What to Pack in a Hospital Bag for You
What should you pack in a hospital bag if you plan to breastfeed? There are a few things to keep in mind for breastfeeding moms.
This list includes everything you need to pack for the hospital, with a special section for breastfeeding moms.
And it includes something you probably won’t find on any other list… but you’ll be glad you pack! Read to find out what it is and print out the checklist at the bottom to make sure you have everything.
Here is a useful infographic on what to pack in your hospital bag. It takes this list and puts everything into a nice, simple picture.
(THIS POST PROBABLY CONTAINS AFFILIATE LINKS. OUR FULL DISCLOSURE POLICY IS REALLY BORING BUT YOU CAN FIND IT HERE.)
Things to Pack in a Hospital Bag for Yourself
Most of your hospital bag is going to be things for yourself. That’s okay! Babies don’t need much but you’ll be glad to have a bag full of things you need – especially if you plan on breastfeeding.
Clothes For You
- Labor Dress/ Gown
- Nonslip Socks/Slippers
- Yoga Pants
- Easy-Access Shirts
- Going Home Outfit
A labor dress is a fantastic thing to pack in your hospital bag. The hospital gowns can sometimes be rough or itchy.
Being in labor is uncomfortable as it is – pack your own hospital gown so you can focus on bringing that baby into the world.
This one is SUPER cute and comfortable. The thing I like the best about it is that the shoulders unsnap. That’s a necessity in case you have to have an IV during labor, if for some reason you need to take the gown off.
What I’m trying ot get at here is that you want some panties you don’t really care about ruining. Things could get messy down there.
The hospital will provide some stretchy undies that will work, but some moms find that they don’t keep things in place very well. Packing some undies in your hospital bag will help keep your maxi pad in place.
I bought these ones from Walmart, and they were actually really comfortable. I liked that they were a cotton blend because they helped keep things from getting too stuffy.
A robe will make a great addition to your hospital bag. After delivery, it’s perfect to wrap around you and your baby.
Having an open front is especially useful for skin-to-skin.You may want to bring an extra robe in case one gets dirty.
A robe is handy because you can wear it alone if you don’t feel like putting anything else on, or it can be worn over your pajamas or clothes.
Also, a robe is an especially nice thing to pack in a hospital bag for moms that plan to breastfeed. It makes access to breastfeeding super easy. Having your baby skin-to-skin encourages breastfeeding and a robe makes it simple.
I LOVE this robe. It’s super cute and soft, and the company makes baby swaddles to match. It has amazing reviews.
Hospitals usually provide nonslip socks – but they aren’t the most feminine or cozy things in the world. But you can pack some of your own nonslip socks or slippers in your hospital bag.
You won’t be able to wear regular socks because hospital floors can be slippery. Most hospitals want you to wear non-slip. So buy some socks that have non-slip.
These ones are a good option and will help protect your feet from the cold hospital floors. Even if you don’t use them, you’ll be glad you have the option just in case.
Pack some pajamas in your hospital bag. Keep in mind if you’re breastfeeding that you’ll want something with easy access to your breasts. That may be a top with a low v-neck or easy to pull up.
You might want to bring 2-3 pairs just in case. Sometimes the hospital stay is longer than expected and sometimes your clothes get messy (think baby puke).
A few pairs is good, especially if you’re in the hospital for a few days. A fresh pair of pajamas after a shower feels pretty amazing.
Super stretchy leggings would work too, but I definitely recommend something like yoga pants in your hospital bag. Whether you have a vaginal birth or a c-section, something stretchy and comfy is first choice.
Yoga pants don’t cling too toghtly to your abdomen and they are easy to bend when you sit up in bed. The stretchiness also helps keep things in place… down there.
I especially like these ones because they fold over. That means they won’t be too tight in one spot (like from an elastic band). Where they fold distributes the stretchiness over a larger area which is a lot more comfortable postpartum.
Just like your pajama shirts, bake sure you pack easy access shirts in your hospital bag if you plan to breastfeed. There are some shirts made especially for breastfeeding moms you might want to consider.
