The ULTIMATE Hospital Bag Checklist
ultimate hospital bag checklist, baby chick

By Nina Spears

The Baby Chick® & CEO of Baby Chick®

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Nina Spears is the Co-Founder & CEO of Baby Chick, an online go-to resource for all things motherhood and the Founder & CEO of Bassett Baby Planning, the premier doula agency and resource center in Houston, TX for expecting and new mothers. Read More

There are so many different lists out there that tell you what you need to pack in your hospital bag for your labor and birth. Well, as a doula I have helped many clients prepare for their hospital stay and I have created the ultimate hospital bag checklist that I promise will have everything that you need!

NOTE: You’ll want to be sure that you have your bags packed and in your car no later than 35 weeks. The reason why I say to leave it in your car at this time or sooner is you want to be prepared just in case your doctor keeps you after a prenatal visit or sends you to the hospital because of an emergency. It’s always better to be safe than sorry!

Below I have different lists for not only the mom, but for dad/partner, and baby! Here are all the things you’ll need when you’re at the hospital during labor, birth, and immediately postpartum.

Mama’s Bags

I actually recommend that moms have TWO bags. One bag that is for labor and another bag that’s for their recovery/postpartum room.

Labor Bag:

*Must-Haves:

  • Your birth plan (if you have one) and your insurance information.
  • Eye glasses
    • If you wear contacts, you should bring your glasses along with you. If you end up needing a C-section, some doctors/anesthesiologists ask you to take your contacts out before surgery.
  • What you’re going to wear during labor 
    • If you’re unsure what you are going to wear in labor, read this to learn about your options. It will probably get a bit messy, so don’t bring anything too nice to wear in the hospital.
  • Massage oil or lotion –
    • If you would like to be massaged during your labor, I recommend bringing either of these so that your partner or doula can massage you. (If you hired a doula, she will probably bring this with her in her doula bag.)
  • Birth ball or peanut ball  
    • These can really help you during labor. A peanut ball is particularly great for women that are preparing to have an epidural. I highly recommend it. Just remember to bring a pump so your birth partner can inflate it for you if you didn’t come with it already inflated.
    • NOTE: Some hospitals do have birth balls for you to use. Ask during your hospital tour if they are available at your hospital.
  • Lip balm
    • Your lips can dry out quickly with all of the deep breathing that you will do in labor. Having some chapstick or lip balm will help.
  • Snacks and drinks
    • First, make sure that your doctor/hospital will allow this. Most of the time they will only allow you to have ice chips when you are at the hospital in labor, but they may have sugar-free popsicles there for you.
  • Things to help you relax and pass the time
    • If you are going to have an epidural:
      • Bring books, magazines, a card game, or your tablet or computer. They also have TVs in each L&D room so you can watch a show or a movie to help pass the time. I also recommend trying to take a nap. It’s great to catch up on as much rest as possible before the baby arrives.
    • If you’re wanting a natural birth:
      • Bring music, a focal point (for example, it could be your baby’s ultrasound picture), massage lotions, a heating pad, rice socks to heat up so that you can put on your lower back, essential oils, etc.
  • Headbands and/or a ponytail holders
    • If you have long hair, you may want it tied up since it can get in the way during labor. I recommend getting the ones that don’t leave a kink in your hair. That way if you want to take pictures with your hair down after the birth, you won’t have a crease in your hair! (Avoid wearing clips in labor. They can poke you!)
  • Music
    • Take your iPod, MP3 player or a CD player and some CDs. Some hospitals provide their own CD players and iPod docks so I would ask what they will have available in your room.
  • Camera, charged battery, charger, and a big memory card –
    • You never want to forget the day you first welcomed your baby into the world so bring a camera with you to take photos and a video or two. Many parents run out of room on their phones so it’s nice to bring a camera specifically for these special moments.
  • Cell phone and charger
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*Nice to Have But Not Necessities:

  • Backless slip-on slippers
    • Your feet can get cold during labor, so it’s great to have some slippers that you can easily slip on and off. The hospital does have non-skid socks (super sexy! ;)) that you can use if you would prefer those instead.
  • Pillows
    • The hospital might not have enough pillows to make you comfortable. Usually each room has about two. And honestly, hospital pillows are very thin and really comfortable. If you do bring your own pillows, which I would, make sure that your pillowcase is a different color than white. Otherwise, they could toss your pillowcase and pillow along with the rest of theirs and your pillow will go missing.
  • Baby Book
    • After your baby’s born, the nurse will get your baby’s footprints so if you bring your baby book, she can also get those sweet footprints in your baby book too!

Postpartum/Recovery Room Bag:

*Must-Haves:

