Preparing for Baby

What You Really Need in Your Hospital Bag

What you really need in your hospital bag, the inside scoop from a labor and delivery nurse.

I know that you may have seen many of these posts, but what makes this different is that I am a Labor and Delivery nurse and mother! I have seen many people come in with tons of bags (they never touched half of them) to people who brought in very little (and ended up heading home for essentials). What you need in your bag really depends on how long you will be there.

Now, if you are going in for an induction you may be there for a while. If it is a first time induction than you know you will be there for a while. I am not saying you are going to be there forever, but enough to need a little extra in your bag. You’ll also need an extra outfit if you’re going for a c-section. You don’t need to pack your whole house. I promise you won’t use half of it. Bear with me.

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When should I pack?

Well, in my opinion start getting things together by week 37. It doesn’t mean to pack the entire thing. I’d have the bag ready at week 39. You never know when labor will strike. Some moms are just too excited (hey I was one of them) and packed as early as week 35! I couldn’t contain my excitement and I get it. Just be prepared to be tweaking and adding as the weeks go on.What you really need in your hospital bag. The inside scoop from a labor and delivery nurse

It really isn’t a big deal when you get ready, just be prepared. Nothing like running around the house in a panic trying to get a bag together while preparing to expel a human from your body!

Okay, so tell me, what do I need?

The average hospital stay for a vaginal birth is usually two days (this is after the delivery, this doesn’t include how long you are in labor). The average stay for a c-section is three-four days, depending on your recovery and hospital policy.

Labor for first time moms (sometimes second, third, etc moms too) can last 12-30 hours, depending on your body. So in reality you have no idea exactly how long you will really be there, but this doesn’t mean to pack the whole house. While in labor you won’t want to be wearing much of anything anyways! Hospitals have fancy mesh undies that make you feel like a total super model. Or you can buy some awesome granny panties and rock them. We will get back to this later.

Well first you need a duffel bag. I found that I really liked this bag. If you’re looking for something else this is also a good purchase.

The Vera Bradley bag has enough room for 2-3 baby outfits, 3 outfits for yourself, 3 outfits for your significant other, and some other essentials. That is of course if you pack it the right way. We will get to that.

Okay, really, what do I need?

What you really need in your hospital bag, the inside scoop from a labor and delivery nurse. albenaphotography

Baby cloths and a blanket – Now skin to skin is a biggie in baby friendly hospitals. Most of the time you’ll want your baby skin to skin. This helps your baby get to know your smell and if you are breastfeeding helps promote bonding. So when it comes to baby outfits you don’t need a ton. I promise.

Bring an outfit for pictures, some hospitals have a professional photographer, or any accessories you think will look cute. Now about baby size, I’d go with 0-3 months. Rather be safe than sorry. Make sure to bring an outfit for the baby to go home in. Two outfits will be enough.

One blanket should be plenty. I know it is so hard to chose ONE. You get about a million of them as gifts!

Cloths for you – Pack something comfortable, no jeans. Really you’ll thank me. You will still have a bit of a baby belly so those jeans that fit pre-pregnancy may be snug and uncomfortable. Go for yoga pants that can stretch. I would’t pack your favorite pj’s either. Things get messy. I am not saying it is a blood bath, but you’ll be bleeding (almost like a heavy period) for a few days. You don’t want a huge blood stain on those favorite yoga pants or pjs. You can buy some inexpensive yoga pants or pj’s at Walmart or Target.

Breastfeeding! Don’t forget your bras. I’d bring 2 and one nursing tank or night time bra. Bravado! is a definite go to bra. They are soft and comfortable. Medela is a good brand as well.

For easy access during breastfeeding bring a zip up hoodie. No need to fuss. The less fuss the more bonding with your little one. Not a big fan of hoodies? Try a soft comfortable robe. This way you are covered and you can stroll about the unit.

Socks & Underwear – Don’t forget essentials like socks or underwear. Let’s stop on socks for a second (I love socks, fuzzy ones especially). I got these fun and spunky labor socks. Not only do they have grips on them my nurses got a kick out of them.

Back to underwear… Now I mentioned before most hospitals have mesh underwear. They are great, because they are huge like granny panties and you can throw them out. No need to worry about ruining your favorite leopard print underwear and more space left in the bag. You’ll only need a real pair of underwear for the ride home (unless you don’t mind the mesh). If you are not too keen on that buy some cheap underwear you don’t mind throwing out.

Flip Flops – Don’t forget to add a pair of  flip flops for the shower. They clean the bathrooms, but still…

Pads –  Hospitals supply pads, so less to pack and more room for other essentials. If you are not interested in using their pads, bring your own, but make sure they are super absorbent like these.

Significant other’s items – Don’t forget about your significant other. Make sure they have 2-3 outfits with underwear and socks included. They’ll thank you.

Pillows – The pillows at the hospital are usually super flat. I mean we are talking pancakes. Something I wish I brought for myself was my own pillow. I’d bring your own pillow, but make sure to bring a pillow case you don’t mind ruining.

Your boppy if you are breastfeeding. The nurses will teach you how to use it if you are uncertain.

Car Seat – You need to be able to take your little one home. Of course you can’t fit this in your bag. 😛

Snacks! Let me tell you some hospitals don’t have room service at 1am. After delivery you are HUNGRY. Like, you could eat a horse hungry. So having a few snacks stashed away is a must. You just worked hard, so good fats, carbohydrates, and yes sugar will help you get some energy back. We all know your energy stores from here on out will be sapped. Make sure to eat something before getting up for the first time. We don’t need you getting woozy and passing out.

Don’t forget your cell phone charger. I don’t know how many times a significant other wanders out to the nurses station asking for a charger.

A camera (and batteries for that camera), ipad chargers or any other chargers you may need. Music is also a good thing to add. It helps with a relaxing (and fun) environment.

Being induced? If you are going in for an induction prepare to bring some entertainment. This can include a book, card games, an ipad, or anything that can keep your preoccupied. You may need an extra outfit. In this case some patients found it helpful to pack an extra bag of cloths and leave it in the car in case they needed it.

Going in for a c-section? The stay tends to be an extra day or two, so pack accordingly. Also, abdominal binders. The hospital has them. My patients always tell me they are amazing. They compress a bit helping alleviate some strain on your incision. I only mention these, because I have seen some patients bring their own.



  • Toothpaste & Toothbrush (the ones at the hospital are not the greatest, but if you forget them they should have some)
  • Deodorant
  • Hair brush
  • Chapstick (lips get super dry during labor, this is useful!)
  • Hair elastics
  • Pads (most hospitals have them, but feel free to bring your own of course!)
  • Nursing Pads (now, the first few days while you are in the hospital you produce colostrum and won’t leak much. Leaking really happens when your milk comes in. They are not an essential, but you can bring them if you want)
  • Underwear you don’t mind chucking or one pair for going home. Use the ones at the hospital
  • Glasses and Case
  • Contacts and Case
  • Contact solution
  • Shampoo
  • Body wash

Phew…that seemed like a lot. Can I really fit it in the bag? Why yes, yes you can. I roll my clothes and stack them as high as they can go in the bag and start again next to the column. This way I have more room. It is like tetris, but you can pack a whole lot in a bag with a bit of thinking outside the box. But I can’t say it enough you don’t need to go terribly overboard. Remember you need to bring these things back with you.

Don’t stress too much about the bag, really. Just pack what you need. Hope this helped. If you have any comments or questions feel free to ask away. 🙂

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