She Says… Packing THE Bag

Well folks, I think it’s time. Time to pack that bag for the hospital. No, nothing new has happened… my water hasn’t broken or anything like that. I just feel all of these little tiny symptoms building up like something is going to happen. And the planner in me will practically squeeze my legs together to hold this baby inside if I feel like I’m not ready yet. And since I know that won’t work for very long, my other option is to get ready. NOW.

I’ve been thinking about packing my bag since we took childbirth class. It always seemed so exciting, like, as soon as you pack the bag, you have to grab it and run to the hospital in a panic. But in reality, it sounds like everything takes so darn long with labor that I would have time to pack the bag even after going into labor if I needed it. In any case, I’d like to have it as packed as possible so I can feel like I’ve done everything I can to prepare for the big day. There are all kinds of lists online telling you what to pack. But why is it they all sound like they were written ages ago? They list things like film (whose camera uses film anymore?), a list of addresses and stamps so I can send letters announcing the birth of our child (I think our first birth announcement will be on the blog, maybe Twitter, and then definitely Facebook… the paper birth announcements will not be sent from the hospital!), and curlers for my hair (for going home, of course!).

I feel like if I grabbed my purse, the car seat, an outfit for the baby and our camera, we’d have everything we need. Really.

Am I being crazy? What were the things you WISH you had packed in that bag? What things did you bring that you really didn’t need? Help a sister out — let’s make a modern day list of what to bring to the hospital!

I’m thinking:

  • Camera and charger
  • Cell Phone and charger
  • Laptop (so we can blog for you!)
  • iPod and speakers if we want to play music?
  • Nightgowns/pajamas for me
  • Socks/slippers for me
  • Going home outfit for the little guy
  • Comfy clothes for Benjamin?
  • Bathing suit for the shower/tub
  • Travel-sized shower stuff
  • Makeup
  • Nursing bras/tank tops
  • Books/notes from childbirth class
  • Car seat (in the car… not the bag!)

The hospital birthing rooms have tubs, showers, and exercise balls. I assume they have pillows and washcloths and cups for ice and things like that (which I’ve seen on a lot of lists online, but seems silly to bring with me). What am I missing?


39 responses to “She Says… Packing THE Bag


    Books and notes from childbirth class are a great idea if you think you’re going to be reading but otherwise your nurses will take excellent care of you and explain everything. But take whatever makes you feel prepared and peaceful inside! πŸ™‚

  2. Snacks! You won’t want them in labor, but after you might feel “off” and need something easy to eat. Plus, if you give birth at 4am, you can’t even send someone to get you food and you’d be stuck with vending machine fare. I also packed snacks for my husband and quarters for the vending machine so he could stock up on caffeinated drinks πŸ™‚

    The best thing I brought was my breastfeeding pillow (Boppy) That way you are learning how to breastfeed with the same equipment as you have at home. I also sat on mine on the way home (I had a forceps birth that fractured my tailbone)

    Bring two going home outfits in 2 sizes. I was expecting a small baby and got a big one. She never fit into newborn stuff, so make sure you have a 0-3 month outfit as back-up.

    Isn’t it exciting to know that you’ll have a baby so soon??

  3. I would say forget bringing your own pj’s. Seriously, there is so much going on “down there” with the fluids and ice packs and what not that you won’t want to mess up your own pj’s. I totally thought I would want my own pj’s and never once used them. One thing I would recommend bringing is my own towel from home (in a dark color)…the towels at the hospital are so small and scratchy. Of course, I only have these opinions based on my own birth two and a half weeks ago!!!

  4. The honest truth? Leave the bathing suit at home! I’ve had 3 vaginal births and used the tub or shower for all, but I can’t imagine putting on or taking off a bathing suit while in labor. Maybe bring a sports bra to cover the north end of things, but you’ll probably let the south half hang out.

    I second the snacks, quarters, and dollar bills. Did not bring any makeup, but I don’t wear it on a daily basis anyway. I brought boppy for my first baby, but didn’t for the next two. I found it cumbersome to bring–it’s easy enough to fold a hospital pillow in half to rest baby on. I didn’t even use it for nursing at home for the next two babies. Any old pillow that you can rest your arm on will do. I did bring my own pillow though, which gave me better rest.

