What You Need to Pack in a Hospital Bag With Printable Checklist

by | Aug 17, 2020

If you’re reading this now, it’s probably crunch time! You’re getting to that point in pregnancy where you’re thinking, sh*t’s getting real.  

It definitely is! You’re about to have that little baby in your arms so soon and I’m sure there are still a million things on your to-do list. One of those top essential must-dos is figuring out what to pack in your hospital bag for labor and delivery.

As if the third trimester isn’t hard enough, now you have to worry about getting prepared for childbirth! Well, don’t stress because I’m going to go over what’s in my hospital bag for baby number three. With two deliveries under my belt, I think I’ve got it down to the essentials.

I’ll share with you the must-haves for your hospital overnight bag, optional items, and things you should just leave at home.

I’ve included a printable hospital bag checklist so you don’t even have to come back to this site when you’re ready to get packing. Simply fill in the form below, print it out now, and save it for later. It comes with a third trimester checklist, as well, so you know you’ve covered all your bases!

Related Post: 26 Things To Do In Your Third Trimester to Prepare You for Childbirth and Newborn

Here is a list of what to pack in your hospital bag with a free printable checklist. Don't for get the essentials when you pack your hospital overnight bag both for mom, dad, and baby.

6 Tips for Packing Your Hospital Bag

Before you even start packing your hospital overnight bag, follow these tips and you’ll be well-prepared for your hospital or birthing center stay.

1. Think of what you’ll need through each stage of your hospital stay

When you’re packing your hospital bag, make sure you’re thinking about labor, delivery, AND postpartum. Some women tend to forget about one of those stages and you will need different items for all of them.

During childbirth, you’ll need all of the items that will help you during labor and delivery. This will vary depending on whether you’ve decided on a natural delivery (non-medicated) or getting an epidural. Some women choose to have all of their birthing equipment with them, including an exercise ball, hypnobirthing playlist, massaging balls, etc. However, these items are certainly not necessary.

For postpartum, it’s all about comfort for mama and what you’ll need to feed and clothe the baby. Although the hospital will provide a lot of items for your recovery and many medical-related products, you still want to be prepared.

2. Do it early

Don’t wait until the last minute to pack your hospital bag because you never know when nature is going to call!  You don’t want to be frantically throwing items into a bag while you’re having painful labor contractions.

Keep your bag packed and in the car by at least 36 weeks (just in case). There are a lot of overwhelming stresses that have to do with pregnancy and childbirth so get this out of the way early so it’s not one of them.

For my first baby, I went into labor 6 days early and I was 2 weeks early with my second! I’m glad I was prepared early on, so that was one less thing I had to worry about while frantically being hit with early labor pains!

3. Bring a rolling suitcase

If you have a rolling suitcase, bring that just in case you end up heading there by yourself and can’t carry a heavy bag.  Don’t try to cram everything into a little duffel bag because it just won’t fit all of your needs.

That’s exactly what happened to me when my water broke at home and my husband was over 2 hours away!  I drove myself (safely, because I wasn’t in any pain) to the hospital and checked in with just my suitcase and a prayer.

The nurses did have a little chuckle at my huge rolling suitcase like I was checking into the Four Seasons for a week, but I knew I was ready!

4. It’s better to be overprepared than underprepared

I’ve read so many blog posts of women saying that there are so many ‘necessities’ that you end up not needing. I think that it’s better to have everything you may need, rather than missing one item that you wish you had.

I know it may seem a little crazy to bring a whole suitcase, but you will be spending 2 or 3 nights there. You never know what you could need.

You’re packing before the baby comes so it’s not an inconvenience to throw a few extra items into your bag when you’re unsure. The worst that will happen is that you’ll be unpacking when your newborn is at home.

5. Don’t forget about packing for your partner and baby

If your partner will be staying there with you for 2-3 days, he will need most of the same items that you will.

