Preparing for Baby's Arrival: A Hospital Bag Checklist
To feel more prepared and calm, pack your hospital bag well before your due date - ideally, between weeks 32 and 35. While you may have the chance to pack it during the early stages of labor or right before going to the hospital, sometimes it may not be possible. Having a packed bag waiting by the door is a great peace of mind. Don't forget to take the hospital bag with you when you're traveling further from home. To make sure you don't forget anything, make also a list of items that you use daily and cannot be packed in advance, or consider buying duplicates.
It's good idea to pack three separate bags - one for yourself, one for the baby, and one for the partner’s essentials.
Since childbirth is a process that demands your full attention, you don't want to waste time searching for items. On average, you'll spend 2-3 days in the hospital, so pack items that you'll need for approximately that time period.
When packing a hospital bag, consider including the following items:
- Pregnancy card and any necessary hospital paperwork.
Also birth plan if you have made one.
- Maternity pads or heavy-duty sanitary pads
Larger pads for postpartum bleeding and a pack of thinner pads for lighter days. These will be provided in the hospital but having your own supply is more convenient and eliminates the need to ask more or rely on others.
- Underwear / disposable (mesh) underpants
Immediately after delivery, disposable underwear is very comfortable and hygienic. They hold everything in place and can be discarded after use.
Choose comfortable, cotton, stretchy underpants that are larger than your normal size to accommodate larger postpartum pads.
Shampoo, conditioner and shower gel
Pack travel-sized or smaller bottles instead of large ones.
- Toothbrush and toothpaste
- Face, hand, and/or body cream, belly mousse (items you use daily)
Moisturizing body cream or oil can also be used for massage during delivery if the mother wants to relieve pain with a lower back massage. Perineum massage oil can also be used as a regular massage oil.
With increased frequency of washing hands while caring for the baby, a moisturizing hand cream may also be needed.
- Hairbrush or comb
Scrunchie or headband
- Hygienic lip balm or lip moisturizer
It's common for women to experience dry and chapped lips during labor due to the intense breathing and dehydration that can occur.
- Comfortable loose-fitting clothes for the hospital
T-shirts, tunics or tops, leggings or pants, sweats, dress etc, morning robe, nightgown, postpartum nursing clothes or nursing-friendly clothes.
- While the birth center will provide a nightgown, morning robe and towels, it is still more comfortable to use your own items.
If you are planning to give birth in the water, think about whether you want to be naked or prefer to be more covered (you can wear supportive bra or sports bra, swimsuit, bikini etc).
- Slippers (should be easy cleaning)
- Soft bath towel (preferably not white)
- Breastfeeding bras or tops
- Nursing pads
It is good to use disposable or reusable breast pads that catch dripping milk.
At first, the nipples may become sensitive and painful as they are not used to breastfeeding.
Breast pump (optional)
Postpartum recovery spray
Reduces pain due to its cooling and healing ingredients.
Hydrating face spray or mist
This can be refreshing and help you feel more awake and alert during the process. It can also be soothing and help you feel more comfortable.
Drinking bottle (preferably with a straw)
A water bottle with a straw may be more convenient to drink from without needing to tilt the bottle, which can be helpful if you are lying down or in a position where it is difficult to reach for a bottle. It may also be more convenient for your birth partner or labor support person to hold and offer you sips of water.
- Snacks and drinks
Something that gives you energy - water, juice, smoothie, yogurt, nut mix, raisins, glucose drops, cookies, fruits, muesli bars etc.
- A few packs of tissues for those tender moments or muslin cloths
- Outfit for going home
- A cell phone and a charger
- According to personal preference, items to create a comfortable and relaxing atmosphere during labor such as a music playlist, headphones, speakers, aromatherapy diffuser/scented oils, battery-operated candles (open flames are not allowed in hospitals)
- Something to keep you entertained - a book, magazine, crossword etc.
If you're being induced, it may take more time.
- Pen and notebook to write down your thoughts and questions for the midwife or doctor
- Any necessary medications, glasses and/or contact lenses that you normally use.
- Makeup items if desired
- If you know you can't sleep without your own pillow, no one is stopping you from bringing your own pillow or nursing pillow.
- Pre-Breastfeeding Kit if you have expressed colostrum before birth.
Diapers are also provided by the hospital but you should have your own in case you need more
Depending on how you feel, you may not have the strength to wash the baby under running water after giving birth.
Clothes during the hospital stay (optional)
The hospital also provides baby clothes for use on site, but you can also dress the baby in clothes you have brought with you.
Clothes for going home
For example, wrapped body and pants or bodysuit, socks, a hat, cotton gloves, outdoor clothing depending on the weather; two sets of different sizes, such as 50 and 56.
- Nail clippers
Newborn babies often have long, sharp fingernails that can accidentally scratch their face or other sensitive areas
- Muslin cloths for breastfeeding
- Car seat
- Baby blanket or warm bag for car seat
- Comfortable clothes
- A change of shoes
- Personal hygiene items
- Food and drink
- A cell phone and charger
- Other devices and entertainment if desired (laptop, video and photo camera, chargers, memory card, headphones, books, magazines etc)
Remember, every person's needs and preferences are different, so feel free to customize this list to fit your individual needs. We have put together this checklist on the principle that it is better to have everything necessary than to be missing something.
It's also a good idea to check with your healthcare provider or the hospital where you plan to give birth to find out what items they provide and what items you should bring with you.
Download full hospital bag checklist here.
Wishing you a peaceful and empowering birthing experience and a lifetime of joy with your new little one!