Less is more when it is time to pack for your labor and delivery hospital stay. You will get varying advice and long lists from family, friends, and other sources, but the fewer items you pack, the less you will have to keep track of at the hospital. Pack only the essentials so you will have less to repack to go home after your baby is born.
Packing for Mom
If you need help downloading the printable packing list above, check out these helpful tips.
Remember that the hospital will supply you with toiletries, so unless you can't live without your favorite shampoo or shower gel, leave those items at home.
Don't wait until labor starts to get packing. At about 24 weeks, start to acquire your essential items so your packing will be complete by 36 weeks. Use zip lock bags to group items together, which will help you to find them easily at the hospital.
A Small Bag for Labor and Delivery
- A comb and a hair brush
- 2-3 hair ties and 2-3 fabric headbands to keep your hair tied back
- Hard candy, mints or lollipops to keep your mouth moist
- Lip balm to keep your lips moist
- A favorite pillow
- One or two pairs of long socks to keep your feet and legs warm (hospitals are cold!)
- A small bottle of oil or body lotion if you think you may want a back massage during labor
- A small CD player and some CDs, or an MP3 player with your favorite music to listen to during labor
- A book or a magazine if you prefer to read during labor
- Consider bringing your laptop, iPad or equivalent to read an e-book or do work during a long labor. If the hospital provides an Internet connection you can easily update your Facebook with photos of your new baby.
- A pad of paper and a pen to write notes
- Your glasses and case
- For your phone and camera:
- Cell phone charger
- Written phone list (as a back up to your contacts list on your phone) to call friends and family
- Your camera
- Camera charger
- Video camera
- Video camera charger
- Memory card for your digital camera
- Extra film and batteries if your camera is not digital
- Long distance calling card if you don't have a cell phone and have to use the hospital phone (which can be expensive)
- When you go into labor don't forget to grab the following (keep them in one place ahead of time)
- Insurance information
- Driver's license or other photo ID
- Written delivery plan
- Any other papers given to you by your doctor or requested by the hospital
- Your cell phone
A Larger Bag for After Delivery
These are items you will need in the hospital after delivery, or for going home:
- A comfortable pair of slippers
- One or two comfortable, loose, warm pajamas with long sleeves - you will be more comfortable and warmer than in the hospital supplied gowns
- A warm, long, comfortable bathrobe
- One or two additional pairs of socks
- 3-4 comfortable panties that can fit a sanitary pad (no thongs)
- Your favorite facial moisturizer
- Your favorite hand/body lotion (if you prefer this to the hospital supply)
- Shampoo and hair conditioner - travel size bottles will do
- Pack a going-home outfit for when you are discharged from the hospital. Don't forget that your uterus and belly will still be enlarged. Pack a comfortable outfit to fit about a 5 to 6 month pregnant belly, and is easy to put on and take off.
- Two nursing bras if you intend to breastfeed, or your larger, comfortable bras if you won't be breast feeding - remember that your breasts will be engorged with milk right after delivery
- A framed photo of your older children to place next to your hospital bed if you wish
- A small gift for each of your older children so they feel special in light of the new baby
- Pack a few healthy snacks; hospital food is not the tastiest. Remember, though, to check with your doctor and nurses that these foods are allowed on your prescribed diet. The following are good sources of nutrition and energy:
- Breakfast bars
- Cherrios® or other cereal
- Snack-size bags of almonds or edamame or your favorite nuts or seeds
- Protein shakes
Packing for Your Baby
Consider packing the baby's items in large zippered plastic bags (such as a sweater bag or two). Slip these in your own after-delivery suitcase so you have one less bag to carry, or leave the baby's bag at home and plan for someone to bring it in after delivery.
You will only need a few items to make sure your baby is comfortable on the ride home:
- A comfortable, special going-home outfit or two
- A sweater (consider what the weather will be when your baby is born)
- A hat suitable for the weather
- A pair of socks or soft booties
- A bib for drooling from the baby
- A soft cloth diaper or two to wipe the baby's drool
- A soft receiving blanket or two (one to wrap the baby in and one to put over the baby in the car seat)
- A snow suit to slip the baby in if it is cold wintery weather
A rear-facing car seat is essential. Most hospitals require confirmation of a properly installed car seat before allowing baby to leave for home. Practice installing the car seat in the car well before delivery date.
Packing for Dad
Dad should pack a few essentials of his own.
- A change of clothes including underwear and socks, if dad intends to stay overnight at the hospital
- Toiletries including:
- Toothbrush and toothpaste
- Body lotion
- Shaving supplies if desired
- Comb and brush
- A few healthy snacks so he doesn't have to leave during labor
- A small wallet with license/ID and a credit card
- Some cash and coins for vending machines, parking and sundries
- Cell phone and charger
- A second camera and accessories if you wish
- Your own phone contacts list
Dad should wear comfortable, unlaced shoes. These will be easier to take off and put on if you want to get comfortable in the room after delivery.
Things You Don't Have to Pack
The hospital supplies many items you might need. Leave things at home that are not absolutely necessary:
- Jewelry or large amounts of cash
- Your contact lenses
- Sanitary pads
- Diapers for the baby
- Baby wipes
- Night gowns (though your own pajamas will be more comfortable and warmer)
- Shower gel
- Lotions (unless you prefer your own)
- Wash cloths or towels
- Pillow, unless you prefer your own to hold for comfort during contractions
- Slippers for labor and delivery; the hospital supplies booties if you need to walk
- Your medications, unless instructed to do so by your doctor or the hospital
- A breast pump; the hospital will supply one if you need it during your stay.
Prepare Ahead of Your Due Date
Plan ahead so you can have your bags packed and ready to go by 36 weeks, or sooner if there is a chance of a preterm birth. Don't scramble at the last minute to try to gather the things you need. Be prepared to grab your bags and go when your labor starts, or if your water breaks early.