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What’s in my Hospital Bag?

Welp! I’m now 36-weeks pregnant and as of this past weekend I have my hospital bag packed (and the infant car seat is installed) — we are officially ready for Michael’s arrival! As a first-time Mom, this was quite a daunting task because I have no idea what to expect going into this labor experience and I also have a tendency to always pack more than necessary when I go somewhere… When it came to putting my packing list together I quickly found that there are lots of resources out there! If you did a quick search on Google or Pinterest you would get tons of blog posts and articles filling your screen with tips, advice, and must-haves on what to pack your hospital bag with.

So, after lots of research, gathering advise from some of my fabulous ASP Mommies, and attending a recent Labor & Delivery prenatal class to learn what the hospital provides… I came up with an all-inclusive list to give this Type-A Momma peace of mind so I’m well prepare for LABOR DAY! While I realize I may have over-packed… I’d rather have everything I think I’ll need to minimize stress and avoid Ryan having to leave the hospital for something. According to The Bump, you should have your hospital bag packed and in your car by 35 weeks… I’m feeling a little rebellious that I’m past the deadline on this but it’s done nonetheless.

I’ll be honest in saying that I actually starting prepping my packing list several weeks back. I used one of our guest rooms to spread everything out and little by little would put things aside as we received certain items from our registry or if yet another Amazon Prime package delivered (and always keeping the guest room door closed so our furbaby Henry wouldn’t go snooping through our things!). I read somewhere that I should plan to have a bag for labor & delivery (L&D) and a separate bag for postpartum, a separate bag for my hubby, and a separate bag for baby… this just seemed like a lot to coordinate and too many bags to keep track of during a time that will be quite a roller coaster of emotions… nor did I want us looking like The Clampetts when we arrived at the hospital (LOL!). So, instead I decided to have one large roller luggage bag to hold everything for me, Ryan, and Michael plus one small roller bag for our electronics (camera gear, iPad, chargers, etc.). Having 1 large bag just seems more manageable without worrying if we’ve left a bag behind, it’s less for Ryan to carry from the parking lot to our hospital room, and we won’t crowd our room up too much with extra stuff.

If baby is born healthy with normal vitals and you have a vaginal birth then typically you’ll be in the hospital for 2 overnights (for a C-Section you’ll be there 3 nights). This overnight clock starts once baby is born so if you have your baby at 12:05AM then you likely still get those 2 nights in the hospital… if you have your baby at 11:56PM then likely your 1st overnight is counted once it hits midnight. You’ll want to clarify this with your OB and hospital so you’re in the loop and you can better prepare your hospital bag.

So, here we go, the ultimate pregnancy checklist for what to pack in your hospital bag:

  1. Small clutch purse – Fill this with your ID, insurance card, prenatal history (unless your OB is faxing over to the hospital), copies of your birth plan, a ziplock baggie with coins/cash for the vending machine, and a blank check so you can purchase your baby’s social security card and birth certificates in the hospital. I’m not planning to bring a big purse with me (again, something else to keep track of) and it’s not necessary to bring a huge wallet with me – just make sure your hubby has his 🙂


  1. Breast pump – If you’re planning to breastfeed, there is a lactation staff at the hospital that will make routine visits to your room while you’re staying in postpartum. They can assist to ensure your baby is getting a good latch and feeding well. They can also go over the ins and outs of your breast pump, make sure you have the accessories you need to properly pump, and answer any questions that you have. Another quick tip – be sure to check with your insurance provider roughly 30 days prior to your due date… you likely qualify for a complimentary breast pump under the Affordable Care Act. You don’t hear “free” very often throughout your pregnancy (or post-baby!) so saving roughly $200 on this must-have was a nice surprise! My insurance offered me two different medical supply companies to choose from and each offered a full list of breast pump options – I went with the Medela Pump In Style as it came highly recommended. {Not pictured above — it delivers today!}


  1. Nursing pillow – This takes up a little room in the luggage bag (or you can bungee cord it to the handle) but it’s nice to have so you can get used to properly positioning your baby for a good latch while breastfeeding and provides you with comfort. While you’re in the hospital, it’s recommended to breastfeed every 3 hours so this pillow will be getting lots of use! There are many variations of breastfeeding pillows out there – I decided to go with the ErgoBaby Natural Curve Nursing Pillow. {Not pictured above — it delivers today!}


  1. Nursing tanks & bras – As you may already know, I’m addicted to Amazon Prime so I got my nursing tanks here and my nursing bras here. I like that they came in a variety of colors and they are really comfortable! These will be great for easy-access while breastfeeding in the hospital (and at home!). I’m planning to bring 3 nursing tanks and only 1 nursing bra – leaving the rest at home. H&M has good deals on nursing tanks too. I didn’t pack nursing pads since these will be provided at the hospital.


  1. Blanket & pillow – Hospitals are colder in nature (although you’ll have a thermostat in your room)… I’m bringing along a soft blue blanket to keep at the end of my bed while in postpartum. While the hospital offers lots of pillows… I’m picky about my pillow when sleeping (love my fluffy down comforter pillow from Costco!). If you bring your own pillow in just make sure that you bring along a non-white pillowcase so it’s distinguishable and it doesn’t get lost in the mix with the other hospital pillows.


  1. Cosmetic bag – This will hold my makeup so I can freshen up for photos and visitors and a hodgepodge of other necessities like prenatal vitamins, chapstick (hospitals are very dry), shampoo/conditioner, lotion, toothpaste, deodorant, hair ties, Lanolin nipple cream (use after every feeding!), toothbrush, toothpaste, q-tips, etc. Save room and get travel-size items! Also, leave your expensive jewelry at home (sadly, my wedding rings stopped fitting weeks ago).


