Essentials for Your Maternity Hospital Bag: What to Pack

Essentials for Your Maternity Hospital Bag: What to Pack

Packing for your maternity hospital stay is an exciting part of preparing for your baby’s arrival. However, figuring out what to pack can also feel overwhelming, especially for first-time parents. This guide will help streamline the process, ensuring you have everything you need for a comfortable stay for you and your baby. From personal items to essentials for your newborn, having the right items on hand will provide peace of mind and make your hospital experience as smooth as possible.

For the Birthing Person

Comfort is key when selecting items for yourself. Hospitals provide basic supplies, but bringing personal items can make your stay more pleasant.

  • Important Documents: Bring your ID, insurance information, and any hospital paperwork or birth plan you’ve prepared.
  • Comfortable Clothing: Pack loose, comfortable clothes for before and after birth, including a robe for walking around the hospital.
  • Nursing Bras & Pads: Whether or not you plan to breastfeed, your breasts are likely to be tender and leak colostrum. Nursing bras and pads can provide support and keep you dry.
  • Slippers and Socks: Hospitals can be chilly, and you’ll want to walk around during labor or after. Non-slip socks or slippers are essential.
  • Toiletries: While hospitals provide basic hygiene products, you might prefer your own. Remember to pack a toothbrush, toothpaste, hairbrush, deodorant, face wash, and any other personal care items.
  • Lip Balm and Moisturizer: Hospitals are dry places. Keep your skin and lips hydrated throughout your stay.
  • Snacks and Hydration: Labor can be long, and you’ll need energy. Pack snacks that are easy on the stomach and hydrating drinks.

For Your Partner or Support Person

Don’t forget that your partner or support person will also need a few essentials to stay comfortable during your hospital stay.

  • Change of Clothes: A fresh set of clothes is crucial if they plan to stay with you overnight or for extended periods.
  • Snacks and Water Bottle: They’ll need to stay fueled and hydrated too, especially if your labor is long.
  • Entertainment: Books, magazines, or downloaded movies and shows can help pass the time.
  • Chargers: Keeping phones, tablets, and other devices charged is essential for communication, photos, and entertainment.

For the Baby

Although the hospital provides basic supplies for your baby, these personal items will ensure your newborn is comfortable and ready for the journey home.

  • Going-Home Outfit: Choose a weather-appropriate outfit, including a hat and mittens if it’s cold.
  • Blankets: Pack a few lightweight blankets for swaddling and warmth on the ride home.
  • Diapers and Wipes: The hospital will provide some, but it’s always good to have extra.
  • Baby Care Items: While most care items are provided, you may prefer to bring your own, such as a specific brand of diaper cream or a soft hairbrush.

Miscellaneous Items

  • Camera or Smartphone: You’ll want to capture those first moments with your baby, so ensure your camera or smartphone is charged and ready.
  • Notebook and Pen: Keep track of questions for your healthcare providers, feeding times, and diaper changes.
  • Pillows and Blankets: Hospital offerings are often limited. Bring your own for extra comfort.
  • Money for Parking and Vending Machines: Having cash on hand can be helpful for unexpected expenses.


When should I pack my maternity hospital bag?

It’s advisable to have your maternity hospital bag packed and ready to go by the time you are about 36 weeks pregnant. This is because labor could start at any time during the final weeks of pregnancy, and having a bag ready will reduce stress and ensure you’re not scrambling to gather items at the last minute. Some expectant parents choose to pack even earlier, particularly if there’s a risk of preterm labor or other health considerations.

Can I bring my own medication to the hospital?

While you might have medications that you take regularly, it’s important to communicate with your healthcare provider before bringing any medication into the hospital. Hospitals have strict policies about medication administration to ensure patient safety. Typically, you should provide your care team with a list of any medications you’re currently taking, including dosage and frequency, and they will supply you from the hospital’s pharmacy. Always check with your healthcare provider beforehand to understand the hospital’s specific policies.

