Whether it’s your first time, third time, or more – If you are an expecting mommy, this minimalist hospital bag checklist is the perfect guide for you.
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As your due date approaches, you may be wondering: When is the best time to start packing your hospital bag?
While there’s no right or wrong answer, it’s a good idea to have your bags packed and ready to go by the time you are 8.5 months along in your pregnancy.
That way, when labor begins you won’t be distracted by worrying if you’ve forgotten something and can instead focus on getting through each contraction.
Of course, it’s easy to over-pack as well, so this checklist focus on the essential items you’ll need during your hospital stay.
When to pack in your hospital bag
When you think about it, 40 weeks of pregnancy may seem like plenty of time to get your stuff in order, but at the same time, there is so much going on in this time frame that important stuff can easily be forgotten, such as packing your hospital bags.
(By the way, here are 16 last-minute things to do before your baby arrives. Be sure to read over those as well.)
As mentioned above, it’s probably best not to wait until you’re due to get your hospital bag prepped. A good rule of thumb is to have your bags packed and ready to go at around 8.5 months – or at the very least – when you are 36 weeks pregnant.
Once you reach week 37 of pregnancy, you are considered full term. And since labor usually starts any time between 37 weeks and 42 weeks, you definitely want to be prepared to go before this time.
Packing your hospital bag
You can keep these items in separate bags or throw all the things into one larger bag, it doesn’t matter, but we are breaking down the things you need by bag just to make it easier for you.
You will ultimately need to make the decision of how you want your stuff to be packed.
Remember, this is a minimalist hospital bag checklist – All of these items are actually going to be useful to you during your hospital stay.
Most hospitals have the things you need for your baby and even a lot of things for you, so there is no need to pack more than you’ll need.
What’s in mommy’s bag?
Labor can start any time and anywhere so this is a bag you’ll want to keep within reach at all times.
You may even want to keep it in the car when the delivery day is approaching, just so you have one less thing to grab just in case you find yourself panicking about driving to the hospital.
You can pack a shoulder bag, a diaper bag, or even a small suitcase. Whatever bag you choose is fine, just make sure to keep it nearby.
Check with your hospital to see what important documents/paperwork you will need to bring with you for delivery day.
For moms in the US, you will likely need your insurance card and drivers’ license.
There may also be other paperwork you will need to fill out ahead of time.
If you have a birth plan your nurse will want to read about it to make sure they provide you with the closest experience possible.
Just remember that your birth plan is just a plan, and sometimes delivery day does not go according to that plan.
You lips will get dry and cracked during labor because of all the hard work you’ll be doing, so don’t forget this essential item.
Hair ties or headband
You may want your hair out of your face during or after delivery so these are really important to have as well.
Hospital floors are kind of yucky, so you’ll want a pair of socks to wear around. Slippers are nice too, but socks will do the trick.
See Best Labor and Delivery Socks For New Moms to get the perfect pair of hospital socks for you!
Comfortable pants and tops
Some women prefer to pack maternity pants and maternity tops for hospital trips because tight fitting clothing will just make things more uncomfortable.
This is especially true if you are having a c-section. If that’s the case, be sure to pack the right underwear and pants that you can easily pull above your incision area.
As far as the rest of your clothes go if you’re having a c-section birth, just be mindful of your incision area. Avoid anything that will rub against this area.
Personally, I had the best luck with loose-fitting clothes. Comfy dresses are great options too if the weather permits.
Your girls may be very sore after your baby enters the world and your milk starts coming in. A nursing bra will make things easier, and it will help give you the support you need.
These bras are really comfy!
While the hospital may give you some of these, they won’t give you enough so some moms advise packing extra.
These are the best ones! If you are lucky enough to get extra mesh undies at the hospital, bring them home!
Labor and delivery gown
If your hospital is ok with you bringing your own gown to wear instead of the one they provide, you can pack that as well, but it’s totally up to you.
Some moms prefer their own gown over the itching (and very exposing) ones provided by the hospital. Keep in mind, this is a personal choice and certainly not a have-to thing.
