Wondering what to pack in your hospital bag for labor? Then this hospital bag checklist is for you, mama!
I’ll admit it – as a first time mom, I TOTALLY overpacked but between pandemic restrictions and knowing better this time around, I did not make the same mistakes again!
This guide to packing your maternity hospital bag includes:
- when to pack your hospital bag
- how many bags to pack for labor
- how big should your hospital bag be
- what to pack for baby, mom, and dad
- tips from an experienced mom
Let’s get started with when you should start packing your bags.
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FREE Printable Hospital Bag Checklist for 2021
When did you pack your hospital bag?
I finished packing my hospital bag at around 30 weeks – near the start of the third trimester.
Approximately 73% of babies born in 2017 arrived before their due dates and nearly 10% of babies are born prematurely in the United States.
So, best to be prepared!
According to my doctor, women also usually take after their mothers and since me and my sister were both 21 days and 20 days early, I thought it best to be ready long in advance.
Ironically, I’m 3 days overdue now as I write this, haha! I was induced after being one week late with my first born.
When to pack your hospital bag for peace of mind
Packing your bag between 28 and 30 weeks allows you to get organized and make changes if need be.
For instance, my maternity clinic currently has signs posted all over the office for pandemic labor protocols – certain items are not permitted in the hospital right now (personal pillows, large suitcases, etc.) and only a “small personal bag and a water bottle” is allowed.
When I read this, I initially thought “standard sized diaper bag” but according to my doctor, you can go as large as a weekender bag – phew!
So, I repacked a slightly larger bag and added a couple of extra items.
Should I pack a separate hospital bag for baby?
Nope! You don’t need to.
We’ll cover the essentials your baby will actually need shortly.
How many bags to pack for labor?
You only need one, mama!
Pack items for baby and dad at the bottom of your bag and the things you’ll need first up at the top – I’ll go over how I packed my bag shortly.
How big should your hospital bag be?
Don’t go any larger than a weekender. You don’t need that much stuff!
In Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, you’re not allowed to at this time anyway!
I packed a JuJuBe Be Prepared diaper bag with all of our goodies and took it as a major compliment when one of the nurses commented on how efficiently we packed versus how most parents go overboard.
It was nice not to get lost in stuff we were barely going to use!
What you need to pack in your hospital bag for delivery
Let’s cover this in order of what baby, mom, and dad needs.
More ways new moms can prepare for baby’s arrival:
Hospital bag checklist for baby
Be sure to pack these important baby must-haves a few weeks before you anticipated hospital stay.
1. Properly installed car seat
Register and install your car seat online BEFORE you get to the hospital.
Be sure to read the instructions that come with your infant car seat and/or watch YouTube tutorials for how to properly install a baby car seat.
We had an UPPAbaby Mesa the first time around and used it again for our new baby – I LOVE that this car seat be used with the UPPAbaby Vista stroller WITHOUT adapters.
Honestly, I found putting my newborn baby in the car seat incredibly stressful the first time I did it – so I recommend practicing buckling up a plush before it’s time to do the real thing.
Before we had M, I had never even held a baby!
Their heads are also so delicate at this time – so supporting that precious little neck is crucial.
If you’re like we were, hearing that little cry the first few times will cause stress.
So, practice in advance and take your time properly securing baby in his or her car seat once it’s time to head home with your little bundle of joy.
At the hospital, you’ll be asked to show that your baby is safely buckled into their car seat and that your infant car seat is not yet expired since they have an expiry date of 7 years from the manufacturer date or date of purchase (proof of purchase required)!
2. Zip-up Sleepers
Trust me – you do not want to try putting your newborn baby’s head through a onesie as a first time mom!
Your baby will feel so fragile in your arms the first few times you hold them and dressing them in zip-up sleepers is the easiest way to go about this.
Messy diapers and button-up sleepers make for a time-consuming mess!
Sure, button-ups are cute but please trust me on this one – go for zip ups!
I packed two KYTE BABY zip-up sleepers plus a hooded infant sleeper in our hospital bag – since we were expecting a large snowfall in the middle of February, I wanted to be able to layer baby in case of extreme weather.
Glad I did!
During your stay at the hospital, your baby will spend most of his or her time in a diaper wrapped up in warm towels or a receiving blanket.
Skin to skin is SO important during your baby’s first days and when it’s time, doctors and nurses will perform tests, give baby his or her first bath, etc. during your stay.
It’s less of an event to take baby out of a blanket than it is a sleeper – trust me, your baby will NOT like anything the hospital staff wants to do, so it’s best to make each interaction quick.
You probably won’t dress your baby until you’re leaving the hospital.
That’s what happened with our firstborn – our second was born in a snowstorm though, haha.
Keep your new little one’s head warm by packing a couple of baby caps – I packed two.
At our hospital, this was provided to us immediately after M was born but the quality of the ones we purchased was much better, so we swapped it out shortly after.
There’s a reason nurses put a hat on your baby as soon as they’re born – just imagine how warm it’s been for the past 9 months before you enter the big cold world completely naked!
You may also want to consider packing two different sized hats – my second born’s head was too big for the newborn-sized hat I packed!