    As for your husband’s clothes, I just let mine go home and shower/change there. He was more comfortable that way.

    If you do plan to use a pacifier, which you might end up doing if you want to breastfeed but your milk is slow to come in (most lactation consultants don’t believe in nipple confusion any more), you might bring one with you. Some hospitals, in getting a “breastfeeding friendly” designation have stopped stocking them or it takes several hours to get one from the stockroom. I found them helpful with my babies were fussy while waiting for my milk. You can’t leave them attached to the breast constantly–it may increase milk production but is murder on the girls.

    Best of luck with everything!

  5. Maybe bring a movie in case things are taking awhile and you want to pop it into your laptop.

    I’m a hospital chaplain in Atlanta and one of the things I hear patients complain about are the uncomfortable pillows – so maybe bring your own just you have something that reminds you of being in your own bed (with a pillowcase smelling fresh of your laundry detergent).

    But you’re right – we don’t need much now!

  6. I am not a mother yet by any means, but friends have mentioned:

    -a robe. After the birth you might not be able to put on your own things yet, but you will still want to be covered up over your hospital gown?

    -Don’t forget your camera cord for uploading photos!

    -A book or simple magazine? If you have a long and uneventful labor (minutes between contractions for a long time) you might want something besides a tv to distract you??

    -My friend said having a pillow from home was a godsend as the pillows at the hospital weren’t fluffy enough.

    I can’t believe it is already time for you to think about these things!!!!

  7. Looks to me like you’ve got a pretty good list. I was induced, and packed a TON of stuff thinking (thanks to millions of horror stories everyone felt compelled to tell me about how I might be in labor forever) and hardly used any of it because it all happened so fast!

    Re: PJ’s, I did end up changing into mine the last day, but you could totally get by without them. I only wanted them once things, um, slowed down, down there, if you know what I mean.

    I highly recommend bringing your own pillow. Even the nurses at my hospital told me it was a good idea. Just use a non-white pillowcase so it’s not mistaken for one of the hospital’s. Benjamin might want to bring one too–not sure what husbands sleep on at your hospital, but mine ended up on this horrible recliner thing, and would have loved a comfy pillow! You can always just leave it in the car and grab it if you need it (ditto on the Boppy)

    What we did was pack one bag for just stuff we knew we’d want during L&D, and then left the other bag in the car and my husband got it later. It made it easier since we had to change rooms after the birth anyway.

    Good luck–so exciting it’s so soon! I still remember my husband walking in on me crying while watching your video of finding out you were pregnant. πŸ™‚

  8. Your list looks great! this is a little weird, but I brought my own pads, and I’m glad that I did because the ones that the hospital provides are SUPER extra turbo-style jumbo HUGE pads and they are silly and uncomfortable for walking the halls. I hadn’t bought pads since middle school and it was sort of embarrassing to purchase them, but I think I was much more comfortable in them.

    Also, don’t forget your laptop charger.

    I was happy that I had packed a few other things:
    Chapstick was nice to have
    Those little face wash wipe thingys from Neutrogena–so nice to use instead of having to stand and wash your face if you’re really tired and just need to quickly freshen up.

    Anyway, you’re going to do great! Looking forward to reading about things as your beautiful pregnancy comes to a close, and you begin the most incredible part–being a mama!


  9. Hospital pillows suck, so even though it seems excessive I think you’ll want your own. Also: FOOD. And maybe some mother’s milk tea to help your milk come in.

  10. Wow! I am only 18 weeks pregnant .. but I’m SOOO glad that you asked this question Kate because I am now making all sorts of mental notes about what to bring/not bring! It looks to me like THE PILLOW from home is the biggest advice! So that will be the one thing that I remember to bring.. although it still seems like a LIFETIME away. But for you.. its literally just weeks away (if that!). I have followed your pregnancy the whole way through and now its really getting down to “the good part”. LOL I feel like I’ve been reading a really great book for 9 months and now I cant wait to read the ending! (Well.. it will really just be the beginning of your story.. but you know what I mean..)