So, pack him a small separate bag or stuff his belongings in yours if there is room. Of course, he could always go home if you live close by, but it’s just better to be prepared. I didn’t want my husband leaving my side after the baby was born- not even for 30 minutes!

Also, I’m sure you’ve already thought about what your baby will be wearing those days – #allthenewbornphotos. The hospital will have most supplies for the baby, but make sure you have everything they will need besides just cute outfits.

6. Stock up on supplies from the hospital

Most hospitals are fully stocked with postpartum recovery items, including ibuprofen, stool softeners, hemorrhoid cream, bed liners, tucks pads, etc. For baby, they have loads of diapers, wipes, bottles, formula, and more.

Don’t be shy and take plenty of these items home with you because who doesn’t love free stuff? Especially free stuff that you’ll be buying plenty of in the future! Become friendly with a nurse and they’ll load you up with goodies.

Any items that you have left over can be taken home and used in your postpartum recovery kit.

What’s in My Hospital Bag?

Like I stated before, I’m an overpacker because I always want to be prepared. Yes, I know that anything you forget and desperately needed, you could most likely get, but it’s just easier to not have to worry about it.

Here is a list of my absolute necessities when you pack your hospital overnight bag, as well as some optional items too.

For Mom (18 Items):

1. Snacks

For you AND your partner.  This was my absolute must-have!

Hospital food is not very appetizing and you will be starving, especially if you can’t eat for many hours during labor.  Pack a few non-perishable snacks of choice (granola bars, crackers, goldfish) in-between meals or as a replacement.

There are typically vending machines and a cafeteria, but at least you know that you’ll have something you will enjoy.

If you’re there for 2-3 days, hopefully you’re within close distance to food establishments so your partner can pick up a hot meal. Also, don’t feel guilty asking visitors to bring food for you.  

2. Hair Ties or Headbands

Anything that works best to hold your hair back during childbirth. Labor is hard work and you can burn up to 50,000 calories during childbirth! Make sure your hair is out of your way because you will definitely get sweaty.

3. Small, Portable Fan

Your body temperature will surely fluctuate during labor. Your may go from being super hot and sweaty to freezing and having the chills. That’s just the hormones acting up again.

During your hot spells, you may really benefit from having a fan. This clip-on mini fan can affix itself to most surfaces and can also be used as a stroller fan once baby comes.

4. Robe

One piece of clothing that is absolutely vital (in my opinion) when you pack your hospital bag is a robe. Robes are the easiest and most convenient garment to wear for nursing your baby and during the postpartum period. Robes don’t put any tight pressure around your abdomen so it won’t cause you any unnecessary pain.

Use the gown that the hospital provides during labor and delivery so that you don’t get your nice robes messy. The bodily fluids that you’ll excrete during delivery can stay on those hospital gowns!

Once you’re all showered and clean, put on a comfortable robe and feel free to live in that throughout your whole hospital stay (and the first week home too)!  They’re great for nursing, sleeping, roaming the halls, and everything you’ll be doing before you can leave.

This mama robe (above) is a super soft cotton material, comfortable and perfect for lounging. If you’re having a girl, how adorable are these matching floral print robes from Posh Peanut? O.M.G.

5. Flip Flops or Slippers

When packing your hospital bag, definitely don’t forget a comfortable pair of shoes! You probably won’t want sneakers because your feet will probably be swollen.

Opt for an easy slip on shoe that’s good for just roaming the hospital ward and around your room with. Waterproof flip-flops are also a great option for the shower (because public shower floors just skeeve me out).

6. Socks and a Sweater

As your body temperature will certainly fluctuate during labor, it may also do that postpartum, as well. They usually keep the hospital rooms very cold, so once you’re finally in relaxation mode, bring some items to keep you warm.

7. Nursing Bras & Nursing Tank Tops

Hopefully you grabbed a nursing bra or two before you’re packing your hospital bag, so make sure you throw that in there. Whether you’re nursing or not, your boobs will become very large and very sore so a larger cup, soft, no-wire bra is ideal.

