In Motherhood, Pregnancy on
October 25, 2017

Hospital Bag Essentials (And What NOT To Pack!)

How to Pack your Hospital Bag: Hospital Bag Essentials (And What NOT To Pack!)

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Well I’m officially 35 weeks pregnant and after what happened last weekend, I’m making sure that I have every last thing ready in case baby boy makes an early arrival.  With my first pregnancy, I was supposed to be induced at 39 weeks and we were so naive that we really didn’t plan for any other scenario.  Of course, nothing ever goes according to plan and Mason came on his own at 37 weeks and I didn’t have any of our hospital bags packed!  Trying to get everything packed and get to the hospital was so stressful so I made sure that this time around I’d be prepared!  As new parents, expecting things to go according to plan wasn’t the only thing we were naive about… I packed so many totally unnecessary items and left out some major hospital essentials.  So lucky for you, I took one for the team and learned the hard way so I can share all of the hospital bag essentials, including what NOT to pack!

I want this post to be as helpful as possible so on top of rounding up all of my must-have hospital bag items, I reached out to some seasoned professionals to ask them what not to pack as well as any major tips they have.  Read through everything I’m packing and details on why then hear from some veteran moms at the bottom of the post!

For mom:

Your bag // I’m actually still debating between using my Ju-Ju-Be backpack and my Land’s End diaper bag.  Personally, I don’t like using a duffel bag because I find it harder to stay organized, even though there is a little bit more space. What bag you use is totally up to your personal preference! 

Wallet // You’ll need your driver’s license or photo ID as well as your insurance card

Toiletries // face wash, moisturizer, shampoo & conditioner, soap, body lotion, deodorant, toothbrush, toothpaste & floss

Skincare // really only your face wash and moisturizer is 100%  necessary but I’m a total skincare junkie and hospitals always dry out my skin so I’m bringing a few extras! I’m packing my cold cream cleanserface wash, toner, daily moisturizer, serum and night cream.  I know it seems like a lot… it is… and it’s 100% optional if you’re not a skincare junkie like me but taking care of my skin just makes me feel a lot better!  I’m also bringing a travel size facial spray to help keep my skin hydrated from the dry hospital air.  I did manage to find a travel size for just about all of these products which makes it easier to pack (not necessary but a total space saver!).

Chapstick // again, protect yourself from the dry hospital air!  My favorite is Burt’s Bees vanilla

Makeup Bag // totally optional but I’m bringing a couple staples so I can feel like a real person.  My essentials include this CC cream, concealer, bronzer, blush, brow pencil and mascara.  

Your own towel // another thing that isn’t totally necessary but hospital towels are notoriously awful and the first shower after giving birth is a glorious thing that shouldn’t be ruined by a horrible towel haha. I’m just bringing my own towel and wash cloth for comfort.  

Hair stuff // hair ties, hair brush, dry shampoo.  Hair dryers are a personal preference.. you most likely will NOT feel like blow drying your hair after giving birth but it’s totally up to you (I’m not bringing one).  If you do have high hopes of doing your hair, check with your hospital–some hospitals do have hairdryers while others don’t.

Flip flops & slippers // flip flops for the shower and slippers (optional) for walking around your hospital room

Socks // two pairs of cozy socks.  I relied on the hospital socks last time around which get the job done but weren’t very comfortable.  I grabbed a few pairs from Target, specifically these and these (which are currently BOGO 50% off)- super affordable and SO cozy!

Nursing pajamas, bra & clothing // This was my #1 mistake last time.  I brought a nursing bra but didn’t have any nursing friendly tops or pajamas.  I’m bringing two pairs of nursing pajamas, one nursing bra, a nursing tank, and comfy sweats (maternity–bring something that you fit into around 6/7 months pregnant)

Going home outfit // nursing tank, leggings and a cozy cardigan

Postpartum underwear // I’m only bringing a pair or two because honestly I will wear the super sexy hospital provided mesh underwear the majority of the time 😛  we’re all friends here so I’ll be totally transparent with you (especially if this is your first baby)– comfort is key and those mesh underwear are freaking comfortable.  Also, childbirth (and postpartum) are messy.  Don’t bring a nice fancy pair of undies because chances are you’ll bleed on them anyways.  I’m only bringing my own pair for the way home.  I found these and they are AMAZING for both pregnancy and postpartum.

