Pregnancy is an exciting time, but it can also be overwhelming as you prepare for the arrival of your new baby. One important task to add to your to-do list is packing a hospital bag.
When to Pack:
Packing your hospital bag during pregnancy is an important step in preparation for the arrival of your baby. It is recommended to pack your bag between weeks 36 and 37 of your pregnancy. This is because many women go into labor unexpectedly, and it’s best to be prepared in case that happens.
However, it’s important to note that some women may need to pack their bags earlier, especially if they have any medical conditions or are at a higher risk for complications during pregnancy. For example, women who have a history of preterm labor or who have been advised by their doctor to be on bedrest may need to pack their bags earlier.
It’s also a good idea to pack your bag earlier rather than later because you may not be able to think clearly or gather everything you need if you’re in labor or in a rush. By packing earlier, you can take the time to gather all the items you need and make sure that you’re not forgetting anything important.
Some items to include in your hospital bag are comfortable clothing for you and your baby, toiletries, medications, and any special items that you may need during your stay, such as a breast pump or a special pillow. It’s also a good idea to include a camera and a list of phone numbers of family and friends to notify after the birth of your baby.
In conclusion, packing your hospital bag earlier rather than later during pregnancy is a wise choice. It ensures that you’re prepared for any unexpected events and that you have everything you need for a comfortable stay at the hospital.
Why You Should Pack Earlier Than You Think:
It’s better to be prepared and have your hospital bag packed and ready to go in case you go into labor earlier than expected. It’s also a good idea to have your bag packed in case you need to be admitted to the hospital for any unexpected complications.
Should You Have Separate Bags for Mom and Baby:
It is up to personal preference whether to pack separate bags for the mother and baby during a hospital stay. Some mothers prefer to have a separate bag for themselves and their baby, while others prefer to have one larger bag that contains everything they need for both.
Having separate bags can be helpful because it allows the mother to have quick access to items she may need, such as toiletries and comfortable clothing, without having to rummage through a larger bag. It also makes it easier for the hospital staff to keep track of the mother’s and baby’s belongings.
On the other hand, having one larger bag can be more convenient because it is easier to keep everything in one place, making it less likely to forget anything important. It can also be more cost-effective as it reduces the need for multiple bags.
Ultimately, the decision of whether to pack separate bags or one larger bag is a personal one that should be based on individual preferences and needs. It’s a good idea to make a list of the items you need for both the mother and baby and then determine the best way to pack them for the hospital stay.
What to Pack
Comfortable clothes to wear during labor and delivery:
The hospital stay can be long, and you want to be as comfortable as possible. Packing a nightgown or loose-fitting clothes that can be easily removed for medical exams or procedures is recommended. Also, pack comfortable clothes to wear home, especially those that are easy to put on and take off for postpartum comfort and mobility.
Slippers or comfortable shoes:
Slippers or comfortable shoes will provide comfort and warmth during your hospital stay, especially when walking to and from the bathroom.
Socks will keep your feet warm and can be used for walking around the hospital room. Be sure to choose socks that have anti-slip bottoms.
Basic toiletries, such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, lotion, and deodorant, are important to bring to the hospital as they help maintain personal hygiene and comfort.
Hairbrush and hair ties:
These can be useful for keeping your hair neat and out of your face during labor and delivery. It also can get very hot in a delivery room, so being able to pull your hair up can relieve a lot of discomfort.
Lip balm can help keep your lips moisturized, especially during the delivery process. There is a lot of heavy breathing, and the room will often be very warm, and lips can get very dry. Some hospitals won’t allow women to drink water, either, so this is sometimes the only way to keep your lips comfortable.
Glasses or contact lenses and solution, if applicable:
If you wear glasses or contact lenses, be sure to pack them and a solution for cleaning and moisturizing, if necessary.
Insurance information and hospital paperwork:
Pack your insurance information and any necessary hospital paperwork, such as your birth plan, to ensure a smooth check-in process.
Phone and charger:
A phone and charger can be useful for staying in touch with family and friends and capturing memories. You can also use it to play music, read or watch videos as you wait for active labor to begin.