I really like nursing shirts because they keep fabric covering your stomach while giving your baby boob access. They’re easy and don’t require a lot of moving around to breastfeed.
This one is probably one of my favorite. There are nursing shirts that have a piece of fabric straight across, but those always cling funny and it’s obvious there are two parts to the shirt. But this one is a lot more subtle and flattering when it’s on.
Sure, they clean hospital floors really good. Showers too… but you might feel better having a pair of flip flops to wear.
They’re easy to slip on and wear around the hospital. Not to mention after having a baby, you probably don’t want to bend over to put shoes in. Flip flops are easy enough to put on without having to bend over.
I like these ones because they’re non-slip and they have holes in the bottom. They make showering so much easier.
You’ll want something that’s easy to put onm a preferably stretchy. I usually opt for a soft cotton t-shirt and a stretchy maxi skirt. But it’s up to you.
Keep in mind that things won’t fit the way they did before you got pregnant because your body has been through a lot! So make sure what you pack if comfortable – yoga pants, sweatpants or leggings. Jeans probably wouldn’t be the best choice.
I really like this maxi skirt – and it pairs really well with the nursing top I listed earlier.
Comfort for You
Some things you might want to consider for your comfort in the hospital. Just a few little things can make a huge difference in how you feel.
And don’t take that lightly!
You’re going to bring a small human into this world. It’s one of the most difficult things a human can do so don’t be afraid to pamper yourself as much as you can.
For your own comfort, bring:
Packing your own pillow in your hospital bag is a HUGE help. Hospital pillows aren’t very comfortable – many of them are covered in plastic for sanitary reasons.
Consider bringing your own pillow and pillow case so you have a comfy place to lay your head – whether you’re resting during labor or trying to rest after having your baby.
Do you like listening to music? If so, bring a bluetooth speaker or iPod. Music can help you through the labor process so if you like listening to it, don’t forget to pack it!
I personally don’t like listening to anything in labor (maybe I’m weird that way).. I like things quiet and cave-like. But not everyone is like me so if you think you might want some music – pack it!
This is a very highly rated bluetooth speaker you can pack. It doesn’t take up much room and it easily pairs with your phone.
Essential oils can help calm you and offer aromatherapy during labor. Lavender helps to relax you and peppermint oil could be used with a carrier oil to put on sore muscles.
Consider packing a diffuser and a few of your favorite essential oils in your hospital bag.
This pack is the top 14 essential oils. One I didn’t try but wish I did is lemon. Sometimes the smells of the hospital are too… medical smelling (if there’s any way to describe it). Some lemon oil might have been nice to clear the air and feel fresh.
A white noise maker is a great little thing to have with you! Hospitals can get noisy and sometimes during labor you don’t want to hear another laboring mama screaming down the hall.
After giving birth, a white noise maker can soothe and calm your baby so you can get some sleep.
I really like this one, it has great reviews and the company offers a satisfaction guarantee. It’s also portable and easy to charge. The plus is you can take this one in the stroller with you for when your newborn needs a snooze but is too distracted by noise.
Hospitals sometimes have chapstick to give you, but some don’t! And trust me, you don’t want to be caught with your lips feeling like the Sahara Desert without any chapstick.
It’s a small item so throw it in your hospital bag just in case you need it.
You could even buy these chapsticks – for a blend of essential oil aromatherapy and chapstick when you need it. The kit includes chapsticks with essential oils infused for use when you want to relax, be peaceful, or need energy.
Other Items for You
- Maxi Pads
- Pain/Cooling Spray
- Hair Ties
- Dry Shampoo
- Face Wipes
- Shampoo and Conditioner
- Body Wash
- Toothbrush and Toothpaste
- Stool Softener
- Phone Charger
Usually, hospitals will have maxi pads available. But I’ve heard of some hospitals that charge you for extra supplies. And sometimes their maxi-pads aren’t very soft.
When you’ve had trauma by squeezing out a baby, you’ll want something soft. Get absorbent ones to have just in case what they have at the hospital doesn’t cut it.
I used Always size 4 and they were perfect. I continued to use them over the next few weeks while my body healed. They were soft and absorbent, and way more comfortable than the pads provided by the hospital.
