Here’s what you need (and don’t need) to pack in your hospital bag from a mother baby nurse and mom of three.

Congrats! You are getting so close!

With my first baby, I probably way over packed. That’s definitely normal. Most of my patients do. Remember that everything you pack, you have to take back home. Also add a new baby, all your care supplies from the hospital, and gifts you receive while in the hospital and it adds up fast! Plan for a three day stay, though if you deliver vaginally, you typically are discharged home 48 hours after giving birth.

hospital bag checklist

Below you will find things you need to pack for the hospital. I’ve also included a list of things you will NOT need as well. If you are anything like me, you want to pack everything you could ever possibly need because it’s better to be safe than sorry. But I want to reassure you, there’s some things you won’t need. It will only take up room in your suitcase or diaper bag if you pack it.

Begin to pack your suitcase around 36 weeks pregnant. (You just never know!!) I would rather you be safe then sorry. You of course don’t have to pack your makeup and things you use in your daily routine. Pack the things you can do without for a few weeks, so if labor happens you are prepared to grab and go. There’s also the possibility that you will be sent to your birthing suite directly from a doctor’s appointment. If your bag is mostly packed, it helps your support person feel less panicked to get all you may need.

Things you will NOT need at the hospital:

  • Diapers (given in the hospital and you get to take home what you don’t use)
  • Wipes (same as above)
  • Bibs
  • Pre-pregnancy clothes (these won’t fit for several months following birth)
  • Formula (if you need it, the hospital will have it)
  • Pads (same as above)
  • Thongs (trust me; if you’ve taken my class, you know the story)
  • Underwire bras (this is a big no-no if you plan to nurse)
  • Oil Diffuser (My hospital requires diffusers to be sterilized and checked out to the patient due to health regulations. Check with your hospital)

Things you will need at the hospital:

  • Big granny panties or Depends
  • Chapstick
  • Favorite snacks for after delivery
  • Cozy socks if you like
  • Essential oils
  • Roku or Fire stick for streaming your shows
  • Your pillows with a colored pillowcase
  • Blow-dryer and razor
  • Shampoo products, hairbrush, makeup, ponytail bands
  • Robe if you like
  • Roomy shoes for swollen feet when you go home
  • Phone Charger
  • Nursing tank tops
  • Nursing gowns
  • Going home clothes for mom (these need to be clothes that fit you around 6 months of pregnancy)
  • Swimsuit if you want to use the tub as a comfort measure during labor
  • Don’t forget a change of clothes, deodorant, and essentials for your partner!

Things baby will need:

  • Going home outfit for baby (weather appropriate)
  • Baby socks
  • Cute swaddle blankets (if you desire)
  • Baby Gowns, Sleepers, Onesies (around 5 outfits will suffice)
  • Baby hat (if you desire. We do have them in the hospital)
  • Baby diaper rash cream (whichever brand you prefer is fine)
  • Nursing Pillow if you desire
  • If you have a breast pump, and wish to bring it, then do. The nurses can show you how to operate it. Your hospital will have breast pumps if you would prefer not pack it.

When should I buy nursing bras?

Wait to buy nursing bras until after your milk has come in. Usually, this is day 4-5 with a first baby. Your breast will change size several times during the end of pregnancy and the first week after birth. Also, never buy nursing bras with underwire. It can cause mastitis (a breast infection).

Check out dealing with breast engorgement for helpful tips as your milk comes in!

Have you scheduled maternity photos yet? Don’t miss 11 of the Best Maternity Dresses for Your Photoshoot featuring many affordable options.

You will have many well-meaning people who want to visit you and your new baby after birth. This can feel overwhelming at times. As people begin asking how they can help you, here’s a helpful resource, “What New Moms Really Need.” It will help answer that question.

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Rachel is a Postpartum Nurse of 15+ years. She is also a Spinning Babies® CPE, Childbirth Educator, Published Author, and Recipe Creator. Rachel's passion is to encourage and empower women in all things related to motherhood.

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