Snacks and drinks:
Pack snacks and drinks, such as water and juice, to have on hand during your hospital stay as it can be a long time between meals. High-energy foods like cut veggies, jerky or even nutritional shakes can help a lot. Just be sure to ask your doctor or nurse if it’s okay to eat or drink.
Music, books, or a tablet can provide a form of entertainment and relaxation during your hospital stay. Unless you are in active labor, things can take a while to get going – especially if you are being induced. You may also have some recovery time in the hospital after birth, so being able to stay entertained (when you’re not sleeping or cuddling your new baby!) is important.
Nursing bras and pads:
Pack nursing bras and pads to be prepared for postpartum recovery and breastfeeding. Even if you do not plan on breastfeeding your baby, you will still have a few days when your body makes milk. Breast pads will keep you from having a wet shirt, and they can also be useful in keeping your nipples from rubbing against your shirt or bra, which can be painful.
Any medications you are currently taking:
Pack any medications you are currently taking to ensure you have them during your hospital stay. Make sure your doctor and nurses know what you are taking so they can be prepared if they need to medicate you in some new way. You don’t want to have any unknown drug interactions.
Camera or other way to capture memories:
A camera or another way to capture memories, such as a smartphone, can help preserve the special moments of the birth of your baby. There are many photos and videos you can take of yourself besides the actual birth, so having the ability to capture whatever you want is going to make you feel good.
Postpartum Underwear and Pads:
These help you to be prepared for postpartum recovery and bleeding. Postpartum underwear will provide additional protection and comfort during the healing process. Make sure to pack enough to last for a few days after delivery, as you may not be able to leave the hospital immediately. It’s also a good idea to bring larger, high-waisted underwear for added comfort and support. Often the hospital will provide their own pads for you, but you’ll still need them at home and may even prefer a certain brand.
Pack a refillable water bottle to stay hydrated during your hospital stay. Staying hydrated can help with postpartum recovery and breastfeeding. Be sure to ask your doctor if it’s okay for you to drink during or after delivery.
An ice pack can be helpful for relieving discomfort and swelling in the perineal area after delivery. Make sure the ice pack is covered by a cloth or other barrier, and never place it directly on your skin.
Comfortable Blanket and Pillows:
Pack a comfortable blanket and pillows to make your hospital stay as cozy and comfortable as possible. These can also be useful for nursing and snuggling with your baby. Hospital blankets and pillows aren’t always comfortable, and if you need extra, they’re not always available. Bringing your own helps you to feel more comfortable physically and mentally.
A peri bottle is a useful item to pack in your hospital bag as it can help with postpartum recovery and comfort. A peri bottle is a small bottle that can be filled with warm water and used to clean the perineal area after using the bathroom. This can be more gentle and soothing than using toilet paper, especially after a vaginal delivery. Pack one in your bag for postpartum use at the hospital and to take home with you.
Pack enough diapers for your baby’s first few days at the hospital and for the trip home. Newborns typically go through several diapers a day, so it’s best to be prepared. The hospital may provide a few during your stay, but you’ll be expected to have your own once you leave. If you want to use a certain brand, it is best to bring your own. Also, while most newborns will fit into newborn diapers, if your baby is especially small or especially big, you may want to bring a selection of preemie, newborn and size 1 diapers.
Baby wipes are great for changing diapers, but they can also be useful in cleaning up spills and messes. Whether you are using disposable or reusable wipes, make sure to have them on hand.
Pack several outfits for your baby to wear, including onesies and sleepers. Make sure to choose clothes that are soft and comfortable for your baby to wear. Be aware that many babies can make messes of their clothes during diaper changes, so having a few outfits on hand is very practical. Also, a lot of hospitals have photographers who will take professional photos of your newborn for you, so consider bringing any outfit you think would look best.
Pack a hat for your baby to wear to protect their head and face from the elements, especially if you’ll be leaving the hospital during the cooler months. Hats keep the baby from losing heat, which is important as they can get cold easily.
