What to Pack for the Hospital: {The Essentials}

What to Pack for the Hospital

Downloadable PDF:  What to Pack for the Hospital

I got our bags packed over the weekend and I feel a little closer to being ready for baby!  As a mom that has done this for the third time now I thought I would share what I believe to be the essentials in your hospital bag.


For Mama: (I should preface this portion of the list with the fact that I am planning an epidural birth.  For those planning a natural birth you obviously need additional items for comfort/focus/relaxation.)

  •  Birth Plan, Insurance Card/ID, and Admission Papers
  • Gum/Hard Candy-  Very comforting when all you can have in your mouth is ice chips!!
  •  Normal toiletries; including makeup/hair; hairbands, chapstick.  (Don’t overlook your makeup!  I didn’t pack any with the birth of our first and regretted not having a little ‘face’ on for photos at the hospital.)
  •  For Nursing: Lanolin, Nursing pads, Breast Pump  (Check with the hospital where you deliver.  Many will provide you with Lanolin and the nursing pads, although some charge you additional for them.  All hospitals have breast pumps available but if you want to get to know your own bring it with you!)
  •  Going Home Outfit- Including layers for nursing/comfort.  Give yourself some grace and plan that you will still be about the size that you were when you were five months pregnant.  I am packing a comfy velour pant/hoodie set with a tank and tee layered underneath.
  •  Nursing Bra and Panties- My favorite panties are the Hanes no ride up Bikini for the days following birth.  If you have a favorite nursing bra without underwire please share!  I have used the Gilligan & O’Malley brand from Target in the past and like them… just still looking for one to LOVE!
  • Socks
  • Flip Flops-  (Better than slippers in my opinion because they are easily washed when you get home or tossed.)
  •  Maxi Pads with wings.  The hospital will provide you with pads (and disposable mesh underware) but you will feel more comfortable in a thinner maxi and your own panties as you are about to leave.  Be sure and get the ones with wings for extra protection!
  •  Phone Charger
  •  Cameras.  This time I am taking my DSLR and the camcorder.  In the past I have taken only my point and shoot and although I have loved those precious images no matter how they were taken I am not satisified enough with the quality of the point and shoot.  I will have the settings ready to go for hubby and let him take it from there :)
  •  Vitamins/Meds-  Be sure and pack those pre-natals!
  •  Extra Bag for hospital stuff-  You will be surprised at the additional items that the hospital will provide you with.  Having an extra bag on hand to tote it to the car with is wonderful. (PS-  bring your rolling luggage to make all of the haul even easier!)


For Daddy

  •  Normal toiletries
  •  Change of clothes including a sweatshirt!  Hospital rooms will vary in temperature and your husband will thank you when he has something warm to put on while you are delivering.  Mamas won’t realize how cool the room is (we are doing all the hard work!) while the dads are freezing.
  •  Underware/Socks
  •  PJ’s
  •  Flip Flops (ditto above)
  •  Snacks/Water-  Hospitals take really good care of their patients!  And while most are accommodating of dads as well, they are not first priority.  If your husband is anything like mine food is a key factor in comfort.  The entire time you are in labor/delivery (and for some time after) there will be no food or drink in the room.
  • Small Bills/Change-  For late night vending machine runs.
  •  Pain Reliever/Vitamins/Meds-  We found out the hard way with our second delivery to be sure and pack pain reliever.    Hubby had a headache that was on the verge of a migraine and the hospital staff could not help him.
  • Phone Charger

 For Baby:

  •  Car seat-  If you are a first time parent plan on having the state trooper install/inspect your car seat ahead of time.  Proper installation will become second nature, but I know I was glad to have the guidance and help when I had never done it before.
  •  Going Home Outfit(s) including scratch mittens and hat-  The hospital will provide you with a lightweight hat but you may prefer to bring another that matches the going home outfit and/or possibly a little warmer especially if you are having a winter baby.  Be sure and have a couple of sizing options on hand!  A newborn weighing 7-8 pounds will fit in newborn size.  If you have a 9 pounder like we usually do you will need the 0-3 month size.  PS-  You may also want to pack a gender neutral outfit just in case your little boy was hiding ‘the goods’ during your prior sonogram.
  • Blanket- Something to cover the baby from the weather.  (Even summer babies should be covered when outside!  Just use a swaddle blanket (love Aden & Anais brand!) instead.
  •  Finger Nail File-  Hospitals will not provide you with nail clippers or files.  If you want to reduce face scratching you can file baby’s nails.  I advise not to clip them because it is SO EASY to clip too close and cut them.
  •  Diapers and Wipes-  The hospital will provide you with diapers and wipes so you don’t actually need to take these into the hospital.  You should keep a stash in your car though for extras on hand the entire time your child is in diapers.  It will lighten the load you have to carry in your handbag!  And keep you always with extra supplies close by.
  •  Footprint Paper/ or Album-  Hospitals will make footprints for your keepsake album if you have the book/supplies with you.


Items that many include but I don’t feel necessary:

  • Laptop/Tablet-  Many, many people pack these in their bags.  And although I am all for entertainment I want to concentrate on the events. We will have a TV in our room.  We both have smart phones.  We will have a NEW BABY to stare at and share!  And just think… hubby and I might have an UN-interrupted conversation! ;)
  •  Nursing Pillow-  I took my Boppy for our first delivery and have never used it since except for a baby propping device.  In my opinion the Boppy is not near supportive enough to breastfeed on.  I never have used a My Breast Friend pillow, but from my friends that have them say they are the way to go if you are set on purchasing a nursing pillow.  Instead I use pillows and the glider/rocking chair that the hospital provides.  A very wise charge nurse taught me to put a pillow behind my back and to fold one over the arm of the chair (where you place baby in the football hold.)  As a baby gear minimalist I have been thrilled with one less thing to buy and tote… and it works great!
  •  PJ’s for mama-  It is very tempting to pack your PJs.  But the reality is that while you are in the hospital your gown is what you will have on almost the entire time.  The nurses will need you to be very lightly dressed to have access to check you frequently.
  •  Pillow-  This one is debatable.  Obviously you want to be comfortable!   If you do feel the urgent need to take your own be sure you have it in a pillow case that is distinguishable (a print is best!) from the hospital’s.


So, is there anything I forgot?  Leave me a comment and let me know what you found to be a must in your bag!  And please share with your new mama friends as well! xo Janalin

As a part of my All About Baby Series tomorrow I will be posting what to stock up for your recovery at home!



  1. Adria says:

    Good list. Ditto on the make-up!! I also regret looking so wretched after Hank’s birth. I had all the time in the world to put on make-up (long induction) and didn’t for some reason. Then I didn’t want any pictures of me right after the birth. I did barely manage to put on my make-up through the pain of Julia’s labor at home and got to the hospital at 10 cm. Don’t wait too long! ;) . Good luck! Exciting!!!!!

  2. Janalin says:

    Wow! 10cm when you arrived! You go girl!

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