Hospital Bag Essentials: What Real Moms Pack for Labor

Whether you’re already a mom or this is your first time, you know there is no shortage of advice for mamas-to-be on literally everything. From the good, the bad, to the downright crazy, you’ve probably gotten more “helpful” advice in the past nine months than you have in your entire life. And what to pack for the hospital is no exception. So, we prepared a list for you, so you can be prepared when labor calls. Check out our must-have items for your hospital bag and maybe a few things you can leave at home. We’ve got your bag covered!

What to bring for you

In the Checkable Podcast episode 8, Checkable's CEO Patty Post said she brought her pre-pregnancy jeans to the hospital thinking that once she had the baby, boom! She’d be back in her skinny jeans. Yeah, not so much. Comfort is key, and possibly compression.

Comfort over everything. Loose and flowy clothes will be your friends. The truth is, you’re going to leave the hospital still looking pregnant. Your uterus still needs to shrink back to its normal size after you give birth, and that takes time. Plus, your body will be healing from something pretty major. Especially if you have a c-section. Pack soft, comfy, stretchy pants (or maternity pants) or shorts. 

Other essentials for you. If you’re going to breastfeed, you’ll want nursing bras, nursing tanks, and either a robe, a zip-up hoodie, or a top that unbuttons to make those 3 am feedings easier. 

Other essentials to bring: your phone charger, extra hair ties, your favorite lip balm, mints, lotion, and some easy snacks like protein bars or cash for the vending machines in case you’re hungry right after you give birth and the hospital cafeteria is closed.

Things you don’t need to pack. Don’t worry about things like soap, shampoo, a hair dryer, pain medications, pads, or diapers and wipes for the baby. The hospital provides all of that. In fact, make sure to take home a stock.

Don’t overpack entertainment things like books, magazines, movies, etc. There’s a lot less downtime than you might think, and all those things take up space in your bag.

Your pre-pregnancy underwear can also stay at home. Whether you give birth vaginally or via c-section, you will bleed a lot after birth, and the hospital will give you some seriously thick pads and mesh underwear (they are ugly, but they are lifesavers). Bring comfy undies and socks with grippers on the bottoms.

What to bring for baby

The car seat. Seriously. Do. Not. Forget. This. Most everything else can be figured out on the fly, but the hospital won’t let you leave without your baby securely fastened in a car seat. 

Aside from the car seat, bring a going-home outfit for your new baby. A couple of changes of clothes for the baby are fine, but resist the urge to bring ALL the things. A receiving blanket and maybe a burp cloth or two are also helpful.

You might want to bring a pacifier if you plan to introduce a pacifier to your baby. Some hospitals offer them; some do not. And some newborns are picky as to which ones they’ll take.

Bring any weather-specific items you might need for the drive home. Winter babies will want a car seat cover or bunting, and summer babies might need a sun hat.

Pro tip: Take all the baby-care and mama-care items when you leave. Stock up; they’re yours! The pads and mesh underwear, the diapers, wipes…take it all (if there’s something you’re questioning taking, the nurses are great and can tell you if it’s ok or not).

What to leave at home. Most baby-care stuff. Save it for when you’re home. The hospital will provide almost everything your baby needs while you’re there, like diapers, wipes, lotion, baby shampoo, diaper cream, and even a breast pump if you need it. 

So when it comes to packing your hospital bag, the most important things to remember are the car seat for the baby and comfort for you. If you’ve got those, you’re off to a great start. You’ve got this, mamma, and congrats!