Pack a few blankets for your baby to use in the hospital and for the trip home. Blankets can be used for swaddling, as a nursing cover, or for keeping your baby warm. They’re also great for tucking around the baby in their car seat, though you must be very careful to keep it away from their face.
Pack a few receiving blankets to use for wrapping your baby, as a burp cloth, or as a soft surface for diaper changes.
Pack a few burp cloths to use during feedings and to clean up any spit-up. You’ll learn quickly that burp cloths are a very useful item, as they can be used for almost any occasion when it comes to a newborn.
If you plan to use a pacifier, pack one in your baby’s hospital bag. Pacifiers can be helpful for soothing and calming a fussy baby. Make sure you buy a pacifier specific to newborns, and consider buying a variety of styles, as some babies react badly to one pacifier but will take to another one easily.
Baby Grooming Kit:
Pack a baby grooming kit with essentials such as a nail clippers, a brush, and a comb. This kit can be useful for taking care of your baby’s hygiene during your hospital stay and for the trip home. The baby may get their first bath in the hospital, so being able to brush their hair, moisturize their skin, or even use your own preferred brand of baby shampoo will make this occasion special.
Make sure to have a properly installed car seat ready for your baby’s trip home from the hospital. The hospital will likely check the installation of the car seat before discharge. Also be sure that the baby is belted into their seat properly before you leave. If you have doubts, ask a nurse to show you how to do it and to check your work.
For Your Partner:
Comfortable clothing and shoes:
Your birthing partner should pack comfortable clothing and shoes to wear during labor and delivery. They may be at the hospital for several hours and comfort is key. They’ll also likely be on their feet for a long time, supporting you and staying at your side.
Snacks and drinks:
Your birthing partner should pack snacks and drinks to keep themselves fueled during the long hours of labor and delivery. They will not have any restrictions, so they can bring whatever snacks they prefer, though you may ask them to stick with the same foods/drinks as you if you think they might trigger you.
Charger for phone or other devices:
Your birthing partner should pack a charger for their phone or other devices in case they need to use them during the labor and delivery process. The last thing you want is for them to run out of battery right when you most need it.
Camera or other way to capture memories:
Your birthing partner should bring a camera or other way to capture memories of this special event. They may want to take photos or videos of the birth of your baby. Be sure to talk in advance about the types of photos and videos you are comfortable with them taking. Some women prefer not to be photographed during birth.
Books or other forms of entertainment:
Your birthing partner may want to bring books, magazines, or another form of entertainment to keep themselves occupied during any downtime during labor and delivery.
Cash for vending machines or meals:
Remind your partner to bring cash for any vending machine purchases or meals they may want to buy during their time at the hospital. Some hospitals will offer small snacks and drinks to a birthing partner, but others will not. You’ll also be charged a premium for any meals provided by the hospital, so it may be cheaper to buy what you need while there.
A change of clothes for after birth:
Your birthing partner should pack a change of clothes to wear after the birth of your baby in case they get dirty or messy during the delivery process.
Like you, your partner should pack a toothbrush, toothpaste, and deodorant to use during their time at the hospital. They may be there for a while, and having their grooming items on hand can be helpful.
Blanket and pillows:
Your partner should bring a blanket and pillows for added comfort during their time at the hospital. There may be a lot of downtime, and both of you should try and sleep if you can. Also, if they are planning on staying the night, hospital chairs are very uncomfortable, so having their bedding with them can make it a little more bearable.
Remember, every family’s needs are different, so you should pack what you feel is necessary for your situation. It’s also a good idea to check with your hospital about their specific policies and guidelines for what to bring.
Katie Reed is a passionate writer and mother of four vivacious boys from Salt Lake City, Utah. Drawing from her own journey through TTC, pregnancy, and the joys of raising children, she offers a wealth of insight into the world of motherhood. Beyond her heartfelt tales, Katie delights her readers with family-friendly recipes, engaging crafts, and a curated library of printables for both kids and adults. When she’s not penning her experiences, you’ll find her crafting memories with her husband and sons—Dexter, Daniel, Chester, and Wilder.