Hospital Bag Checklist: What to Pack for Labor and Delivery

Whether you’re home birthing or planning to welcome your little one into the world at the Hospital, packing a hospital bag is a must as you approach your due date. Preparing for labor and delivery is an exciting but often overwhelming time for parents-to-be. You may not know where to even start when it comes to what you should and shouldn’t bring to the hospital. I’m sharing the essential items that you’ll need during labour, delivery, and your hospital stay. You can also download our printable hospital bag checklist to help you decide what to pack for labor and delivery.

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Hospital bag checklist

I’ll be covering:

  • When to pack your hospital bag
  • What to pack in your hospital bag
    • For Mama
    • For Baby
    • For Partner
    • Birth Space Essentials

When to pack your hospital bag

Although it’s up for interpretation, is it ever a bad idea to be prepared? When it comes to the birth of your baby the answer is no! Some mamas say it’s a good idea to have your hospital packed at the start of the third trimester just in case you go into labor early, while others are okay waiting until around the 35 week mark of their pregnancy. You never know mama!

It’s a good idea to loop your spouse or support person in and explain what last minute items they may need to grab when you do go into labor. You can jot a list down on a sticky note or highlight items on our free hospital bag checklist download to help them remember! Ultimately, you can decide when to start packing your hospital bag. There’s not a right or wrong time to do it!

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Hospital Bag Checklists: for Mama

  1. Birth Plan. Having a copy (or a few!) of your birth plan and preferences is good idea so everyone involved in your labor and delivery can be on the same page. You can tape it up on your board, give to the nurses on shift, or ask that it stays with your chart.
  2. Wallet/IDs/Insurance cards.
  3. Robe or warm sweater. Having something that you can layer and easily take off and put on is a must when you are in labor/post birth. A robe like this Bamboo Organic Cotton one is great for walking the halls at the hospital or just to wear while laboring in your room. Expect your body temperature to change frequently during labor.
  4. 1-2 changes of clothing. Bring a couple of changes of clothing. Whether you are having a hospital birth or are transferred during your home birth, having a couple changes of clothes is a good idea. Make sure they are comfortable, loose fitting, and can easily be layered.
  5. Water bottle. Make sure you have a water bottle to stay hydrated during labor. Grabbing some silicone straws to stick in your water bottle or investing in something like a Stanley is a great way to help keep you hydrated in any labor position. Sometimes the small task of tilting your head back to drink water is too much to ask when you’re experiencing contractions!
  6. Slippers or 2 pair of socks. You’ll want a comfy pair of slippers or a couple pairs of socks to wear at the hospital. Depending on your birthing experience, some mamas can experience chills at one point or another during their labor. Keeping those feet warm is a must! You might also find yourself walking the halls to help labor progress. In that case, a pair of slippers with a sole might be a good choice! If you shower it’s nice to have something like these for slipper shoes.
  7. Nursing Bra. Packing a couple of nursing bras and breast pads is great for after baby makes his/her arrival. You may have to try a few different brands to see what you prefer or pack a couple of different kinds. I prefer more of a bralette style nursing bra rather than the ones that unclip like these. It really is personal preference!
  8. Nipple cream. The first few days or even months of a mama’s breastfeeding journey can be up and down! It’s a good idea to be proactive and have nipple cream on hand in case you nipples become irritated or start to crack. There are so many good brands of creams and balms you can use, but my favorite has been Earth Mama Organic Nipple Butter.
  9. Toiletries. Toothbrush, toothpaste, face wipes, deodorant, extra hair ties, you name it. Pack your toiletry bag in advance with all the things that help you feel refreshed and more YOU. Freshening up after giving birth is one of the best feelings. Make sure you bring your glasses or contacts if you wear them.
  10. Chapstick. Nothing worse than chapped lips while trying to concentrate on breathing through your contractions. Do yourself a favor and throw a chapstick in your toiletry bag before heading to the hospital!
  11. Postpartum items. Although the hospital will supply you with mesh undies and pads after birth, adult diapers (like Depends) may be more comfortable. It’s not a bad idea to stick a small pack in your bag just in case! I personally felt they were less messy and more easily manageable with the bleeding after giving birth. Having tinctures like After Ease, Rhoid Balm, perennial spray, and some Homemade Padsicles or cooling pads can also be a great idea!
  12. Bath towel. Hospital bath towels are far from luxurious so do yourself a favor and pack one into the bottom of your hospital bag. Drying yourself off after a shower with a square foot of fabric the hospital supplies isn’t the most fun thing to do post birth.
  13. Snacks. Pack some easy to eat snacks for both you and your partner. Things like granola bars, dried fruit, honey sticks, jerky etc.
  14. Birth affirmation cards. Birth affirmation cards are a great way to help mamas harness the strength they need during labor and keep a positive mindset. Affirmations helped to navigate labor & delivery— to remind you of your incredible strength and power as a mother. You can make your own affirmation cards, snag them off of amazon, or even etsy!
  15. Birth meditations tracks. Built to Birth has some wonderful meditation tracks for mamas in labor or walking through their pregnancy journey. You can also find hypnobirthing tracks, bible scripture readings, or craft the perfect birth playlist to create the vibe you want in your hospital room/home during labor.
  16. Phone charger/headphones. An extra long phone charging cord can come in handy when at the hospital. You never know how far your bed will be from an outlet. Packing some headphones in your hospital bag to pass the time or get in the zone is a good idea too!
  17. Heat pack. A source of heat can be a big comfort during labor for mamas. Having something like this Heat pack on hand or this microwavable one here are perfect for when you need an extra boost of comfort to get you through the next few waves.
  18. Camera. Although your iphone or any camera phone works to document baby coming into the world, I loved that we also had our midwife team take polaroids of us during our son’s labor and post delivery. Fujifilm Instax has a line of affordable polaroids and film that is perfect for this! They are a sweet little keepsake you can later stick into a baby book too.
Baby feet in bassinet

