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Ask the Educator - Packing a Practical Hospital Bag

Hey everyone! Today on “Ask the Educator” we are going to go over a question that I get asked ALL the time. While it can be very subjective, moms are always asking what to pack in their hospital bag. I figured I can give you guys a good idea of what essentials you would want or need for the duration of your stay.

On average, moms who deliver vaginally can stay in the hospital for one to two days. If you deliver via c-section, you would most likely stay closer to three or four days. Either way you may want to plan for three days and nights away from home. There’s no harm in having a few extra things handy!

Be sure to have your bags packed and ready to go by 37 weeks unless you are high risk, having multiples or suspect you will be delivering early. Put everything right by your door or already in your car! I am a big fan of having one bag for labor and one for postpartum. This will avoid you having to bring a gigantic luggage sized bag (or actual luggage) into the hospital with you. You can leave your postpartum bag in the car until after you deliver and only bring your labor bag in with you to start.

For your LABOR bag:

  • Photo I.D., insurance, and birth plan

  • Eyeglasses

  • If you wear contacts they can definitely get uncomfortable and if you do have a c-section they will most likely make you take them out.

  • Labor attire

  • You can obviously wear the hospital gown they provide but some people find them uncomfortable and not so fashionable, if you have another preference you can go with any of the following:

  • You own hospital-type gown.They are made from comfortable, breathable material and can be worn postpartum if you are willing to give it a good wash. I always recommend this gown to people who ask.

  • A loose fitted oversized t-shirt

  • A plain maxi dress that you are OK possibly parting with

  • Comfy socks

  • Birthing ball

  • A lot of hospitals have their own set of birthing balls but I highly recommend bringing your own. If you know me and have taken any of my classes, you know how beneficial having a birthing ball can be. You will most likely become comfortable with the one you have and are never guaranteed that the hospital will have one and/or that it will be inflated to your liking. Plus it’s always fun to see your partner trying to maneuver carrying a large birthing ball into the hospital!

  • Headband and hair-ties

  • You will thank me later!

  • Lip balm

  • Your lips tend to get super dry from breathing heavier and harder during labor. Combined with the dry air in the hospital, you are usually in dire need to moisten your lips!

  • Cell phone, charger and any other device you would want to use for pictures or entertainment (ipad, laptop, etc)

  • Pillows

  • In many hospitals, pillows are a hard commodity to find and aren’t always the most comfy. I also like that it brings a little piece of home into the hospital for comfort.

  • Snacks and drinks

  • Both for you and partner! Drinks that have some calories and electrolytes are an added bonus.

  • A water bottle with a straw/spout is really convenient when needing to grab a quick sip.

  • Snacks are good for both you and partner to keep your energy up. I am a big fan of granola bars, trail mix, frozen grapes and any type of cracker/pretzel you may enjoy. Anything quick, healthy and easily digestible.

For your POSTPARTUM bag:

  • Going home outfit

  • Anything that is loose and comfortable. You will still look about six months pregnant so soft maternity clothes would be a good option.

  • Nursing bra and gowns/tank tops

  • Nursing bras make breastfeeding a lot easier and can be super comfy to wear. A gown or tank top can be helpful too. You will be staying in your room for most of the time so think more casual and comfy and less for style.

  • Breastfeeding essentials

  • Nursing pads

  • Nipple cream

  • Nursing pillow

  • It’s nice to get a hang of breastfeeding with the pillow that you are choosing to use when you are home.


  • Travel sized toiletries are best since there usually isn’t a whole lot of room in the bathroom and you want to save some space.

  • Disposable underwear and heavy pads

  • The hospital will provide you with the infamous mesh underwear, but some women prefer disposable underwear that are a little more comfortable or even Depends or something with a pad built in.

  • Baby’s going home outfit

  • Weather appropriate

  • Baby blanket and a few burp cloths

(Pro Tip - the hospital will provide you with diapers, wipes, etc. take ALL that you do not use home with you, you will get charged for it anyway!)

All in all, don't stress over your hospital bags. Stay practical, and bring what will make you feel the happiest and most secure.

Sign up here for our next childbirth class series and I will tell you the brands and specific items I recommend most (along with all the other important educational stuff ;) !) Hope to see you there!