For many parents-to-be, packing a hospital bag in readiness for labor and delivery is an exciting milestone that marks the end of the pregnancy. It’s a good idea to start packing a hospital bag as early as possible so that when you go into labor, you can simply grab it on your way to the hospital. You want to write a checklist for all the things you need for yourself and your bundle of joy. Plus you might also want to prepare a checklist for your birth partner as well.
What do you need in your hospital bag for labor and delivery?
- Hospital notes
You want to have all your maternity notes and medical records handy for your doctors
- Birth plan
Make sure you pack your birth plan if you have one. You might have already discussed your birth plan with your medical team, but consider printing a few copies of it in case last-minute questions are raised.
- A comfortable, loose dressing gown
This will be convenient to have especially if you end up pacing around during labor, or afterward in the postnatal wards. Many hospitals are warm, so a lightweight gown may be better. A dark color will help to conceal any stains.
- Backless slippers
You’ll want slippers that are easy to slip on and off. Pack some flip-flops as well to use in the shower.
Your feet can get cold during labor, so pack some socks just in case.
- Massage oil or body lotion
If you would like to get massaged to soothe you during labor, pop some lotion or massage oil in your hospital bag.
- Things that will help you relax or pass time
Pack some things that will help distract you during early labor, such as magazines, books, a Bluetooth speaker, or a tablet where you can watch your favorite shows and movies.
The hospital might not provide enough pillows to make you comfortable. A C-shaped pillow can be useful in providing the extra support you need during breastfeeding.
- Lip balm
Your lips can dry out quickly during labor. Bringing along some lip balm will help rehydrate them.
- Birth ball
A birth ball can help you find different labor positions, plus it may also help you manage the pain that comes with contractions. Check with your doctors to see if the hospital can provide one that suits your needs, and if not, take your own.
- Phone and charger
Don’t forget your phone and charger!
Items you need in your hospital bag for after the birth
In addition to your nightdress, you might also want to take some comfortable clothes that you will wear during your time in hospital. Pack an extra going-home outfit. Choose loose-fitting, comfortable clothes that won’t be a hassle to wear.
- Breast pads
Even if you don’t plan to breastfeed, you will need breast pads as your breasts will still produce milk after you have your baby.
- Nursing bras
Bring two or three nursing bras with you if you plan to breastfeed.
- Nightshirts or t-shirts
Front-opening shirts are great for those early days of breastfeeding.
- Maternity pads
Although the hospital may provide you with some, pack a couple of heavy-duty maternity pads, just in case.
Don't forget your body wash, shampoo, conditioner, toothbrush, toothpaste, moisturizer, face wash, hairbrush, and deodorant. Your hospital or birth center will probably provide you with towels but pack your own just in case.
You will want to have several pairs of comfortable underwear that are large enough for those bulky maternity pads.
- Eye mask and earplugs
These will help you get some sleep if you’re spending time in a brightly lit, noisy ward.
- Snacks and drinks
Sometimes labor can be very long, so you might want to pack some snacks and drinks. Make sure you speak to your doctors to determine whether or not you can eat/drink anything during labor. You also want to have some of your favorite snacks handy for after labor.
Essential items for your birth partner’s hospital bag
- A hand-held fan or water spray and a sponge
These will help to cool you down while you’re in the throes of labor.
- Snacks and drinks
If your partner brings snacks and food in their bag, they won't have to leave the hospital room in search of them.
- Comfortable shoes
These are great in case your partner spends a long time on their feet.
- A change of clothes
This is in case they don’t get the chance to go home and change.
- Phone, camcorder, and/or digital camera
Make sure to pack a phone for some entertainment, as well as to stay in contact with loved ones. The camera and/or video will be useful for documenting the birth and early moments with your little one.
Hospital bag essentials for your baby
Pack 20-30 diapers made especially for newborn babies. You will find that your newborn can get through 10-12 diapers each day.
Newborns are more susceptible to cold, and you may want to add to what the hospital provides. A pair of socks or soft booties will keep your newborn’s feet warm.
Your baby may need a soft blanket to stay warm if it’s cold outside when you leave the hospital.
- 2-4 vests, onesies, and sleepsuits
In addition to what the hospital provides, you might also need layers such as vests, onesies, and sleepsuits.
- Muslin squares
These can be used to prevent milk from getting on your clothes.
- Cotton wool
Using cotton wool and water for nappy changes during those first few days is highly recommended.
- A going-home outfit
A hat, bodysuit, and booties should be fine during the warmer months. However, if your baby is expected to be born in winter, you will need mittens and a snowsuit or jackets as well.
- Baby car seat
A car seat isn't meant to go in the hospital bag, but you'll want to have one installed in your around the same time you prepare your baby bag.
It’s never too early to start gathering the essentials that you’ll need during labor and birth, and for after your little one arrives. Even if you don’t plan on having your baby in a hospital or birth center, you may need to go in case of an emergency, so try to prepare a bag by the time you hit the 36-week mark.