  • Going-home outfit 
    • You’ll need loose, comfortable clothes to wear while you’re in the hospital and for the journey home. You will still look about 6 months pregnant after the birth of your baby since your uterus still needs time to heal and get back to it’s pre-pregnancy size. I recommend still bringing some soft maternity clothes for your trip back home.
  • Nursing bras and/or nursing nightgowns –
    • If you had a healthy labor and birth and your baby is doing well, you will probably only stay at the hospital for two or three days. I suggest bringing two or three nursing gowns or nursing bras to make breastfeeding easier and to stay comfortable during your stay. If you decide to wear your nursing bras, bring front-opening shirts so it’s easier for you to breastfeed.
  • Nursing pads
    • Bring a couple of packs (disposable or washable). Whether or not you plan to nurse, you’ll appreciate the support and leak-protection.
  • Nipple Cream
    • You want to protect your nipples from chapping and cracking. That is definitely no fun.
  • Your toiletries 
    • Having smaller bottles or buy travel versions to help save space in your recovery bathroom. Bring the usual toiletries you need: hairbrush, toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, body soap, razor, deodorant, face wash, makeup (if you’d like), makeup remover, lotion, hair ties, contact lens case and solution, etc.
  • Old or cheap undies, or disposable underwear.
    • Don’t bring your nice, cute undies with you. You need big, cotton, breathable underwear. Some people even get Silhouette’s so they can easily toss them after using them. The hospital will have disposable undies, which some women find handy and others find gross since they are large, stretchy, mesh shorts.
  • Bathrobe
    • It’s nice to be able to bundle up and feel covered and warm when getting out of bed or having guests in your room.
  • Hair dryer
  • Snacks and drinks
    • Some hospitals have good food and others don’t. If your hospital doesn’t and you don’t have someone able to bring you food, be sure to bring some beverages and snacks to keep you nourished.
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*Nice to Have But Not Necessities:

  • Nursing pillow
    • Depending on your preference, you can bring your Boppy pillow or My Breast Friend or other breastfeeding pillow.
  • Breast pump
    • If you plan to use one, I do recommend bringing yours. Most hospitals have lactation consultants that visit each room so they can help you with breastfeeding and show you how to use your pump properly.
  • Nipple shields
    • You don’t really need to bring these with you. If you do have some issues with latching or if your nipples do start to hurt, the lactation consultant may recommend a nipple shield. You can purchase them at the hospital as well.
  • Handouts –
    • If you received any booklets or handouts about how to get breastfeeding started, I recommend bringing them.
  • Bath towel
    • The hospital does have towels, but they are small and pretty thin. If you prefer to have your own, thicker towels, I would bring your own.
  • Heavy flow pads
    • The hospital also has very large pads for you to use after birth (since you will be bleeding for several days, sometimes weeks, after giving birth). If you are picky about what type you want to wear, bring some with you.

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Husband/Partner’s Bag:

*Must-Haves:

  • Extra changes of clothes
    • I have had some Dad’s/partner’s change their clothes even when their partner is still in labor. They may think the room is too cold so they put on a jacket or a long sleeved shirt or they sweat too much because they’re nervous or working hard too so they need new shirts. Having some extra pairs of clean clothes is good to have on hand.
  • Comfortable shoes
    • They may be walking up and down the halls with you or running to get you ice chips or going to find and talk to family. Having comfy shoes are important.
  • Pillow
    • For the same reason as you, they need something comfortable to sleep on. The pull out couches aren’t the most comfortable so it’s at least nice for them to have a good pillow.
  • Cell phone and charger
    • Your partner should have been keeping track of your contractions on their phone with a contraction timer app so be sure they have that downloaded as well. There are plenty of free ones.
  • Group text or list of people to call
    • Have the conversation before you go into labor about all the people that your partner needs to notify once you are in labor. Some people do a group text and others just keep a list of names to get in touch with.
  • Snacks and drinks
    • You don’t want a dehydrated, hungry birth partner looking after you. If they bring some snacks and drinks with them, they can stay with you rather than leaving the room to search for food! If they leave the room to find food and eat, they may not come back very quickly to help you.
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*Nice to Have But Not Necessities:

  • Motorized or hand-held fan
    • You may get overheated in labor so it’s great if your partner has a fan to help you cool down. It may even have a mister, which can be nice.
  • Money/spare change –
    • If you didn’t have time to bring snacks with you, you will probably want to have some spare change for the vending machines. You both will probably be really hungry after labor and the hospital cafeteria might not be open once the baby is born. If no one can bring you food (which I would see if someone can pick something up for you) then having some change is helpful to get some snacks.
  • Pen and paper
    • Having something to take notes will really help if your nurse, doctor, or lactation consultant give you any recommendations or advice. You just gave birth and are recovering so put him in charge of documenting things that are important.
  • Gifts for other children
    • Make sure to have these ready when big brother or big sister comes in the room. A gift “from the baby” is always a good thing.
  • Push present
    • This way they have it with them to give to you after the birth 😉

Baby’s Bag:

*Must-Haves:

  • Approved car seat
    • Hospitals won’t let you leave without one and the base needs to be installed properly in your car.
  • A coming-home outfit
    • Think about what the weather might be like when your baby is born. Their outfit needs to be seasonally appropriate. Babies are sensitive to cold weather so if it’s cold outside, bring a hat, snowsuit or jacket to keep your baby warm. Don’t forget socks or booties. (Remove the snowsuit or jacket before placing your baby in a car seat.)
  • Warm blankets
    • The hospital will provide you a baby blanket or two to swaddle your baby with, but if you are particular what type of blanket they have, bring your own.

*Nice to Have But Not Necessities:

  • Onesies
    • Honestly, the hospital will give you some Gerber onesies while you are in the hospital. All you really need is a going home outfit. But if you prefer that your baby wear something else, bring two or three options.
  • Pacifiers
    • If you decide to give your baby a pacifier, bring your own. Otherwise, they will charge you for theirs at the hospital which is normally a little higher in price.
  • Burp cloths  ,
    • In case you need to clean up any milk your baby spits up.

I will also say, make sure that there is some extra room in your bags so that you can bring home everything that you get at the hospital. They are going to give you diapers, wipes, and more. Take as much as you can! They are charging you for it anyway. Hope this helps!

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