Witch hazel pads are popular for after birth. Lidocaine spray is another great option.
Witch hazel pads offer cooling relief and help take away itching after birth. Lidocaine spray helps to numb the area which is especially helpful if you tear.
Some hospitals offer these products – but not all do. I didn’t have wnything like this with my first baby and I was pretty miserable. But with my second the hospital had witch hazel pads AND lidocaine spray. It made a HUGE difference for me. So do yourself a favor and pack it in case the hospital doesn’t give you any.
I certainly don’t want anything annoying me when I’m in the process of birthing a baby. That would include hair getting in my eyes.
If you’re the same, then pack a few hair ties! Take a few extra in case one breaks so you have something to pull your hair back with.
You may not feel like having a shower after birth. If you get an epidural, you may not even be able to get out of bed for a while. So bring some things to freshen yourself up with while in bed.
Dry shampoo and face wipes are two of those things.
Most hospitals offer a toothbrish and toothpaste (but not always). But I find that toothpaste in hospitals sometimes tastes yucky and their toothbrushes are too hard or too big.
Maybe I’m spoiled but I like my minty toothpaste and soft bristle tooth brush. If you’re particular like me, pack your own for when you want to freshen up your mouth after birth.
This is another one of those things that some hospitals have and others don’t. Usually hospitals that do have them only offer an all-in-one option that is used for body wash, shampoo and conditioner.
It leaves your hair feeling anything but beautiful. So bring your own hair supplies and body wash for when you take that after-birth shower. They’ll make you feel a little more like you’re at home versus the medical-smelling hospital products.
Deodorant is an important one to pack in your hospital bag! Labor is a work-out.
Not to mention recovery isn’t easy. After a trauma like child birth, you might find your body doing through some werid processes.
I got hot, then cold, sweated then shivered. I was all over the place just trying to get comfortable and I definitely needed deodorant (even just laying in bed for the few days after birth).
After birthing a baby, stool softener is a must. Usually hospitals prescribe it but just in case, pack some in your hospital bag.
If you tear down-there from a vaginal birth, or if you have a wound from a c-section… the LAST thing you want to do is strain from trying to have a bowel movement. Drink plenty of water and take some stool softeners to keep everything moving easily until you’re more healed up.
This is something a lot of people might not thing about. Often hospitals don’t allow you to eat during labor (but some do). But after labor, you may find yourself extremely hungry.
Whether you can have something to eat during labor or you want to eat after, packing snacks in your hospital bag will be useful in a time of hunger.
Take your phone charger! You’ll probably want your phone for pictures and you may want to make a few calls. If you’re there for a few days recovering after birth, you’ll want to pack your phone charger in your hospital bag so your phone doesn’t die.
What to Pack in a Hospital Bag For Breastfeeding
If you plan to breastfeed, this is a very important list! What to pack in a hospital bag for breastfeeding differs a little compared to if you don’t plan on breastfeeding.
Know that breastfeeding doesn’t always start off easy (but for some it does). Most people struggle at least a little at first. But if you stick with it, things get older as you and your baby practice.
These things will make breastfeeding easier starting out in the hospital, so pack these things in your hospital bag if you plan to breastfeed:
- Nursing Bras
- A Robe (or Two)
- Nursing Shirts
- Nipple Cream
- Nursing Pillow
- A Handheld Breast Pump
- A Spoon (Read the Advice Below)
Nursing bras or other easy-access bras will bake breastfeeding a lot easier. My favorite breastfeeding bras are actually not nursing bras at all – but they’re really easy to pull down so I can breastfeed.
You may decide to forego a bra all-together. But still pack one just in case – you might want it for the outfit you wear home at least.
My favorite is this one – especially postpartum. It is super soft and stretchy… which you’re going to need once your milk comes in (along with engorgement). Its also nice to just pull it down and not have to fiddle with a clip. It’s the best style I’ve found for comfort while breastfeeding.
I talked about this earlier but I think a robe is one of the best things to pack in a breastfeeding mom’s hospital bag. They are so useful for giving your baby skin to skin time and make breastfeeding so much easier.
