Hospital Bag Checklist: Everything you need for Mama, Dad, and Baby!

Liesel Teen, RN-BSN

By Liesel Teen, BSN, RN

Looking for a hospital bag checklist? For a first time mom, I was SUCH a slacker when it came to packing my hospital bag for labor. I was lucky I didn’t go into labor a few weeks early, because I would not have been prepared!

For my second birth, I wanted to be way more organized and thoughtful about my hospital bag situation. I created a whole hospital bag highlight over on my Instagram with the details if you learn better via video.

But for those that want an article to reference, I also put all that info here! The long and short of it is that I’m a BIG fan of packing individual bags for labor, recovery, dad, and baby. This keeps everything so much more organized.

I’ll get into what should be in each of those bags below. Ready mama, let’s get packin’!

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Hospital bag checklist for mom

When it comes to packing your own bag, I really liked packing up all my stuff into two separate bags (well, technically a smaller bag within a bigger bag). One for labor and delivery and one for postpartum. This way, my husband didn’t have to root through (and dishevel) a million extra items to find something I wanted while laboring.

It also meant that my postpartum bag was nice and organized and ready to go for the second half of our hospital stay. While this isn’t essential I really liked the way this worked out.

Your hospital bag checklist for labor

  • Gum: I know I’m not the only mama that likes to have minty gum for labor. It helps with the dry mouth feeling and can also help with nausea. I get super nauseous whenever I’m in pain, so this is key for me
  • Essentials oils: There are all kinds of ways to use essential oils for labor! I made a special labor blend to use as a massage oil during birth (see what I did and what I used in this highlight) and also brought a roll-on blend meant for nausea
  • Chapstick: Lips get super dry during labor because of all the heavy breathing. Definitely bring this and put your partner in charge of making sure you use it/offering it
  • Hospital gown: You don’t have to bring this, but some mamas like to bring their own gown instead of using the one provided
  • Hair ties/bands/bobby pins: Get that hair outta your face!
  • Preggie Pops: Again, nausea during labor is a thing for me, so I wanted to be super ready for it. Remember these from the first trimester? They’re baaaaaaack
  • Ginger candies: The other good thing about all these hard candy options? A nice burst of sugar/energy during labor, too! These ones have honey in them which is a popular little labor pick-up/ boost

Hospital bag checklist for postpartum

  • Phone chargers: Your phone is going to be running on low battery with all the texts, phone calls, and pictures you’ll be taking. So, common sense, just don’t forget it!
  • Your own personal toiletries: I brought skincare stuff, toothbrush, and paste, dry shampoo, brush, etc. But you bring what you need to feel clean and comfortable
  • Shower sandals: I see how yucky those floors get and how they get cleaned. Bring some $1 plastic flip flops from Old Navy
  • Loose PJ pants for night: So, I am totally a yoga pants kind of girl. I live in them. But in postpartum, you’re actually going to want to bring some loose pj’s or sweat pants for sleeping to accommodate your postpartum pad situation. Ones with a wide waist band are perfect
  • Robe/Nursing-friendly PJ shirt: something loose, something with easy access to the boob. Love this nursing friendly PJ set
  • Night nursing bras or camis: this will be a personal preference, but having some light support will keep you more comfortable when your milk comes in, even if you don’t typically sleep in a bra. Kindred Bravely’s is the BEST
  • Maternity leggings and nursing tanks for day: I personally felt more comfortable putting on more of “daytime” clothes, but you can also totally just hang out in PJs the whole time
  • Socks: My feet get freezing, extra fuzzy, grippy ones are a great choice
  • Your own pillow: Hospital pillows suck. Bring yours from home and thank me later
  • Breastfeeding pillow: Something like the Boppy or My Brest Friend pillow. These make nursing a lot easier, and learning with one from the start can make a WORLD of a difference
  • Breast pump: You probably won’t need to pump during your hospital stay, but it’s a good idea to bring it because the lactation consultant on staff can teach you how to use it if you ask!
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Packing a hospital bag for baby

I always pack pretty minimally for baby. The hospital will provide you with MOST of the essentials. In fact, I always say that you could literally show up with nothing for baby (or yourself for that matter) and you’d actually be totally fine.

