What should you pack in your hospital bag when you are expecting? This Pregnancy Hospital Bag Checklist should help ease your mind and answer your most pressing questions.
If you’re a Momma to be, first time, third time, or more, you’re still probably searching the internet for a pregnancy hospital bag checklist or what to pack in a hospital bag because you want to be prepared for one of the biggest days of your life, and not having a packed bag should not even be on the list of worries you may already have.
It’s a good idea to start packing your to go hospital bag as soon as 8.5 months along, because you never know if baby will decide to pop out a little early and you just don’t want to not be prepared.
When you’re in labor, your mind is very occupied with so many other thoughts, feelings and fears that trying to decide what to throw into your bag last minute is going to result in some very silly decisions that you may laugh about later, but will not be so thrilled to discover when you open your hospital bag.
So, if you want to avoid calling your mother while you’re in the hospital to stop by your home and pick up a few things that you totally forgot to throw into your bag last minute, then you should probably start packing your hospital bag nice and early.
You can also go the opposite way and completely overpack your hospital bag, and well, you’re going to end up with so much extra stuff, and not really anywhere to store it all.
So what the heck do you put into your bag?
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When To Pack The Hospital Bag
We know that 40 weeks of pregnancy seems like a long time to get your stuff in order, but at the same time, there is so much going on in that time frame that important stuff can be forgotten, such as packing a pregnancy hospital bag.
Our advice is to not wait until you’re fairly close to your due date and get your hospital bag prepped at around 8.5 months, or at the very least when you are 36 weeks pregnant.
When you hit week 37 of pregnancy, you are considered full term, and the baby can come anytime between 37 weeks and 42 weeks (or later, but we hope not for your sake.)
So if labour can start anytime after week 37, then you should be prepared to go before this time.
Once labor does start, you’re not going to be thinking about your bag but rather, waiting for the next contraction and wondering if it really is time to hit the hospital, or if you’re just experiencing Braxton Hicks.
Even if you don’t have all the things that you may need for the hospital on hand, it’s a good idea to make a list ahead of time so you can pop into the shop and grab whatever you may need to complete your list with plenty of time to spare.
This checklist will help you discover what you need to take, but you may need to decide for yourself how much of everything you should really pack because it all depends on your hospital stay which can range from 1 day to 1 week.
How Long Is Labor
While no one can answer this question because labor is very unique to each woman and each pregnancy.
Some labor lasts several days, while others have an experience that lasts a few hours.
Typically, an 8 hour labor is what woman should prepare for, but don’t get upset with us if it’s longer or shorter because no one can REALLY know what’s going to happen on delivery day.
If you are pregnant with baby 2 or 6, then labor could potentially be even shorter, (one of our writers had a 1-hour labor from water breaking to birth with baby 2!)
Here is a little more information on labor length if you have further questions.
How Long Do You Stay In The Hospital After birth
You could stay in the hospital from 8 hours to 4 days after birth and it really depends on how your birth went.
You should plan to stay around 48 hours in the hospital if you’re having a natural birth and around 4-5 days if there is a planned C-section.
Complications will of course result in a longer stay.
If this is your first labor, then the Doctor may want you to stick around so you can come down from your epidural or maybe learn how to breastfeed from the lactation consultant that the hospital can provide.
Sometime the hospital will want to empty a bed, so you may be forced out more quickly than you like, but there is not much you can do about that.
Your stay will be highly dependent on your delivery and your hospital policies.
Many hospitals offer a tour of the maternity ward, and it’s a good idea to ask your physician about this and schedule a walk through. This will be your chance to ask your hospital about their common practices.
Best Things To Wear During Labor And Delivery
Everyone will be different in what makes them comfortable.
Some women may want to wear a favorite old T-shirt while others will want a nightgown, just be aware that labor is messy and you may not want to keep your clothing after delivery.
A hospital gown is also a decent choice if you are worried about ruining your clothes.