Robes are awesome because there is enough fabric to wrap around you and your baby and to cover up if someone comes into the room.
Consider brining an extra one – babies can be messy, you could get sweaty, and sometimes colostrum (breast milk) leaks out. Packing an extra robe in your hospital bag if you plan on breastfeeding will come in handy if the first one gets dirty.
Easy access shirts are greast for breastfeeding moms. Pack a few nursing shirts in your hospital bag, or just some tank tops that you can pull down to breastfeed.
Breastfeeding is a lot easier when there aren’t a bunch of hassles getting started. And newborn babies feed a lot so make it easy on yourself by taking some easy-access shirts.
The first few weeks can be painful for breastfeeding. It should feel like breaking in a pair of shoes- excruciating pain isn’t normal. But for that soreness in the beginning, nipple cream can offer relief.
Anothe great thing for nipple soreness is your own breast milk! Express a little and rub it on your nipples after your baby is finished feeding. Between the healing properties of your own milk and some nipple cream, you’ll feel much better.
I like Motherlove’s lanolin-free nipple cream. It’s all natural so it doesn’t need to be washed off before feeding your baby. As an extra bonus, it can be used as a lubricant if you breast pump. Nipple cream is a must-have in the hospital bag of a breastfeeding mom.
Nursing pads are a must-have to pack in your hospital bag if you want to breastfeed. In the beginning, you may leak. Especially if your baby cries, or sometimes even if you think about your baby.
Our hormones and emotions in the beginning may cause milk to start flowing – it’s a natural response. So bring some nursing pads for those times to catch the leaks.
Another thing you could consider is some milk catchers. They catch leaking milk so you can give it to your baby.
Nursing pillows can be bulky but you might find that you really want one at the hospital. Especially if you have a c-section, it’s hard to lean forward and breastfeed.
A nursing pillow helps give your baby support for breastfeeding. Additionally they help you find comfort wile breastfeeding so you don’t have to bend forward. Supporting your baby on a pillow brings them up higher to breastfeed at your chest level.
Boppys are very popular breastfeeding pillows. They have been one of the best nursing pillow over time and are very highly rated. They are easy to clean with a zip-off cover and give you and your baby comfortable support.
A Handheld Pump
Like I said, breastfeeding doesn’t always go perfectly at first. So consider taking a handheld breast pump in your hospital bag just in case. Sometimes hospitals don’t have enough mechanical breast pumps to go around.
Taking your own breast pump is insurance that you’ll have it if you need it. And handheld pumps aren’t very big so won’t take up too much space in your hospital bag.
Medela is one of the most popular brands of breast pumps. They have a really great option for a handheld pump here. It’s effective at milk removal and the handheld pump I recommend packing in your hospital bag if you want to breastfeed.
Yes, I’m serious, hear me out.
Sometimes breastfeeding doesn’t start easy. Some babies have small mouths or are tired. Babies born a little early might have trouble. Just because breastfeeding doesn’t start perfectly, your baby can still have your breast milk!
The BEST way to do this in the first few days is with a spoon.
On day one of your baby’s life, ONE TEASPOON is enough for a full meal (because of their tiny tummy).
It’s best to avoid a bottle if possible because a baby can refuse the breast and want the bottle instead. So, other options like a spoon are better in the first days.
How to do it:
- Hand express the colostrum from your breast.
Start with your thumb and fingers on either side of your nipple, cupping your breast. They should be about 1-2 inches from your nipple. Apply pressure inwards, towards your chest. Then press your thumb and fingers together while rolling outward towards your nipple. You should see drops of thick, yellow liquid come out (called colostrum).
- Catch the colostrum with the spoon.
While expressing, hold the spoon beneath your nipple. Catch the drops on the spoon until the spoon fills. That’s what you’ll feed your baby.
- Feed your baby.
Take the expressed colostrum and hold the spoon to your baby’s mouth. Tip the spoon towards your baby, but don’t pour the colostrum into your baby’s mouth. Let the colostrum sit on the edge of your baby’s lips. Your baby will open their mouth and stick out their tongue for the colostrum.
Spoon feeding encourages breastfeeding and works well for the first few days when your baby only needs a small amount of milk to become full.
