Have you wondered what to pack in your hospital bag — WHEN to pack it and maybe even what NOT to pack for labor and delivery? This hospital bag checklist will give you a free, printable PDF that you can customize for just what YOU need so you just bring the essentials.
What to pack in your hospital bag has a lot of options. you’ll want a printable list for your newborn, for dad and for labor and delivery. This hospital bag list will be very helpful for both vaginal deliveries or a c section.
Be sure to know if you’re in labor with my am I in labor quiz.
What to pack in your hospital bag
This post is the cornerstone for my entire what to pack in your hospital bag series. It includes 4 posts:
- Checklist for labor and delivery (that’s this post)
- After the baby bag (this post includes what to bring to the hospital if you have a planned cesarean section)
- What to pack in the diaper bag for the hospital
- What to pack in hospital bag for dad
And don’t miss my other post with a before baby checklist.
Your Hospital Delivery Bag
The bag, the bag! I’m sure you envision yourself, water broken needing to rush to the hospital with your BAG. Hence, it needs all the essentials. What to pack in my hospital bag is a question everyone has. Since I’m a labor nurse I’m going to share what I’ve seen my patients reach for time and time again as well as stuff for after the baby, a father bag and even a baby bag. I’ll tell you when to bring them and I even include the three most IMPORTANT items that you need close at hand.
Don’t feel like you need to take notes, you can get my free PDF printable straight to your email with what to pack in my hospital bag:
What to pack in hospital bag for labor:
Here’s what I do recommend to put in your bag for LABOR.
I do recommend separate bags for LABOR and postpartum, as they require different things, and it will keep you from having to paw through your WHOLE bag to find these things. The things in the labor bag will also travel to postpartum as they are super helpful there as well.
Be sure to take a childbirth class well before you pack your back. You can find the one I recommend here.
Hospital bag checklist
1. Chapstick. Have it, tell your husband where it is. You breathe a lot. you need it (this one is my favorite when you’re re-applying it frequently during the day — I also love the smell of EOS – and the balm is pretty decent too).
2. A hair tie. Have it, tell your husband where it is. Unless you’re sportin’ the pixie cut, you’ll want it (these are great when you end up taking them in and out or just letting it stay on your arm or what not).
3. Phone Charger. Whether it’s a great external battery or just a wall plug, you will WANT you phone charged. Most hospitals have loosened up about plugging stuff into the walls (when I started, you coudln’t) but you may want to ask your nurse what plugs you can use. Personally, I’d for SURE keep an external battery charged and on hand as I love mine.
I love this one from My Charge as you can plug it into the wall and then charge your phone when needed.
**Those first three things, are SUPER important, be sure that your partner knows where they are so he can grab them when you have a need for one of them. I’d put them in an outside pocket.
4. A robe. I wore a gown the whole time, if you want to slip into your own clothes (prepare to get some blood on your pants). There’s nothing wrong with bringing an old robe — but this robe looks so great, the price is right and the reviews are awesome. It’s a great time to stay cozy! Some women really enjoy wearing their own gown in the hospital — these are cute (but we totally provide you a gown, and we wash it too!).
5. Slippers, or something to put on your feet. Hospital floors gross me out. I don’t want to go barefoot. These slippers look like they’ll be super comfortable but you won’t cry if you end up getting blood on them and you have to throw them away (total bonus). I would NOT recommend bringing your favorite pair of slippers to the hospital! Unless they’re wipeable, if you know what I mean….
6. Toiletries: Shower gel, shampoo, conditioner, lotion, extra chapstick. just bring a tiny bag to store in the bathroom (if you have a private bathroom, which you may not). And make sure you have a good bag to hold them all in — like this one. That’s easy to just hang on your towel rod and grab what you need. I would recommend having the VERY basics in your labor bag. I’d save makeup and more serious toiletries in your postpartum bag.
