What to Pack in Your Hospital Bag

Ah the hospital bag… What to pack is on every first-time mom-to-be’s mind, and it’s a good question because everyone will give you a different answer. Some people bring a lot and use it all, and others don’t even end up opening their bags and say you need nothing. It’s obviously personal, and what you use may vary depending on which hospital you go to and what they provide, your length of stay, and how things go during labor. So here is my list of “must-have” items, based on what I brought and actually used.

Also, pro tip: have your bag packed and ready at least a month in advance, because you never know when you’ll go into labor. And if your water breaks before you go into labor and you’re called into the doctor’s office to confirm it, bring your bag with you because they will likely send you straight to the hospital with no time to cross go or collect $200 (or your bag). This happened to us, and even though we were right on the way from the doctor’s office to the hospital, they said we should go straight there because check-in can take a while and sometimes there aren’t even available delivery rooms in NYC (*gasp*), and they wanted to start inducing me ASAP to increase my chances that I could deliver naturally within 24 hours. My husband had to leave while I was in labor to get our bags and deal with our bag (and enjoy a delicious burger, which I found out about later).

Hospital Bag Checklist

  • Fun magazines and 1 book (which you probably won’t read, but just in case you’re there for a few days – I’d recommend something light but useful like Bringing Up Bébé)

  • Playing cards for during labor (if you like card games – we play Cribbage like 80-year-olds)

  • iPad preloaded with some shows – both gripping ones to distract you and light 30-minute ones if you’re having trouble concentrating like I was (hello, How I Met Your Mother reruns)

  • Anything else you might want during labor – e.g., a yoga ball if your hospital doesn’t provide one, or some people try to create a mood with music (bring a small bluetooth speaker), lighting (no open flames in hospitals, only electric or battery-operated ones), and scents (they probably don’t allow candles or incense, so maybe just an essential oil that your birth partner can wave over your face during labor)

  • Birth plan (I wasn’t much of a birth plan person, but if you have things that are important to you, good idea to bring a copy in case the doctor with whom you’ve spoken about it is not on call)

  • Phone + charger + extension cord (to be able to charge your phone from your bed while in labor – clutch)

  • Snacks – trail mix, protein bars, trail mix, dried fruit, trail mix, something salty, trail mix, fresh fruit that won’t perish too quickly like clementines or apples, trail mix

  • Gatorade or something else hydrating that doesn’t require refrigeration

  • Straw water bottle (to be able to sip while lying down during labor – this Contigo one is good)

  • Lip balm (they get so dry during labor and in the hospital – I’m an Aquaphor girl)

  • Hair elastics + soft headband if you have bangs

  • Comfy nursing pajamas (my favorites were Kindred Bravely)

  • Nursing sleep bra (favorites were also by Kindred Bravely – I lived in them the first few months) (ok year) (ok even after I stopped nursing)

  • Bathrobe (cheap one in case it gets dirty and you want to burn it afterward)

  • Slippers (also cheap ones in case you drip any bodily fluids on them; yes I went there)

  • Nursing pillow (I generally recommend the My Brest Friend for first-time nursing mothers, but I found the Boppy easier in the hospital because I didn’t have to hook it on while trying to get the baby out of the bassinet, and because my stomach was sore from labor)

  • Nipple cream (my favorite was Motherlove)

  • Prenatal vitamins (you continue taking these throughout breastfeeding – I liked the Rainbow Light Prenatal One + Nordic Naturals Prenatal DHA)

  • Toiletries: toothbrush + toothpaste (hospital may provide), face wipes (who has the energy to wash their face after labor?!), deodorant

  • Shower supplies: shampoo + conditioner, body wash

  • Full-sized towel (dark-colored – you’ll get it later)

  • Flip flops in case you have to share a shower

  • Brush, hair dryer + light makeup (for hospital photos or just to feel a little more human)

  • Cute hat, swaddle blanket and/or outfit for baby (for hospital photos)

  • Camera (if you have a nice one other than your phone that you may want)

  • Small notepad + pen (to take notes during classes – or just take notes in your phone)

  • Going home outfit for baby

  • Going home outfit for yourself – leggings or a comfy dress, no jeans!)

  • Stuff for your husband to stay over night and hang around for hours

  • Car seat if you’ll be taking a car home (not usually required in NYC since a lot of people live within walking distance of the hospital – check with yours to be sure)

—> Download a printable Hospital Bag Checklist


These products are personal recommendations based on experience. You should do your own research and check with your doctor on any medical items. The links in this blog may contain affiliate links, meaning that if you click through and make a purchase, Mom Crew LLC will earn a small commission at no additional cost to you.