Considering that most women only spent 1 night in hospital before getting sent home with a new human being, do you really need to pack as though you were emigrating to Australia?
When I polled my friends for their top hospital bag checklist items, they gave me over 100 different must-haves.
Ask any woman what their hospital bag essentials are and you will end up with a list of both useful and weird things that you may or may not really need.
Below you will find a free printable hospital bag checklist for both labor and delivery that you can customize as you wish. The truth is, you may end up using only 50% of what you pack.
On the other hand, if you end up staying a few extra days in the hospital, you might be glad of those extra creature-comforts.
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The Ultimate Hospital Bag Checklist
Before you even think about what to put in that hospital bag, let’s talk about when you should actually pack it.
Everyone I know who packed their bag at like, 35 weeks (me!), ends up going overdue while all the laid-back procrastinators seem to be rushing around at the last minute while in labor.
So when should you pack your hospital bag?
38 weeks is probably the sweet-spot.
Pack the bag too early and you will probably forget where you put it but wait too long and you might be rushing around between contractions or sending hubby home for essentials.
On that note, a piece of advice;
Pack an extra bag that has extra clothes etc and leave it at home in a place your husband will find EASILY. My sister in law ended up having to stay at the hospital for 4 days and her husband brought back the weirdest assortment of clothes when he went home for more.
What To Pack In Your Hospital Bag For Labor
Hopefully your labor will be really quick and you won’t need anything on this list, however, here are the absolute essentials that you might want to pack in your purse or in a small bag that you can access easily.
Insurance and Health Insurance Card
I used chapstick every 10 mins. The air at the hospital is very dry and your lips get super dried out and it’s uncomfortable.
The best lip balm for your hospital bag? My favourite was this one that is cheap and works great!
Elastics for long hair
Glasses/ Solution for women that wear contacts
Music – ipod and headphones ( trust me, at some point you and your husband will get tired of thinking of cute nicknames for Catherine).
Ice pack, hot water bottle, tennis balls for massaging back pains
Lollipops or hard candy, popsicles or your favourite clear beverages
Bikini top if you are using a pool and don’t want to be naked.
Bottle with a straw so you can just lean over and take a sip
Phone and charger
Hospital Bag Checklist For After Baby Is Born
Given that you really don’t know how long you will be in hospital for, make sure to pack enough for a couple of days just in case. If your stay ends up being any longer, you can send someone home for the all-important back-up bag I mentioned before.
First of all, ask when you register your baby what supplies will be provided. Most hospitals will give you the basics including a peri bottle and some pads (but you likely will want to bring more).
They should also give you painkillers. Stool softeners are provided but ask if they are not offered, you will need them! You should also make sure to buy some stool softeners for when you get home, they were one of the most popular items in my Postpartum Survival Kit For New Moms.
In addition to the things you will want for labor, your bag should include:
Entertainment – Ipad with lots of shows/books/scratch-off lottery cards
Pjs with a top that buttons in the front for nursing.
Dark yoga pants or loose pants with a comfortable waist band.(bear in mind, you may have a c-section and need something loose on your waist).
Cardigan or zip up sweater
Snacks are really important for your hospital bag! Consider packing lots of granola bars and other easy foods as the hospital food tends to be pretty scarce at the beginning. Here are some great snack ideas to take to the hospital.
Nice to have but not essential
Your own pillow
Personally I didn’t bother with a robe and just did a cozy yoga cardigan that I could leave the hospital in too.
Large folder/envelope and pen for the paperwork you will be taking home with you
What To Pack For Baby In your hospital bag
Almost all hospitals will provide you with everything you need for your baby including:
Diapers to start you off (but bring your own too)
Washcloths/wipes (again, bring a pack just in case)
The only things you really need to bring are a couple of sleepers and a car seat.In my hospital, they would not let us leave until a tech had actually checked the car seat so make sure to bring it into the room with you.
Two Things You May Want To Bring For Baby
Going Home Outfit
Both of my babies went home in cute little sleepers but if you want to bring a special outfit, don’t forget to pack it!
This is a controversial one and I want to warn you that friends in the US have been met with a lot of resistance when they have decided to formula-feed from day one. Hospitals do provide formula for babies that need extra help but if you know you want to formula feed, it might be wise to include some ready-to-feed bottles in your hospital bag.
What to Pack in a Hospital Bag for Dad
Dad often gets overlooked in the typical hospital bag checklist but you want to make sure he has everything he needs and doesn’t need to rush home when you need him.
Also – make sure to get dad-to-be to download one of these Best Pregnancy Apps For Dads so they can be really involved with your pregnancy as it progresses.
Change for vending machines
Comfortable clothing and PJs
Slippers or comfortable shoes to wear
Toothbrush and toothpaste
An extra pillow and blanket (This is a must for dad as they often end up sleeping on awful recliners)
Any medication you may need
Bathing suit – if using the tub with mom to help in labour
List of people to notify
Free Printable Hospital Bag Checklist
To download the checklist for yourself in a PDF format, just click here. I left a few spots blank so you can add in anything else you might want to bring.
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