Things to Pack in a Hospital Bag For your Baby
Babies really don’t need a whole lot, surprisingly! They are pretty tiny so their space in your bag won’t take up too much.
This list includes what to pack in your hospital bag for your baby:
Pack a newborn outfit and a 0-3 month outfit just in case. Some babies are bigger (or smaller) than expected so it’s good to be prepared.
Also try to choose an outfit that’s easy to put on! You’ll be changing lots of diapers so easy-access buttons are a good option. Maybe pack an extra in case there is any poop leakage.
I like these outfits. They are easy to zip on and off and they cover tiny toes. This simple soft outfit is a great option to pack in your hospital bag for your baby.
Some hospitals offer photographs of your newborn baby while in the hospital! You can call ahead and see if your hospital does this. If so, think about a cute outfit you might want your baby to wear for pictures.
Even if your hospital doesn’t do pictures, you could ask a nurse or your hubby to take a few of your baby (and you if you want). You’ll treasure those first photos, so pack an outfit to remember.
Isn’t that deer outfit cute (for your little dear)? I think it’s precious and I really love the little deer tail. Consider buying an outfit like this one for your newborn photoshoot.
If you live somewhere cold, a blanket is a great way to keep your baby warm on the way home.
You’ll probably leave this in the car – but don’t forget to pack the carseat! Some hospitals make you pass a carseat test (especially if your baby is premature or stays in the NICU). The test helps them make sure your baby will be safe on the way home.
My favorite carseat of all time is the Doona.
Little toes get cold very easily! Pack some baby socks in your hospital bag. Sometimes socks are a good thing to put on your baby’s hands if they have shapr nails.
Babys can scratch themselves so pack some socks in case you need to cover up their hands.
A lot of heat can be lost through your baby’s head. Pack them a hat so they will stay warm!
Some hospitals will give you a hat but not all of them. And if your baby doesn’t have mush hair, a hat is even more important to pack in your bag.
What you DON’T Need to Pack in your Hospital Bag
For this list, I include most things that hospitals provide or you won’t end up needing. However they are items that might come in handy. You might think about putting them in a little bag in your car or by your front door to grab on the way.
You don’t have to bring them in the hospital with you, but at least you have them in case you end up needing them.
Diapers and Wipes
Believe it or not you don’t need to pack diapers and wipes! Hospitals always have these on hand.
I have heard stories though of people that are charged per diaper (especially in the UK). So consider packing them in an extra bag just in case.
Hopefully if you plan on breastfeeding you won’t even need to think about formula! And hospitals have formula on hand if your baby does end up needing it.
Hospitals also have diaper paste! You don’t need to pack diaper paste in your bag for your little one. If you decide to pack some in an extra bag just in case – vaseline is a good option and you might already have some laying around your house.
This also goes for movies. I thought I would want a book to read for the days in the hospital following my baby’s birth. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Between feeding, showering, changing diapers and trying to get some sleep I didn’t have any time to read – or do anything else for that matter.
A Peri Bottle
Hospitals will provide a peri-bottle. It’s a bottle you can fill up with warm water to spray on your lady-parts after birth. It helps make cleaning much easier.
Using a peri-bottle while you go pee is also extremely helpful. Sometimes urine can sting so squirt a peri bottle with water while you pee.
Hospitals will provide pain medication so don’t worry about ibuprofen or tylenol. Nost hospitals also provide stool softeners (but those you might want to pack just in case.
Conclusion & Checklist: What to Pack in Your Hospital Bag
In summary, there are a lot of things to pack in your hospital bag! If there’s anything I didn’t include, leave me a message in the comments below. And click on the download link to download a printable checklist to make sure you have everything you need to pack in your hospital bag for labor and delivery.
Kealy Hawk, BSN, RN, CLC
Kealy is a Registered Nurse, Lactation Counselor, and most importantly a mommy! Her own baby feeding struggles gave her a passion to help moms throughout their feeding journey. She specializes in breastfeeding support and evidence-based formula recommendations. To talk with Kealy or take one of her breastfeeding or formula classes, visit https://littlebearcare.com.