You’ll want easy accessibility to your breasts while you’re nursing, especially as you and your baby are learning this new skill together.  I love this Kindred Bravely Nursing Bra, the material is so soft and comfy for sleeping and everyday wear.  

The Gilligan & O Malley Nursing Bras from Target are also great for when you need a nursing bra to wear with work clothes (or anything besides your lounge clothes around the house). They also don’t have underwire which is a plus!

Nursing tanks are great to wear under other garments and are also very convenient when you’re nursing.

8. Comfortable underwear that you don’t mind ruining

The hospital will give you mesh underwear for immediately after delivery and you will probably want to wear those for a day or 2. Every woman swears by these and loves the comfiness. However, after the soreness subsides a bit, I wanted to get back in real underwear.

There will be a lot of bodily fluids, so pack large comfortable underwear that you can fit heavy maxi pads in.  Thongs will not cut it after delivery!

These briefs are so soft, comfy, and just feel like air on your bottom! Although you have these, don’t forget to grab some extra mesh undies from the hospital to wear for a few more days if you love those too.

Related Post: 35 Truths About Childbirth that Every Mom Should Hear

9. Nursing Pillow

A guide to the essentials and optional items that you will need to pack in your hospital delivery bag for childbirth and the days beyond.

My Breast Friend is my favorite nursing pillow, hands down! It straps right under your breasts so you can maintain proper posture and not hurt your back while nursing.

It makes the transition to breastfeeding a lot easier with the added support from a sturdy pillow. You’ll need this from when you start nursing in the hospital to get you and your baby in a comfortable position during breast feeding.

Even if you don’t plan on breastfeeding, a nursing pillow like the My Breast Friend or a Boppy are very helpful to provide support to the baby while you’re holding them to feed a bottle.

Related Post: First Steps to Breastfeeding Success: Helpful Tips from Day One

10. Nursing Aids

Pack anything you have to help with sore and cracked nipples. Especially if you’re breastfeeding for the first time, your nipples will most likely get cracked and sore.

Ameda gel pads were LIFE SAVERS for me and lanolin cream, as well (although your hospital may have some lanolin for you, but not always).  These little gel pads can get refrigerated for a cool, soothing feeling on your nipples between feedings.

Check out my other post on Postpartum Survival Kit for more ideas of things to stock up on for post-delivery issues.

11. Long-Cord Phone Charger

You don’t want to be stuck with a dead phone, especially with all the photos you will be taking! The outlets in the hospital may be far away from your bed so try to bring the longest cord that you have to reach.

12. Toiletries

I’m sure you’ll remember the normal essentials that you always pack for trips. You’ll want to have:

  • Shampoo
  • Dry shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Soap
  • Toothpaste
  • Toothbrush
  • Hair brush/comb
  • Makeup bag
  • Deodorant
  • Chap stick
  • Glasses/contacts

Pack these for you AND your partner.  If your partner is planning on staying with you, remember he will need to shower and freshen up as well.

13. Bathing towel

That first shower after birth is nothing like you can ever imagine! Washing all the sweat and fluids off of you is seriously the best feeling.

However, when you’re finished, the hospital towels are rough and paper thin. Bring your own if you want to feel fresh and comfortable after your shower.

14. Hair dryer, curling iron, hair straightener

It might be the furthest thing from your mind after you deliver, but if you’re the type of person who wants to look nice for visitors and photos, don’t forget these valuables. Most hospitals aren’t like hotels and are not equipped with hairdryers if you plan to make yourself look presentable.

15. Pillow & blanket

Hospital beds are not comfortable whatsoever. Although they will provide you with a pillow, blanket, and sheets, you may want to get a bit more comfortable. To make yourself feel at home, bring your own pillow & blanket that you feel most comfortable with.

Also, remember your partner! If he is sleeping there on the uncomfortable chair/couches, bring some for him, as well.