Nursing essentials // Nipple balm, nursing pads, nursing pillow… If you’re nursing, you’ll want nipple balm.  The hospital typically provides a little trial size of lanolin but I’m bringing my own just to be on the safe side.  I also did not bring nursing pads last time and totally regretted it.  Even though your milk won’t fully be in yet, chances are you’ll still get a little leaky.  The nursing pillow is totally personal preference.  I know a lot of moms that would recommend leaving it at home and just using a normal pillow but personally, my Boppy was a lifesaver, especially since I had never nursed a baby before!  It just helped me find the right position and nurse comfortably.  I’m also planning to use my Boppy to help big brother with holding the new baby.  

Robe // Don’t buy a pretty “hospital delivery robe” and expect to actually wear it during delivery because it will get ruined.  Instead, bring it along for postpartum.  It’s easy to throw on to stay warm and also offers easy access for nursing.  This is the robe I’m packing in my bag.

Phone charger + extension cord // The outlets are far away from everything in your hospital room so the extension cord will be incredibly helpful so you can keep your phone close by.

Sibling gift // If you have an older sibling at home, consider buying them a gift “from” the new baby.  Mason is only 2.5 so he’s going to be extremely excited to find out that his baby brother brought him a cool new toy.  It doesn’t have to be anything fancy but just something to give your older child some attention.  

For baby:

Clothing & going home outfit // It’s really tempting to over-pack for the baby but mostly, they’ll stay in swaddled up the whole time.  I’m bringing one outfit for a few photos (onesie, pants, hat) and an outfit to go home in (sleeper, hat, mittens).  He’ll mostly stay in the swaddles that the hospital provides but I’m also bringing one of these swaddle blankets from home for a few photos.  

Car seat // not actually in my bag but probably the most important thing to bring!  You’ll want to have this already installed and ready to go.

For dad:

Change of clothes x2




Tylenol/Advil // this seems silly but my husband had the worst headache in the hospital last time and of course, since he wasn’t a patient, the nurses weren’t able to give him anything so we’ll be sure to bring a little travel size of either Tylenol or Advil this time

Pillow/blanket (optional)

Towel (optional)

For sibling:

Mason will obviously not be staying at the hospital with us but I made sure to have an overnight bag packed for him as well since he’ll be with family members during our hospital stay.  

Change of clothes // I packed him 3 or 4 outfits because he’s a toddler and toddlers are messy

Diapers & wipes // rather than packing a bunch of loose diapers in his bag I just grabbed a separate unopened pack to send with him

Socks & shoes

Toothbrush & toothpaste


iPad/Laptop // for movies if you have a long labor.  We didn’t bring this last time and don’t plan to this time either but it’s totally up to you!

Camera // don’t forget your memory card, battery & charger

Nurses gift // we didn’t do this last time and I’m not sure if we will this time but it’s definitely a nice gesture because the L&D nurses are freaking saints!

Cash // for vending machines as well as meals for your husband/significant other.  You may want to check with your hospital about this but both the hospital I delivered at with Mason and the one I’m delivering at this time around only accept cash for meals for your partner!  We didn’t know this last time and my husband was stuck a few times running down to the lobby to use the ATM before they would give us his food!  Luckily, this time around there are plenty of options for food delivery nearby so we most likely won’t be ordering meals at the hospital but it’s good to be prepared just in case.

Baby nail clippers // babies have pretty long nails when they’re born.  I didn’t bring nail clippers last time and don’t plan to this time (I totally just bite my kids nails when they’re that little haha) but someone suggested this recently and I thought it might be helpful to mention.

What NOT to pack + tips from veteran moms:

“I honestly don’t know what I packed that I didn’t need!  I know that a hair brush, pony tails, bobby pins, and dry shampoo were a livesaver though!  I was so sweaty after my emergency c-section and my hair kept getting knotted from just laying there, until I finally had the strength to brush and “shampoo” my hair.” -Nicole, a la Maxfield

“DON’T bring a breast bump. DON’T bring a blow dryer, hair straightener, and curling iron.  DON’T bring more than two pairs of shoes (flip-flops and regular shoes are literally all you need).  DON’T bring A beautiful and expensive delivery gown– you’re just going to bleed on it.  DON’T bring small VS underwear (like the cheeky kind) the bigger the better.  You need a lot of surface area for the post partum pads).” -Justine, It’s Always Sunny in June

Justine just had her third baby and admits to overpacking for her first, underpacking for her second and getting it just right the third time around… check out her hospital bag posts here and here to find out what she packed!

