It’s in the Bag: How to Pack for a Hospital Birth

Ah, the hospital bag. Somewhere near the middle of the third trimester, many expectant moms start to think about (or obsess over) what to pack in their hospital bag for birth. Weeks later, that same mom will carry home a new baby and an over-packed hospital bag with many of the items unused. There’s no way to know exactly what you will want or need during your hospital stay, especially if this is your first experience. Which is why you often find first-time moms with over-stuffed bags — better to bring the kitchen sink than to wish you had it, right? Below you will find a list of suggestions offered up from moms who have given birth in the last couple of years. Pick and choose to your liking and if you have a suggestion, let us know in the comments!


For Mom

  • Outfit/gown/skirt & bra/oversized shirt to birth in if you prefer not to use the standard hospital gown
  • Socks or slippers
  • Lanolin for breastfeeding nipple TLC
  • Nursing bras (some women prefer to go without while learning)
  • Nursing pads (you will most likely not leak until your milk is in, which may not happen until you are at home; but if you have an extended hospital stay beyond 2 days, you may need them)
  • Nursing pillow (if you forget it, extra hospital pillows work fine too)
  • Toiletries: shampoo & soap, brush, make up, hair dryer, lotion, chapstick, tooth brush & toothpaste
  • Towel (hospital towels are notoriously small and scratchy; but you may not care!)
  • Personal pillow or pillow case (hospital pillows are thin; if you bring your own, be sure to use anything but a white pillowcase so as not to get it mixed up with the hospital’s)
  • Clothes/robe/night gown for recovery period (you’ll most likely want out of the awful hospital gown asap!)
  • Clothes to leave in (something loose fitting, like the maternity clothes you wore at around 6 months pregnant)
  • Underwear — if the thought of hospital-provided mesh undies makes you cringe, bring cheap cotton, stretchy, dark colored underwear that you won’t mind throwing away in a couple of weeks
  • LEAVE your pads at home; the hospital will provide these
  • Flip flops for showing (if showering in a public place bothers you)
  • Snacks (for labor and postpartum)
  • Small fan for white noise (this may be helpful if you are in an especially noisy part of the hospital)
  • Baby book
  • Folder for baby’s paperwork
  • Electronics: phone & charger, camera + batteries, iPad, laptop, iPod for labor music
  • Before you leave, ask for more supplies to take home: mesh underwear, peri bottles, witch hazel, baby wipes and diapers, and whatever else that is provided “free” to you that you think you may need more of


For Dad/Partner

  • Blanket (the hospital should have one, but it may be small, scratchy and thin)
  • Pillow (the hospital should have extras, but they may be small and thin)
  • Change of clothes (labor can get messy, even for partners!)
  • Change for vending machine snacks
  • Air mattress (many hospitals have a pull out couch, but some don’t)
  • Snacks
  • Toiletries (at least a toothbrush!)
  • Token thank-you gifts, like sweets or muffins, for nurses (not necessary, but always appreciated)


For Baby

  • Going-home outfit (hospitals offer outfits for baby during your stay — best to use them as they tend to get messy!)
  • Going-home blanket (hospitals provide blankets during your stay)
  • LEAVE diapers and wipes at home; the hospital provides these during your stay
  • Carseat


Photo by DieselDemon.

Avatar of Cara TerreriAbout Cara Terreri
Cara began working with Lamaze in 2004, two years before becoming a mother. Three kids later, she's a full-fledged healthy birth advocate and the Site Administrator for Giving Birth with Confidence. Most recently Cara began study to become a Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator and DONA certified doula (learn more about her services at She continues to stand in awe of the power and beauty in pregnancy and birth, and enjoys helping women discover their own power and joy in the journey to motherhood.


  1. Anna says:

    Thanks for posting this.It’s a great list. I know a lot of students in my Lamaze classes wonder about what they’ll need at the hospital and often forget about comfy postpartum pjs. Doing the hospital tour helps a lot with deciding what they’ll need with their specific hospital and gives a sense of how stocked their facility is – i.e. do they need to bring the air mattress and does it seem like a place that has plenty of pillows or will they be pretty strictly rationed?

  2. Lyn Dee says:

    This is a great explanation mostly for postpartum needs. I hope all childbirth educators are also emphacizing to all pregnant mom’s the need for a separate Birthing Bag: a bag that includes a whole separate bag of tricks for labor.

  3. mrsculpepper says:

    In my experience the less you pack, the better. I don’t mind the hospital gowns. Although for my youngest 2 I ended up birthing in the nude anyway. If I had it to do over I would pack my own cloth pads though. I’m not a heavy bleeder and the hospital pads are monstrously huge. Even though I’m a huge music fan, I’ve never had music at a birth and consequently didn’t have to worry about leaving cds there. I do like bringing my own snacks though. Easy stuff like bananas, granola bars etc. Most anything you forget to pack they can find a substitue for you. However go ahead and put a few one-time cameras in your bag NOW.

  4. Avatar of Cara Terreri Cara Terreri says:

    Thanks for pointing that out, Lyn Dee. And thanks too for contributing the follow up post:

  5. Telmahury says:

    I agree with the less the better. Too much stuff to carry means more to worry about leaving behind. One thing I did learn from experience was to bring depends underwear, fluffy toilet paper (hospitals tend to use the one ply sandpaperish type. Not my fave after delivery), and a fruit tray.

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