What to pack in a hospital bag

Everything you need for a comfortable and stress-free delivery

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    Pregnant woman packing hospital bag and writing a checklist

    Preparing a hospital bag is a crucial aspect of getting ready for your baby's arrival. Packing a properly organized bag you can grab and go when the time comes ensures you have all the essentials for both yourself and your newborn and makes it more likely your hospital stay is comfortable and less stressful.

    Key insights

    • A properly organized hospital bag ensures that both you and the newborn have all the essentials you need during your hospital stay.
    • Start preparing your hospital bag around the 36th week of pregnancy — this should give you enough time to gather all the items you need without feeling rushed as the due date approaches.
    • Make sure to pack medical documents, comfortable clothing, personal care items, nursing essentials, entertainment, snacks/hydration, baby clothing, swaddling blankets, diapers and wipes.
    • Before the hospital trip, it’s a good idea to get your infant’s car seat properly set up in your car.

    Preparing the bag

    To help you stay organized and as stress-free as possible, we’ve compiled some valuable tips for preparing your hospital bag. Start early for the best results.

    Start packing a few weeks before your due date

    A good rule of thumb is to start preparing your hospital bag around the 36th week of pregnancy. This gives you enough time to gather all the necessary items without feeling rushed or stressed.

    Pick the right bag

    Select a bag that’s spacious, durable and easy to carry. A duffle bag, tote or small suitcase with wheels might make sense. Opt for a bag with multiple compartments, or consider using smaller pouches or organizers to keep items separate and easily accessible.

    Label your items

    To make locating items at the hospital easier, label your bag with tags or stickers indicating the contents of each compartment or section. This way, you can quickly find what you need, especially during moments of urgency.

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    8 essentials for you

    Prioritize your needs: Once you’re at the hospital, you want to be comfortable so you can focus on the joy of welcoming your baby.

    1. Medical documents: Don't forget your photo ID, insurance card and any relevant paperwork (including your birth plan, if applicable) to expedite the check-in process.
    2. Comfortable clothing: Pack cozy nightgowns or pajamas for labor and recovery, along with a bathrobe and slippers for easy movement around the hospital.
    3. Personal care items: Bring toiletries like a toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, soap, hair products, lotion and other skincare products. If you have longer hair, bring hair ties or clips to keep your hair out of your face during labor.
    4. Nursing essentials: If you plan to breastfeed, pack nursing bras, breast pads for leakage and nipple cream.
    5. Entertainment: Pack books, magazines or a tablet with access to shows or movies to keep you entertained during moments of downtime in labor or recovery.
    6. Snacks and hydration: Keep yourself energized with nutritious snacks, energy bars and water bottles to stay hydrated during the physically demanding process of labor.
    7. Electronics and chargers: Ensure you have your mobile phone, a charger or a portable power bank to keep your devices charged and ready. You might also want a small battery-operated fan or speaker to play relaxing sounds or comforting music.
    8. Medications and supplements: If you’re on any prescription medications or supplements, pack an adequate supply and keep them easily accessible.

    » MORE: How to prepare for labor

    4 essentials for the newborn

    Don’t forget clothing, blankets, diapers and wipes — these will help keep your baby cozy and content during their early days.

    1. Baby clothing: Pack a variety of outfits — bring onesies, socks, booties, sleepers, mittens and hats. Opt for soft and gentle fabrics that won’t irritate your newborn's delicate skin.
    2. Swaddling blankets: Include soft and breathable swaddle or receiving blankets to keep your baby snug and warm. Choose lightweight fabrics to help keep them warm.
    3. Diapers and wipes: Ensure you have enough newborn-size diapers and wipes or cotton squares for diaper changes during your hospital stay — it's better to have a surplus than to run out.
    4. Infant car seat: While this isn’t technically part of the bag, it’s crucial to ensure your baby's car seat is correctly installed in your vehicle before heading to the hospital.

    Items for your partner or support person

    Your support person plays a vital role — it’s important that they’re fully prepared and equipped to provide the support you need.

    Change of clothes and toiletries
    They should pack comfortable clothing, socks and their preferred toiletries to freshen up during the hospital stay.
    Snacks and drinks
    They can keep their energy levels up with snacks and drinks of their choice — this helps ensure they can effectively support you throughout labor.
    Your partner might want to bring books, magazines or gadgets to pass the time during downtime.
    Camera or smartphone
    It’s their job to capture precious moments of your journey, including labor and the first moments with your baby.

    Other things to consider

    The following aren’t essential, but they add a personal touch to your experience.

    Comfort items

    It’s a good idea to have items that help you relax, like your own pillow or blanket. Bringing these items along creates a soothing and familiar environment. Also, consider bringing any comforting scents or oils.

    Thank-you gifts

    You might also bring along small tokens of appreciation for the medical staff. Small thank-you gifts or notes for the medical staff, for instance, are a thoughtful gesture of gratitude for their support and care.

    Birth announcement sign

    If you're planning to announce the birth of your baby on social media or to friends and family, you may want to bring a birth announcement sign. This is a great way to share the news of your new arrival with everyone you care about.

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      What should I leave at home when I go in for labor?

      It's best to leave valuables at home. While hospitals take measures to ensure security, it's better to be cautious. Also, avoid bringing too many items — you'll need space for any gifts or essentials you receive at the hospital.

      What kind of snacks should I pack for labor?

      Packing snacks is a great idea; labor can be a long process, and you might get hungry. However, it's essential to check with your health care provider about any dietary restrictions during labor.

      Consider opting for non-perishable and easy-to-eat snacks such as granola bars, nuts, dried fruits, crackers or other prepackaged snacks. These provide quick energy and sustenance during your hospital stay.

      Will the hospital provide any items that I don't need to pack?

      Typically, the hospital provides some essentials for both you and the baby (e.g., maternity pads, disposable underwear, diapers, wipes and basic toiletries). However, it's always a good idea to check with your hospital to see what they offer.

      How many hospital bags should I bring?

      One well-organized bag for yourself and a smaller bag for your partner or support person should be sufficient. You might also want a separate diaper bag for the baby.

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