“I packed tons of snacks and thankfully our hospital had great food… not that I was even very hungry.  Also packed several outfits for my little one which he never wore (just one literally as we were leaving).  Also packed several outfits for myself…totally stayed in hospital gowns and my robe.  As for my MUST haves, an essential oil diffuser (lavender and orange were my go to’s), a wireless speaker, an extension cord so I could have my phone plugged in and still by me.  And finally hiring a photographer to come do a fresh 48 session!” -Mel, Modern Bell

“The first round I over packed clothes.  Realistically, I ended up wearing my sleeper dresses that had breastfeeding straps and my robe for the entire hospital stay and I think I even wore something similar going home and threw on a cardigan over 🙂 Essentials for me: toothpaste, face wash, body wash, lotion, my own towel, shower slippers, blanket from home, tablet, bobby pins and hair ties 🙂 For baby: 2 sizes of clothes because we had no clue how big he’d be and our own swaddles” -Dianne, @mrs_mani

“Didn’t need a Boppy pillow at all! I brought it and ended up being too much pillow for a teeny tiny baby.  I used the hospital pillow folded” -Aseky, Aseky + The Boys

“I brought my Solly baby wrap and was so glad.  It helped me get up and out of bed and move around with my baby.  Definitely did NOT need pillows from home.  Definitely invest in a longer phone charging cord if you don’t already have it!” -Casey, The Fowler Fam

“[Things NOT to bring] Clothes and blankets for the baby (I would’ve just brought one special blanket/outfit for photos) and a nursing pillow, the hospital had plenty of pillows to go around” -Brittany, @brittanymrasmussen

“I packed way too many clothes for myself!  Not sure why I thought I’d be in the mood to dress.  Also I ended up using all the hospital supplies (pads, undies) so I def didn’t need to bring that! Long phone charger is a must, as well as a robe that’s light weight and of course easy peasy for nursing.  I just bought one from Target that I love! Living in these pjs and robe! [here]” -Anna, Anna Hinkle

“An outfit for the kid and your maternity clothes because you will not be strolling out in your skinny jeans while wearing an ice diaper.” -Angel, The Bluegrass Mom <<<THIS.  You guys.  Hahaha SO TRUE!

“One of the main things that I did was way over pack for my little one. I had no idea how much the hospital actually supplies for them, and you also never know how long you’ll be staying— I was there less than 24 hours. Diapers, blankets, clothes (not including the coming home outfit) were all provided by the hospital so I had an entire bag of stuff for absolutely no reason. I also never used the giant Boppy Pillow that I took. It was used once I got home, but didn’t need to be brought to the hospital.   It’s most important to pack the things that will make YOU most comfortable, since everyone will be focused on baby. Personal hygiene items (hair ties, deodorant, dry shampoo, socks and slippers, a few pairs of LOOSE black pants, loose fitting shirts, and nursing bras were my must haves). I also went to the store the night before and got several pairs of underwear, a size larger than usual, that I didn’t care to ruin. Because, real talk, you will ruin some.  I’m also happy that I brought one pillow from home (hospital pillows suck), and packed a toiletry bag for my husband. Make sure to remember things like extra batteries and charging cables as well! We always focus on bringing SO MANY THINGS, that we forget the little important items that we will be looking for.” -Brandi, The Sometimes Glam Wife 

I truly believe that you don’t really know what you need until you’ve experienced it since every mom is different!  And chances are, no matter how prepared you think you are, you will probably still forget something 😉 don’t sweat it though!  Try to make sure everything is packed ahead of time so you aren’t scrambling once you’re in labor.  I purchased travel sizes of my toiletries not only to save space but so they can just hang out in my bag for a few weeks and I won’t have to worry about grabbing anything on the day of.  Another little tip- if there is anything you do need to use up until you leave for the hospital, mark it with a little sticker or page flag!  You will obviously know what you need but in case your significant other or someone else needs to grab things for you this will make it A LOT easier on them to find the right item quickly! 🙂

Whether you’re a new mom or a seasoned professional needing a little refresher course, I hope this post was helpful for you while packing up your hospital bag!

Don’t forget to pin this for later:

How to Pack your Hospital Bag: Hospital Bag Essentials (And What NOT To Pack!)

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