I read SO much about what to pack in my hospital bag when I was pregnant, and everyone seemed to have different advice. This left me feeling a bit confused, so I knew I wanted to put together this hospital bag checklist for all of you! I didn't want to overpack, but was also definitely anxious about not having things I'd need. After all, giving birth is difficult enough - I didn't want to also be wishing I had my comfort items from home.
My goal was to have everything packed by 37 weeks, just in case I delivered early. LOL - joke's on me, I ended up delivering almost a full week after my due date. Nonetheless, I was very happy to have had packing my hospital bag off of my seemingly never-ending checklist of things I wanted to accomplish before my daughter was born.
what I packed in my hospital bag: a checklist
Today, I'm sharing hospital bag checklist with everything I packed. I'll also share some information on whether or not I ended up using it.
items for baby
You do NOT need many clothes for baby. Most of the time in the hospital, they will be in just a diaper and/or swaddle, because you will be doing as much skin-to-skin time as possible. That said, I recommend bringing adding at least two outfits for baby in to your hospital bag checklist. One outfit in newborn size (or preemie depending on your circumstances), and one in 0-3 month size. I promise you won't be putting real outfits on them until you leave the hospital! Our favorite place to get take-home outfits was SpearmintLOVE.
I highly recommend packing two swaddles. One should be an EASY, velcro one (our favorites were this one and this one). The swaddles that the hospital provide you are pretty difficult to use (thankfully the nurses are pros and will do it for you, but it's really nice to have an easy option for the middle of the night). I also recommend bringing a "special swaddle" - for us, we wanted to bring a pretty swaddle blanket that we could use to wrap just wrap her in, use for her photos, etc. Something like this.
colostrum, if you collected any
I collected colostrum that was leaking during pregnancy using these syringes (they are awesome!) I wasn't sure if I was going to bring it to the hospital, but I'm so glad I did. Those first couple days in the hospital before your milk has come in, it can be a little stressful ensuring baby has enough to eat. I didn't use much of the colostrum, but I was so glad I had it in case we were having issues latching. We packed them in a small cooler bag in case the hospital didn't have a refrigerator we could use.
your pediatrician's contact info
The nurses and doctors at the hospital will ask you for this information a lot at the hospital, so it's nice to have it on hand. Charlie and I wrote ours on index cards so we could easily hand it to them when it was needed. Be sure to include the fax number and email address as well for passing along medical records for your baby.
clothing for mom
frida mom gown
If you take ONE recommendation of mine, let it be this: buy the Fridamom gown. Yes, you will get a cheap gown from the hospital, but I promise when delivery is over and you take your first post-delivery shower, you will want a fresh, soft gown to get into. You will still be bleeding and will have such thick pads etc. that you will not want to wear pants. I lived in this gown in the hospital, but also in the first few weeks when I got home. It's also easy to nurse in, which is great if you decide to go that route.
comfortable nursing bra & tank
If you choose to nurse or think you'll want to try, I recommend packing a nursing bra and tank (I linked my favorites and the ones I packed). If you aren't planning to nurse, I recommend packing a comfortable wireless bra (this one is my favorite).
Most hospitals will give you non-slip socks, so you don't need to pack those, but I loved having my cozy slippers for walking the hospital halls during labor, to wear to the bathroom postpartum, and so on.
one pair of pajamas (button-up top)
going home outfit
You will definitely want something COMFORTABLE and loose to wear home from the hospital. You'll be wearing either an adult diaper (lol) or huge pads, so I personally don't recommend wearing tight leggings. I packed these jogger sweatpants (I have multiple pairs, I LOVE them), a baggy t shirt, a nursing bra, and UGGs.
For that first post-delivery shower! I love these - and you can wear them all summer 🙂
your own bath towel
The bath towels at the hospital are SMALL and scratchy. They wouldn't fit around me. It was so so nice having a clean, soft towel from home for after that post-delivery shower.
chapstick & hand lotion
your favorite toiletry essentials
I recommend packing all of your favorite toiletry essentials: shampoo, conditioner, dry shampoo, face lotion, and hairbrush, face wash, tooth paste. I brought travel sizes of all these.
extra hair ties
Lots of people recommended this to me and I'm so glad they did! These are my favorite.
makeup (if you want!)
Call me crazy, but it felt really nice to leave the hospital with a little bit of makeup on to feel brought back to life!
extra long phone charger
You don't know exactly where your bed will be positioned in relation to an outlet. Definitely bring an extra long phone charger so you can use your phone for pictures, phone calls, updates, etc.!
portable music speaker
I packed a small portable music speaker and made a "labor & delivery" playlist ahead of time with a mix of relaxing music and pump-up music. Depending on your experience, you may be in the hospital for quite some time and it was nice to have some music to listen to.
ipad or laptop
We loved having an iPad with us to watch our favorite shows while waiting for labor to progress. I was having trouble sleeping with everything hooked up to me, and I do my best sleeping while watching TV, so this felt necessary. We watched a LOT of Brooklyn 99 while in the hospital 🙂
portable stroller fan
Giving birth is hot and sweaty - need I say more? But seriously, packing this portable stroller fan was the best decision ever. It wraps to anything, so I wrapped it around the hospital bed and had it on while I was in labor/pushing. It was very needed and wow, I'm SO glad I brought it. The best part is now we use it all the time for her stroller on walks, too!