She went right to size 1 diapers and 0 to 3 sized clothing.
At 41 weeks, my first was so small that she barely fit newborn sizes, so you never know!
Your little one will have precious baby fingernails the day they are born and brand new baby’s love to touch – and scratch – their faces!
Protect your newborn’s beautiful face by packing one or two pairs of no-scratch mits.
5. Wet wipes
Get ready to change your first diaper, mama!
We opted for Water Wipes since they’re incredibly gentle and made with minimal ingredients – 99.9% water and a drop of fruit extract!
The wipe material itself is made of 80% polyester and 20% viscose.
My oldest’s skin was irritated by other wipes, so I always recommend these for baby’s with sensitive skin and moms who like to stay away from yucky chemicals and preservatives.
I’ve seen some hospital bag checklists advising parents NOT to bring diapers because the hospital provides them.
There are notes plastered all over my maternity clinic advising moms to pack diapers and extra supplies – the hospital will provide you with a starter pack but after that, you’re on your own!
It seems a lot of people take advantage of hospital freebies!
I packed 10 newborn diapers in our hospital bag, just in case – you can never be too careful and it would be a pain to run out of these!
You also never know how long the hospital may require you to stay.
We only stayed one night but I have friends and family who were required to stay 2 to 3 nights for various reasons.
7. Car seat canopy
I love Aden + Anais car seat canopy covers and have even use them as swaddles and nursing covers on the go!
A car seat canopy gives your baby privacy and allows them to rest.
Otherwise, people – even strangers – may be compelled to get up close and personal with your new babe.
No, thank you!
Especially during a pandemic.
8. Warm blanket
Pack a warm blanket according to the weather.
Since we expected a major snowfall, I packed a warm sherpa baby blanket in our hospital bag and even have an extra one in the car – just in case!
If it’s warm where you are, a cotton stroller blanket is probably the best way to go though.
Hospital bag checklist for mom
Pack the following essential items in advance to make your hospital stay that much more comfortable.
1. Lip balm
I always have dry lips and it can get even worse when you’re dehydrated – very likely, especially if you’ll be nursing!
My go to lip balms are EOS and Burt’s Bees.
I love socks and hospitals can feel really cold – especially when you’re sleep deprived!
Pack two pairs of your favorites.
3. Nursing bras
Although you probably won’t be doing much sleeping your first couple of nights with baby, pack two nursing bras that are comfortable enough to have a snooze in.
You’ll likely spend most of your time in a nursing bra, disposable underwear, and your delivery gown!
4. Delivery gown
I delivered my second baby within 15 minutes of arriving at the hospital, so I actually didn’t get to wear mine during delivery! Instead, I delivered in my favorite maternity shirt, haha.
I purchased a Frida Mom delivery gown this time around and ended up wearing it for the remaining duration of our hospital stay.
It has clips that come undone to nurse and pockets to hold your lip balm, phone, or whatever else you like to keep on yourself.
During my first delivery, my hospital gown got completely trashed and no one offered to replace it for me! Talk about feeling vulnerable at a very difficult time.
I didn’t want to feel like that again, so I packed my own gown for comfort.
5. Loose clothing
What were your favorite comfy maternity clothes during your pregnancy? Pack them!
Or, buy a second set of the EXACT same clothes and pack those instead – you can go into labor suddenly and the last thing you want to do is be kicking yourself for not doing laundry.
I can’t say enough good things about GAP’s nursing tops and pyjama pants – I bought four sets and have lived in them during and after my pregnancy.
You don’t need more than two outfits – the second is just in case things get messy!
I went home in my robe after my first delivery!
There’s nothing like a warm hug from your clothing after all of that.
If you plan on nursing, it’s also way easier to access your milk supply when you’re wearing clothing that opens and comes off easily.
The cute MAMA sweaters can wait!
I ended up wearing Adidas Adilette Aqua sandals to the hospital during my second delivery – and yes, this was in the heart of winter!
I’m so glad I did too because my other shoes would have been TRASHED.
Everything moved so FAST the second time around and being able to slide in and out of my shoes made bathroom trips SO much easier.
Socks and sandals is such a mood – but it’s super practical for moms at delivery!
8. Tooth paste and tooth brushes
I packed travel-sized toothpaste and toothbrushes for our hospital trip.
They’re more compact and I just had the heebie-jeebies about bringing our toothbrushes from home to the hospital at this time!
All that talk of contracting the virus through saliva, etc…
9. Makeup removing wipes
Get a travel-sized pack of makeup-removing wipes or pack a couple from a brand you love in a Ziploc bag.
What you see on Instagram isn’t real folks – no one looks that good after delivery!
I was wearing waterproof mascara during my first delivery and quickly had raccoon eyes once things got moving.
Waterproof mascara stings in your eyes – just saying!
Skip the hairdryer, curling iron, bodywash, loofah, shampoo, and conditioner…
Trust me, you’ll want to get out of the hospital as soon as you can (especially with everything going on)!
Pack a deodorant instead – you’ll enjoy the shower at home SO MUCH more!