7. Bra — This one is optional…. but a lot of women want a bra in labor as their boobs are wanting support. These nursing bras from Amazon get great reviews! A bra is optional in labor. We prefer wire-free if there was an emergency. I would NOT wear your MOST favorite bra, as there is always a chance we might have to cut it off.
9. Anything you’re planning to use to get you through the pain. We have yoga balls, but if you need a focal point or specific music — bring it. You may even get super bored if you have a long induction, no shame to load some movies into your tablet (we love loading up our Fire from videos from Amazon on demand — and it’s WAY cheaper than an ipad).
10. A camera – your good one. Don’t go with the phone here. Get something better. I LOVE my Cannon camera (this one does movies too!). The lens it comes with it fine for hospital shooting (love this lens too — it’s great for low light shooting) and be sure to check out this book if you want to learn how to use your SLR first. But, you can also grab just an awesome point and shoot like this one). I have tons of delivery shooting tips here (guess who used to have a photography business!) 🙂 The pink one pictured is SO cute, but not great for indoor shots, although there’s something about a polaroid…. #socute
11. Your insurance card. I’d send my husband home with my wallet at the first chance, but you’ll need this to register. Most often, they want a copy each time you come. Check out this post for more info on health insurance!
12. Your ID. The need to know that you’re who your insurance card says you are.
Related Post: What do contractions feel like?
When to start packing a hospital bag for labor
I always feel like if I pack my bag, I’ll stop any labor…
Although, I’m guessing that’s not particularly rational….
I recommend you pack your bag around 36 weeks. At least throw in those top things I mention above — you can round out the bag as you get closer to delivery day.
Related post: Birth plan template
I initially saw a pin about saving money by using the hospital toiletries. I will tell you that we have to give you hospital-grade toiletries. DO not, I repeat, DO NOT come to the hospital expecting to get your toiletries from us, unless you’re talking toilet paper. Or, if you consider sandpaper lotion, because JACHO does. That’s what they want us to give you. You’re welcome (please note the sarcasm font there).
A good rule of thumb is that we will provide everything the baby needs (formula, diapers, wipes, shirts, etc).
We provide very little of what you need. I DO agree with her in that you don’t need a full luggage set to come to the hospital. Most people bring way too much.
Hospital Bag FAQ’s:
What to pack in hospital bag for baby?
Their needs are pretty simple, as the hospital provides a great deal of what they will need. I have a whole post here on what to pack in your hospital bag for baby.
What to pack in hospital bag for c-section
BEFORE you have your baby it’s very similar — but I do have some tips in my post on what to pack for after you have the baby.
What to pack in hospital bag for dad?
While dads don’t have a ton of needs, and I recommend they head home to shower and check on things. I do hav ea whole post on dad’s hospital bag.
Pro tip: I HIGHLY recommend taking a tour of the hospital before you deliver. See what they offer as far as snacks, toiletries, etc. I have worked at 3 hospitals so far in 2 different states but we carry basically the same stuff at all of them.
What to pack in hospital bag for induction?
Because inductions tend to be longer than natural labor — I would recommend some amusement activities. Things like:
- iPads to watch videos
- I’ve even had couples bring a gaming device like a nintendo Switch
For inductions, it’s extra important to have an external battery or a really long charging cable so you can stay in touch with the outside world while you’re in labor.
Do I need to pack diapers for the hospital?
No, all of the hospitals I’ve been to have their own diapers they will give you for the baby.
Maybe consider trying this free beginning prenatal class as well:
What NOT to bring in your hospital bag:
While I am a big believer that you can bring whatever you want…. a few things I recommend you keep at home.
- Weapons. True story — I’ve seen this become a problem.
- Excessive makeup. Unless you’re a diehard makeup wearer you are not likely to want to do a lot of makeup. Throw in some mascara and lip gloss — for sure, but a full face doesn’t usually get done.
And now that we’re done talking bags…. get the printable PDF checklist:
This post also gives you another hospital checklist:
Other great “preparing for delivery” posts:
This post was originally written in 2014 and has been updated.