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  • Christi Stoltzfus

What to Pack for the Hospital

If you've been on a vacation you know what type of "packer" you are. Do you travel for a week with the bare minimum in a carry-on or do you push the limit on the weight allowance and pack everything but the kitchen sink?Whether you tend to under or over pack, it's always nice to know what the essentials will be for wherever you will be going.

When you are preparing to pack for a birth, it's not just yourself that you need to think about, but also your partner and the baby you are about to meet. As you are approaching your due date, here are some essentials that you will need to consider when packing your bags. If you are the kind of person that packs more than others, I have some questions at the end to go through to make sure you're not missing anything you *might* need.

If you are higher risk or expecting multiples, you will want to check this off of your list by week 35, otherwise waiting until 37 or 38 weeks should have you ready to go for when the big day arrives!


❍ Insurance cards, picture ID, pre-admission paperwork

❍ Toiletries - the hospital provides a small bag of essentials just in case you forget, but it's nice to have your favorites there if you want them

❍ Chapstick

❍ Hair bands or clips

❍ Eyeglasses, if you wear them, contacts and cleaning solution

❍ Medications - talk with your doctor, sometimes the hospital prefers to provide your prescriptions

❍ Robe and your comfiest, easily removable clothing - unless you don’t mind wearing hospital gowns

❍ Nursing or maternity bras

❍ Warm socks and slippers or shoes that can be slipped on/off easily - ones that you don’t mind getting dirty

❍ Your phone and charger

❍ A playlist on your phone or ipod with your favorite music to relax to

❍ A speaker for the music (if playing it on your phone won't be loud enough for you)

❍ Favorite drinks - coconut water, gatorade, or another electrolyte drink - find some great recipes for homemade versions here

❍ Pillows / cozy blanket from home - hospital pillows are not the greatest....make sure to use colored or patterned linens to differentiate between yours and the hospitals, hospitals bedding is always white

❍ Snacks for energy for mom during labor - yogurt, fruit, honey sticks, granola bars...make sure to bring a cooler if you pack perishable items as all hospitals don't provide a refrigerator. Also, depending on the hospital, you may need to sign a waiver to eat. The hospital will provide all of the clear liquids you could want - ice chips, water, jello, italian ice, chicken broth, etc. If you have special dietary needs - gluten-free especially - you may want to make a plan for meals beyond what the hospital can provide.

❍ Extra copy of your Birth Plan


You won't need much for the process of the birth, but for recovery, you will want to look at the postpartum list and consider some of the extra things listed below.

❍ Underwear that won't press on your incision, like the C Panty

❍ A belly-compression belt, made specifically for cesarean support, like

❍ A pillow (this can even be a hospital pillow) to hold over your incision when getting out of bed or coughing / sneezing


❍ Grooming supplies - toothbrush, razor, deodorant, gum / breath freshener

❍ Snacks for yourself - hospitals will have a cafeteria if you’d rather get food there, but they won't be open during the night

❍ Sweatshirt or sweater - hospital rooms are usually on the cooler side

❍ Changes of clothing and comfortable shoes

❍ Phone and charger

❍ Camera and extra batteries or charger

❍ Cash for vending machines

❍ Swimsuit for accompanying mom in the tub / shower

❍ Any prescription medications

❍ Something to entertain you if mom is resting and you're not tired (book, magazine, laptop)


❍ Car seat - should be fastened in place and will be checked by someone before you leave the hospital

❍ Baby book for footprints (if you don't have a baby book, footprints will just go on a piece of paper for you

❍ Going home outfit - make sure it's seasonally appropriate

❍ Receiving blanket

❍ Outside blanket, booties, hat for cooler weather

❍ Diapers for the trip home


❍ Comfortable clothing for your stay and a going home outfit for mom - remember, you will still look about 6 months pregnant after your baby comes. This is something I wish I had known with my first as I brought my pre-pregnancy jeans to the hospital to wear home and ended up having to wear my husband's sweatpants home! (insert crying face)

❍ Earbuds / earplugs - there's nothing worse than beeping monitors, hospital staff being paged, and doors opening and closing when you are trying to sleep after an intense labor. Use these to cut down on noise - I promise you'll still be able to hear your baby cry.

❍ Toiletries / makeup - it's nice to have your favorites for your first shower after birth, and makeup, if you're not comfortable taking pictures without it, but there's no shame in documenting #rawmotherhood

❍ Maternity underwear if you'd rather not use the mesh ones the hospital provides - make sure they are something you won't mind potentially getting stained

❍ A nursing pillow or preferred bottles if not breastfeeding

❍ Any special outfits / hats / blankets that you will want to use for baby

❍ Burp cloths - you can use the hospital-provided blankets for this if you'd rather not pack any

❍ Nipple cream


❍ Birth ball

❍ Peanut ball

❍ A television with DVD player (I once had a client bring her whole Friends collection to watch when she was going to be induced)

❍ Drinks - water, juices, and soda - they've got you covered, if the kitchen is closed you won't be able to grab coffee or anything else so it may be wise to bring what you know you will need after hours

❍ Ice - this is good for munching on and can also be used to refill your cooler if you brought one

❍ Snacks - most of what they have is not gluten-free, so make sure to bring your own if you have dietary restrictions

❍ Oil for birth - all hospitals carry mineral oil if that is an option you would like to use when pushing

❍ Towels and washcloths

❍ Diapers, wipes, hats, receiving blankets for baby

❍ Pads and mesh underwear for mom - some moms prefer using depends over the mesh undies, so bring your own if you would rather them - also make sure you have a good supply of heavy-flow pads at home for your return

❍ A breast pump (check with your insurance company to see if this is something they will cover!)


Now, for the questions to see if we covered everything! It may be helpful to write these down for consideration:

* Would I want to gift the siblings something from the baby when they visit?

* Are there any items at home that you find comfort in in hard situations? Does your grandmother's knit blanket ease your mind, will you want to bring pictures of your other children to look at, did your best friend gift you an amulet to help you through labor?

* Baby care items provided by the hospital are basic - if you cloth diaper, you will need to bring those. If you know you will want nail clippers or a NoseFreida or only use organic shampoo, pack them.

* If you have a birth plan, is there anything specific on there that you will need to bring to set you up for success?

* Are there any care items that you want to take to help with labor or to celebrate postpartum? A rebozo, sitz sprays, herbal teas, essential oils, honey sticks, chocolate are a few things to consider.

* Do you or your partner have any specific needs? (Medications, dietary, etc.)

I usually recommend that you pack one bag with what you will need for birth and one bag with what you will need for postpartum. That way, when you arrive at the hospital for birth, you're not lugging EVERYTHING in - your partner can switch the birth bag with the postpartum bag after you make your way to your postpartum room.

Once you've checked everything off of your list and are done packing, place your bags by the door, install the car seat, and you'll be ready for when your baby decides it's time to come!

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