Must-Haves to Pack in Your Hospital Bag

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Before giving birth, pack your hospital bag with the essentials.

Okay mamas, the nursery is ready to go, your birth plan is in place, and you’ve got a couple meals in the freezer . . . but have you packed your hospital bag yet?

While not an absolute necessity, having a hospital bag packed for go-time can help alleviate stress and provide some comfort while in the hospital recovering from childbirth. True, you can wear the hospital gown and use its toiletries and diapers (for sure use those diapers!), but having a few things that help you feel comforted and a little more normal after the biggest physical feat of your life may be just the ticket in recovery.

Most recommend you have your bag packed by about 37 weeks just in case you go into labor early. Your items may vary slightly if you are giving birth vaginally or by Cesarean, but either way, we’ve compiled a list from seasoned moms of what they packed in their bags. Another pro tip: Write a list for all those last-minute things you’ll need to throw in (glasses, contacts, etc.)

What to Pack in Your Hospital Bag

Prepare for your newborn with a hospital bag filled with the must-haves.

  • Breastfeeding pillow* (the most popular options are the Boppy or the Brest Friend; see below for specific c-section recommendation).
  • Cell phone and charger (grab an extra long cord if you can!).
  • Comfy robe (like this one from Target).
  • Flip flops for the shower and walking around.
  • Going-home outfit (depending on the season, you might like a dress or leggings and a sweatshirt).
  • High-waisted underwear for going home (lots of color options from Jockey).
  • Nightgowns/pajamas with easy access for nursing (check out these options from Target, Dwell and Slumber, and Nordstrom Rack).
  • Nipple cream (there’s your traditional lanolin cream or an organic balm).
  • Nursing bras and pads (these have super high ratings on Amazon).
  • Peppermint oil for aiding in those first post-birth bathroom trips.
  • Snacks for you and your significant other.
  • Toiletries: shampoo, conditioner, face wash, body lotion, dry shampoo, makeup, chapstick, hair ties, toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant.
  • Zippered plastic pouch for keeping documents in one place.

New moms will be able to rest and relax knowing her hospital bag is fully packed.

Additional Items to Pack After a C-section

  • Arnica cream for any post-surgery bruising.
  • Belly band/abdominal binder for when you get home (the nurses will likely put a soft binder around your belly soon after giving birth).
  • Nightgowns (you’ll want three to four as you will be in the hospital longer than a vaginal birth, and you will likely not want pants as the doctors and nurses will check your incision several times a day . . . and you probably won’t want any pressure on the incision for several days).
  • Nursing pillow (If choosing to breastfeed, I highly recommend My Brest Friend nursing pillow. It has more support than the Boppy and because you can adjust the snugness around your waist, you can keep it up off your incision).
  • Small pillow to hug against your incision (though a hospital pillow would be totally sufficient).

Additional Hospital Bag Items to Pack After Vaginal

  •  Birth plan.
  • Juice/Gatorade for staying hydrated during delivery.
  • Perineal spray of some kind: Dermoplast (most moms recommended getting it from the hospital . . . and say it worked better than ice packs and witch hazel pads) or this Earth Mama spray.
  • Small speakers for delivery.

What to Pack for Baby 

baby onesies

Here’s what you can (and should!) rely on the hospital for:

  • Abdominal binder (ask the nurses!)
  • Bulb syringe
  • Dermoplast
  • Diapers
  • Pads for bleeding
  • White mesh underwear
  • Wipes
  • Spray bottle
  • Stool softener
Chelsea has been a writer for as long as she can remember. She blogs about sustainable fashion, clean beauty, sewing, and intentional living. A Northeastern native, Chelsea now calls the mid-cities home with her husband, Travis; son, Logan; daughter, Alba; and rescue dog, Argos.


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