If you’re searching for an honest guide of what to pack in hospital bag for mom, you’ve come to the right place. If you’re looking for a long list of stuff you won’t need – you’ll have to try another blog.
Our goal is to give you a no-nonsense list of items that are absolutely essentially for you to pack in your hospital bag. And we’ll also mention a few “nice to have” recommendations.
It’s important to note that all of our birthing experiences have been in the USA. We have readers from all over the world so we’d like to point out that European, Canadian, South American, Asian, African, and Australian hospitals all provide different items.
Ready? Let’s get packing.
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When to Pack Hospital Bag
Many moms start thinking about delivery soon after they discover they’re pregnant! But don’t worry, you don’t have to pack your bag right in the beginning.
We highly recommend packing your hospital bag after you tour the birthing center (which usually occurs between 32-36 weeks).
For starters, this prevents you from packing too early and potentially misplacing the bag.
Secondly, this gives you the opportunity to ask your hospital specific questions about what is (and is not) provided. For instance, a significant difference between centers is what toiletries are provided for mom.
If you are concerned about delivering early, you could always have a printed out hospital bag checklist pdf on hand. That way you could quickly pack your bag if you feel signs of labor.
Avoid Over-packing Your Hospital Bag
For our first births, we packed way too much stuff. We read all of the lists we could find online about what we would need to bring to the hospital for mom, dad, and baby and we packed everything. And then ultimately used maybe half of what we brought… maybe.
In the US, the hospitals generally provide most of the basic necessities for mom and baby. As we mentioned above, it’s always a good idea to check during your hospital tour so you know the specifics of what to pack in hospital bag for mom where you will deliver.
So what’s the harm in bringing extra stuff?
Even if you like to be over prepared, when it comes to over-packing for the hospital it just creates more work for yourself.
Childbirth can be chaotic and messy. Generally moms move rooms at least once during their hospital stay. All of the unnecessary stuff is just more to keep track of, lose, or forget.
Extra stuff is also often more for you to clean. It’s much easier to let the hospital take care of things like clothes, blankets, and linens for you and baby during your stay.
Do you really want to bring home a bag of possibly very stained laundry to tackle?
The Absolute Essentials of What to Pack in Hospital Bag for Mom
Believe it or not, you really don’t need to pack much for the hospital. In fact, if you arrive with nothing but the clothes on your back – you’ll be just fine.
That being said, there are a few items that I would consider pretty essential and you should definitely try to have them on hand when considering what to pack in hospital bag for mom:
- ID card. Driver’s license, state-issued identification card, passport, permanent resident card, etc.
- Health insurance card. For both you and the plan you will be adding your child to (if different).
- Phone charger. Grab one with the longest cord possible if you can.
- Comfy clothes. Even if you plan on staying in the hospital gown the entire time (no judgement, it’s super convenient when they’re assessing your underwear bleeding every 5 minutes), you’ll probably want something different to wear when actually walk out of the hospital. Think comfy and not too tight on the tummy – flowy dress, loose yoga pants, large nursing tops, etc. Don’t expect to fit in your favorite pre-pregnancy jeans.
- Glasses. Even if you wear contact lenses 24/7, bring a back up pair of glasses.
- Any hospital specific paperwork. Bring copies of your registration paperwork, even if you filled it out online beforehand.
- Checkbook. Many hospitals require fees for birth certificates to be paid via check or money order.
- Toiletries. Your hospital might provide everything you could need (Jo’s did) or next to nothing (like Rachel’s), so be prepared with your own toiletry essentials. Bring all of the things that will help you feel human again after birth: shampoo, conditioner, soap, moisturizer, deodorant, toothbrush, toothpaste, chapstick, hair brush, and hair ties.
The second hospital Rachel delivered at actually gave this advice for what to pack in hospital bag for mom: pack two bags – one for labor and one for after.
You don’t need to bring everything in when you’re laboring, it just gets in the way as you have to dig through your bag looking for your cell phone charger between contractions. Use a smaller bag to pack just what you’ll want for labor and delivery and leave the second bag in the car until after the baby arrives.
Jo’s “Nice-to-Have-but-Not-Essential” Items
- Robe. While I remained in the hospital gown for most of my stay, using a robe made me feel more cozy and less exposed.
- Flip flops. I was getting in and out of the hospital bed constantly to use the restroom, check on the baby, grab something out of my bag, etc. I didn’t want to have to worry about tying shoes every time. And the thought of putting my bare feet or socks on the dirty bathroom floor was gross to me (I showered in the flip flops too!).
- Camera. We’re a BIG picture family and love our SLR for big events. This was a must for our family.