The hospital will have diapers, wipes, baby care stuff, free samples, etc. so don’t go crazy here. Here’s what I recommend packing:

  • Cute swaddles: It’s nice to have a few of your own for picture purposes instead of the generic hospital swaddles
  • Nail clippers: Sometimes babies come out with sharp little nails that already need clipping. I’m picky and like to have easy to use ones, but the hospital can probably give you some basic ones if you forget/don’t bring any
  • Pacifiers: It’s generally not recommended to use pacis in the beginning, especially if you plan to breastfeed, but I like to bring some JUST IN CASE
  • Hand mittens: These little ones often scratch their own faces in the early days and weeks. Hand mittens can help with this
  • Going home outfit: YAY! so fun to pick this out ahead of time. I like to bring a few choices, one in newborn size, one in 0-3 month, and for different temperatures. This way you can pick what’s just right! You can also go the personalized route!
  • Aquaphor baby: Bonus tip! Put this on baby’s booty right from the start, it makes it SO MUCH EASIER to wipe off the sticky newborn poop (meconium)

Hospital bag for Partner

Haha, this one feels the easiest for sure. And honestly, your partner can probably handle their own bag. But I included it because there are some things they may not think of for the hospital stay.

  • Toiletries
  • Shower shoes
  • Chargers
  • Clothes/undies/socks
  • Comfy clothes/PJs
  • Snacks (I think putting these in dad’s bag makes sense, bars, trail mix, whatever you guys like)

What you don’t need on your hospital bag checklist

I remember making a HUGE list of items that I thought I needed during my stay, only to find out I didn’t really need the things I thought I did. So I felt like I wanted to include some of the leave at home items too!

  • Multiple outfits for baby: You’re only going to be there for 2 or 3 days max. Other than a going home outfit, I would not stress about bringing more than *maybe* one other cute outfit to put baby in, for a photo op. Honestly most hospitals provide long sleeve white onesies, so no worries, baby won’t be naked! 🙂
  • Underwear: WHAT?! DON’T BRING UNDERWEAR? NOPE. Whether you have a vaginal delivery or a C-section, you’re going to be bleeding a TON after you give birth. Hospitals provide really fancy, super stretchy mesh underwear for this reason. Things are going to get messy…so leave your own underwear at home and take advantage of the disposable ones they provide you. ALTHOUGH, these lovely postpartum panties are a godsend to have once you return home
  • Hairdryer: Nope, don’t need this. Trust me, you aren’t going to care about your wet hair
  • Baby book: You’re not going to have the time or energy to write in this thing. Leave it at home. I do REALLY love this one though for when you get home!
  • Diapers and wipes: The hospital provides all diapers and wipes for baby, so you do not need to worry about bringing any of this stuff!

Ready to pack your hospital bag?

There you have it! Like I said earlier, I’m a minimalist. Don’t over-pack. It’s just more you have to UNPACK when you get home and have a baby to take care of.

One more tip: once it’s all packed up, put a notecard or post-it on top of the bag with any last-minute things that need to be added before go time. Things like chargers, your wallet or that favorite pair of maternity leggings you don’t want to be packed away for the next 3ish weeks ?

While we’re on the topic of labor, I have to ask – have you taken a childbirth class yet? It’s not too late and will make ALL the difference in your birth experience. Head here to learn about my online birth classes!

So, did you bring any (or all) of these items with you to the hospital? Tell me in the comments!

Happy Delivery Day! 🙂

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Liesel Teen, BSN-RN
Founder, Mommy Labor Nurse

Meet Liesel Teen

Hi there. I’m Liesel!

As a labor and delivery nurse, I’ve spent countless hours with women who felt anxious — even fearful — about giving birth. I want you to know it doesn’t have to be that way for you!

When you know what to expect and have the tools to navigate the experience, you’ll feel confident and in control.

I believe you deserve a better birth — no matter how you deliver.