What to Pack in Your Hospital Bag

Halfway through our second prenatal meeting, my doula clients usually will ask me, “So, what do we actually need in our hospital bag?” First time parents tend to overpack by about one to four bags, and even second and third time parents sometimes overdo it. In general, the tendency is to bring too much.

In this post I’ll list the essentials for your hospital bag and give you some pointers on how to think about what you’ll really need for labor and your baby’s birthday. Keep in mind that this post is geared toward the hospital birth experience. Clearly you wouldn’t need to pack a bag if you’re birthing at home, and birth centers send you home a few hours after your delivery. If you deliver at a hospital, however, you’re there for the duration of labor and one to three days following your baby’s birth. You’ll want to be prepared and have what you need for that time.

Essentials for You and Your Partner

  • Something comfortable to wear for labor and delivery

  • Healthy snacks for labor (peanut butter, crackers, fruit, juice, granola bars)

  • Your favorite lotion so your partner and/or doula can give you a massage during labor

  • Chapstick

  • Phone/camera chargers

  • Insurance cards

  • A few copies of your birth plan

  • Any regular medications you take

  • Travel sized toiletries: toothbrush, toothpaste, face wash, body soap, shampoo, conditioner

  • Comfortable pjs or lounging clothes

  • Tennis shoes, flip flops, comfortable boots for going home

Essentials for Your Baby

  • A simple, weather appropriate outfit to go home in

  • Socks (for feet and/or hands)

  • Properly installed carseat

  • A comfortable blanket to tuck around baby in the carseat and/or a carseat cover


  • Music

  • Headphones

  • Photos of your older children or pets

  • Your pillow or your pillow case

  • Dollar bills and quarters for vending machines if your hospital doesn’t have a cafeteria or offer snacks and juice for moms and partners. Most do, but it’s worth double checking.

What NOT to Bring

  • Extra socks- Wear the hospital ones. They’re comfortable and have grippers on the bottom that help you avoid slipping and falling.

  • Extra underwear- Wear the hospital ones, take them home, wash them, wear them until you have to throw them out. So comfortable.

  • Pads- The hospital will provide you with plenty. Take home whatever is left over in your room.

  • Lots of baby clothes/toys

  • Your breast pump- Again, use the hospital grade one. See if your insurance covers a rental.

  • Junk food, even for your partner.

  • Makeup, blow dryer, flat iron... there’s plenty of time for that once you’re home.

Is something missing from this list? Comment below or contact me!