How to Pack the Perfect Hospital Bag

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Read on to see my First Time Mom hospital bag vs. Second Time Mom hospital bag.

I tell you the things your hospital bag really needs and the things you can do without it.

As your due date comes closer, you may be wondering what your hospital bag needs. Once you are in your third trimester and after you’ve had your baby shower, you are at that point when you start getting prepared. You may be asking yourself, ‘what should I pack for the hospital for baby, for mom, and dad.’

Before my first delivery, I read so many tips on what I needed for the best hospital bag and then tried to compare them. It was overwhelming trying to decide the complete hospital bag list for the baby and myself.

Related post: Guide to choosing the right Pregnancy doctor

I thought I figured out what I really needed to pack for labor. But, after all that research, the first time around, I barely used half of what I brought in my bag. On top of that, there were so many things that I wished I did bring.

what to pack in your hospital bag

What week should I pack my hospital bag?

Typically around week 35 of pregnancy is a good week to be prepared by. Packing a bag early can help ease some of the labor and delivery anxiety. You will feel more prepared for what is to come.

For my first pregnancy, I had my bag packed and ready to go as soon as my 3rd trimester hit. I was so anxious about when I would have to rush to the hospital, and I wanted to be prepared.

I packed my hospital bag with everything I could need. Or so I thought.

I had clothes for me (yes, multiple changes of clothes including pajamas), all of my toiletries, multiple changes of clothes for the baby, blankets for the baby, iPad, laptop, slippers, boppy pillow, prenatal vitamins, diapers, and wipes.

I did not need most of these things, let alone even take out of my bag the whole time I was at the hospital. I ended up just wearing hospital gowns during my entire stay at the hospital because it was so much easier to breastfeed in.

I did not think to bring nursing shirts or bras. Pants were just plain uncomfortable. Plus, the nurses are constantly checking your postpartum bleeding, so pants are kind of inconvenient.

The hospital gown with the provided mesh underwear worked for me. They were comfy cotton hospital gowns with snaps and ties, not those flimsy paper ones.

getting ready for labor

Things I didn’t need at all.

My toiletries I didn’t even touch. They provide you with a whole travel size kit with all you need. And besides just washing off after delivery, I didn’t even have the energy to take a full shower while I was there.

I brushed my hair, brushed my teeth, and washed my face, but that was about it. Make-up, forget it, it was not worth it for me. I know it is pretty popular these days to be completely made up during delivery, but that was not for me.

My iPad and laptop were not needed either. I barely even touched my phone. My husband kept everyone updated on things going on and the announcement for the birth.

I was mainly focused on rest, bonding with my baby, and trying to get a handle on breastfeeding. Not to mention the mini freakout I was having about having to take this tiny human home.

It was scary knowing I would no longer have a slew of nurses around if I had any questions.

Every day things like diapers and wipes for the baby are not needed at all. You only need a couple of items for bringing the baby home. They have clothes provided the whole time you are there.

Diapers, wipes, ointment, combs, blankets, burp rags, bottles, a breast pump, and more. They have it all. And they refill whenever it gets low, so you don’t run out.

So what is in the PERFECT hospital bag?

The second time around, I felt a lot more confident in my hospital bag needs and the fact that I did not have to pack it so far in advance.

You want to start packing for labor 4-5 weeks before your calculated due date, just in case.

For my first pregnancy, my water broke at 38 1/2 weeks, and for my second, I was admitted shortly after my 38-week appointment due to high blood pressure.

You usually have time to prepare no matter how it happens, so don’t freak out if you don’t have your bag ready once it is time.

My water broke around 2:30 pm for my first pregnancy, and I did not start laboring until 8 pm. I was walking around a lot until I really started to feel the contractions closer together.

For the second pregnancies, in general, they tend to move a little faster than the first. But, you still have some time before you need to be rushed to the hospital.

Before leaving for the hospital, I made sure I had the BEST hospital bag, meaning I only had the things I would truly use. I did not want to bring a bunch of stuff I wouldn’t even touch.

What should I pack in my hospital bag?

The following items are the things I recommend a first-time mom should absolutely consider when packing for labor. Anything else is purely for your own comfort, and feel free to add those as well if you really want to.

Perfect hospital bag for mom

Nursing Tanks or Bras

I wish I would have brought these for my first delivery. They are a MUST. I prefer the nursing tanks because, in the beginning, you may be engorged, so the looser, the better.

I didn’t want to mess with another shirt on top of a nursing bra, either. It is so much easier to snap down the tank top and nurse. Especially when you are just starting, and you are trying to nurse the baby until they latch and get enough to eat.

