The Ultimate Maternity Hospital Bag Checklist
Before heading to the hospital, I asked all my momma friends (personally and on social media) for their delivery bag must-haves. With some awesome advice, and a minimalistic approach, I came up with a list of the absolute necessities. I waited to post this until after delivery to make sure everything listed was what I actually needed and/or wanted.
So, here's the scoop on what to bring to the hospital or birthing center to make your labor, delivery and stay go more smoothly.
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Your Hospital Bag: What You Actually Need
In addition to your hospital forms, photo ID, insurance card, birth plan (if you choose to create one) and your pediatrician's contact information, you'll also want to consider the following items.
While some of these things aren't absolutely essential (like my own nightgown, a nursing bra and socks), they helped me feel human again.
- A comfy, front-opening nightgown or robe
- Pack something to cozy up in since you can't control the temperature of the room. Even though the hospital supplies you with a gown, you'll want your own. Childbirth is uncomfortable enough, you don't want to feel like you're stuck wearing an ill-fitting, scratchy napkin.
- I LOVED this front-opening gown because it allowed me to easily have quality skin-to-skin time with baby.
- A nursing tank top and maternity sweats or high-waisted, fold over yoga pants
- These are great for when you have visitors.
- Avoid packing low-waisted pants. If you end up having a C-section, low pants will hit you right at your incision. OUCH!
- A nursing bra (preferably with no underwire)
- Unless you prefer to take a bra-less approach, you'll want a nursing bra with no underwire for your hospital stay.
- This is the one I took to the hospital and used religiously at home afterwards.
- Slippers and flip flops
- Bring cozy footwear to walk the hallways during and after labor, and a pair of rubber flip flops if you plan on showering. (To be honest, I was at the hospital less than 48 hours and didn't have the desire or the energy to shower while I was there... but that's just me! Flip flops don't take up much room, so you may want to take them just in case.)
- Warm comfy socks
- The hospital typically provides you with a pair of non-slip socks, but there's nothing like soft, comfy socks from home.
- Cheap, seamless, full coverage underpants
- In the event that the hospital supplies you with uncomfortable undies and HUGE bulky pads (rather than those amazing mesh undies you may have heard about), you'll want 2-3 pairs of your own. When you leave the hospital you'll still look and feel 6 months pregnant, so keep that in mind.
- Spoiler alert: If you deliver vaginally, you'll likely bleed (pretty heavily) for a few days. Take undies you won’t mind throwing away. They also sell fancy C-section-specific recovery undies. I honestly just bought a few pairs of cheap high-waisted briefs because they would work whether I delivered vaginally or through C-section.
- A going home outfit
- Pack a loose fitting, comfy outfit to head home in. Remember, you'll be around the size you were at 6 months pregnant.
- A hair tie, brush, deodorant, toothbrush, toothpaste and Chapstick
- Glasses and a glasses case
- Let's be real, messing with contacts will be low on the totem pole post-delivery.
- GOOD shampoo and conditioner (travel size)
- If your skin tends to be on the dry side, or you just love soft skin, bring your own moisturizer.
- BIG. OLD. PADS or DEPENDS (a.k.a. adult diapers)
- I'm talking overnight, super absorbency, heavy flow pads WITH WINGS. Birthing a baby is a messy job and things don’t just go back to normal overnight. Some hospitals supply disposable mesh undies with pads included, but in the event they don't, it's good to be overprepared. (Tip: If they do provide mesh undies, snag as many as you can! They're honestly the BEST. THING. EVER. for post-birth bleeding.)
Your hospital should supply diapers and wipes, so there's no need to take up precious space with those.
- Car seat and car seat base
- You'll need these to be properly installed in the back seat before you're able to ride home with your new little bundle, so you may want to install your car seat and base (or at least practice installing them) 2-3 weeks prior to your due date.
- 2 outfits for pictures
- Because you have no way of knowing what size your baby will be when he or she arrives, bring a size newborn AND a size 0-3 month outfit. Don't go crazy packing multiple outfits. One of each is plenty.
- A receiving blanket
- A receiving blanket is helpful if you want to cover yourself while nursing and for traveling home with baby (if it's cold out).
- 1 swaddle
- UPDATE: Velcro swaddles are a savior!
- 1 pair of mittens
- Most hospitals don’t supply mittens and because babies tend to scratch themselves silly, you'll want to pack at least one pair. I was hugely thankful that one of our readers suggested this. Isla came out with claws like a kitten and without a pair of mittens she would have left the hospital looking like she actually got in a cat fight.
- A (comfy) going home outfit
- Just like you, you'll want your baby to be comfy when traveling home.
If you plan on breastfeeding at the hospital you may want to consider packing the items listed below.
- Nursing pads
- Nipple balm
- Trust me, your nipples will appreciate you being so proactive.
- Nursing pillow
- Your pumping supplies (if you plan on pumping rather than nursing)
- Your nursing pillow and pump don't have to be in your bag, but at least keep them in the car for after baby comes. Unless you're already a pumping pro, you may want the lactation specialist or staff to show you how to properly use your pump.
- Camera + batteries
- Phone charger
- This one is so important! Pack some of your favorite snacks for both you AND your partner. (You don't want them eating up all the goodness before you get to it!)
- Here's a complete list of Easy to Pack Real Food Snacks.
- Something to pass the time
- Music, a book or magazines
- A blanket and pillow from home
- Many seasoned mommas recommend taking your own pillow and a small blanket. As it turns out, hospital pillows aren't exactly luxurious or comfortable (they're about as thin as a communion cracker), and the rooms can get pretty chilly. You can always toss one in the car and have your partner or support person grab it for you, if needed.
- UPDATE: I didn't end up using my pillow or the blanket that I brought along, but as stated before, many other mommas found them to be must-haves.
- An extra copy of your birth plan
- If you put together a birth plan, you'll want to print and take two copies. Why two? So there's one for your chart and/or labor nurse(s) and a spare copy you can keep tapped up in your hospital room.
- Medications/ Vitamins
For Your Partner or Support Person
- Comfy clothes
- If they plan on having some skin-to-skin time with the baby, they should include a front-opening shirt.
- Pillow and blanket
- If your partner or support person will be catching some ZZZ's in the room too, they should plan on bringing a pillow and possibly a blanket. (Again, we didn't end up needing these but they came highly recommended from fellow mommas, so I still wanted to include them.)
That’s really it! The hospital will provide the rest.
Keep in mind, your baby may arrive earlier than expected, so it's a good idea to have your bag packed around 36 weeks, just in case.
With this simple maternity hospital bag checklist, you'll be well prepared for delivery. That way, when you return home, you can focus on spending quality time with your new beautiful baby, rather than unpacking a week's worth of items you didn't actually need.
And just remember, when the big day arrives, you've got this!! We're here sending you lots of love and good vibes.
Let's make our birthing experiences as seamless as possible - together!
Cheers to a healthy lifestyle and living FULLforLife!
xo, Pam & Kalie
P.S. If you haven't created a registry, you'll want to check out the Products You Actually Need on Your Baby Registry (and What You Can Live Without). If you're wondering how you can mentally and physically prepare for labor, you'll want to check out these 7 Simple Ways To Naturally Prepare For Labor And Vaginal Delivery.
So fellow mommas, what did you pack in your hospital bag?