Everything You Need to Know About Packing a Hospital Bag

By Willow Breckenridge | Jan 22, 2021

If you’re reading this, chances are you’re about to welcome your little bundle of joy into the world sometime soon. While this time is exciting and fun, it can sometimes feel like there are a million things to prepare for and keep track of, which makes it all the more important that when the time comes for labor, you can be on your way to the hospital with prepared ease. Worrying about the little things is probably the last thing you want when you feel another contraction coming on.

However, packing a hospital bag can sometimes seem daunting. You might not be sure when to start packing a hospital bag, or even what to put in it. While a hospital bag is no doubt personal to every new mother’s journey, there are also a few staples that should probably go in everyone’s arsenal. You want to bring a little bit of you to the hospital in order to create the ultimate comfort. Here’s how you can do that with ease.

What Do I Put in the Hospital Bag?

This is probably the first question expectant mothers ask. Each checklist will likely differ from person to person, but there are definitely a few staples that should make up every hospital bag. Here are a few checklists to break it down.

For Mom:

  • Your birth plan
  • Toiletries
  • A robe or pajamas
  • Comfortable postpartum or maternity clothes
  • Snacks
  • Cell phone charger
  • Toothbrush
  • Towels from home
  • Pads or adult diapers

For Baby:

  • Car seat (likely installed beforehand in the car)
  • Pediatrician contact information if you have it
  • One or two going home outfits in varying sizes
  • Bottles
  • Diapers and wipes if your hospital does not provide them, though most do (check with yours beforehand)

For Partner or Supporter:

  • Snacks
  • Phone charger
  • Blanket and pillow
  • Book or other entertainment
  • Toothbrush

This may seem like a lot of stuff, but it’s often better to be safe than sorry when packing for the hospital. In addition, if there’s anything else you think you might need such as nipple cream, teas or lip balm, make sure to include those as well.

When to Start Packing a Hospital Bag

As you approach the due date, you probably don’t want to worry about packing the bag and remembering everything that goes inside of it. That being said, most experts recommend starting to prep around 28 weeks and having the bag ready between 32 and 35 weeks. While this can be helpful in the event that you go into premature labor and need to dash for the hospital fast, it also gives you one less thing to worry about as the date draws closer.

This being said, you can even pack your hospital bag sooner if you have the time and want to get it done early. Just don’t cut it too close to the due date, because you could end up forgetting something important if you go at it in a rush.

What to Leave at Home

While there is an abundance of stuff that seems like it can go in the bag, there are also a few things that are probably better left at home. For example, most hospitals provide diapers and wipes, and unless you’re sure that yours won’t provide them for you, there’s no need to bring them along. Similarly, a common recommendation for mothers who work from home is to bring their laptop or work materials in order to get some work done in the hospital. Quite frankly, if there’s ever been a time you shouldn’t have to think about work, it’s when you’re in labor. Leave the laptop at home.

Another common item that can usually be left behind is an abundance of baby outfits. While you absolutely need a couple — to adjust for size, comfort and maybe a change or two — babies don’t need multiple costume changes a day. They’re adorable just the way they are.

Last Minute Items

While it’s important to be as prepared as possible, there are a few items that just need to be left until the last minute, and that’s okay. Just leave a bit of space in the bag and take a moment before you head to the hospital to collect yourself while you grab:

  • Your cell phone
  • Your wallet and ID
  • Your house keys
  • Any last minute birthing notes or plan additions
  • Any fridge-kept snacks like fruit or veggies

Even if I’m Having a Home Birth?

In short, yes. Even if you’re having a home birth. While it might seem tedious to pack an entire hospital bag you’ll probably never use, it’s so much better to be prepared in the moment if you do need to head to the hospital. It’s better to be safe than sorry. You never know what will happen, and on the off chance you do end up in the hospital, you’ll be happy to have it.

Your Hospital Bag

Every hospital bag is different, but there are still some universal tips and must-haves you can allow to guide your packing process. Whether your hospital bag is your sanctuary and saving grace or a just-in-case to keep by the door as you embark on your home birth, having a hospital bag packed and ready to go is just another thing you can do to keep your mind at ease.

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