Best Pregnancy Hospital Bags (and what to pack in them)

best hospital bags for moms
Time to pack for the hospital? These are the best pregnancy hospital bags and what to pack in them for mom, baby, and dad!

For some moms what to pack in a hospital bag for baby delivery is a no brainer. They’re either entirely unconcerned or they’ve done it before and they’re totally laid back. They’ve basically got it “in the bag”. 

Ok, that was the only pun in the whole post, we promise. 

Now that that’s over with, let’s get to the good stuff. Today on our post we’re talking about hospital bags, preparing for baby, what you don’t know that you’ll need once you get to the hospital, not forgetting about dad (of course!), and more. 

If you have any questions or items you’d like added to the list, leave them in the comments! Every mom has valuable information that they can pass onto others and we love to be the place where the sharing happens!

Guide to this post:

What to pack in hospital bag for mom (and when to pack them)

Mommy’s hospital bag comes first. Even though dad may be staying there too for a couple of days and the baby is sure to need some things when they arrive, mom’s needs come first this hospital visit.

For most pregnancies, this packing can take place anytime before week 36 or 37. If you have special instructions from your doctor about your particular pregnancy, by all means, pack when they recommend so you’re ready.

Inside, use the pockets and compartments to keep the post-baby things at the bottom and the during-labor elements within reach. 

Basics

  • Driver’s license
  • Insurance card
  • Pre-filled-out forms

One thing you’ll want to have in an easy-to-find place is your birth plan. This way it can be read from and handed to anyone who needs it at any time.

A comfortable robe should be on your packing list, if not in your bag, then on a hanger or something you can bring and place in your hospital room. Getting dressed after giving birth is an unnecessary pain that can be avoided almost entirely by bringing a robe in which you can lounge around, breastfeed, and rest as needed. Other comfortable clothes you might want to pack include a nursing bra, nursing tank, lightweight pants, postpartum leggings, slippers, and easy slip-on shoes for your trip home. 

Bring clothes that you fit into when you were at about 6-7 months pregnant. While you won’t be back to your pre-baby size for a minute, you also won’t be quite as big as before birth. Clothes from around that time will be suitable. The Goldilocks of postpartum clothing. Not too tight, not too loose. Just right.

(Tip: something no one tells you about birth is that your feet will be MORE swollen postpartum than during pregnancy due to the IV fluids. Read more tips from real moms here.)

Hospital bag checklist for mom

  • A reusable water bottle and electrolyte drinks like Gatorade or coconut water.
  • Diapers (yes, still for mom) We don’t want to be the ones to break it to you but that first bathroom experience will be a difficult one after birth. It will be hard to do what you used to do as a regular human for a while and diapers allow you to not worry about ruining your perfectly good underwear with totally normal body functions.
  • Warm socks hospitals can be cold and even though you won’t be wearing any tight-fitting shoes, you want your toes to be comfortable if you start getting a little chilly. It seems banal, but there are few things that make you feel as uncomfortable as having cold feet.
  • A full mom kit: A lot of these essentials (and more) can be found in the Frida mom hospital kit which has things you wouldn’t even have thought of! (especially if it’s your first babe) From their description: “This kit includes all 5 steps of the Frida Mom Postpartum Recovery Regimen to cleanse, wear, cool and absorb, soothe and relieve pain in the perineal area. 1 Delivery and Nursing Gown ( One Size, fits XS-XL) 1 pair of Labor and Delivery Socks, 1 Upside Down Peri Bottle, 4 Instant Ice Maxi Pads, 1 pack (24 count) Perineal Cooling Witch Hazel Pad Liners, 1 bottle (net 5 fl. oz.) Perineal Healing Foam and a Toilet-top storage caddy with carrying case.”

Toiletries

  • Nipple cream
  • Toothbrush/ paste 
  • shampoo/conditioner
  • Face wash/ skin care
  • Lotion
  • Lip balm

Things you might forget

  • glasses/contacts
  • Deodorant 
  • Hairdryer/ straightener (if you wish)
  • Hairbrush
  • Hair ties
  • Make-up
  • Chargers
  • Cash (a small amount for vending machines, etc.)
  • Gift to siblings from baby
  • Ear plugs
  • Neck pillows/ other comforts

What to pack in hospital bag for labor

Some birthing accessories might not be available to you in the delivery room, so making a list of what you want to have around will be important. 

  • A birthing ball and pump (if you want to use one)
  • A Bluetooth speaker (and a pre-prepared playlist)  labor can take hours or even days! and you want the tunes to keep you going. It’s better to turn it off when you want silence than to turn it on when you need a certain mood and realize you ran out of songs on the playlist!
  • Massage oil: massage during labor can help mothers cope with pain.
  • Snacks (more on this later) 

What to pack in hospital bag for c-section

Each type of birth is different. Having a c-section may seem more like a surgical procedure, despite the fact that plenty of natural births also involve some sutures. Packing for a c-section can look a little different so remember to pack some of the following items.

  • Underwear: no we’re not suggesting that you haven’t thought of packing underwear, but when it comes to c-sections, not all underwear fit the same. Some soft high-waisted cotton underwear can work well, though you might end up choosing the mesh underwear the hospital gives you in the end.
  • Incision-friendly clothing: try to avoid any mid-waist or low rise pants after a c-section or even that you choose dresses instead.
  • Compression belt: this isn’t to magically get some supermodel shape back (what is a supermodel shape, anyway?) Instead, it’s a binder to keep your incision safe, reduce swelling and support your back. You can ask your hospital if they provide these or get your own.
  • Stool softener: constipation is a common symptom after a c-section so taking a stool softener can help. Check with your doctor or midwife before choosing or taking anything.
hospital bag for baby

What to pack in hospital bag for baby (and what not to)

Of course, there’s a whole reason why we’re going to the hospital, a baby! As such, the baby will need to be welcomed with all the preparations. Of course, we don’t have to tell you that. You already know! Just in case you need a checklist though, here are some things to not forget to pack for your newborn.

