Am I In Labor?

woman packing hospital bag and checking things off the list
Nikola Stojadinovic, Getty Images

What To Pack In Your Hospital Bag When You’re Having A Baby

Above all, do not forget the car seat.

Packing for labor and delivery isn’t easy because there is so much you need to include in your suitcase, and since you’re suffering from mommy brain, trying to do it by memory is nearly impossible. That’s why a hospital bag checklist is so helpful because you can easily keep track of what you’ve packed and what you still need for yourself and the baby. If you’re a really nice mom-to-be you can also do the packing for your partner, but of course, this is totally optional because you already have more than enough to do.

What To Pack In A Hospital Bag For Mom

By far, the person with the most to pack for the hospital is mom. Depending on your circumstances, you’ll need things for before the baby comes as well as after delivery. Here are some things to consider putting into your hospital bag.

Toiletries

Your hospital may provide basic toiletries to you, but if you’re particular about what you use, go ahead and pack your favorites in travel-size containers. Also, some new moms like to have the option to style their hair and/or put on makeup during this process, though it’s certainly not a requirement. Possible toiletries to pack include:

  • A toothbrush/toothpaste
  • Shower products
  • Deodorant
  • Lip balm
  • Hairbrush and styling products/tools
  • Face cleansers/serums
  • Body lotion
  • Makeup
  • Glasses and supplies for your contacts
  • Bath towel
  • Shower sandals

Clothing

As eager as you may be to get back into your pre-pregnancy clothes, remember that you’ll still have a bump when you’re discharged from the hospital, so hang on to those maternity clothes a little longer. The hospital will provide you with a gown to wear, but you can opt to bring something of your own if you’d prefer.

  • Comfortable clothing for laboring (especially if you have a scheduled c-section or induction and are spending the night before in the hospital)
  • Nursing bra/pads
  • Cozy maternity and nursing clothing/pajamas for the days after delivery (pants should be easy to get on/off, and you’ll want to be mindful of waistbands in case you have a c-section)
  • Robe for post-delivery, especially for easy access if you’re breastfeeding
  • Shoes and slippers
  • Socks

Miscellaneous

  • Breast pump (the hospital will likely have one, but you can always bring your own)
  • Cell phone and charger
  • Earbuds/headphones and charger
  • Laptop/tablet and charger
  • Pillow (if you prefer to use your own)
  • Snack and/or drink of choice
  • Entertainment for long labors such as playing cards, a book, or a movie/tv series to watch

Documents

  • Personal ID
  • Insurance card
  • Pre-filled documents for insurance, FMLA, etc.
  • Birth plan

What To Pack In A Hospital Bag For Baby

Your new arrival will need all kinds of things once they enter the world, too. Your hospital will likely provide the baby with diapers, a swaddle, hat, formula (if applicable), and pacifiers but it never hurts to bring some of your own, too. Plus, you’ll also need to bring a few of those baby shower gifts you received.

Clothing

  • Newborn size onesies and footie pajamas
  • Hat
  • Mittens
  • Socks
  • Going home outfit

Sleeping, Feeding & Diapering

  • Diaper bag
  • Swaddles and/or sleepsack-swaddles
  • Pacifiers
  • Newborn size diapers
  • Wipes
  • Nursing pillow

Miscellaneous

  • Car seat (with the base already installed in the car)
  • Insurance documents

What To Pack In A Hospital Bag For Partner

Depending on your situation, your partner will likely have the option to go home for showers, and since they’re not the one having the baby they won’t need to pack nearly as much as you will.

Toiletries

  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Deodorant
  • Hairbrush
  • Hair products/tools
  • Cleansing wipes
  • Glasses and contact supplies for overnight

Clothing

  • Change(s) of clothes in case they can’t get home to clean up
  • Pajamas
  • Socks
  • Shoes and slippers

Miscellaneous

  • Pillow and/or blanket
  • Entertainment
  • Cell phone and charger
  • Earbuds and/or headphones and charger
  • Snacks and drinks
  • Written instructions for them to help you call the insurance company or your HR department when the baby arrives

When To Pack Your Hospital Bag

If your pregnancy isn’t high risk and everything is going smoothly, then you may reach 30 weeks and think that you still have plenty of time to pack your bag, however, you should start packing sooner than you think. “Your bag should be packed up at about 32-34 weeks ready to grab,” ObGyn Michael Friedman, MD, FACOG, tells Romper in an email.

The chances of you needing your bag that early are, thankfully, low. In the US more than 89% of babies are born full-term (at 37 weeks or later), according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Still, things happen all of the time that causes mom to have to be admitted into the hospital earlier than she anticipated, so you need to be prepared.

Where To Keep Your Hospital Bag

Assuming you follow Dr. Friedman’s advice and pack up between 32 and 34 weeks pregnant, you could have eight or more weeks to go before you actually need to grab it, so you should keep it somewhere out of the way where you won’t constantly run into it or trip over it. That being said, it should still be easily accessible should labor start unexpectedly, so avoid putting it on high shelves or another place where it would be difficult to quickly grab it.

Expert:

Michael L. Friedman, MD, FACOG, Chairman of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Providence Little Company of Mary Hospital, Torrance, California.