*This post may contain affiliate links, which are indicated with an asterisk.
The internet can totally use another birth bag post, right? Right? 😉
I spent a bunch of time putting together this list for you guys, because it’s the list I wish I had read when I was pregnant and packing my bag.
Here is what I had in my hospital bag for my natural birth (I used the hypno-birthing method, FYI). The stuff I used and really loved having on hand is indicated in bold in the list below. I’d probably recommend bringing everything. Don’t let people call you “that crazy over-prepared/over-zealous/nutso pregnant lady.” Unless you live right next door to your hospital or birthing center and are okay asking your husband/birth partner to run back to your house if you need anything, you’ll enjoy the peace of mind knowing you’re (over) prepared.
There are tons of lists out there that will say “here’s what to leave at home.” This is not that list. This list doesn’t know you or assume to know what you need. This list was created by a mom who has been there, done that (Update 2016: …and is about to do it again!) and wants you to know what *can* be helpful to have during labor and recovery.
My hypno-birthing instructor said it best: “Air on the side of caution and YOUR comfort. If you don’t want to lug everything into the hospital, just leave it in the car!” Eureka! And, DUH. Maybe it was pregnancy brain, but for some reason this simple solution of leaving stuff in the car didn’t come to mind when I was reading the zillions of hospital bag “what I brought vs what I needed” lists out there. So, we left a lot of stuff in the car, including all of the baby’s stuff, my birthing ball, etc. If I really needed something, it was easy enough for my husband to grab it from the car in the parking garage. But we didn’t have to worry about schlepping tons of stuff into the delivery room (…and then to the recovery room.)
Also – ask on your tour of the birthing center what kinds of things the nurses recommend bringing. It might be different at every hospital/center so the best way to be prepared is to customize for your situation.
MAIN BAG (I used a “day-tripper” sized tote, find one like mine on eBay*) >>>
- Button-down sleep shirt*
I changed into one similar to this – jersey knit is SO SOFT* instead of a hospital gown – it was so much more comfortable for me during labor and you still have access to wherever needs to be accessed 😉
- Black cotton robe
The one I have is from Target brand Gillian O’Malley* and it is so soft and I have been pleasantly surprised that it has held up really well considering I use it a lot in my daily life now after showers/etc.
- Sleep nursing bra
The Bravado and Medela sleep bras at Target are good* Eventually you’ll want to get more substantial bras, maybe even with underwire, but this one is amazing for the hospital and the first few weeks and months with a newborn.
- Nursing tank top
These ‘henley’ style nursing tanks* are my absolute FAVORITE – they look great on their own or with a cardigan, too. Other nursing tanks can be okay too but usually look a little too … serious? Medical? I don’t know how to describe it. These are my holy grail because they just look like a cute tank. And I should say I have a large bust and these are great even if you’re rocking DDD+
- Cozy socks
I forgot I brought a big pair of socks but my husband reminded me after delivery and I almost cried they were so lovely to have on. What, no judgement! Those hormones will get you! Also, why put on shoes until you absolutely have to??
- Underwear (loose and big)
Feel free to take the hospital’s mesh undies, but you might want to bring your own too just in case.
- Moisturizing lip balm (this is my FAVORITE: kari gran lip whip*, don’t let the price scare you! It’s life-changing) or Zoe Organics Everything Balm*
Hospitals are SO DRY. Like going on a trans-continental flight. You won’t get to London by the end of your trip, but you will get a baby. Which is probably better. Zoe Organics Everything Balm is good for anything that feels dry, including lips. You’ll use it when you get home from the hospital too. I am also totally obsessed with kari gran lip whip* – a little goes a long way and even if your lips are literally peeling and cracking, this stuff will heal it immediately.
- Hair elastics and clips
You might see in the photos of my bags that I had a “claw clip*” and elastic on the handle of my tote. I also had a bag just for hair elastics* so my husband or nurses could easily find them and I also had some in my toiletry/makeup bag … because when you want your hair up, you want. your. hair. up. NOW. I did not want my husband to have any issues locating a hair tie.
