The Ultimate Hospital Bag Checklist for Delivering a Baby

Wondering what to pack in your hospital bag? Stay sane on delivery day by preparing ahead of time, using this handy checklist as a guide.

Once you're around 34 weeks pregnant, it's time to start preparing for your baby's birth. One of the most stressful—and most important—items on your to-do list is packing the hospital bag. After all, you never know when your baby may make an appearance! Refer to this hospital bag checklist to ensure you'll have everything you need for a smooth stay.

pregnant wife and husband carrying bag
Photo illustration by Sarina Finkelstein; Getty Images (1).

Hospital Bag Checklist for Labor and Delivery

Everyone will have different needs and preferences for their hospital stay, but in general, here are some things you may want to consider packing in your hospital bag as you prepare to welcome your baby.

Important documents

Bring copies of your birth plan (if you have one), a picture ID, health insurance information, and hospital registration forms. Even if you've already registered at the hospital, some need to confirm your records before they can admit you. Your doctor's office should have sent your paperwork ahead of time, so you won't need to worry about that.

Cash for snacks

Bring at least $20 in cash and change for snacks, gift store runs, and any of your miscellaneous cravings. Because…hospital food.

Smartphone and charger

We know, you're never without your phone. But be sure you (and your partner) pack chargers in the hospital bag, too. Besides needing a phone for obvious reasons (calling, texting, and updating your social accounts with your exciting news) you may want to download helpful apps, like a contraction timer and white noise. Bonus points if you have an extra long charging cord so no matter where you plug in, you can still use it from your bed.

Music, movies, and magazines

Load up your smartphone or tablet with music and anything you might want to binge-watch on Netflix. Depending on how your labor goes, it may help distract you—and your partner—during a long labor.

Relaxation tools

A homemade hot pack (a sock filled with rice or beans) can bring you instant relief during active labor because it molds to your body—and it can easily be warmed up in the hospital's microwave. Other comfort items to pack in the hospital bag for labor: a back massager, stress-relieving squeeze ball, your own blanket or pillow, and essential oil or lotion.

Soft pillow

The pillows in the hospitals may be uncomfortable, and bringing one you're familiar with may help you relax. Don't forget one for your partner, too, if they're planning on spending the night.

Snacks and candy

Keep everyone happy by bringing enough snacks for you and your partner to share. (Keep in mind that some hospitals may have different policies on what you can eat during labor, so be sure to check before noshing.) Lollipops or gum are especially great for conquering dry mouth during labor, so consider adding them to your hospital bag list!

Hospital Bag Checklist
Yeji Kim.

Personal Care Items for Your Hospital Bag

Again, everyone is different and your stay may be a short one (24–48 hours for most vaginal births) or longer (48–96 hours for C-section and high-risk births), so here are some personal items you may want to bring along.


Most hospitals will have the basics, but bringing your own deodorant, body wash, shampoo, facial cleansing wipes, toothpaste, and a toothbrush can be incredibly helpful. Don't forget the lip balm and moisturizer —medical facilities are dry, and pregnancy has likely already taken a toll on your skin!

Hair care products

A ponytail holder or stretchy headband will help keep your hair out of your face during labor. You'll also most likely take at least one shower during your stay, so stash any hair care products you want to plan around that, like your bonnet or dry shampoo.

Sleepwear, robe, and underwear

A cotton nightie will be much more comfortable than a hospital gown, and a robe will come in handy for walking the hallways. Several pairs of undies are also a must for any hospital bag checklist (briefs, maternity, or disposables like Depends) if you don't want to wear the mesh underwear the hospital gives you after delivery.

Slippers and/or thick socks

Keep your toes toasty and clean, whether you're in bed or strolling around on the cold tile floor. Bring a pair that's easily laundered, as they may get a bit dirty. Most experienced parents will tell you that comfy socks with rubber grips on the bottom will serve you well.

Flip-flops or shower shoes

Pack flip-flops for the shower or to wear home if your feet are swollen.

Extra undies and extra-absorbent pads

The hospital will have these, but if you have sensitive skin or a preference for certain pads, you can bring your own. It might also be helpful to pack lidocaine spray or witch hazel pads (to relieve pain from tearing) in your hospital bag if the hospital doesn't provide those.

Nursing bra

Bring a nursing bra or tank top (buy them at the end of your pregnancy—most people are about that same size postpartum) that's comfy enough to sleep in. Your milk probably won't come in during your hospital stay, but your breasts will still start to swell thanks to your body revving up milk production.

Hospital Bag Essentials for Going Home

In addition to packing things for your stay, don't forget to pack what you'll need after you're discharged.

Homecoming outfit for your baby

Pack a newborn-size gown or sleeper so you can skip dealing with tiny pants as you get the hang of diaper changes. You'll likely get a newborn hat in the hospital, so you can skip that unless you've got your heart set on a specific style.

Going-home outfit for you

Here's a hint: You'll probably still look about 5 months pregnant (which is totally normal as your uterus shrinks back down), so skip your non-maternity clothes and pack your favorite comfy maternity dress or leggings and a tunic.

An extra bag or two

With all the goodies from the hospital—diapers, blankets, and creams—and all the gifts from well wishers, you're bound to have more stuff coming out than you did going in, so an extra bag will come in handy.

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