11. Hair brush
Your hair WILL at some point be a mess after (or maybe during) delivery.
DO NOT forget your hairbrush.
I love Wet Brushes – they’re gentle on, you guessed it, wet or dry hair and are great for toddlers too!
12. Hair elastics
I don’t know about you but I am a very unpleasant person after my hair elastic breaks!
Pack two or three elastic hair ties just in case – you’ll definitely want your hair out of the way when you deliver.
13. Nipple butter
If you breastfeed your baby, you’ll notice that your nipples will get chapped within a few hours of nursing your newborn.
I love Earth Mama’s nipple butter – it’s made from 100% organic ingredients like cocoa butter, olive fruit oil, and more.
Contrary to yucky lanolin nipple creams, it’s also SAFE enough that you DO NOT need to wipe it off before feeding your baby!
14. Perineal balm and/or spray
I had second-degree tearing after my first delivery – oh my gosh, that hurt!
Prepare yourself for the worst by packing a perineal balm or spray – both of these formats have an incredibly soothing and cooling effect on sensitive lady parts after delivery.
Earth Mama’s perineal balm was a LIFE SAVER after my first delivery and I’ve been using both the balm and spray after my second delivery.
15. Peri bottle
The hospital will provide you one of these but the Frida Mom peri bottle is SO MUCH better – especially for those who experience perineal tearing!
The upside-down design of this peri bottle allows you to reach further back and have more control over water pressure than a regular peri bottle.
It’s also nice to be able to use almost all of the water in your peri bottle instead of having to refill it 3/4 of the way like the regular one.
I love this thing so much, I’m planning on buying postpartum care kits for all of my expecting mom friends in the future!
Recovery is certainly not a glamorous part of entering motherhood but it is SO IMPORTANT to take care of yourself for your own health and for your new baby’s wellbeing.
I packed four Frida Mom ice maxi pads in my hospital bag and I am SO glad that I did!
The last time I delivered I was offered padsicles (made by freezing regular maxi pads wet with water) but this time around, they were nowhere in sight – I’m guessing it’s another pandemic regulation.
You snap these pads in the center and then shake them until the cooling agent is activated.
And they’re not just great for the hospital – you can avoid a trip to the kitchen to get padsicles since you can stash these in your bathroom cabinet.
Talk about winning at postpartum recovery!
17. Disposable underwear
Hospital underwear SUCKS.
I was given two types this time around – one looked like weird fishnet boyshorts and the other was the cotton boxer style I remember from last time.
Both ripped within one use of applying a maxi pad!
I packed four pairs of Frida Mom disposable underwear but ended up using two since I wanted to compare them to the hospital undies I was given!
They are WAY MORE comfortable and supportive than hospital underwear or Depends!
Depends feel really stiff on while Frida Mom’s disposable underwear is softer and more form-fitting (because it’s nice to feel like you again after the 9 months or so you just had).
If you try anything new on this list, make it these! They’re absolutely amazing!
18. Nursing pads
You may have already noticed some milk spots in your tops during pregnancy but get ready for the motherlode – pun intended – of lactation postpartum.
I like these stick-on Medela disposable nursing pads for loose tops like pajama tops but use reusable organic cotton nursing pads when I’m wearing clothing that’ll keep them in place like nursing bras.
19. Phone charger
You will probably take and send a TON of photos of your new baby while you’re at the hospital so, be sure to pack an extra long phone charger – just in case you get stuck in a room with one plug in a weird spot like we did!
The last thing you need is a low battery warning on your phone when family and friends are dying to hear that you and your new baby are okay.
Hospital bag checklist for dad
My husband is a VERY low maintenance guy and I imagine most dads are!
Here are the three simple things we packed for him:
A simple black t-shirt, that’s it!
Dad can wear what he wore to the hospital out but a fresh pair of underwear is nice after an overnight stay!
Swapping out socks can feel amazing after a long day.
Things for the times
Here are two additional things we packed due to government regulations and our own safety.
1. Disposable masks
In Vancouver, British Columbia, you are not permitted to enter a medical building in a cloth mask at this time.
Instead, you are asked to wear a disposable mask and then provided with a fresh one to replace it at the entrance of the hospital.
There was a sanitization station at nearly every doorway at the hospital when we delivered but I figured it wouldn’t hurt to pack a small bottle of sanitizer – just in case!
Hold off on the Bath and Body Works scented options – choose something gentle and discrete for other hospital patrons and your baby’s sake!
Download the FREE printable hospital bag checklist
You can get the maternity bag checklist in full resolution by clicking the link here or the image below.
Then, download the file and print directly from your mobile device to start packing your bag now 🙂
I hope you found this printable checklist helpful in your packing journey, mama!
This is such a wonderful time of your life and I am SO excited for you to meet your little one soon – having children changed my life in all the best ways imaginable and I hope it brings you just as much joy!
Wishing you all the best in delivery and for a smooth recovery.
Blessed mama of two beautiful little girls. I’m a full-time blogger and social media content creator who teaches moms and boss babes how to start an online business. Follow me on social for clever ideas to make money using the platforms you already love!