- one bag for you – Pack your own bag so you know exactly what is there and where to find what you need. This was helpful when I explained where to find items I needed during labor such as a hair tie.
- one bag for significant other (husband, partner, boyfriend, friend, sibling, parent, neighbor). I asked my husband to pack his own bag as he could choose his own clothes and toiletries. I did give him a list of recommendations
- a small bag for baby (I placed a small baby’s bag inside my personal bag)
When: You should pack a hospital back a month or two before your due date, just in case you deliver early. I erred on the side of caution and packed while seven months pregnant. This was mostly out of excitement and trying to check as many things off my to-do list as possible!
Where: Near the front door or another easy to find place! Some people recommend keeping the bag already in the car. We live in Arizona, and keeping anything in the car is asking for your toiletries and makeup to melt.
I placed the bags under our entry way bench. My bright blue bag was hard to miss but I showed my husband where it was (twice) just to be sure.
Why: You don’t need to pack a hospital bag if you don’t want to, don’t have time to, or are a minimalist and therefore don’t have any clothes or accessories to spare. However; if you are reading this list, this small subsect likely doesn’t include you. The hospital will provide all critical items, but packing some personal items may make the experience more comfortable.
Everyone needs a carseat for the baby. This is non-negotiable and hospitals require this to discharge the baby. We had an infant carseat and brought the seat to the room. The nurse checked that the baby was strapped in appropriately and then followed us to the car to ensure that it clicked into the base appropriately.
Packing list for you:
Frugal/Minimalist – For those that treasure simplicity
- Insurance card – Must have though many hospitals offer a pre-registration to take care of paperwork before you arrive. You will still need ID to link you to your registration.
- Feel free to show up in your maternity clothes, wear the hospital gown for your stay, and go home in the clothes you arrived in. Even if you get caught off guard and end up in hospital unprepared, you could be fine as long as your clothes made it relatively clean! My stay in the hospital was 24 hours and most of it was spent in the hospital gowns anyway, so my own clothes didn’t get messy.
- You may want a hairbrush and a hair tie, but feel free to pull you hair back into a braid when you arrive and it should survive enough to get you through. Who needs makeup and accessories for the hospital?!
- Phone and charger – Most people have their phones with them throughout the day, so this shouldn’t be too much of a hassle, but you may want to throw a charger into your car in case you need to let family, friends, or work updated in case of emergency. Or embrace your minimalism and use whatever battery power you have. You can always call everyone once home and have to hospital reach out to your emergency contact as needed.
Casual – for the balanced mama, pack the necessities alongside some extras to keep you comfortable
- information packet – Folder with hospital pre-registration forms, insurance card, birth plan (if applicable), and any handouts from pre-delivery classes you found helpful
- change of clothes – pick loose clothes (cotton dress, sweats, etc.) If you will be breastfeeding pick shirts that you can unbutton easily or pull down to feed baby. In the event of a planned or emergency c-section you will not want clothes to be snug around your stomach. In general, your body will be exhausted and still larger than expected, so place comfort over fashion.
- Hygeine and makeup – I packed extra makeup so I wouldn’t have to toss my favorite items into the bag at last minute. Although I never applied any in the hospital, it was nice to know it was there. The brush and hair ties were invaluable for helping me feel less of a mess throughout! Remember basics like deodorant and dry shampoo. I packed some travel toiletries but ended up using the hospital shampoo and towels for convenience. For ladyparts hygiene – hospital will provide all necessary items (and ask for more extra pads to go home)
- phone, camera, and charger
- consider packing a breastpump (leave in car until needed) in the event you need help stimulating production if you plan to breastfeed
- boppy pillow – Leave in car until after giving birth. Will be helpful for breastfeeding in the hospital.
Queen – For those intended to claim this as your day! Make it glamorous and photo shoot ready with all the extra luxuries to keep you pampered.
- info packet with detailed birth plan to do it your way!
- pack a couple comfortable yet stylish outfits in separate bags to keep you accessories organized with each look.
- makeup – Pack you makeup in a foldout makeup box for easy access and setup on your hospital table to glam up before pictures of you and your little sweetie! Don’t forget your makeup mirror as well.
- phone with extra battery pack, charger, or a full SLR camera for best picture quality
- for creature comforts pack some pictures to make the room cozy, plush towel and your own body wash for the shower, and some nightgowns. Be sure the nighties open in the front if you plan on breastfeeding.
- hair styling tools – toss your curling iron or straighter in the bottom of the bag for your first pics
Packing list for him:
- Be sure to pack sweats! My husband froze the first night in the hospital as the chair-turned-bed only came with a thin sheet. Keep in mind this was during the summer in Phoenix!
- hygiene bag with razor, deodorant, etc
- change of clothes and PJs
- camera with charger
- any necessary medications. Include aspirin or another pain reliever as the hospital won’t dispense any medications to guests (non-patients)
Packing list for baby/babies:
- going home outfit – take into account your location, season, and weather variables. Also keep in mind that the baby with have an umbilical stump, so loose outfits or two piece outfits will be easier to manage than the seemingly simple onsie.
- swaddle blanket for photos
- hospital with provide diapers, wipes, and swaddle cloths for in hospital use