Everything to Pack In A Hospital Bag for Mom
What Is a Hospital Bag?
A hospital bag is your “go” bag you’ll want to grab and have with you when you’re giving birth and recovering from birth in a hospital or other birthing center. A hospital bag may contain everything from your ID and documents to self-care items that will bring you some added comfort while giving birth or bonding with your newborn. Anyone can put together a hospital bag, it doesn’t matter if they are being induced, in need of a cesarean section, or are preparing for a spontaneous vaginal delivery.
What to Pack in a Hospital Bag
While the staff at the hospital or birthing center will do everything they can to make your experience comfortable, there are some items that you may not be able to get your hands on or will have preferences for. Having a hospital bag ready to go, or at least a checklist put together, can help you feel more prepared for your birthing experience and hopefully take away a bit of the stress when the time comes.
Hospital Bag Checklist for Mom
- Paperwork and Documentation: Make sure to grab your and your partner’s identification, insurance cards, insurance paperwork, and any other forms or documents that may make your stay more convenient and straightforward.
- Your Birth Plan: If you have a birth plan or any specific requests, medical needs, or desires for how your birthing experience will go, it can be helpful to have a few copies available to share with your provider and other staff members.
- Clothes and Pajamas: Having at least one change of clothes or pajamas stowed away can be a lifesaver! Stick to loose clothing that is soft and comfortable for you to lounge in on your way home. You should also consider bringing items that are quick and easy to throw on, like a robe or nightgown.
- Nursing Pads and Bras: Postpartum brings sore, leaky, and sometimes painful breasts and nipples. Maternity bras and nursing pads can provide some additional comfort and support.
- Slippers or Socks: The hospital can be cold, and you’ll want to be as comfortable as possible! Pack a few pairs of cozy fuzzy socks or slippers, preferably with some grip.
- Phones and Chargers: If you’re planning on making some calls and texts to any friends or family while in the hospital and snapping some newborn pictures, you’ll want a good charge on your phone! Extra long cords may come in handy for the hard-to-reach outlets.
- Toiletries: Having a few essential toiletries can make a big difference. Think about the essential items you need to feel clean and comfortable and plan on bringing them! Some examples:
- Toothbrush, toothpaste
- Deodorant, face wash or wipes
- Lotion (Natalist cooling cream and belly oil are great for hydrating and refreshing the skin!)
- Hair ties, bobby pins, headbands, etc.
- A brush or comb
- Glasses, contacts, contact solution
- Lip and Nipple Balm- chapped or sore nipples from breastfeeding can happen fast! Being prepared with a breastfeeding-safe nipple balm can make all the difference. (Natalist Nip & Lip Balm is great for soothing chapped lips and nipples- perfect for the new or soon-to-be postpartum mom!)
- Snacks and Water: We are all well aware of the reputation hospital food has. While your providers typically ask that you stick to ice chips, applesauce, popsicles, or Jell-O during labor, you’ll be glad you packed some snacks and drinks after you give birth.  A reusable water bottle with a straw can also make it easier to hydrate during your stay. You may also prefer a hydrating beverage such as Natalist Hydration & Energy mix.
- Daily Prescriptions: Be sure to bring any daily prescription medication needed for either parent.
“Extras” to Consider:
- Baby Book or Journal: If you’re planning on keeping a baby book or journal, it may be nice to have it at the hospital for jotting down any notes or storing any keepsakes.
- Books, iPads, Laptops, etc.: Sometimes labor doesn’t progress the way you think it will, or you may need to be in the hospital for longer than anticipated. General entertainment can help pass the time for you or your partner.
- Bags to Collect Goodies: If you have any friends or family members visiting you in the hospital, they may want to bring gifts and goodies for you and baby. You will likely also take home blankets, pamphlets, wipes, formula samples, or other items from the hospital. Instead of your partner taking multiple trips to the car, bring a few extra tote bags to make it easier!
- Pillows or Blankets: The hospital should provide some pillows, but you may want to have your favorite, extra-comfortable pillow with you. Hospitals can also be pretty chilly, so you may want to pack fluffy, comfortable blankets for you and your partner.
- Pads, Diapers, or Period Underwear: Once again, the hospital will have plenty of pads and diaper options available to help with the post-birth recovery, but if you’d prefer to use your favorite brand or absorbent period undies, you may want to bring them to the hospital.
- Bath Towel: The hospital will have towels available for you, but they can be itchy and thin.
Baby Hospital Bag Checklist
- Pediatrician Contact Information: Your pediatrician will eventually need your baby’s medical records. Have an office number, fax number, and other contact information available to provide the hospital staff.
- Car Seat: It’s necessary for you to have a properly fitting and safe car seat installed in the back seat of your car. This is a must before taking your baby home from the hospital.
- Blankets: The hospital is likely to provide you with a swaddle or blanket, but if you’ve already picked out some cute ones that you just can’t wait to use, it may be nice to have a few extra on hand.
- Clothes: It’s nearly time for you to start using all those tiny newborn clothes you’ve been stockpiling! Bring at least 1-2 outfits for your little one to wear on your journey home. Be mindful of the weather- do you need to bring socks, mittens, or a hat?
- Burp Cloths: As cute as they are, babies tend to be messy. Having plenty of burp cloths around can be a lifesaver when trying to keep your clothes and your baby clean.
- Bottles and Formula: No matter what your plan is for breastfeeding vs bottle feeding, you can never be too prepared. Many hospitals and birthing centers will have a few formula samples to offer if needed, but bringing your own bottles or preferred brand of formula may be nice to have.
“Extras” to Consider:
- Diapers and Wipes: The hospital should have a large stockpile of diapers and wipes, but it can’t hurt to bring extra if you have a certain brand you prefer.
This is a general list of items that may be useful, but you should customize your hospital bag to meet your needs. Ask your healthcare provider or pediatrician what other items you may need to have with you before, during, and after birth.
When to Pack a Hospital Bag
Most people can put together a hospital bag a few weeks to a month before the due date. If you are at risk for preterm delivery, you may want to consider packing one sooner. Some items you may need to grab last minute, like medications, phone chargers, and toiletries. If you can put aside items early on, go for it! You can never be too prepared.
How Long Will I Be In the Hospital After Childbirth?
How long you remain in the hospital or birthing center after giving birth can vary widely, depending on any complications with your health or your baby's health, c-section delivery vs. vaginal delivery, etc. In the United States, the typical time spent in the hospital after an uncomplicated vaginal delivery is about 24 hours.  During this time, you and your baby will both be monitored for any complications, you may receive some medication, and you may even speak with a breastfeeding specialist or consultant. If you have a c-section, you can expect to be in the hospital for two to three days after birth while you begin to recover. 
Prepare for Postpartum Life With Natalist
Childbirth and postpartum bring on many new beautiful, challenging, and sometimes overwhelming experiences. Be kind to yourself while you adjust and try to prepare as much as possible for the months ahead. Having the resources and products you need ahead of time can set you up for success and eliminate some stress. Natalist is here to offer educational articles on all things postpartum, as well as provide evidence-based, pregnancy and postpartum safe products. Order your postnatal vitamins now to encourage healthy nutrition while breastfeeding, or shop for other postpartum essentials.
- Horsager-Boehrer, Robyn. Hungry during labor? Women may now get more than ice chips. UT Southwestern Medical Center. Med Blog. February 2016. https://utswmed.org/medblog/eating-during-labor
- After vaginal delivery - in the hospital. Medline Plus. National Library of Medicine. November 2022. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/patientinstructions/000629.htm
- C-section. Cleveland Clinic. August 2022. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/treatments/7246-cesarean-birth-c-section