A guide to avoid over-packing your hospital bag
On every Mama’s third trimester of pregnancy to-do list preparing for the birth of baby: packing your hospital bag! I don’t know about you, but I always end up over-packing for any occasion….”oh I’ll just throw one more shirt in” turns into an extra 3 outfits and 2 pairs of shoes. Here’s a tip: take the minimalistic approach to your hospital bag to avoid adding one more piece of chaos to entering the hospital while in labor (or stress if you’re going to be induced). Not to mention less unpacking once you are home from the hospital and focusing on baby is always a good thing!
When should you start packing your hospital bag?
Well this depends on how anxious of a person you are awaiting baby’s birth. At 36 weeks my hospital bag was packed, and by week 39 I had unpacked and packed it again. So if you are like me and need to feel prepared and ready in order to remain calm, then go ahead and pack early on. If you are more of a “prepared for baby but casual about it” type of person then week 38 should be just fine.
What are the essential items to include in a hospital bag checklist?
So what do you actually need to bring with you for your hospital stay? Honestly not much, the hospital has almost everything needed for mom, baby and your birth partner. You should ask your hospital or birthing center what is provided to you to avoid packing unnecessary items. Very few items were actually used from my original hospital bag packing for my first birth and I was there for 4 nights and 5 days. The things you need are really to make yourself more comfortable: music, diffuser, skincare, nursing bra, pillow, blanket, etc.
Now that I’ve been through 2 hospital stays for the births of both my babies, I’ve broken down this super-easy and organized hospital packing list by category for Mom, Partner, Baby & The Hospital Room. This ultimate hospital bag essentials checklist is below and you’ll find details on products and tips further on!
Hospital Bag Packing List
What should you pack for you in your hospital bag?
- Cozy socks
- 2x soft nursing bra (Bodily is worth the splurge, trust me!)
- Button up sleep shirt or sleep gown
- Slippers (pro tip: take some from the hotel during your babymoon so they are disposable and can be left at the hospital)
- Barefoot dreams cardigan
- Maxi dress to leave hospital
- Birkenstocks Sandals to leave the hospital
- lip balm
- Hair tie/Scrunchie
- Dry shampoo
- Toothbrush & toothpaste
- Easy skincare: exfoliating pads, moisturizer
- Face wash
- Single pack shampoo/conditioner
- 2x nursing pads
- 3x Frida Mom Underwear – these are so much better than mesh underwear from the hospital, trust me!
- Visual birth plan
- Honey sticks (for when you can’t eat anything after an epidural)
- Heating pad
- Pillow with colored pillowcase to stand out from the hospital pillows
- Barefoot Dreams comfy blanket
What should you pack for your partner in his hospital bag?
- 2x Tshirt
- 2x underwear
- Toiletries: toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant
- Pillow with colored pillowcase
What should you pack for your baby in your hospital bag?
- Portable sound machine
- Ollie swaddle
- Magnetic Me Footie or Zipper Footie as a going home outfit (love how soft this brand is)
- Car seat
Hospital Bag Checklist for your Hospital Room
- 2x 10’ cord phone chargers
- Canopy Waterless Aroma Diffuser with essential oils from Saje (highly recommend Saje Yoga or Saje Spa Spirit)
- Portable speaker
- Portable night light – I love this one! I used it for months during night feedings after baby arrived.
- Nurses gift basket (see what I included in mine here)
Optional items to pack in your hospital bag
- Hospital gown
- Nipple cream
- Eye mask
- Tripod for some DIY hospital photos
- Announcement sign (I got ours and our milestone cards from Etsy)
- Baby outfit for first pics
- Prenatal vitamins (if you are particular)
What you don’t need to pack in your hospital bag
- Nursing pillow – the nurses and lactation consultants will show you how to use hospital pillows instead. You know I am obsessed with my Snuggle Me nursing pillow and brought it everywhere while I was breastfeeding, but its not necessary to lug to the hospital with everything else
- Pants – HA! The last thing you’ll want to put on because 1) night sweats 2) bulky situation down there 3) swelling
- Postpartum supplies: maxi pads, witch hazel spray, dermoplast, peri bottle, etc.
- Nipple gels
- Belly band
- Breast pump
- Robe – use a comfy cardigan instead
- Laptop (your partner may want to bring one)
Tips for packing your hospital bag
I highly recommend packing a cooler with snacks (grab this cooler ahead of time, which is also my favorite for traveling on airplanes with breastmilk). Try making some simple wraps since these hold up great after several hours. Other good healthy snacks: grapes, blueberries, carrots, pretzels, individual peanut butter or almond butter packets. Hospital food is not great and meal service ends early, you and your partner may need the snacks in the middle of the night.
I don’t know about your partner, but my husband was hesitant about packing more than a few things in his bag and didn’t originally pack a blanket, pillow or towel because it was bulky. For our second baby, he knew better and packed a pillow, sleeping bag, comfy blanket, and even brought a tiny blow up mattress pad. Encourage your partner to pack these essentials.
Fair warning if you don’t want to bring your own towel, our hospital towels were the size of my arm and paper thin. Ask for an extra “blanket” which is essentially just an extra thick sheet and use it as a towel instead.
What bag should you bring to the hospital?
Okay, now for what to pack all this stuff in! Using a weekender bag or a rolling suitcase is a personal preference and really what you think your partner can handle carrying for you. Regardless of which direction you go, be sure to use packing cubes to keep your stuff organized. This helped my husband easily find things in my bag when I asked for them.
You’ll need 3 bags:
- Rolling carry-on suitcase for mom + hospital room stuff
- Weekender bag for your partner
- Diaper bag for baby (I am OBSESSED with the Caraa Diaper Bag, but also recommend the Mina Baie Stevie for a more traditional, elevated leather look)
Plus you’ll need the car seat, but your partner can grab that out of the car right before you head out with the baby.
Here are some of my favorite weekender bag picks:
And if you are in the market for a small carry-on suitcase, after MUCH research I bought the July Carry On Pro suitcase and am in love! I also think the CALPAK Hue Front Pocket Carry-on and the Beis Carry On are great options.
Time to go get your hospital bag ready Mamas!