Pack 2-3 nursing tanks. You want extra just in case the baby spits up all over you the first time. For both my pregnancies, my stay was only 2 days. If it ends up being longer, you can always have your spouse grab some more for you.

Comfy loose fitting lounge pants.

You don’t want anything too restricting. Between the ice packs and huge pads under the mesh underwear they provide, you are practically wearing a diaper. So loose pants keep you comfortable.

For my 2nd pregnancy recovery, I wore nursing tanks and lounge pants for my whole stay. It was super comfortable and convenient for nursing and postpartum bleeding checks.

Slippers or slipper socks

slipper socks in hospital bag

I recommend packing some slipper socks in your hospital bag. Depending on the time of year, hospitals can be a little chilly.

Plus, you don’t want to be walking around barefoot in the hospital. Some cozy slippers or just some slipper socks make all the difference.

In the summertime, I would bring a pair of flip flops or regular socks so you can walk around a bit.

Cardigan or Robe

It’s nice to have the option of an open cardigan in case you get cold. You are going to be in a nursing tank and may want something extra on.

A sweater would make things difficult for nursing. This is why a cardigan is perfect. You want to make sure any clothing options you bring allows for easy access to breastfeeding.

This makes things so much easier and relaxing when you try breastfeeding for the first time. It is hard enough; you don’t want to be wrestling around with unnecessary clothing.

Related Post: 14 Tips on surviving Breastfeeding for the first time.

I love cardigans, but there are also many cute hospital robes for new moms out there now. If I ever had a third, I would opt for a cute robe like these here.

Minimal Toiletries

The hospital will most likely provide you with toiletries of everything you need. The only thing I would recommend bringing is your brush and dry shampoo. I’m obsessed with this dry shampoo.

I didn’t feel like taking a shower to wash my hair, but freshening up with dry shampoo made me feel like a new person.

If you are particular about your toothbrush or toothpaste, you can bring that as well. I was fine with the one in the travel bag.

Hair ties are a must; a few of them would be good, so they are readily available to grab when things get chaotic.

Phone charger

Even if you don’t use your phone much, you want to make sure it stays charged. This was especially important during my second labor visit because my husband would go home quite a bit to check on our daughter. She was only 1 1/2 at the time and being watched by our Aunt and Uncle.

phone charger

She hadn’t been away from either of us for that long before. I choose not to have her come to the hospital because I didn’t want to confuse her.

She knew about the baby in mommy’s tummy, but I don’t think she understood what that meant.

Plus, I wanted to take that time to bond with my new baby while I had a couple of days, just me and him.

So having a phone readily charged for communicating was super important.

Snacks

Snacks are great to bring, especially for your spouse. The hospital will take care of all your needs and baby’s needs, but Dad’s, not so much.

Make sure you have plenty of snacks for him during the delivery process when you don’t want him to take off to get some food.

Granola bars, jerky, trail mix, and other easily accessible foods.

Birth Plan

It is good to have a couple of copies of your birth plan with you that you can give the doctors and nurses.

They will, most of the time, post a copy near your room door, so anyone coming on shift knows what you prefer, and you don’t have to keep repeating it.

Although, they still go over everything they are doing to you and baby to keep you informed. This makes it easy, too, for your spouse to reference your birth plan if someone asks him a question when you are not available.

Hospital Bag Checklist for Mom

  • Birth Plan
  • Insurance card
  • Identification
  • Lip Balm
  • Hair Ties
  • Dry Shampoo
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Hair Brush
  • Face wipes
  • Moisturizer
  • Nursing Tanks/Bras
  • Comfy lounge pants
  • Robe or cardigan
  • Going home outfit
  • Phone and Charger
  • Glasses if needed
  • Flip Flops

Complete Hospital Bag List for Baby

Baby does not need much; the hospital takes care of all your baby needs while you are in the hospital. The endless supply of diapers is amazing since you seem to be changing the baby every hour almost.

Their skin is very sensitive, and their first poops are very sticky and tar-like, so you want to make sure to change them as often as possible.

The little long sleeve shirts they have for baby are all you need clothes-wise. They make for easy changing and don’t rub on their umbilical cord stump. Save those adorable outfits for when they get home.

And whether you are breastfeeding or bottle-feeding right away, they have all the supplies needed for that. They make it very easy for you to focus on bonding with your baby.

Nervous about breastfeeding? Get prepared! Check out these amazing classes with Milkology for all the info you need regarding breastfeeding and pumping.

Going home outfit

One thing your hospital bag needs for a baby is a going home outfit. Most of the time, if you want newborn photos done, they will end up doing this the day you will leave.

going home outfit

So their going home outfit can double as their newborn photo outfit as well. Don’t forget a little matching hat; babies are still learning to regulate their body temp, so you want to keep their little heads warm.