    God bless =) XOXO

  11. SNACKS!!! With my first I didn’t pack any (or even think of it) and I was staaaarving during the night when I was up nursing my daughter. The next day I had my husband bring me a loaf of blueberry bread that our neighbor had made the day before I went into labor. That loaf of bread saved my life during that next night when I was starving and couldn’t order food from the kitchen.

  12. I’m not a mommy yet but I think I’d also want socks/slippers, ponytail holders, and my ipod.

    What about bringing the newspaper from the day of the baby’s birth to place their footprints on the front page to save as a keepsake – a friend of mine did so and had it framed to put in the baby’s room. Or how about a baby book to record the footprints and fingerprints? A box or some other way to get everything (flowers, etc.) people will send to the hosiptal, home.

    Good luck Kate!

  13. I work as an L&D nurse…one thing I recommend is gum, hard candy, suckers, etc. Most of the time you can only have clear liquids or ice chips during labor, and these things can help put a nice flavor in your mouth!

  14. Things I loved from last time: my own pillow, boppy or nursing pillow, comfy granny panties (the mesh ones at the hospital are not so good for going home in, imo), my own pads, and chapstick πŸ™‚

    Good luck! I’m about 20 weeks away from delivering twins and can’t wait to start packing my bags haha.

  15. Having given birth naturally two times myself, I also say forget the bathing suit- you won’t want to try and get in and out of something everytime you get in the tub (you will most likely get in more than once… and many hospitals have a time limit they want you to be in at one time- even with a private tub).

    I say, go and buy some pj dresses that you don’t mind tossing if they get gross. I wore them after both my kids and never once had a leak (TMI- sorry) but I did want to look attractive when people came to visit (this might be vein, but after giving birth to a baby, you DESERVE to feel pretty!) Same goes for the make-up, everyone told me I was CRAZY, that I wouldn’t want makeup. Wrong. After my second was born I wanted to shower within the hour (which they let me do because I didn’t have any epidual left and could walk just minutes after birth!)

    Make sure you take some warm clothes for hubby- hospital rooms are frigid. Seriously.

    And if you want to bring something to read, you can. But I guarantee you won’t feel like reading a book (or even a magazine at that point) during labor- and if you have time after labor and people are not there, you should be sleeping lady!

    Good luck, I can’t wait to hear that baby has been born!

  16. Great question, Kate! I’m so glad you are a few weeks ahead of me so you can conquer the tough stuff before I need to.

    Take your baby book for footprints if you have one. Otherwise, you added stuff to my list, so thanks!

  17. I just wanted to wish all the VERY VERY VERY best, my friend. Can’t wait to “meet” your little guy. Hugs to you and Benjamin, cutie Kate. πŸ™‚

  18. I would also add that you might consider bringing baby nail clippers! Our baby’s nails were so long when he was born and we didn’t have the clippers (packed or purchased since he was two weeks early. We didn’t have a bag packed either…the hubby was running around at 3 am in the morning throwing things in a bag while I was having contractions. Luckily I had a list so at least the most important things were packed!) Back to the nail clippers; if you’re there for a short time you probably don’t need them but our baby’s nails were so long that after a couple hours I felt like I had to do something about it. My birthing center doesn’t stock nail clippers so I had to use a small emory board from home. Might not need it but you never know!

  19. our hospital provided slipper socks that were actually quite comfy, and they may put you in pressure hose after delivery to help bring the swelling of your ankles down if they get worse after birth, which mine did. They also provided shower stuff. And I third ditching the bathing suit, once you are in labor you will not care one iota who sees what. Maybe a bikini top, but definitely not the bottom or a one-piece. Snacks are an excellent idea, you may even feel like ‘sneaking’ something while you’re in labor if it’s lasting a long time at the hospital. I think your list is really great though! Oh, and bring your toothbrush, they do have those too, but not anything you’d want to actually put in your mouth.

