for pain management.
Check with your provider to see if the hospital has other birthing tools that you can use without having to bring yourself (ex. birth ball, peanut ball, etc.)
- Flameless Candles
- Portable Fan (this is the fan we got for the baby’s stroller)
- Organic Lip Balm (I love this variety pack!)
- Earplugs (NRR 33 is one of the highest noise reductions—a favorite brand I have been using them for years)
- Silk Sleep Mask (I love this one because it doesn’t touch your eyes and provides full blackout)
I have all of this packed in a large tote. You’ll want to pack one of each of these items for both partners!
Bring everything in non-white colors so they don’t blend in with hospital linens. You don’t want to leave anything behind! Some people also opt to bring their own hospital bed sheets as the ones provided can be scratchy and uncomfortable.
Diaper Bag for Baby and Breastfeeding
I have my Fawn Square Diaper Bag packed with all of the items below!
The Fawn is designed with the modern mom in mind and I love the minimal look…yet it has ALL the functionality a busy mom needs. It has several exterior and interior organization pockets, multiple wearing options (as a backpack or messenger style), and is spill-resistant.
When it comes to what to pack in a baby’s hospital bag, you just need a few items.
These are things the hospital provides but I’m bringing my own preferred items (just in case).
Hospital-Provided Items for Baby
Here are a few items the hospital typically provides for the baby, so keep these in mind as you’re packing (and things you might not need to pack).
- Formula (if needed)
- Swaddle Blanket
- Nasal Aspirator
- Lots of Free Samples
Partner’s Bag for the Hospital
Definitely account for one more tote or carry-on suitcase when packing!
This is definitely not your responsibility to pack. 😉
Just adding a note here as a reminder for your partner to pack a hospital bag for labor as well! It may be helpful for you to show them what’s on your list to give them a little inspiration.
Note: You might run hot during labor and want the AC turned up, so your partner should pack some warm layers!
And, if they want to do skin-to-skin, a zip-up hoodie works great if they don’t want to go completely shirtless.
For the cooler, I’m packing nonperishable items and we will wait to add ice until we get to the hospital.
Sometimes, you can’t eat during labor and they only recommend clear liquids, so I added chicken bone broth if I need satiation, coconut water for electrolytes, and champagne to celebrate with!
A few ideas for hospital snacks include fruit leather, salty snacks, savory snacks, and something sour. I was extremely nauseous in my first trimester, and have heard you can feel nauseous in labor, so I wanted to cover all of my bases.
NOTE: I am encapsulating my placenta so we’ll use the cooler to transport it after birth. If you’re planning to do encapsulation, be sure to check what they require but you’ll likely need to bring your own cooler.
Cooler & Snack Bag
This is totally optional! We’re bringing our RTIC soft-sided cooler bag — because everything is better with snacks.
- Organic Snacks — Salty, sweet, savory, etc.
- Organic Coconut Water
- Celebratory Bottle of Champagne — You can fill the cooler with ice to chill the bottle once you get there
- Champagne Glasses
- OPTIONAL: 3x Gallon-Sized Ziploc Bags (if you are encapsulating your placenta)
Gift Baskets for the Hospital Staff
Please note that this is entirely optional and you absolutely do not have to do this. Giving gifts is my “love language” and I wanted to do something nice for those taking care of me in such a vulnerable time.
This was also a great way to distract myself from thinking too much about labor.
I organized two baskets, so there’s one for the day shift and night shift teams.
After polling my audience, many folks noted that food or snacks of any kind are welcome, however, people tend to bring candy — so healthy snacks were requested…along with fresh bread and jam/nut butters and pizza lol.
Anything coffee-related is also super appreciated, as in a coffee basket with cold brew, creamer, and coffee beans. Other items that go a long way: a gift card to the hospital coffee shop, mini deodorants, hair ties, or compression socks.
Here are some ideas of things I’m putting in gift baskets:
These items I bought in bulk at Costo.
Thank You Cards
Also packing thank you cards for the people that are directly caring for me. There is the option to add gift cards (just be mindful of hospital policy—some hospitals don’t allow gifts of monetary value or have to have a low limit…like a $5 coffee card might be okay.)
That’s everything I’m packing for the hospital!
Do you have a baby hospital bag checklist? If so, what did you include in it?