  1. Clothes for Mom & Dad – The key takeaway for Mom here is that these are loose-fitting and comfortable! With postpartum, your body will be going through a healing phase (you just had a baby!) so bring clothing to the hospital where you don’t care if they get stained or ruined (i.e., don’t bring in your favorite pair of PJs! Save those for when you’re resting at home). You’ll want to plan on having an arrival outfit set aside for when you head to the hospital (loose pajama bottoms, a comfy shirt, and non-skid shoes). The hospital provides a gown for L&D or you can bring your own gown in (as long as it has buttons down the back so your hospital staff can access for IVs, epidural, etc.) and ideally has buttons on your chest for skin-to-skin contact once baby arrives – I got a blue with white polka dot one here and I love it! If you’re having Fresh 48 portraits taken, you’ll want to plan on an Fresh 48 outfit for this (a neutral robe, a nursing gown, or a comfy cover-up are nice options). It will be cold in the hospital so I’m bringing 2 long-sleeved cover-ups to wear over my nursing tanks. I would not recommend bringing any underwear with you – the hospital provides mesh underwear which are great for while you’re healing in postpartum. I’ve heard from so many ladies that these things are the best! While they certainly aren’t Victoria Secret in fashion… they are stretchy, comfortable, and easily hold the lovely large pads you’ll be wearing in postpartum (take extra mesh underwear home with you!). Bring 2-3 loungewear clothing items (I got these pants in black and grey and love them!!) for during the day/overnight (again, loose-fitting and comfy!), 2-3 pairs of warm non-skid socks, and a pair of slippers. You’ll also want a going home outfit (again, loose pajama bottoms, a comfy shirt, and the non-skid shoes you wore when you arrived). For Ryan, I packed him 2 pajama pants and t-shirts, boxers, 1 pair of jeans, 1 sweatshirt, 2-3 shirts, and slippers – this includes his arrival, L&D, and going-home outfits (guys have it so easy!).


  1. Clothes for baby – While the hospital offers the traditional onesies and blankets for newborns… I still wanted to bring along some cute clothes for Michael so he would be extra comfy and stylish for when visitors came to meet him. I packed 3 onesies that are size “newborn” and 3 onesies that are size “0-3 month” since I don’t know exactly what size range he’ll fit into on his birth day. I also packed 3-4 mittens/socks, a swaddle blanket, 2 newborn hats, and a cute outfit for going home in. Also, you’ll want to bring anything seasonally appropriate for the drive home (i.e., warmer clothes if it’s winter time). I didn’t bother bringing along diapers/wipes/etc. since all of that will be offered at the hospital (take extras home!). The luggage bag I’m bringing has zippered storage in the inner flap so I’m packing all baby-related items there so it’s easy to find.


  1. Treats for the nursing staff – I packed a small basket with various candies and snacks for the nursing staff. I made a note saying “Please help yourself to a treat! Thank you for taking such good care of us!”. This is certainly not a required packing item but a nice gesture and I’m sure will be appreciated by our hard-working nurse team! {Not pictured above.}


  1. Miscellaneous – I packed a small Bluetooth speaker to have in L&D so I can play some tunes to help me relax and get me through contractions (dance party anyone?!) – don’t forget a charger for this. I hear the towels in the hospital are “as thin as toilet paper” – if you have room in your bag you might want to bring one from home. I also packed a trash bag to put dirty clothes in. It’s recommended to bring a pair of flip flops for the shower. I also packed a ziplock bag of non-perishable snacks for us to have in our postpartum room. If you’re planning to use a birth tub and/or shower during L&D, you’ll want to pack a bathing suit for your hubby. Lastly, you may want to pack and leave in your car a small duffle bag to pack things that the hospital will give you to take home, gifts from visitors, etc.


A few other tips…

  • Keep a sticky note or list taped to your bathroom sink with any day-of items you’ll need to pack. These are things that you cannot pack in advance since you use them daily. Items include makeup, hair dryer, straightener, hair brush, phone charger, iPad/charger, hubby’s toiletries, camera gear, etc. This way you can easily grab them and throw them in your bag last-minute and you’ll be all set for the ride of your life!
  • If this is Baby #2 (or more!) for you, a nice gesture would be to bring a gift (from baby!) for the big brother/sister to open when they come to the hospital to meet their sibling 🙂
  • Don’t forget to install your approved infant car seat in advance of labor day (and stop by a local fire department for them to inspect it for you) – the hospital won’t let you leave without this properly installed! Register those car seats too so you’re alerted of any recalls/product updates/etc. Keep your car full of gas leading up to D-Day… no one wants to be that hubby filling up the gas tank with a wifey in the car in labor!
  • Most likely you can pre-register with your hospital in advance of your due date. This will save you some time once you do arrive in labor so they can get you admitted quicker.
  • Don’t forget to have a plan for your children and/or pets when you go into labor! We just have our furbaby, Henry. We’re planning to have him stay at an overnight doggie daycare so he can enjoy playing with this furbuddies while we’re at the hospital. When we come home we’re planning to have him stay there one more extra night so we can have our first night at home alone with Michael before we introduce him to Henry. It’s a good idea to take a swaddle blanket to your pet that your baby has been using as a way of introducing him to his unique baby smell before the grand introduction.
  • Lastly, it’s a good idea to draft an email (I’m one that hates group texts!) of family/friends in advance that you’d want to alert once you go into labor. This way you can have a support team cheering you on and praying for you while you’re in L&D!

For all of you expecting (or soon-to-be) Mommies out there reading this… I hope you found this post helpful! All you Mommy veterans out there, are there any must-haves that were on your packing list that I left off my list? Comment below! 🙂

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