  20. Unless Ben is going to stay with you the entire time you’re in the hospital, I imagine he will go home at some point (overnight to sleep?) and can bring anything you feel you might need after the baby is born. Nobody tells you this before your first delivery (well, maybe someone told *you*) but you have like a 6 week long heavy period after delivery, regardless of how you deliver, so you will not want your nice PJs from home. At least I didn’t. I also didn’t want to bring panties from home for the same reason. I figure that hospital bill should pay for something, and since it doesn’t cover dry cleaning, I’ll let them worry about stain removal. They’ll have these ridiculous disposal panties and enormous pads for you, and you’ll go through lots of ’em.
    As for iPods and that stuff, after you deliver, you are exhausted, so between sleeping, nursing/feeding your baby and the few things on TV worth watching, you won’t have much time for other activities. I would be concerned about laptops and other expensive electronics disappearing, and you’ll probably only be away from them for 48 hours, so I’d leave those at home. Definitely bring your camera. Your going home outfit for your baby, yes. Other than that, I’m a minimalist. Unless you feel a strong need to have your body wash from home, the hospital has shampoo/soap/etc. Your list is good, but it’s just me, I’d cut it down by two-thirds. πŸ™‚

  21. I was in the hospital for 3 weeks before delivery, so I must say I had EVERYTHING there with me, for obvious reasons. I have read tons of people’s lists, and really everyone is very different in what they wanted/used.

    But here’s what I did want after delivery…

    My own underwear and overnight/heavy duty pads- some people prefer the hospital stuff, I did not.

    The baby book – they put Emmy’s footprints right in the book for us.

    I had my own nursing gown/robe I wore the day after delivery. I was much more comfortable in it, especially with visitors. I was also going to the NICU, but that’s another story…

    Definitely your own travel toiletries.

    Your own pillow(s), definitely in a colored/patterned pillow case.

    Nursing tanks are the best. Also, I had 2 sleeping nursing bras that were comfy and provided just enough support to wear with visitors around. I still wear them now!

    Breastfeeding book/info. (“I recommended “Breastfeeding With Comfort and Joy”)

    I saw someone mentioned nail clippers, and I’ve heard that’s a good idea. I actually found that a pair of fine tipped cuticle scissors was MUCH easier to use cutting her nails. Every Mama I know has cut their baby with the nail clippers (myself included) and the clippers freak me out. The cuticle scissors were a lifesaver!

    So excited for you!

  22. jeneandliss

    I don’t think I’d be much help with this, especially since I’m in Australia and it seems our hospitals are a little different, or at least the one I went to (baby clothes and nappies were provided, but no pads or undies were provided for me. No shampoo or soap, either).

    But I’d agree with those who have said leave the bathing suit. (Unless it’s for Ben?) I won’t say you won’t care, because everyone is different, but I personally really didn’t care how naked I was or who saw me. I walked across the hall from the delivery room to the shower with nothing on, and didn’t give two hoots. And I am not usually that kind of person at all.

    I also agree with Jessica ^ I was in hospital for three days and didn’t have the energy to do much more than watch TV and flick through magazines. I’d bring your laptop, though, as long as you keep an eye on it. I wished I’d had mine with me.
    And Karen mentioned baby clippers – yes! If not, at least some little mittens for his hands. Their nails are sharp!

    Also, snacks. Man, I really wanted snacks. And my own pillow. And a better blanket for my bed.
    And that’s it! πŸ™‚

    Your list looks good to me. Good luck with the packing!

  23. Everyone here has already mentioned about everything, I think. I know we had to bring copies of our drivers licenses (there is a TON of paperwork to do when you get there), but I’m sure it’s different for every hospital.
    I way overpacked my first time – I never even wanted to use the stuff I thought I wouldn’t be able to live without, like my iPod. I think the essentials for me were: my own pillow, camera, my own pads, a nursing bra, my Boppy the second time around, a towel and shower stuff (I don’t think they provided those for me), and snacks. I had a box of granola bars in my bag each time, and I wished I’d had 3 boxes. My husband ate a lot of them during my labor, and I was RAVENOUS the whole time I was in the hospital. I ate all the hospital food and was always still hungry, and it’s not like you can just run out for something.
    I didn’t bother with pjs or nightgowns – to put it lightly, postpartum is a pretty messy time, and I also just had a hard time getting into and out of the bed all the time and didn’t feel like walking around or putting on more restrictive clothing. So I just lived in the hospital gowns (I did put on a nursing bra though).
    I wouldn’t recommend the bathing suit for you (by the time you’re finished everyone and their uncle will have looked at/handled every part of you and you just won’t care), but maybe for Ben. If you do decide to take a shower during labor, you’ll probably want him in there with you, and he may not want to be in the buff if a nurse or someone walks in.
    If you’re planning on banking the baby’s cord blood, you have to have the kit all ready to go at the moment of delivery, so if you have one, make sure all the paperwork is done and that it’s accessible so you can have it out and ready at the right time.
    Anyway, good luck! It’s always a relief to have the bag packed and out of the way.

