Planning to welcome your new baby soon? Chances are you’re getting things ready to welcome them into the world – baby’s room and crib, their car seat and your go bag, or hospital delivery bag, for when it’s time to head to the hospital.
When should I pack my hospital delivery bag?
It's never too early to pack your hospital delivery bag! Having it ready in advance of your due date can help you feel more secure and ready for whatever happens. And, not to worry. You can toss those last-minute items day of.
“It’s best to have it ready for 34 to 36 weeks, just in case your little one decides to make an early appearance,” said Michele Stanley, RN, a prenatal patient and family educator at Banner Gateway Medical Center. “You don't want to find yourself hurrying around at the last minute trying to remember what you need at the hospital.”
On average, parents stay in the hospital one to two days after delivery of their baby. For c-sections, parents may have a longer stay.
Our handy checklist includes all the essentials you’ll need for you, your baby and a partner, so you don't forget a thing.
Hospital delivery bag checklist for pregnant parents
Before you start packing, check with your hospital regarding what they provide for parents, and take those things off this list as needed.
- Photo ID. A driver’s license or other form of identification.
- Insurance card and other information. You may want to bring a list of people to call, text or video chat with about the birth.
- Birth plan and other paperwork. Check with the hospital or birth center ahead of time regarding any paperwork you should bring. You may want to bring the phone number for your baby’s pediatrician to schedule the first appointment (usually one to two days after discharge).
- Cell phone and chargers. Electronic devices for virtual visits, calls and texts – and don’t forget chargers.
- A cord blood kit. If you’re planning on donating or banking your baby’s cord blood.
- Eyewear. If you wear contacts or glasses, make sure you have them (including solution and extra contacts) with you. You want to be able to have a clear view of your little one when they arrive.
- Toiletries. Toothbrush, toothpaste, hairbrush, body wash or soap, lip balm, deodorant, hair ties and other personal items.
- Comfy slippers or flip-flops. Something comfy for your feet that is easy to slip on but not slippery. “Non-slip soles are recommended,” Stanley said. “Nonskid socks are also helpful if you walk the halls before and after delivery.”
- Support or nursing bra (maternity bra). Your breasts will be tender, swollen and may even leak some as your milk comes in. Purchase some comfortable maternity bras and nursing pads to help absorb leaks.
- Sleepwear and robe. “The hospital does provide a gown to wear, but many people choose to bring something comfortable from home,” Stanley said. Pack a pair of pajamas or yoga pants and a loose top since you’ll still have your belly after the baby is born. A nightgown that opens in the front is a good choice if you plan to breastfeed and for skin-to-skin contact with your newborn.
- Loose, lightweight clothing. You’ll still have a belly after your baby is born, so pack comfortable clothing and comfy shoes to wear home when you leave the hospital. Things like maternity pants or stretchy pants and loose tops are a good choice.
- Underwear. “We provide the infamous postpartum underwear that many women love,” Stanley said. However, if this mesh underwear isn’t your thing, bring several pairs of your own roomy cotton underwear.
- Outfit for baby. The hospital or birth center will provide a white onesie and striped blanket to use in the hospital, or you may bring your own baby clothes and coming-home outfit, and a swaddle and/or blankets to keep baby warm.
- Clothing for partner. If you have a partner or someone who’ll be with you throughout labor and delivery, have them pack two to three outfits, personal items and supplies. “Make sure they have layers, as they may get hot or more often cold as the birthing parent typically likes to keep the room cool,” Stanley said.
- Headbands or ponytails. These keep your hair out of your face and off your neck when sweating.
Essentials for labor
- Comfort items. Bring anything that you think will make you feel comfortable during your stay. This can include a pillow from home or blanket.
- Mints and gum. No one likes bad breath, especially when coaching during labor.
- Entertainment. Download some of your favorite movies and TV shows and music, which can be helpful in early labor.
Essentials after labor
- Snacks. After baby arrives, you may be pretty hungry. Pack non-perishable foods, such as crackers, dried fruit, granola bars or whatever you enjoy.
- Baby book or journal. Some parents want to record the details of childbirth while it’s still fresh or for their baby’s footprints.
Other items to consider
- Nursing pillow. Specially designed feeding pillow can be helpful, especially if you’re learning to breastfeed for the first time. However, lactation consultants are on hand to help with positioning with hospital pillows.
- Gifts for siblings. Bring a gift for your bundle of joy to “give” to their older sibling when they visit.
Optional but may already be provided
You may wish to bring these items, or they may already be provided by your hospital or birthing center. It’s a good idea to check beforehand.
- Pads, of a variety of sizes, for bleeding and discharge
- Ice pads
- Tucks (witch hazel) pads and numbing sprays and creams (as ordered by your provider)
- Diapers, wipes and formulas
- Breast pumps
- Pacifiers, although these aren’t recommended until after breastfeeding is well established (about two to three weeks)
Should you bring the car seat to the hospital?
“In most cases, the car seat is not needed until discharge time when the nurse will carry them out in it,” Stanley said. “We do not do car seat inspections at the hospital but do recommend parents have this done at their local fire station.”
Partners are now able to come and go as needed, so feel free to leave the car seat in the car until time for discharge. Just make sure it is already installed, so you can grab it quickly. On occasion, a baby will need a car seat challenge test, but this is more common with premature or early-term babies.
There are a lot of things to think before the arrival of your baby. Pre-packing your delivery bag is one easy thing to check off your list if you’re in the nesting mood.
If you have any questions about what to pack and what not to pack, check in with your health care provider or fellow parent friends on recommendations.