24 Things You ACTUALLY NEED in Your Hospital Bag (+ a free printable checklist)

Printable Hospital Bag Checklist for Mom to Be: what to pack for labor and delivery

Despite my husband’s repeated requesting (almost every day for two weeks) that I pack the hospital bag for labor, we still needed to race home – in the two hours the hospital allowed us – to throw some stuff in a bag. (Sure, I’d spent plenty of time googling “pregnancy hospital bag checklist” and “what to pack in hospital bag” – don’t we all?!)

But I just hadn’t bothered to actually PACK the bag.

Don’t tell him (husband) I’m saying this, but he was right, and I should have packed the hospital bag at 8.5 months pregnant.

I don’t REALLY  know why I didn’t get around to packing the bag before I went into labor, except I’ve always been a last-minute sorta girl, and that’s just that.

Perhaps it’s actually because I was avoiding the reality of labor (I had a lot of fear surrounding the pain of childbirth and the whole “ring of fire” thing), or maybe I just had other things on my pre-baby to-do list (third-trimester checklist) that seemed more important. Those both seem like valid reasons.

It’s actually not any fun to be in labor and asking yourself “What do I need for my labor hospital bag?” (Because really, you can’t answer that, having never been in labor before, and totally unable to concentrate on anything at all.)

So I just ran around grabbing stuff.

Any stuff, really.

Things that seemed like they might be useful while you’re trying to get a baby out of your body, and things that I had heard I might need. This is a bad bad way to do this, and having a labor bag packing list on hand is probably wise.

I ended up having to call my mom and ask her to please come meet the baby, but first, stop at my house and pick me up about 9 things.

Related: Should You Bother Taking a Prenatal Class?



Is it just me, or is there an abundance of “fluffy” pregnancy hospital bag checklist articles out there?

I am a sort of basic kinda girl… I did not want to pack the “extra stuff” in my hospital bag – music to labor to, or nursing nighties. (Like, we know we’re not moving into the hospital, right?)

I can’t decide if authors of these labor and delivery bag checklists legit DO take that much stuff with them to the hospital, or if they’re just trying to come up with more stuff to write. Or maybe they add the fluffy stuff to make the birth experience seem more exciting and less… terrifying and messy. I dunno.

Here’s what I ended up using at the hospital.

No fluff.

(And remember that the hospital has most of the stuff you need for the baby, and even a lot of things for YOU – I took a bunch of giant underwear along and didn’t wear a single pair. Those huge mesh hospital undies are awesome. I WILL buy extra of those next time.)

So there I was, at the hospital with a bunch of unused underwear and a husband who hasn’t eaten anything in 24 hours.

We ended up spending FIVE days in the hospital, and inevitably, I like I said, I had to call my mom with a list of things I actually needed ASAP – because I had packed a lot of absolutely useless stuff.

Here’s the most important stuff to pack in your hospital bag for labor, the realistic stuff you ACTUALLY WILL WANT:

Related: Check out this ultimate pregnancy and baby planner!  

Related: How to get Over 500$ Worth of FREE Stuff for Baby

“While I’m in labor” stuff (put these on the top of your hospital bag packing list!)

Seriously – throw these things in a small bag on TOP of everything else, or in a side pocket so they’re quickly accessible once the real fun starts.

1) Lip balm

Because all that panting dries out your lips and it’s so uncomfortable.

Don’t be like me and realize the lip balm is in the car. Seriously. You NEED the lip balm. Labor is hard work and your lips will crack and bleed without it. (An amazing nurse found me some Vaseline once I started begging for lip balm.)

2) Hair ties

If your hair is long, it’ll be in your face, driving you nuts, stuck to the back of your neck with sweat – you know how hair gets. And if your hair in your face irritates you on a good day, it’ll drive you nuts in labor.

3) Socks

Perhaps socks that you could throw away. I definitely did throw away one pair of socks…

4) BIG water bottle with a straw (this one would be ideal).

(We didn’t have this and my husband made probably 15 trips to the sink with the tiny cup they gave us. It’s an essential om my hospital bag checklist for mom for next time, and you’ll want it after you deliver as well.)

5) Snacks

For both mom and dad, you’ll want to pack healthy snacks in your labor bag. I personally didn’t want to eat while in labor, at any point with either child, but many women do! Dad will likely DEFINITELY want to eat. It’s better to have the snacks packed and not eat them than to not have them and wish you did!

We also discovered that after baby was born no one really cared to feed dad. They brought me some toast, but there was nothing for him and he had to go out and get food.