  24. You mentioned a swimsuit and some people told you not to bring it…BRING ONE FOR YOUR HUSBAND!!

    My husband helped me shower for the first two days because I was bleeding so much and so darn uncomfortable so he washed my legs etc. and with people coming in and out of your room so much, he’ll want to be covered.

    Another idea: bring 2 outfits for baby…a small one and a big one. If you go in to labor tomorrow, you’ll want a smaller outfit, but if he stays in there for two more weeks, you’ll need the bigger one.

    PACK YOUR BAG NOW! I packed mine and went in to labor the next evening. Thanks goodness my husband forced me to do it.

  25. Another thing, I did a post here: (
    about postpartum recover because nobody prepares you for it. It isn’t fun…it’s obviously 100% worth it, but be prepared is all I’m sayin’.

  26. Your list looks pretty good. I would just add lots of good snacks – as much for you as Benjamin – because there may be a stage where he is starving (and thus, perhaps, cranky and not as supportive as he should be?!) but doesn’t want to leave for any length of time to get food. And I very much doubt you are going to want to wear a bathing suit (labor removes all inhibitions, and you probably won’t want anything snug against your nether-regions), but it takes up little space so go for it.
    I would also echo the advice above to bring the baby nail clippers – they often come out with looooong nails, and the nurses won’t cut them for you.
    Good for you for packing in advance. I hadn’t packed when my water broke (3 weeks early, to be fair!) and ended up barking orders to my husband while sitting on a towel because we didn’t have any pads in the house, tsk tsk..

  27. I’m not even pregnant yet, but TTC for over a year. Here is the list I have complied after reading message boards and blogs. I’ve added a few more things based on ppl suggestions here. THANKS!
    I have separated my list into bag for labor and bag left in car for after baby is born.

    Things to bring to the hospital
    Toiletries: Chapstick, Ear plugs, eye mask, meds and vitamins, tums, tylenol, advil, hairbands

    Clothes: slippery socks, robe, DH bathing suit.

    Other: Pillow, computer, cel phones, all chargers, camera, batteries, DH snacks, cash and quarters, paperwork, dvds to watch on computer, baby book for foot prints, mist water bottle, gum, hard candy, lollipops.
    Second bag for after
    Toiletries: Makeup, deodorant, toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, shampoo, soap, comb, makeup, flushable wipes, face wipes

    Baby: 2 baby outfit (each newborn and 0-3), sleepsack, socks, car seat in car, binkies, mittens, receiving blanket for swaddling, baby nail file, baby nail clippers, nail scissors.

    Clothes DH: 2 boxers, extra outfit, 2 socks

    Clothes: Nursing bra, nursing pads, nursing nightgown, big black underwear, shirt, black sweat/yoga pants, socks, slippery socks, flip flops.

    Other: More snacks, extra bags to bring stuff home in, boppy, Nursing Care Instant Relief System @Target, LANSINOH, manila envelope, mother’s milk tea, big pads.

  28. I’m going to try not to be too redundant.
    -pillow/blanket for the hubs and you. Try to avoid white pillowcases so they’re easily distinguished from the hospital’s.
    -I say if you think you might want the swimsuit, bring it. It takes up hardly any space anyway. Bring one for Ben, too.
    -I wore yoga pants and long sleeve tees in the hospital.
    -breastfeeding books. I didn’t bring my nursing pillow, but it sounds like a good idea.
    -your id. I forgot mine which made for some drama upon check-in. I was fully dilated when we arrived at the hospital, so i didn’t need any more drama!

    Don’t worry about overepacking. Worst case scenario, you don’t use everything and bring it home. If something offers you comfort now to pack, bring it!!