Bring whatever you want but keep it simple – face lotion or Argan oil* (good for face, hands, hair, you name it!), toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo & conditioner*, body wash/soap, razor, deodorant*
- Makeup (lightweight foundation or BB/CC cream, concealer, blush, mascara, eyelash curler, lip gloss)
- Cleansing face wipes*
Or just bring a couple of wash cloths* you can run under cold water for quickly freshening up
- (The BEST, in my opinion) Nipple cream*
p.s. I was lucky and didn’t have to use this much for its intended purpose but I continue to re-purchase over and over again because it’s great on cuts and scrapes or anything that needs speedy healing. Those tiny scratches babies are always getting on their faces because of their sharp little nails? A tiny dab of this on the scratch and I swear it disappears before your eyes.
- New mama bottom spray*
Just trust me on this one. I didn’t really use it in the hospital but I used this many times a day when I got home. I still have a positive association with the smell because it reminds me of those first few blissful, dreamy days home with my newborn. You could also bring a small spray bottle of witch hazel or Tucks wipes/pads.
- Pacifica Tuscan Blood Orange*
Scent is huge for me so I used this to develop positive associations during my hypnobirthing practice. Another beautiful scent to help stay calm: Zoe Organics Refresh Oil* is WONDERFUL. I got it after my daughter was born but I wish I had it in the hospital with me.
- Tennis balls*
Awesome for lower back massages even if your birth partner gives terrible massages normally, haha. I didn’t end up using these during labor, but I loved lower back massages with these when I was in my final weeks/days of pregnancy.
- A big cozy bath towel*
My hospital was awesome but like lots of moms report, hospital towels are TINY and thin. It’s worth it to stash a big one in your car.
- Extra long phone cord* & charger
You will not regret bringing this. You never know where outlets will be and you can definitely always use an extra cord in your life, let’s be real.
- Extra tote*
Fill this with the loads of miscellaneous stuff you get from the hospital (like the super-glamorous disposable underwear, diapers, etc.)
- My wallet
I brought it just in case I needed my ID or insurance card. I didn’t. Or maybe I did and my husband fished it out. Who knows, just bring it.
- My iPhone
I had my phone loaded up with hypnobirthing music to help me focus and relax during labor (for the music I used, click here)
I brought these for listening to music and recordings to help stay focused on my hypnobirth deep relaxation techniques
- Aux cable*
We brought this so we could plug my iPhone into whatever speakers/system was available in my hospital room. We ended up just playing my music through my phone’s speakers, though.
- Eye mask
I used this so much during delivery and after my daughter was born. There seemed to always be lights on and an eye mask helped me stay calm and allowed me to actually take cat naps after my daughter was born, hooray. Bring two – your husband or birth partner might also want to use one!
- Plastic bag or wet bag for laundry*
We used this for my clothes and my husbands – so so useful and I’m glad we could easily keep dirty laundry separated.
We brought coconut water (my favorite kind by FAR is Amy & Brian’s) & yummy snacks just in case. Our hospital had great food and were super awesome about my food allergies, but I’m glad I had some emergency snacks on hand.
- Gum/lozenges/these awesome cough drops*
Good to have if you’re not into liquids at some point but want to keep your mouth from getting dry
- Prenatal vitamins*
You will probably forget to bring or take these. Or maybe that’s just me. But I swear every birth packing list out there recommends bringing your prenatals so here I am, joining the chorus.
- Small notebook & pen*
Someone recommended this to me and while I didn’t use it that much, I highly recommend it. It’s nice to know you can jot something down easily – whether its practical info from your nurse, advice from the lactation consultant, or a poem about the beauty of new life. Seriously, it gets sappy up in there. Be ready when creativity strikes!
- Folder or envelope*
I used this to organize and keep copies of my birth preferences sheet, easily organize the many MANY! misc forms/paperwork/brochures I needed to take home from hospital.
- Gallon ziplock bag or wet bag*
We filled this with a few things that had been touching my baby to bring home for the dog to smell. You’ll end up using the wet bag for everything from dirty diapers and clothes to wet swimsuits from the beach. FYI, our dog trainer recommended a great book on how to prepare pets for baby. It’s a set that comes with CDs and lots of info. Buy it on eBay* for the best price.
My husband’s bag (not pictured, he used a backpack like this*) >>>
- Change of clothes (pants/shirt)
- Toiletries (the basics – toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant)
- Eye mask*
- Cash/coins for cafeteria/vending machines
My husband didn’t really have time to go get food during my labor. Our family brought him Chipotle at some point and he scarfed it down in the hallway, though. I still giggle at that image. 😉
- Another phone charger
- Small cozy blanket*
Highly recommend this one! Just go stash a blanket in your hospital pile right now. My husband used the blanket a lot and was so glad he had it.