“After it’s over” stuff – A Realistic Hospital Bag Checklist

Remember – the hospital likely provides underwear, pads, a peri bottle, over the counter pain killers, stool softeners and all that sorta medically necessary stuff. (You can always check beforehand if you’re worried they won’t have this stuff.)   

They also generally provide diapers, wipes, bum cream and all manner of baby things. (If you want to be 100% sure you won’t be without those things, again, ask first. But really, you probably don’t need to pack these. You do want to have them ready at home, to avoid a stop at the store when you get out of the hospital.)

What you DO need to pack in your baby-time-go-bag:

7) DARK, comfortable pants. 2 or 3 pairs

One extra pair of pants is really not enough. Please take at least 2 extra pairs of pants.

8) DARK, comfortable (preferably front opening) shirts.

Again 2 or 3 is enough, one is not enough – postpartum is a messy time all over. There’s milk and tears and spit up and blood. Take extra shirts.

9) DARK, warm socks. 4 pairs. (Possibly socks that you could throw away.)

(Note the trend. Do not take white things to wear after delivering a baby. If you’re confused as to why – read this: 8 things that totally shocked me about postpartum recovery.)

10) Sleep nursing bra, like this one.

(Remember the point here is comfort, not support.)

11) A pack of these undies.

YES, you need these. The hospital does provide them, but they can be chincy (is that a word?) with how many they’ll give you. I wanted extra!

12) A Robe

For if it’s cold AND for covering up quickly. This is one thing I didn’t have that I will take next time.

If you get something super comfy like this, you’ll probably find you sleep in it at home too – for those first few busy nursing months. (Update, I did get this one for my second, and I did live in it.)

13) Your own pillow

If you’re picky about your pillow, which I am. After baby comes, you’ll want to be comfortable.

14) Phone & charger

I mean, this is essential these days, of course.

15) Camera

Unless you will just use your phone – but those first precious pictures are SO important!

16) Basic toiletries

Just a toothbrush / toothpaste / shampoo / moisturizer / deodorant. You know, the things that will make you feel clean and human during your hospital stay!

17) This spray

GREAT for your “downstairs” after delivery – I didn’t get mine ordered in time – but it’s been HIGHLY recommended to me! (The same company makes this cream, which I have just started using on the squishy baby… and I LOVE it.)

I had some of this spray left over and I also found it was great for my daughter’s diaper rash. Very soothing!

18) Breast pads

JUST in case you’re still in the hospital when your milk comes in. (Grab 10 FREE pairs of reusable breast pads here with the coupon code mommyonpurpose50)

These next things are definitely optional, but you’re probably going to have your first family picture a few hours after delivery, and you will probably look like you are dying without these things:

19) Hairdryer and hairspray

Unless you have wash and wear hair. (I have wash and scare hair. Very different.)

20) Concealer, mascara, blush

I did not regret taking these things one bit. I DID use them – and I don’t look like I’m dying in the first photos we have as a family.

And since you’re not the only one there:

21) Change of clothes for dad.

Or at least underwear and a shirt – my poor husband wore the same underwear and t-shirt for three days until we finally thought to ask my mom to bring him a clean set. We had never considered that we’d end up staying at the hospital so long! lol.

22) Pillow & blanket dad

You can leave this in the car until later, but trust me, if you have to spend the night at the hospital, he’ll be glad to have these.

23) Book or magazine for dad

There will be A LOT of sitting around for dad.

Maybe you want one too, but I didn’t. I had sleeping / hanging out with my baby to do.

24) Nursing Pillow

Grab a FREE nursing pillow here with the coupon code mommyonpurpose50.

Baby Hospital Bag Checklist:

Remember, baby REALLY doesn’t need you to take a bunch of things to the hospital, I promise. The hospital has almost everything you’ll need. Really! But you SHOULD definitely take these things:

♥ Sleeper / coming home outfit for babe.

♥ Blanket for babe. (These are the nicest ones I’ve ever found!)

♥ Car seat, installed. (Grab a FREE car seat canopy here with the coupon code mommyonpurpose50. I have one of these and I love it!)

Related: 20 Awesome Baby Hacks for New Parents

Grab this free printable hospital bag checklist for mom here!

free printable hospital bag checklist for labor

You can PRINT this hospital bag checklist by clicking here to open the PDF. (No email required!)

Your hospital bag for labor doesn’t have to be a big deal.

Don’t overstress about the checklist for hospital bag too much, and don’t hugely overpack. Even in five days, we hardly used half the things we brought. The pillows, the clean clothes, the toiletries, the snacks, and the phone and charger were the things we would have truly missed.