hatch sound machine & nightlight
Your baby will be eating a LOT throughout the night those first nights in the hospital, so you are constantly waking up. I promise you do not want to be turning on the bright, fluorescent overhead lights in the hospital. On top of that, there are a lot of sounds coming from the hallways and nurses/doctors coming in and out of your room that makes it challenging to get solid, quality sleep. Bringing this sound machine and nightlight was SO nice and was used every night we were there. Not to mention, we've used it every single night since Eleanor was born.
pump & flanges
If you're planning on breastfeeding, some people will tell you that you don't need to bring your pump. Personally, I really appreciated having a lactation consultant there to show me how to use my pump and to make sure my flanges had the proper fit. Properly-fitting flanges can make a HUGE difference in your milk output. This is the pump I use and love.
Make sure your carseat is safely installed in your car several weeks before leaving for the hospital. We didn't install it TOO far in advance because you need to replace your carseat if you get into any sort of fender bender. That said, definitely ensure it is installed ahead of time.
two pillows (one for you and one for your partner)
I cannot tell you how happy both Charlie and I were to have our own nice, thick pillows from home. Make sure you pack ones with a colorful pillowcase so you can spot the difference from the hospital ones!
Depending on your labor and delivery experience, you may have some time sitting around waiting for things to progress (I did!) It was really nice to have something to entertain us - our iPad and playing cards came in clutch.
We needed a check book to pay for her birth certificate, as cash and credit were not accepted for this. I know this is the case at a lot of hospitals, so I recommend bringing your check book just in case! You'll obviously also want to bring your insurance card, license and credit card as well!
If you are planning to breastfeed, I absolutely recommend bringing your nursing pillow. It is SO helpful to have that support as you're learning how to nurse. This is my favorite nursing pillow - I still use it every day.
small, empty bag
Most hospitals will send you home with a LOT of extra postpartum supplies for you and baby - and you'll want to take all the items you can get. I recommend packing a small backpack or canvas tote bag in your hospital bag to bring those items home with you.
Here are the snacks we packed:
- Goldfish (duh)
- Peanut butter pretzels
- Jolly ranchers (these were CLUTCH to have because once I was in labor I couldn't eat anything, but it was nice to have something to suck on)
- Scandinavian Swimmers (Trader Joe's version of Swedish Fish)
- Beef jerky (Charlie was thrilled to have this - again, they don't feed you during labor and delivery so it's nice to have a high protein thing for your partner to fill up on!)
- Trail mix
- Gatorade zero (I was soo happy to have this after delivery, and that's an understatement)
postpartum items for hospital bag
frida mom peri bottle
While the hospital has all of the postpartum items you could possibly need, I do have ONE postpartum item I recommend bringing from home. It's the Frida mom peri bottle. The one given to you at the hospital is just not great, and this item is very important for postpartum recovery!
adult diapers (i'm not joking)
I was SO happy to have these for going home from the hospital, and for when I got home. While the hospital will have some things, their huge pads were... HUGE... and not super comfortable to put my regular clothes over. I brought a few of these Discreet diapers and LIVED in them those first couple weeks postpartum, too.
nipple cream (if nursing)
I promise you'll thank me later? This is the one I used in the hospital and those first couple weeks home.
hospital bag items for partner
blanket from home
Charlie loved having a cozy blanket from home. While the hospitals will give you blankets and pillows, they're not exactly the nicest - and it's really nice to have those comfort items. Especially because you're spending a few nights there and getting quality sleep is so important!
Goes without saying, but he/she will be very happy to have comfortable clothes! Leave the jeans at home - haha.
Pack any of his/her favorite toiletries from home on your hospital bag! I wouldn't rely on the hospital having what you need.
Flip flops are just so much easier to take on and off while you're in the hospital. An extra bonus is that they can be showered in!
hospital bag items for nurses
I'll start by saying this is NOT necessary!! But let me tell you, labor and delivery nurses and postpartum nurses are GOD SENDS. I can't tell you how happy I was to have brought something to thank them - even if it was just something small. We did two baskets. One basket for the labor and delivery nurses, and one basket for the postpartum nurses.
We chose to do a "theme" of pink items, but you could do whatever you like! I talked to some nurse friends, and here are some of the things they recommended including:
- Hair ties
- Hand sanitizer
- Coffee (we did the Starbucks Fraps)
- Nice pens
- A nice handwritten card
- Small gift cards
Here is a picture of our nursing baskets:
hospital bag checklist: what I didn't need or use
Here are some things I'm glad I didn't bring, or that I brought and didn't use:
- A robe! I packed a robe and thought I'd use it, but I just lived in a nightgown and pajamas the whole time. The robe wasn't necessary for me.
- A ton of postpartum supplies. The hospital will have everything you need!
- Your own medications. I packed some of my medicines from home (prenatal vitamin and a prescription) and they wouldn't let me take them. Some hospitals will even take them away from you. They will give you all the medication you need while you're there!
- A ton of clothes for me. You do NOT need many changes of clothes at all.
- Diapers, wipes, or anything else for your baby. Again, the hospital will have everything you need.
- Water bottle. The hospital provided one so it just wasn't necessary for me.
I hope this hospital bag checklist was helpful! Was there anything you thought I missed that was helpful for you?!