If you choose to wear your own thing, choose loose clothing, especially on the top. You’ll end up ditching any pj bottoms or pants since all the delivery action takes place at the bottom, so you really just want to ensure your top is nice and comfortable.
A comfortable nursing bra is an excellent choice as well as a nursing tee so you can be ready to jump into feeding your newborn after delivery.
Just be sure to keep your clothing free of metals for safety reasons.
One of our parents at Baby Gadget List swears by wearing dresses for delivery due to their loose nature and no bottoms to worry about.
You can even go to a second hand store and grab a flowy, comfortable dress just for labor, and throw it away after delivery, guilt free that you spend a ton of cash on the thing.
Whatever you do choose to wear just keep these things in mind:
- Make Sure It’s Flowy And Open: You’ll want to ensure you have room to move around as you may need to walk the hospital halls to get labor moving.
- Keep It Open: Make sure that the doctors can access your belly and genitals easily so they can do all the things needed for a safe delivery.
- Washable: Delivery is messy, and you’ll definitely want to wear something that you can either wash, or throw away after.
If you have a scheduled C-section, your hospital may have some extra guidelines for clothing to wear. This is a great question to ask if you schedule a hospital walk through.
What To Wear Home
You’ll want to be comfortable when leaving the hospital, but you can generally wear whatever you like on your way home.
It may be a nice idea to grab an oversized comfortable hoodie and sweatpants, or opt for maternity clothing that you feel cozy in.
The most important thing is to be comfortable, and maternity tops that resemble nursing tops are a great option. Your tummy will not be flat when you leave the hospital, so your go to yoga pants may not even fit just yet. (And that’s ok!)
What Do Hospitals Give For Newborns
This is highly dependent on your hospital, so the question is well suited for your hospital walk through which we highly recommend.
However, there is a chance that you could score some hospital goodies for your newborn such as diapers, formula, pacifier, and wipes if you really need these items. These are essentials for the first few days with your baby, and the hospital will not send you home without them if you aren’t able to get them right away.
Packing Your Hospital Bags
You can keep these items in separate bags or throw all the things into one bag, it doesn’t matter, but we are breaking down the things you need by bag just to make it easier for you. You will ultimately need to make t he decision of how you want your stuff to be packed.
There is no “fluff” in this bag checklist, all of these items are actually going to be useful to you during your hospital stay.
Most hospitals have the things you need for baby and even a lot of things for you, so there is no need to pack too much stuff.
Whats In Mommy’s Bag
Labor can start anytime and anywhere so this is a bag you’ll want to keep near you at all times.
You may even want to keep it in the car when delivery day is nearing, just so you have one less thing to grab when you’re panicking about driving to the hospital.
You can pack a shoulder bag, a diaper bag, or even a small suitcase. Whatever bag you choose is fine, just make sure you know to keep it near you at all times so you are prepared for anything that may come your way.
Paperwork: You should check in with your hospital which paperwork you’ll need for delivery day for your country. For Canada, you need your healthcare ID and your drivers’ license or other picture ID. In the UK, you’ll need your “little red book” and in the United States you’ll probably need your proof of insurance. Just check in with hte hospital ahead of time for what kind of paperwork is required.
Birth Plan: If you have a birth plan your nurse will want to read about it to make sure they provide you with the closest experience possible. Just remember that your birth plan is just a plan, and sometimes delivery day does not go according to that plan.
Lip Balm: You lips will get dry and cracked during labor because of all the hard work you’ll be doing, so don’t forget this essential item. If you do forget it, the nurse may give you some Vaseline to take care of the dry lips.
Hair Ties/ Headband: You may want your hair out of your face during of after delivery so these are really important to have.
Socks: Hospital floors are kind of yucky, you’ll want a pair of socks to wear around, or even slippers, but socks will do the trick.
Water Bottle: While they have tiny water cups at the hospital, you’ll want a lot of water during your stay, and those just aren’t practical. Try a water bottle with a straw-like this one.