(And the lip balm. You really will want that.)

Bonus step: take the time to check out the best apps for new moms, and make a mental note of which ones you’ll want to start using right away after giving birth!

What essentials would you add to this realistic pregnancy hospital bag checklist? Are labor music and nursing nighties high priority for you?

Am I missing out by not having the “fluffy” stuff on my hospital bag checklist?

hospital bag checklist


woman packing for labor using a hospital bag checklist

hospital bag checklist pin

21 thoughts on “24 Things You ACTUALLY NEED in Your Hospital Bag (+ a free printable checklist)”

  1. First time I was in labor a small fan would have been helpful. Instead my husband had to blow on my face the whole time. Lol

    • Great tip! I don’t remember feeling hot but I definitely remember sweating, so it’s entirely possible that I was hot lol.

  2. You are so right! Four time mommy here and my bag looked pretty much like yours (minus the hair dryer, I’m a ponytail girl). Clothes for after delivery (comfortable and disposable, but something I wouldn’t mind being photographed in. I’d buy a set or two of inexpensive but cute pajamas). My favorite body wash and shampoo (that first shower after delivery is AMAZING, and having your own supplies helps you feel more like yourself after the emotional rollercoaster of labor and delivery). And definitely chopstick. And mints. Hospital air and controlled breathing means dry mouth and lips. Grippy socks for walking the halls (but don’t be upset at having to throw them away. I dripped all kinds of bodily fluids on the floor ?). Take advantage of all the things the hospital will provide and save your own stuff for when you get home. Did I mention all the bodily fluids? Ha!

    • HAHA yes the bodily fluids! Nothing clean and tidy about delivering a baby 😉 lol

    • Mints yes. Especially for hubby. I remember taking time out of breathing to tell my husband point blank he needed a mint.

  3. I was totally dying for lip balm too! Finally a nurse found me Vaseline. I don’t think they let me drink water though because I was a c-section. Thanks for posting a realistic list!!

    • Hi Kelsie! Yes! Lip balm, right? So important! lol

  4. This is a good list and awesome advice i Remember the first time I over carried stuff.

    At least this time I will carry the basics
    Thanks for this list and the printable comes just in handy when I need to.

    • HI Frida!! SO glad you like the printable 🙂 Congrats on upcoming babe!!

  5. Thank you for this. I am a soon to be new mom and I just want to know what will be used and what won’t be while I’m in the hospital. I don’t really want to carry extra stuff if I don’t have to.

    • Congrats on the upcoming babe Ashley!! I felt the same way!!

  6. Thank you so much for this! I was feeling that a lot of the lists had affiliate links too and I’m definitely not trying to over-pack like my sister did! Haha her poor husband had to lug those bags from room to room because she moved rooms twice! We also ended up having to do a Target run to get her items that she didn’t pack, but she had PLENTY of outfits for the baby! 🙂

    • Hey Caroline! LOL yes, we do tend to over pack for babe in our excitement. We didn’t even use most of the stuff we took for him 😛

  7. I wanted a small pair of scissors or nail clippers to trim down (not remove) the darn ankle and wristbands. They were too long and kept poking the baby in the eye or back of the neck while trying to feed the baby. That would have been so helpful.

  8. I’ve never taken a robe and I always see it on people’s lists. I guess it could be nice, but I’m a “less is more” when it comes to clothing (I can’t layer or I go insane). Also wear my own clothes at the hospital?? Let someone else do my laundry + the gowns make for easier nursing access than a shirt. I don’t have disposable clothing and I hate wearing pants until I’m forced to leave the hospital. A giant pad +ice packs don’t fit in even my biggest maternity pants.
    I wouldn’t add anything, and this was much more realistic than other lists I have seen.
    I’ve never been allowed to drink while in labor, so a cup and snacks for dad are on the list, but once I deliver I get a 32 oz mug, so I don’t bring one for myself.

  9. I love your post but all the amazon links didn’t work! I’m SUPER interested if you get the chance to update 🙂

  10. I ended up needing music during labor, but it was to distract me from the pain of contractions and I was trying to avoid an epidural at all costs… I am very allergic to adhesives, so anything stuck to my skin, I try to avoid. Also I was progressing so fast, by the time I would have even wanted the epidural, I was ready to push. I would say music definitely isn’t a must bring for most, and I just played it off my phone, no extra speaker, but it definitely helped me, and my nurses loved listening to the different songs that played (mostly musicals, country, and some rock music)


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