What to Pack in Your Hospital Bag for Labor
By: Jordan Stachel, RDN
Medically Reviewed By: Cara Everett, MS, RDN, LDN
Published: December 8th, 2023
Estimated Reading Time: 10-15 minutes
Packing your hospital bag is exciting—it marks the home stretch before you get to meet your new little one. You may be wondering what to bring with you and what to leave at home. Read this article for everything you need to know.
When Should You Pack Your Labor Bag?
Many women wonder when they should start organizing their hospital bag. While there is some flexibility as to when you should get the hospital bag ready, it’s a good idea to think about your individual needs. For example, if you have a higher-risk pregnancy and/or risk factors for preterm labor, having a bag packed sooner is a good idea. (1)
Generally, it is a good idea to begin packing your hospital bag around 35-38 weeks in advance. Many women wonder if it’s fine to wait until the last week of pregnancy. While this is a personal decision, getting your bag packed a few weeks prior can give you one less thing to worry about.
The end of pregnancy is sometimes unpredictable, and packing a bag beforehand is one area that you have control over.
What to Pack in Mom’s Hospital Bag
While there are many things to consider packing in a mom’s hospital bag, these are the items that many deem essential:
- Form of ID: A photo ID, insurance forms, or other administrative paperwork
- Eyeglasses: Both glasses and/or contacts for several days
- Cell phone charger: With a USB converter, just in case. (We recommend bringing an extra-long phone cord since your outlet might be far from your bed.)
- Comfortable, loose clothing: Two or three outfits (including non-skid socks) that are easy to wear and to change into
- Bras: Nursing, sports, or other bras of choice
- Toiletries: Toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, lip balm, hairbrush
You want to be prepared to stay a day or two if you need to, so don’t hesitate to bring other necessities. A quick tip: ask your hospital what they provide for mothers, and you may find things that you can take off your list.
Also, consider bringing some snacks with you. Labor can be an intense process, and you may feel the need to boost your energy. If you’re planning on breastfeeding, check out our guide to lactation nutrition for tips on which foods are best for your body during and after delivery.
What to Pack in Baby’s Hospital Bag
Once you’ve packed your things, think about what your newborn will need. Some important items include:
- A going-home outfit
- Outfits to sleep in
- Bottles and/or a breast pump: Some hospitals may provide these items, but check ahead of time so you know if you should bring your own.
- A rear-facing car seat: While this is not technically “in the bag,” try to install your baby’s car seat before your due date.
When your baby’s car seat has been installed, you should have it properly inspected by a certified technician. Learn more about getting your infant car seat inspected and how to select the right car seat for you with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s guide to child car seats.
What to Pack in Your Partner’s Hospital Bag
While most of the focus during childbirth is on the mother and baby, it’s important for partners to also be prepared. Things spouses or partners should include in their hospital bag include:
- Extra money: If you need to pay for parking or grab a quick snack from a vending machine, having some extra cash and/or change on hand can be helpful.
- Extra phone charger
- Camera or recording device
- Change of clothes
- Snacks and drinks that you and your partner enjoy
- Book or magazine
- Speaker for playing relaxing music
- Extra glasses or contacts
- Your own pillow and blanket
What Not to Include in Your Hospital Bag
Once you have a handle on what to include in your, your baby’s, and your partner’s hospital bags, it can also be helpful to understand what not to bring with you. Try to leave these items at home:
- Expensive jewelry
- Too many changes of clothes
- A stash of diapers (the hospital will provide diapers)
You can also bring an extra bag for any hospital freebies of extra diapers, wipes, and other supplies to take home with you.
The Bottom Line
Overall, packing a hospital bag for yourself and your family is an exciting step towards meeting your new baby. If you are unsure where to begin, consult your local OB/GYN office.
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About the Author
Jordan is an RDN who holds a Master’s degree in Dietetics from The University of Southern California. She has many years of experience helping clients reach their health goals through her clinical work within private practice. It can be difficult for individuals to discern nutrition information that is both credible and relevant from misinformation and conflicting guidance.
As an expert in the field, Jordan finds great fulfillment in filling this gap by providing detailed clarification and explanation and leading the discussion surrounding nutrition and wellness. Jordan looks forward to continuing to help others achieve the most optimal version of themselves and improve their longevity as well as to be a dependable source and voice within the field of nutrition and dietetics.
- What are the risk factors for preterm labor and birth? National Institutes of Health. https://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/preterm/conditioninfo/who_risk Updated May 9, 2023. Accessed October 15, 2023.