Infant car seat

This is not something you pack in your hospital bag, but it is a must bring. The hospital won’t let you leave or check out until they make sure you know how to buckle your baby in the car seat safely.

I love the Graco quick connect ones. They are super easy to pop in and out of the car as well as the stroller. You also need to make sure you have the base properly installed in your vehicle.

You can usually stop by any fire department, and they will install it for you or double-check it is installed correctly.

Baby blanket for the ride home.

Babies get very cold easily, so you want to keep them swaddled in the beginning as much as possible. They are still learning how to regulate their body temperature, and they have been so used to be so cozy in the womb.

You don’t want to put the blanket around them before buckling into the car seat. After securing them in the car seat, you can tuck the blanket around them to keep them warm and snug.

So make sure you pack one of those soft, adorable blankets in your hospital bag. Muslin blankets are the BEST swaddle blankets!

Hospital Bag Checklist for Baby

  • Going home outfit
  • Receiving Blanket
  • Infant Carseat

Extra items and items to pack for Dad

Boppy pillow

This one is purely preference. As a first-time mom, I included it in my hospital bag just because every list said to. However, I did not use it the whole time.

It ended up just getting in the way. I didn’t feel comfortable with it since I was new to breastfeeding, and all the nurses and lactation consultants were constantly repositioning baby and me to get my baby to eat.

It was a learning process, so at the time, the pillow did not help at all. My husband ended up sleeping on it, which turned out to be good for him since his sleeping situation was scarce.

As a second-time mom, I still included it in my hospital bag. This time I used it for breastfeeding right away. Please read about my complete breastfeeding journey here.

Since I was now used to it and comfortable breastfeeding with it, I consider it a must-pack in the perfect hospital bag. The pillows stacked up did not work as well anymore and just seemed to get in the way.

So I feel it is important to put on the list, especially the second time around. Once I found the perfect way to use it, I loved the Boppy pillow and always had it near me at home for both babies.

The boppy pillow is a lifesaver. They have other varieties too that look pretty useful, but I like the original boppy pillow.

Blanket and Pillow for Spouse

There was a separate couch/cot available for both deliveries for my husband to sleep, but the bedding was pretty scarce.

We brought along an extra blanket and pillow the second time around but just left it in the car until I was fully admitted to the labor and delivery room.

So I guess technically, they are not part of the hospital bag needs, but important to bring. This is also a preferred thing; it depends on if your spouse plans to stay the whole time and stay the night with you.

Change of clothes for Spouse

Both times my husband was a little panicked when it was time to go to the hospital. Maybe he kept envisioning having to deliver a baby on the side of the road; I’m not sure. That said, he never thought to make sure to bring a change of clothes for himself.

So while you are packing for labor, throw in a couple of clothing items for your spouse; they will be glad you did.

Misc Maternity Hospital Bag Checklist and Checklist for Dad

  • Boppy/Nursing Pillow
  • Bluetooth speaker for music
  • Snacks
  • Thank you treats for nurses
  • Blanket and Pillow for Spouse
  • Change of Clothes for Spouse
perfect hospital bag

So there you have it, my tips on how to pack the perfect hospital bag. If you are still unsure whether the necessities will be provided for you and the baby, ask that during your hospital tour.

>>>Don’t forget your free Hospital Bag Checklist Printable!

I highly recommend doing a hospital tour just for that reason. It eases your mind and lets you see exactly where you are going to be delivering and where you will stay postpartum.

These tours help give you a better idea of what you won’t have available to you and, therefore, help you decide what your hospital bag needs. You can talk about your hospital options during your first prenatal visit, one of the first things you should schedule when you find out you are pregnant.

If you are looking for an awesome bag to use as your hospital bag, check these out below 👇👇👇!!! They come in so many different patterns and are super durable. When you are not using them, they fold down in their pocket for easy storage. I love them!

Any other must-haves you are going to need or did need in your hospital bag? Share below!

Related post: 10 Genius newborn hacks for new moms!

How to Pack the Perfect Hospital Bag
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2 thoughts on “How to Pack the Perfect Hospital Bag”

  1. Certainly a good explained list! I will add it depends on your hospital with some things, not every hospital provides the same stuff. Where I was there was no hospital “gowns” for women.

    Totally makes sure your spouse has extra clothes! I failed this and after a bit of an extended stay and he didn’t got home (30 min away) poor guy needed fresh clothes.

    I brought a L shaped pillow instead of “proper” breastfeeding pillow. I found it worked great as a nighttime pillow for me and a daytime feeding pillow for bub. Just an idea for others reading.

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