Hospital Bag Checklist: for Baby

  1. Carseat. It’s a great idea to install your carseat around 36 weeks so it’s ready to go. You might want to snag a cover (like this one!) ahead of time as well! If you aren’t sure what brand carseat to get, this is a great post about the best non-toxic car seats!
  2. Hospital outfit. No one really knows how long they’ll be in the hospital so make sure your baby has a couple of outfits. Double zip jammies or knotted gowns are great choices for the first few days to help make diaper changes easy.
  3. Going home outfit. Baby has gotta have the perfect going home outfit ready to go. Since we’re never totally sure how big baby will be, you might pack one newborn size outfit and one in 0-3 months. Don’t forget hats and socks if the weather calls for it! Having an announcement sign or wooden card packed in your hospital bag is a cute idea as well!
  4. Swaddle. You should pack a couple of swaddle blankets. You can use these for breastfeeding, spit up, or of course swaddling baby!
  5. Blanket. You can pack a thicker blanket for baby depending on the season. Having something a little more substantial and cosy for nighttime is great during overnights in the hospital. This super soft muslin fleece blanket is one of our favorites!
  6. Diapers and wipes. The hospital will most likely supply you with diapers and wipes during your stay. Sometimes they will even send you home with them! But if you have a particular brand of diapers and wipes you want to use, don’t forget to stick them into your Hospital Bag. Water wipes are our personal favorite!

Hospital Bag Checklist: for Partner

  1. Copy of birth plan. Making sure you partner is aware of the birth plan and your preferences is key in a smooth delivery no matter the circumstances. Sometimes mama isn’t able to advocate for herself, so when in doubt have them look at the birth plan you two created together.
  2. 1-2 pairs of clothes. Bring a couple of changes of clothes so your partner isn’t left feeling sweaty after baby arrives. Everyone wants to go home feeling the best they can. Focus on layers so they can change their clothing according to mamas desired temperature. Comfy is best!
  3. Toiletries. Just like mama, your partner should have a toiletry bag packed and ready for the hospital with everything necessary for a few days stay.
  4. Snacks and water bottle. Pack a few of your partners favorite snacks and drinks to help keep their energy up. Make sure they also have a water bottle to stay hydrated.
  5. Phone charger. It’s a known fact labor can be long. Keep your partners phone charged and ready for when baby makes his/her appearance. Like I mentioned earlier, an extra long charging chord is a good idea!
  6. Books/ipad/laptop. Bring things that help your partner pass the time if there are any lulls. Downloading podcasts, bring a good book, or some movies are all great options.
  7. Lightweight sleeping bag + pillow. Hospital bedding isn’t the best. making sure your partner has some comfort measures to get a good rest is a good idea if they are spending the night in the hospital. Bringing a lightweight sleeping bag

Birth Space Essentials

  1. Music playlist/portable speaker. A small portable speaker can do wonders to your environment when you are birthing at the hospital. Pop on your desired playlist and get into a rhythm as you experience the waves of your birth.
  2. Twinkle lights or electronic candles. Everyone wants their labor environment to feel magical. Some battery operated twinkle lights or candles are a great option to help set the vibe.
  3. Diffuser and essential oils. You can use certain diffused oils as comfort measures during labor. Pack a small diffuser to keep your room smelling just the way you like. If you don’t currently use essential oils, you can grab yourself a starter set off of amazon with tons of great scents to help during labor.
  4. Birth ball. A birth ball is a great option for mamas to utilize during labor. Plus, your partner can use it too!
  5. Manual Massage Roller. Something like this massage roller can be used in conjunction with essential oils or lotions to help mama during labor.

Download the Hospital Bag Checklist in printable pdf form HERE!

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