- Photo props. We had cute little “just born” signs and bows for our children to wear for their inaugural photo shoot.
- Makeup. Because of the aforementioned camera obsession, I wanted to make sure I had my makeup handy for touch ups so I wouldn’t look back on the pictures later and cringe.
- Contact list. I had a list of everyone I wanted to personally call/text/e-mail announcing baby’s arrival before I posted it on social media.
Rachel’s Recommendations for Extra “Nice Things”
- Pajamas. While you only need an outfit to wear to go home, you may feel more comfortable in your own clothes or better yet, pajamas. PJs can make you feel less exposed around visitors than an open back hospital gown. Make sure they’re super comfy, preferable dark colors (so they won’t show stains), and easy access for nursing if you plan on breastfeeding (like button up tops or nursing tank tops).
- Disposable underwear. The hospital will likely supply you with mesh panties and giant maxi pads. They’re ok at best in my opinion, but work fine for the first day or so. I prefer to switch to disposable underwear (aka adult diapers) when I change from the hospital gown to my own clothing. They’re surprisingly comfortable, plus there’s no extra laundry and no worrying about leaks staining your clothes.
- Slippers. Cover your feet from those cold and possibly kind of icky tile floors with warm socks or slippers. I would not recommend bringing any that you are super attached to as they may end up with body fluids on them.
- Nursing bra. A soft and stretchy nursing bra is great for comfortable support. You’ll also want a bra to hold nursing pads in place when your milk comes in. A comfy sports bra may be preferable if you’re not planning on breastfeeding.
- Baby book. While it may seem a little silly and is certainly not essential, the baby book is a fun thing to bring to the hospital. First of all, when the nurse gets your babies first footprints, you can ask to put their prints in the book too. Second, you can record your birth memories right away while they’re still fresh in your mind.
What Should I Pack for the Hospital for Baby
As little as you really need for mom, you’ll need even less for baby. The hospital provides their cot, bedding, diapers, and even clothing.
We really only find two items necessary to list:
- “Going home outfit” for baby. While not technically essential, most moms choose to pack a cute outfit to bring baby home. While most infants are size ‘newborn’, be sure to have a back-up outfit in size 3 months just in case your child is on the larger side.
- Car seat. Installed and ready to go in your car. If you have a bucket seat make sure the base is installed but leave the seat in the car until you’re ready to pack up and go home.
What to Pack in Hospital Bag for Dad
- Laptop/ iPad. Between labor and the hospital stay after birth, most families are usually there 48 hours for even the simplest of vaginal births. Bring something to help you pass the time, get some work done, and communicate with family/friends.
- Snacks. Labor can be long, and unfortunately while mom is not usually allowed to have anything other than clear fluids, dad will get hungry and you probably won’t want him to run out for food in the middle of it all. Also pack snacks for mom after baby is born. Depending on the time and the hospital it could be hours before the next meal is served or cafeteria opens.
- Change of clothes. If dad is planning to stay at the hospital he probably won’t want to wear the same clothes for the next few days. Pack a change of clothes or two.
- Toiletries. While some hospitals may provide toiletries for mom, very few will provide anything for the partner. Be sure to pack travel-sized shampoo, soap, razer, shaving cream, deodorant, etc. pajamas. If your partner is going to stay at the hospital they’ll want pajamas or some comfy clothes to sleep. Regardless of their sleep clothing preferences at home or *ahem* lack thereof, you’ll likely have nurses and hospital staff regularly in and out of the room so for everyone’s comfort they should be covered.
Items to Leave At Home
Between us, we have four births (at four different hospitals!) under our belts. Trust us when we say that some items you may think will come in helpful can easily be skipped.
- Diapers and wipes. They’ll have plenty. In fact, pack up any extras and ask for some to take home (the nurses will generally be happy hand you some extra). We went through over 12 a day during the newborn stage!
- Baby clothes, hats, and blankets. Save the cute PJs and receiving blankets for home, the hospital has plenty of all of these.
- Pillows, blankets, and towels. Yes, it is true that often the hospital pillows, blankets, and towels leave something to be desired, but we both still think they are not necessary to bring. First of all, they are super bulky and cumbersome to pack. Second, you risk them getting mixed up with the hospital’s and then there goes your favorite pillow. Third, you create more laundry for yourself with potential body fluid stains to deal with at home.
- Breastfeeding supplies (pillow, lanolin, etc). The hospital has all of these available. If you need one, ask your nurse or contact the lactation consultant on staff.
- Birthing balls. These are extremely bulky and most hospitals have everything you’ll ever need for your ideal birth experience.