Should I pack formula even if I plan to breastfeed?

If you intend to breastfeed, it’s generally not necessary to pack formula in your hospital bag. Most hospitals are equipped to support breastfeeding mothers and provide lactation consultants to help with any challenges. However, if there are medical or personal reasons you might need to formula feed, discuss this with your healthcare provider in advance. They can advise whether bringing your own formula is necessary and suggest which type to bring.

How many outfits should I pack for myself and the baby?

For yourself, pack at least two comfortable outfits in addition to what you wear to the hospital. This accounts for the possibility of extended stays or the need to change due to discomfort or mess. For the baby, pack two to three outfits. Although newborns primarily need to be warm and comfortable, extra outfits ensure you’re prepared for any accidents or spills. Remember, your stay might be shorter, but it’s better to be overprepared than underprepared.

What should I leave at home when packing my maternity hospital bag?

It’s best to leave valuables like jewelry, large amounts of cash, and unnecessary electronics at home. Not only do these items pose a security risk, but they can also get lost in the shuffle during your hospital stay. Additionally, avoid bringing large books or other bulky items that can clutter your space and create more hassle than they’re worth. Hospitals are generally well-equipped to provide entertainment and essential items, so focus on packing personal items that will make your stay more comfortable.

Can I bring my own pillow and blanket to the hospital?

Yes, bringing your own pillow and blanket can significantly increase your comfort during your hospital stay. Hospital linens are functional but often not as cozy or comforting as your own. A familiar pillow or blanket can make the environment feel more personal and less clinical, contributing to a more positive experience. Just ensure they’re easily distinguishable from hospital linens (consider bright colors or patterns) to avoid them being mistaken for hospital property and laundered with the facility’s linens.

How can I ensure I don’t forget to bring my maternity hospital bag to the hospital?

To ensure you don’t forget your maternity hospital bag when it’s time to head to the hospital, keep it in a readily accessible place, such as by the front door or in the car. Inform your partner or support person where the bag is and remind them it needs to come with you. Additionally, you might set a reminder on your phone or place a note somewhere visible, like on the fridge or beside your keys, as a last-minute prompt before leaving home.

What items are provided by hospitals for postpartum care, and what should I bring?

Hospitals typically provide essential items for postpartum care, including sanitary pads, disposable underwear, ice packs, and sometimes even pain relief spray or witch hazel pads for perineal healing. They also supply basic toiletries and linens. However, you may prefer your own toiletries for comfort or specific brands that you find more effective or soothing. If you have favorite postpartum care products, such as a particular brand of nipple cream if you’re breastfeeding, it’s wise to bring them along. Always check with your hospital ahead of time to know exactly what is supplied.

How do I pack if I am having a scheduled C-section?

If you are having a scheduled C-section, you may need to pack a few additional items for your hospital stay. Comfortable, loose clothing is even more important as you’ll want to avoid anything that puts pressure on your incision site. High-waisted underwear that sits above the incision, extra-long sanitary pads for post-surgery bleeding, and slip-on shoes or slippers can also enhance your comfort. Consider packing more items for entertainment and relaxation since your stay might be longer and you’ll have more recovery time in the hospital. Communicate with your healthcare provider about any additional items recommended specifically for C-section recovery.

Will I need cash during my hospital stay?

While most essentials and services in the hospital will be covered either by insurance or as part of the hospital’s services, having some cash on hand can be useful for vending machines, cafeteria purchases if your partner or visitors need something to eat, or for parking at some hospitals. It’s also helpful for any unexpected small expenses that may arise. However, it’s not necessary to carry a large amount of cash; just a small reserve should suffice.

By knowing what to pack (and what not to pack) for your maternity hospital stay, you can focus more on the excitement of meeting your new baby and less on last-minute logistics. Remember, every birthing experience and hospital policy is different, so tailoring your maternity hospital bag to your specific needs and preferences, as well as consulting with your healthcare provider, will ensure you have the most comfortable stay possible.


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