What do you really need in your hospital bag? (Less than you would think!)

I get asked a lot about what should be in a hospital bag. A typical hospital stay is 24-72 hours but can be longer. Don’t overpack! Here is a list of 10 items that are great to consider for your hospital stay.

Pillows and Blankets

Let’s be 100% real… hospital pillows are the WORST!!! By the worst I mean they are flat, plastic/waterproof and I am not sure they should even be able to legally call them pillows. I would highly suggest you bring a pillow or 4 from home for you and your partner. You may also want to bring a blanket if you have a favorite one. This is more of a preference thing, but it may make your hospital stay feel a bit more like home.

You may also want to bring a Boppy Pillow or another kind of nursing pillow if you plan on nursing. You will be doing A LOT of nursing!


Travel-size toiletries are great for a short hospital stay, but any size will be fine to bring with you. Items you will want to consider packing are:

  • deodorant
  • toothbrush
  • toothpaste
  • shampoo
  • conditioner
  • chapstick
  • face wash
  • lotion
  • makeup (totally optional, if you decide to bring it you will only really need the basics)

I always like to suggest bringing a plastic bag or two to throw dirty clothes in. If you have long hair you will want to bring hair ties with you to pull your hair back during labor. You will definitely want your hairbrush and any hair products you typically use, including a hairdryer, straightener, etc. However, if I were you I would bring the basics and call it good.

Labor Dress/Outfit

Having your own labor outfit is not a necessity, but I have found that my clients really like them and feel more relaxed in them. My clients like them because they untie/unbutton/unhook for skin-to-skin, there are openings for the monitors and an epidural and you still are covered enough that you don’t have to worry about everything popping out of your hospital gown. Plus, they are pretty and comfortable! If you want to labor in the hospital gown and then bring something from home to wear after birth that is always a great idea as well.

Robe and Slippers

Hospital gowns are NOT the most attractive things out there and they are kinda revealing. I tell my clients to make sure they bring a robe to help cover up when walking the halls and when visitors come. Ok, let’s talk about slippers…I am sure you don’t want to walk around in the hospital barefoot- think of those germs. Plus, getting out of the shower can be pretty slippery! There will be times during labor when you will be cold so having some grip socks isn’t a bad idea either.

Paperwork: Hospital Papers, ID, Insurance Card, and Birth Plan

This is probably one of the most important things to remember to bring! If you can pre-register online, go for it, but I would still bring hard copies of any registration work with you. If you have a birth plan, bring extra copies. If you haven’t already given your doula a copy she will need one and it is always good to post a copy of your birth plan on the wall or mirror so that the staff can see it first thing when they walk into the room. Make sure you make your birth plan simple to read and short and to the point. I would love to help you do up a birth plan. The hospital staff is NOT going to sit and read a long birth plan so let me help you make a plan that is easy to read.

Going Home Outfit For Baby And A Car Seat!

You will need an outfit to bring your little one home in. I have found that most families definitely want a cute going home outfit for your baby. Most of the time this is one of the first things purchased after couples find out that they are expecting. Don’t worry about diapers- the hospital has that covered. (Also, if you have not used all the diapers that are given to you in your room when you go to leave…take them home with you!)

You MUST have a car seat before bringing your baby home from the hospital. Most hospitals will check to make sure that your baby is positioned correctly in the seat prior to leaving. Be sure you have that in the car and installed properly. The hospital will not allow you to go home without it! If you aren’t sure how to install the car seat properly you can go by your local fire department or have a Child Passenger Safety Technician take a look. Here’s a link to find one near you: https://cert.safekids.org/get-car-seat-checked

Heavy Overnight Pads or Adult Diapers

The hospital will provide you will mesh undies and BIG pads for after birth. They hold a lot and are great for right after. I have found that most of my clients want to bring some of their own from home. The ones you buy from the store tend to be softer and more comfortable. This is not something you obviously need to bring, but it is nice to have options. Before you leave to go home, ask for extra mesh panties and pads from the hospital regardless- as this stuff IS pretty heavy duty and handy to have around!

Nursing Bras and Pads

Having a good comfortable nursing bra is definable important. I would recommend bringing at least 1 or 2 with you. Depending on how long your stay is and how fast your milk comes in. You will want to have nursing pads as well. You can use reusable ones that are cotton or disposable ones. Also, not a must-have but VERY helpful is some good breast cream, some hospitals have this on hand and so you might not need to bring or use your one from home. Your nipples will get sore! Having some good cream will really help!

Glasses/Contacts (if you wear them)

In the event of an unexpected cesarean, you will absolutely need glasses vs. contacts. Other than that, if you wear both- bring both. Also, be sure to bring cases for both and cleaning solutions for contacts. Hospitals are known to cause dry eyes from all of the dry air- so if that’s something you tend to have issues with, you may want to bring eye drops as well. Also, not a bad idea to bring some eye drops if you tend to have dry eyes.

Phone Charger/Power Bank

Having a phone charger is the MOST important thing! Every client I have had tends lots of pictures on their phones during the birth and right after. You will most likely want to call family and friends and tell them of your exciting news. So, yes you will definitely want your charge! Most of the time plug-ins are not very accessible from the hospital bed, so I would suggest that you have a portable charger to bring that as well.

Bonus Items:

Another good thing you might want to consider bringing is an iPad or laptop so that you can stream movies or shows while you are in the hospital. They don’t tend to have the best channel selections.

Snacks are good to bring too especially if you have a favorite one that you know you will want to have after your baby is born. Let’s be real… most babies are born in the middle of the night or really early in the morning and the cafeteria isn’t open at those hours and you will be hungry.

I know for me I wanted chocolate and my favorite beverage of choice at the time which was always some kind of flavored water. You can also just bring money for the vending machines and cafeteria as well.

Essential oils are good to bring as well but check with your hospital to see if they are allowed.

A Doula can’t necessarily fit in your birth bag but I would HIGHLY suggest bringing one to your birth and hiring one for your postpartum care. You can contact me for more information on my services on my website.

Note From Your Doula

Remember you are most likely only going to be at the hospital for 1-2 days unless you have a cesarean section. You do NOT need to bring a ton of things with you!
Don’t overpack!!