  29. in my childbirth class the teacher recommended bringing our own pillows since we’re used to them and they will smell like home so as to be more comforting and calming than bleach smelling, flat or lumpy hospital ones πŸ™‚
    she also reminded us not to wear a dress home, even though it will be comfortable, they’re too hard to breastfeed in and who wants to change a million times? (i think some kinds would be easy to breastfeed in, like the loose maxi dresses)

  30. Food. You may want to eat during labor. Some people do, especially if their labors are long. It’s kind of like running a marathon–you need energy.

    If people suggest to you that you’re not allowed to eat or you can have only ice chips, point them to the correct information that aspiration is not an issue. Those thoughts are extremely outdated and oldschool. If you have trouble getting “permission” to eat, ask for a few moments alone with your husband.

    Your own clothes. Hospitals are freezing, and the blankets are never warm enough. Bring some things that are long sleeved, some pants, and some socks. If you’re worried about stains, bring things that are black!

    Good luck!

  31. I just thought of something else ESSENTIAL – chapstick! All that deep breathing dries out the lips πŸ™‚

  32. While it sounds fun to pack all kinds of things like they say to do, like lolly pops to moisten your mouth, cd’s for soothing music, etc. When you are in there, all you really need is what you learned in your birthing class, a calm husband, and an outfit for you and the baby. I remember packing all kinds of stuff that was suggested, and none of it being practical or useful.
    If your labor is taking long, then there is always the gift shop in the hospital to get goodies in if your really need something.
    So, your original thought of ,camera, outfits, toiletries is pretty much all you need.

    Best of luck and hope all goes well in the delivery of your son πŸ™‚

  33. Oh my goodness this is helpful. I’m coming up on 33 weeks and want to be prepared. There are so many good tips here.

    Now I’m all grossed out by postpartum messes though!

  34. organicmama2008

    Honestly, after having my son I realized all I needed to have were baby clothes, my pjs, my slippers, a TON of underwear, pads and a change of comfy clothes. That’s it, that’s all.
    Good luck!
    Jennifer of

  35. Your list looks good! Things I was glad I had: movie for the laptop, travel toiletries, my own pillows ( I brought 2 and used both during labor & after), change of clothes for the hubby (he got blood on his first shirt cutting the cord), comfy & loose pants for wearing the next day & for wearing home (you will basically be wearing a diaper for a good 24 hours after delivery with the pads & ice packs), a shirt(s) that is easy to nurse in & nursing bra (tank tops are too hard to nurse in until you get the hang of it), 2 outfits for baby – one large & one small, snacks for hubby.

    Things I didn’t need: I brought too many clothes (I was only there for 24 hours after delivery), baby books & notes, underwear (my hospital provided plenty that were more comfy than mine, which were too tight).

    There wasn’t anything I wished I had brought that I didn’t pack except for my own towel.

    I was surprised at how quickly I stopped caring about how many people saw me naked. Modesty goes out the window pretty fast πŸ™‚

  36. I second (third, tenth?) the recommendation to bring your own pillow! Not only are the hospital ones not that comfy, they only give you a few and you’ll definitely want extras for getting comfy during labor and BFing. Plus, if your hospital is anything like the one I delivered at it’s pretty stark, so the burst of color on my orange patterned pillow cases really brightened up the photos we took (not that I was thinking about that when I packed them!) Best of luck!

  37. I didn’t actually wear my pajamas in the hospital, my robe, yes, but not my pj’s. I was too afraid of getting something on them (as in blood) and wanted to wear them when I got home instead. I either wore my hospital gown or was naked. I honestly didn’t care at that point which is very unlike me! πŸ™‚

    I was glad to have my computer with me and of course the camera. I didn’t use any nursing pads because my milk didn’t come in until after I was home (of course if you had a c-section you’d be in the hospital longer). I also didn’t use pads and the hospital had plenty.

    Good luck packing – so exciting!!

  38. I do not know if others said this but:

    Snacks and magazines/ book for hubby

  39. You won’t need a bathing suit. When you are in that much pain modesty is not something that will cross your mind! I would say maybe bring some extra pillows. Even just a small one might be good.

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