Leave in car (I used a canvas tote like this*) >>>
- Baby’s stuff (Footie pjs in various sizes because who knows how big your baby will be, a hat, swaddling blankets, a few disposable diapers or newborn-sized cloth diapers*)
We only used the pjs and hat. Everything else sat unused in the bag, but you never know what you’ll need.
- My going home outfit
I loved my outfit, it worked really well for me: Comfy black leggings, loose t-shirt, cozy but still-made-me-feel-stylish wrap sweater* Depending on the season, you’ll have to update this. Just remember that your body is still recovering and your uterus will likely not be totally back to normal, so loose and big is best. Anything that fit you when you were around 6 months pregnant should be great.
I thought I’d love having some nice slippers and I searched all around for a pair I liked, but I walked around in my cozy socks (see above) and then just put the shoes back on that I came in with. I did use the slippers a TON when I got home from the hospital, though!
- reusable nursing pads* (or check out this adorably named, top-rated brand)
WAY more comfortable and more effective than those plastic-y disposable nursing pads, trust me.
Also in car…
- Car seat (we LOVED this one*) & car seat base
Obvious but necessary to add to the list. Because pregnancy brain is REAL. Anyway, the hospital won’t let you leave without it! The good news is that they’ll teach you how to put your impossibly tiny human inside it safely. It was nerve wracking that first time and I was SO glad to have an expert walk me through it.
- Birthing ball
My birthing center/hospital had tons of balls to use but I brought mine just in case. We used this every single day for my daughter’s first 6ish months of life, though. Great during pregnancy, too.
I think my hospital bed had approximately 5,689 pillows on it. The moral of the story is that I didn’t end up bringing any of my own pillows to my room. However, bringing a pillow was recommended specifically by the nurse on our tour so I still think it’s a good idea to have one or two in the car.
- The BEST nursing pillow by My Brest Friend*
I didn’t use the that much in the hospital but it’s good to have on hand and ask the lactation consultant to give you tips on how to use it when you’re there. I had the soft “deluxe” one, but the standard one is great too – I think the only difference is the texture of the cover. It’s true, there are LOTS of popular nursing pillows out there. This is the best one in my opinion, and every lactation consultant I talked to agreed. Once you get over the ridiculous name, you’ll fall in love.
Packing a hospital bag can be a fun way to prepare for baby’s homecoming, but don’t stress if you don’t have absolutely everything on absolutely every list out there. As the amazingly wise Amy from Pregnant Chicken says, “You really don’t need much to have a baby. Got your vagina? Packed!” Haha!
I didn’t have my hospital bags 100% packed until week 37/38 but I started doing research and got a few things together starting week 30ish. Because pregnancy is long and you can’t wait to meet your sweet baby so you pass the time however you can. Start packing at week 22 if you want! This is YOUR pregnancy and you can prepare however you wish. If your sister/aunt/friend laughs at you, just shake it off. Shake it like a Polaroid picture, mama! Not that anyone knows what a Polaroid picture is anymore.
“This post is too long!” …I hear ya, mama! Here are my very top recommendations for what to have in your bag, with links on where I got them (all are affiliate*):
- Button-down sleep shirt
- Black cotton robe
- Nursing tank top (pair with robe above and voila, you’re dressed for company)
- Cozy socks
- Everything Balm
- Hair elastics
- A big cozy bath towel
- Extra long phone cord
- Eye mask + one for your husband/birth partner!
- wet bag for laundry
- Small cozy blanket
- Going home outfit for baby
- Car seat & base
…There you have it! All set! Congratulations and good luck, being a parent is pretty darn grand!
Other posts you may like:
Feel free to leave questions/advice/rants about how I over-packed in the comments 😉
*Hi friends, just a heads up that this post contains scary affiliate links and if you click, a shark will EAT YOU. Just kidding! Clicking my links just means you like my site and like reading my recommendations. Your shopping experience doesn’t change, but I might get a tiny commission. Affiliate links are indicated with an asterisk like this* If you have any questions, I’m here to talk —> firstname.lastname@example.org … or leave a comment below. xoxo.