Robe to lounge in after the birth
Hospitals can get chilly and you’ll like get tired of the gowns they provide pretty fast. They can also be awkward if you will be expecting visitors. A robe will solve all of these problems.
A maternity gown robe like this one should be just what you need, and it won’t take up a lot of space in your bag.
Postpartum pajamas are also a nice choice to get you comfortable at the hospital.
You should also pack some basic toiletries like a toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, and deodorant.
These may or may not be provided, but let’s be honest, nothing beats your own deodorant and toothpaste.
Also, don’t forget your hair brush!
You won’t need many and your milk may not come in while you’re in the hospital, but just in case it does, it’s a good idea to have a handful of breast pads in your bag.
Better to have them and not need them than to need them and not have them, yeah?
The hospital may provide this, but just in case they don’t, this is one thing you don’t want to be without if you plan to nurse!
Skipping nipple cream – not recommended.
Speaking of nursing, a good nursing pillow is another essential that’s nice to have. This will give you some extra support as you find the perfect breastfeeding position. This can be quite tricky for new moms so any help you can get is a win.
If you are having a c-section, the My Brest Friend Nursing Pillow is an excellent choice.
If you have a lot of time on your hands while you wait for baby, it may not be terrible to have some music to listen to. Don’t forget headphones!
You may or may not feel like eating. You may or may not be allowed to eat during labor. However, it’s a good idea to pack a few snacks just in case.
Plus, your support partner will probably get snacky either way so be sure to pack a few of their favorites.
Baby hospital bag checklist
The baby doesn’t need that many things because the hospital has almost everything you could need for newborns. But you should definitely take these items.
Coming home outfit
You’ll also want to read up on how to safely dress baby in the winter so they don’t overheat and don’t compromise the safety of the car seat.
Remember to install this properly! The hospital will not let you leave without a car seat.
Handful of diapers
You won’t need a whole pack, and the hospital will probably give you some diapers before you leave.
But just in case they don’t, have a few handy in your bag.
The hospital will likely provide formula.
However, if you know you won’t be breastfeeding, then it might be a good idea to throw in some formula and a bottle or two into your bag – especially if you have a long ride home.
Dad hospital bag checklist
You partner may be with you the entire time so you’ll want to be sure he is well taken care of too! Here are some things he may need.
Phone and charger
He may want to download a contraction timer app to help time the contractions during early labor.
There is always parking that needs to be paid and vending machines that cost more than they should, so cash is a good idea.
Blanket and pillow
If Dad is sticking around a while, then he may want to sleep in the room with you in which case hospital bedding will just not do.
The hospital may not give Dad any toiletries because he is not the patient so he will want his own things.
Dad’s main duty is to be there to support you during your big push or to be by your side during your c-section.
How long is labor?
No one can answer this question because labor is very unique to each woman and each pregnancy.
Some labor lasts several days, while others have an experience that lasts a few hours.
Here is a little more information on labor length if you have further questions.
How long do you stay in the hospital after birth?
Depending on your location and your hospital’s policies, the average length you should plan on is around 48 hours.
Complications will of course result in a longer stay.
Many hospitals offer a tour of the maternity ward, and it’s a good idea to ask your physician about this and schedule a walk-through. This will be your chance to ask your hospital about their common practices.
What should I wear home?
You can generally wear whatever you like on your way home. The most important thing to remember is to make sure you will be comfortable.
Depending on what you prefer, it may be a good idea to grab an oversized hoodie and sweatpants. Or, you may choose to opt for maternity clothing that you feel cozy in.
Maternity are a great option too since your tummy won’t be quite back to normal just yet. (And that’s totally normal and ok!)
What do hospitals give for newborns?
This is highly dependent on your hospital, so that’s a question to bring up during your walk-through or if you will be pre-registering.
There is a chance that you could score some hospital goodies for your newborn such as diapers, formula, pacifier, and wipes.
These are essentials for the first few days with your baby, and the hospital will not send you home without them if you aren’t able to get them right away.
A minimalist hospital bag is best, so try not to stress over what to pack.
Hospitals usually provide quite a lot. So, as long as you have these essentials, you should be just fine!
Are there any other essentials to you suggest we add to this list?