Comfortable Pants: A few pairs
Comfortable Tops: A few pairs
Nursing Bras: These are really comfy!
Disposable Undies: While the hospital may give you some of these, they won’t give you enough so pack extra. These are the best ones!
Robe: Hospitals can get chilly and also uncomfortable. A robe will solve both of those problems. A maternity gown robe like this one should be just what you need, and it doesn’t take up a lot of space in your bag. You can also go for some postpartum pajamas to get nice and comfortable at the hospital.
Phone And Charger
Camera: You can use your cell phone for this too, so this may not be needed for you.
Basic toiletries: toothbrush / toothpaste / shampoo / moisturizer / deodorant
Healing Spray: It’s totally optional, but we don’t recommend skipping this spray as it will help that after the delivery sting.
Breast pads: You won’t need many and your milk may not come in while you’re in the hospital, but just in case it does it’s a good idea to have a handful of breast pads on hand.
Nipple Cream: The hospital will give you Vaseline, and it just doesn’t work as well as proper nipple cream so it’s a good idea to bring a small amount of your own cream.
Things To Consider
You may want to take some photos after delivery and if you are afraid of looking like you may be dying, you could bring some of these items with you.
Music: If you have a lot of time on your hands while you wait for baby, it may not be terrible to have some music to listen to. Don’t forget headphones!
Now you may not feel like eating, or may not be allowed to eat during labor, but your partner in crime might get snacky snacky so be sure to pack his favorites!
What’s In Baby’s Bag
The baby doesn’t need that many things because the hospital has almost everything you could need for newborns. But you should definitely take these items.
Coming Home Outfit: This will be weather dependent. If you’re delivering in the summer heat, you’ll probably want to go with a simple onsie and some scratch mittens. If you’re delivering in cold, harsh winter conditions, then you’ll need to bundle baby up with a cozy sleeper, a hat, and extra blankets for the car seat. You’ll also want to read up on how to safely dress baby in the winter so they don’t overheat and don’t compromise the safety of the car seat.
Blanket: We cannot live without these Muslin blankets.
Car seat: Remember to install this properly! The hospital will not let you leave without a car seat.
Things To Consider
Handful of Diapers: You won’t need a whole pack, and the hospital will probably give you some diapers before you leave, but just in case they don’t, have a few handy in your bag.
Diaper Cream: The hospital will provide Vaseline (which does work) but if you want to use a specific diaper cream on your little one, you may want to bring it with you.
Formula: If you know you won’t be breastfeeding, then it might be a good idea to throw in some formula and a bottle or two into your bag.
What’s In Partners Bag
You partner may be with you the entire time so you’ll want to be sure he is well taken care of too! Her eare some thing he may need.
Phone and Charger: He may want to download a contraction timer app to help time the contractions during early labor.
Cash: There is always parking that needs to be paid and vending machines that cost more than they should, so cash is a good idea.
Blanket and Pillow: If Daddy is sticking around a while, then he may want to sleep in the room with you in which case hospital bedding will just not do.
Toiletries: The hospital may not give daddy any toiletries because he is not the patient so he will want his own things.
Daddy’s Main Responsibilities
Dad’s main duty is to be there to support you during your big push!
Don’t expect too much from your partner as he is likely to be just as overwhelmed as you and may not be his best self due to all the confusion and chaos that is labor day.
Dad should be ready to hurry up and wait, which is a great time to read up on what to expect during labor to reduce shock.
Your Hospital Bad Doesn’t Need To Be A Big Deal
Keep in mind that you should not be stressing too much over your hospital bag, and try not to overpack.
Even if your hospital stay ends up lasting 5 days, the hospital does have a lot of your essential needs covered, and it’s not like Dad can’t run home and grab something for you here and there over the span of a few days.
Are there any other essentials to you suggest we add to this pregnancy hospital bag checklist?
(This post contains affiliate links. Our full disclosure policy is really boring, but you can find it here.)