Hospital Bag Checklist for baby

  • A car seat: you will not be able to leave the hospital without one.
  • Onesies: newborn-sized sleepers for your little one
  • Going home outfit: this may seem small but can be planned out for pictures you’ll keep forever. Try bringing two in different sizes because your baby might be bigger or smaller than the newborn size.
  • Mittens: little baby hands won’t just get cold, they’ll also get become a tiny weapon with those nails. Keep their skin safe with some mittens.
  • Hat: this one actually is to keep them warm
  • Burp rags: for feeding time only. (here’s how to make sure nothing covers your baby’s face)
  • Nursing pillow: These are great for moms who want a great, hands-free experience that lets you rest while nursing.
  • Your pediatrician’s contact information: your OBGYN might be your doctor, but you also want your baby’s doctor, your pediatrician to be available to be reached in case of any questions and to receive all the data your hospital gathers about your baby’s birth.
  • Bottles: If you’re planning on bottle feeding, back at least two to bring with you. If you’re using formula, bring your favorite brand or wait for the hospital- they’ll likely have samples for you to try as well. 
  • Swaddles: babies who just made their entrance into the world and their exit from the womb miss the feeling of being embraced by mom’s belly. Swaddles recreate that tight feeling that makes them feel soothed and relaxed to sleep safe and sound. Blankets work for this too and are a great addition to that coming home outfit.

What not to bring

  • Diapers
  • Wipes

Both of these things will be in full supply at the hospital. Moms on forums even suggest taking an extra bag so you can pack some free goodies to take home with you.

hospital bag for dad

What to pack in hospital bag for dad

Your dad or birthing partner will also be having a very exciting trip to the hospital even if this whole thing isn’t exactly happening in their body.

  • Snacks (again, this will come later)
  • Entertainment: labor isn’t always super exciting and sometimes mom won’t even need any help at all. During these downtimes, it’s good to have a book, an iPad, a laptop, headphones, and things to do and stay entertained.
  • Sleeping bag and pillow: hospital sleeping materials are not the greatest. Sheets might be thin and itchy, pillows might be flat or hard. Bringing your own sleeping materials will make getting rest in a hospital better, even through the incessant flicking on of lights at 2 a.m., constant checks, and of course, the new baby that needs feeding and attention.
  • Reusable water bottle
  • Deodorant 
  • Toothbrush/ toothpaste
  • Change of clothes
  • Flip flops
what snacks to pack for birth

What snacks to pack in a hospital bag

Both you and your partner are going to need your energy for the experience of labor. If we’re being honest, hospital food can always be a gamble. It can be long and arduous and short and, well, arduous. So some snack fuel is in order and we have the best (but also yummiest) suggestions to pack.

To keep these as fresh as possible, you can add an ice pack in an insulated bag with our perishables. Set your snacks on the side or a different compartment altogether to keep them from turning into bits. Nobody likes pretzel dust.

  • Nuts
  • Trail Mix (homemade or store-bought)
  • Applesauce packets
  • Fruit (fresh or dried)
  • String cheese
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Hummus
  • Granola bars
  • Sandwiches

Of course, whether or not you eat before labor is up to you. Your doctor might put you on ice chips the moment you start frequent contractions or if you’re going to be induced, long before that. In that case, the snacks you pack might be more for your partner to refuel to be there for you in their full strength.

Best Hospital Bags

Our top hospital bags to buy are both functional and fashionable, offering mom and dad everything they need including space, style, compartments and an easy-to-carry model.

  • This Madewell bag is gorgeous and holds just about everything you need for mom in it.
  • If you’re looking for something more “cute” and made for the occasion, this “Mama and Babe” bag is adorable. 
  • Finally, this $75 bag is cute and subtle, perfect for the mom that loves basics but needs a suitable hospital bag. It also comes in pink.

Hospital bags kmart

If canvas bags are so not how you’re trying to bring new life into the world, you can certainly find some great deals on leather bags at Kmart. This bag ($71.99) has several compartments, carrying options, a nice elongated shape to hold your things more comfortably, and we bet it smells good too!

kmart hospital bag

Hospital bags target

This (54.99) drop bottom bag gives you lots of extra space for all those things you want to keep in your maternity hospital bag just in case. It has a telescoping handle for easy carry, multiple compartments, and is fairly durable. 

pre packed hospital bags

Pre Packed hospital bags

Apparently, pre-packed hospital bags are a thing now? If this sounds like something that would make you feel at ease, by all means, get one! Packing anxiety is a real thing and if you would rather not worry about it, this is a convenient opportunity to wash your hands of the whole ordeal and just have it delivered instead. (granted, using these, you’ll still have to pack some things)

Here are some pre-packed options:

In the end, regardless of which bag you choose, what you put in it, whether you want to go pre-packed snacks or have your partner do quick runs to get fast food, it’s your hospital experience. It’s best for you to be comfortable and ready for the amazing journey you are about to begin with your favorite new little person.

What was your preferred hospital bag? What did you put in it? Tell us in the comments!

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Ximena

Ximena

Ximena is the Content Marketing Strategist at Cubo Ai. She follows plants, dogs, and babies on Instagram and almost no one else.