16. Comfortable/lounging clothes

Remember you will still look 6 months pregnant when you go home from the hospital, so pack things to wear that are not tight around your belly or hips. Think leggings, sweat pants with a loose elastic band, and oversized shirts.

You may still want to wear maternity clothes at this point since they’ll be the loosest around your abdomen. Here are some great ideas for postpartum clothing items to pack after delivery.

17. Extra plastic bag for dirty laundry

You can probably ask the hospital for this, but pack one for yourself just in case.

18. Extra bag for supplies you will take from the hospital

Below, I’ll go over the items that you should stock up on from the hospital. Bring an extra bag to store these supplies as you may not have room in your hospital bag.

For Baby:

Baby needs a few things for those first few days in the hospital, however, don’t go too crazy. The hospital will provide them with little shirts, blankets, diapers, and wipes, so you’ll be well prepared.

1. Newborn & 3 month onesies or zip-up one piece sleepers

The hospital will have little shirts for the baby. All they really need to wear is that, a diaper, and a blanket. However, If you’d like to make your baby more comfortable (and look cuter for photos), bring your own.

Both sizes should be good in case you have a very large baby, but most will fit into newborn clothes for at least the first few days.

I love these one piece zip up footie pajamas.  They’re so convenient to get baby in and out of and they’re nice and snuggly for baby.  Snaps are ok, but go for zippers if possible!

No matter the season, you’ll want a full length pajama for your little one. They keep the hospitals so cold and they just came out of a warm, comfy place, so you’ll want to keep them warm.

2. Coming home outfit

Depending on the season, dress your baby appropriately.  Even newborns should be dressed as you would be dressed so don’t over or under bundle them. Grab a cute outfit to take some pictures in. However, don’t overdo it with tutus and huge headbands because this could make your newborn uncomfortable.

Of course you’ll want a cute outfit for photo ops of your baby. This adorable Hello World set from SK Creations on Etsy is just perfect. You can get monogrammed onesies or outfits with their name on it too.

3. Pacifiar

You may not want to give a pacifier until your newborn has learned to latch to the breast or drink from a bottle. However, most hospitals will not provide these so make sure you have one on hand if needed.

Pacifiars are soothing for your baby and they may just need it after coming out to this big, scary world. We love MAM pacifiers the best!

4. Blanket

The hospital will provide receiving blankets, but for your own photo ops, you may want to bring your own.  The ones that the hospital gives you or a bit stiff and not very soft. You may want a soft blanket to keep your baby warm and comfortable.

Seasonally, muslin blankets are good for warmer months and nice cozy, fleece blankets are perfect for cooler months. You can use these blankets to keep them warm, as well as to swaddle.

5. Mittens & Hats

Their nails will be sharp from day one so bring a pair of mittens so they don’t scratch themselves.

6. Swaddles

I love the velcro swaddles by SwaddleMe.  They really keep the baby in tight so they can’t break free.

A guide to the essentials and optional items that you will need to pack in your hospital delivery bag for childbirth and the days beyond.

Items that the hospital will supply (so take as much as you can)

Everything else you may need, the hospital should provide. Don’t lug all this extra stuff there and take as much of it home with you as you can!

For baby: Diapers, bottles & formula (if you need), wipes, onesies/shirts, blankets, bathing stuff, burp cloths

For you:  Pain relievers, stool softeners, vaginal and hemorrhoidal creams, mattress pads, mesh underwear, Tucks pads, maxi pads, sitz bath, spray bottles – 

Related Post: 18 Things Not to Do After Giving Birth

Don’t forget to download your free printable hospital bag checklist below. Good luck!!

A guide to the essentials and optional items that you will need to pack in your hospital delivery bag for childbirth and the days beyond.

Hi I’m Marissa!

A mom of two little ones, here to provide some relatable experiences, tips, and tricks to the joys and challenges of pregnancy and childbirth through raising babies and toddlers.  Read more about me here.