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Ultimate Hospital Bag Checklist

What to pack for yourself, your husband, and your

new baby in your hospital bag

What to pack and what not to pack for your labor and delivery



The first time I packed a hospital bag for labor and delivery, I found that I overpacked on some things and didn’t pack others that I wish I had.  You really don’t need much, but a few key things will make your hospital stay a little less hospital-y and help your room feel more like home. Obviously, this list should be tailored to you and the kind of labor and delivery you want. I had an epidural during labor for my first born, and was unmedicated during my second labor.

What to Pack-


Driver’s license, insurance card, birth plan. Preregister with your hospital if you can because the paperwork is lengthy.

Nursing Bra

After the birth of my older child, I really wished I had packed a nursing bra. Instead I was left a little exposed, having to whip a boob out of my hospital gown every time I fed the baby. Now a veteran nursing mom, I don’t really care anymore if some of my breast is visible during feeding. But as a new mom getting used to breastfeeding, a little extra coverage really does help with comfort. *EXTRA TIP – Pack some nursing friendly tops (baggy shirts you can pull up, v-necks or button ups you can pull down). 

Essential oils

There is something magical about essential oils. Your olfactory senses can change your mood and stress level so quickly. It really is astonishing. Lavender is great for relaxation. I also really loved a blend by NOW Foods called Natually Lovable. It is meant to help you “get in the mood” but I have always found the blend of floral and citrus scents to be super relaxing. *EXTRA TIP – Start using your oils before bed a few weeks before delivery. That way, you are training your brain to associate the scents with relaxation.

Small Speaker, Tablet, Kindle

My husband and I watched comedy shows on YouTube during my last labor and I am so glad that we did! Laughter is really the best medicine and can distract you from the pain of labor during the earlier hours. We also slow danced, which is where the small speaker comes in handy. The slow dancing has a few benefits. The contact with your spouse feels good and makes the contractions a bit more bearable – they can easily rub your lower back in this position too. The swaying movement is helpful for allowing the baby to drop down. And, of course, music that you love is great for helping you relax and be more comfortable. If you are getting an epidural, there is the possibility of boredom, so bringing a book or kindle to pass the time might be a good idea for you.

Baby Book

The details of your labor and delivery slip away from you so quickly. Many baby books have space for you to describe how you and Dad felt during each stage of the birth, from when you first went in to labor to holding your new baby in your arms. Bring the baby book with you so you can write these things down while they are fresh in your mind.

Maternity Clothes

You will still need them for a few weeks. Bring some comfy, loose fitting clothes to leave the hospital in. You will feel a bit like a saggy, two-day-old party balloon. But you will have a new baby!

Present for Older Siblings

If you have other children who are young enough that the may not understand your shift in attention, getting them a gift might be a way to ease the transition. When my daughter was born, we got our son a book about being a big brother, a new big brother shirt, and a toy airplane. It was my little way of saying, “We still love you too.”

Multiple Going Home Outfits for the Baby

My daughter was born in June. In the middle of a string of ninety degree days, they day we took her home was sixty degrees and rainy. The tank top and skirt that I packed her wasn’t appropriate, so she wore a plain long sleeve white shirt from the hospital and a blanket. It didn’t make for the super cute pictures I had planned on.

Dry Shampoo, Real Shampoo, Deoderant, Etc.

Birthing a baby is hard work and you will be sweaty, amniotic fluid-y, and all around gross.

For Dad

A few changes of clothes, pillow, a list of people to whom to send updates, possibly a book or tablet to keep himself occupied while you rest.

What to Leave at Home

Here is a quick list of things that I brought to the hospital and never removed from my suitcase.

Board games and cards

I was busy and in pain, and not capable of focusing enough to play rummy.

A book to read

Same reason.

Real pants

It’s going to be a while before these are an option. Don’t beat yourself up over it.

A bra with an underwire

Underwires are the devil, especially for the new mom. Your boobs will be really busy for the foreseeable future if you decide to breastfeed. And if you decide not too, your milk is coming anyway. So it is best to put that pretty bra up for now. Underwires are uncomfortable and might cause a clogged milk duct.

Diapers for the baby or underwear for yourself

The hospital will provide you with both of these.

Sanitary pads

You will definitely need these when you get home. But there is no need to pack them. The hospital has them and they are amazing. Take some home with you if you can.

The most important thing to bring to the hospital is your partner!

My husband was invaluable to me during the births of both our kids. His presence and reassurance calmed me down and eased my anxiety. The touch of someone you love actually makes the pain more bearable. Talk about your expectations for labor and delivery ahead of time together so that you are on the same page. Your partner will be your advocate and it’s important for them to know what you desire for your birth experience.


<Feedback Please!>

What unusual thing did you pack in your hospital bag?

What did you elect to leave behind?

What do you wish you would have taken with you?


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