Mom holding her baby in the hospital.

How to Pack the Perfect Hospital Bag

Hospital bags are essential accessories when you’re giving birth in a hospital, birthing center, or anywhere away from home. They include some of the basic products, clothes, and accessories you’ll need and want during delivery. Since you’ll be spending time away from home while you recover, your hospital bag is your saving grace to help improve comfort and support during those first few days as a new parent. The contents of your hospital bag vary based on how you plan to give birth (vaginal versus cesarian) and your unique needs. To help you get started, here’s more information on how to pack the perfect hospital bag.


When to Pack Your Hospital Bag

As a rule of thumb, it’s a good idea to have your hospital bag completely packed and ready to go at the very latest, three weeks before your due date. However, as we all know, babies can be unpredictable. To make sure you’re not caught off guard, we recommend packing your hospital bag during the 30th week of pregnancy. This will give you the peace of mind you need to sit back and relax during the final trimester without the gnawing feeling of forgetting something in the back of your head. Packing your hospital bag during the 30th week of pregnancy also gives you plenty of time to add small, additional items to it as you think of them. Place your hospital bag somewhere easily accessible—preferably in view—to ensure easy retrieval on the big day.


7 Steps to Packing the Perfect Hospital Bag

Some expecting moms begin mentally packing their hospital bag from the onset of their pregnancy. If this is something that will help alleviate anxiety, great! You can make a list and continue to add to it as you progress through each trimester. For those that aren’t huge planners, here are seven steps to packing the perfect hospital bag.

1. Find the Right Hospital Bag

There are several different options for choosing the actual bag that will carry your essentials. You won’t need to buy any specific piece of luggage, but you should consider the size and portability of various options. If you don’t plan to be away from home long or live in close proximity to your delivery location, you may be able to use a backpack, changing bag, or small duffel bag. However, if you anticipate that you’ll be in the hospital for longer periods of time, or if it’s inconvenient to have someone grab items from your home, you’ll likely want a larger option. It should be big enough to hold everything that you’ll need for at least two to three days and nights away. You should also limit your bag to one piece of luggage and a personal item, as this improves convenience and makes it less likely to forget one or the other.

2. Plan Ahead and Get Organized

A great way to alleviate the stress that surrounds thinking you forgot something is to plan ahead and get organized well in advance. One way to do this is to create a list or use a hospital bag checklist. Most of the checklists available include all of the basics that you’ll need, while some offer additional suggestions to make your hospital stay more comforting. During this time, it’s also recommended that you check in with your hospital or birthing center to ask about products that will be provided on delivery day. Some hospitals give new moms a plethora of supportive supplies while others will only provide them with diapers, onesies, and a blanket. Know what to expect so you can pack your own bag accordingly.

3. Pack the Essentials

Every hospital bag should come equipped with essential supplies and products. These should include items that you’re going to need before, during, and after labor. Some of the most important items to pack for yourself include a few pairs of comfortable clothes, a robe, maternity underwear, socks, and your toiletries. While you’ll be in a hospital gown for delivery, during postpartum recovery it’s much nicer to enjoy the feel of your own clothes, pajamas, and nursing equipment. You should also bring a pair of shoes that are easy to slip into, such as Crocs, Birkenstocks, or slides. Other essentials include your birth plan, a photo ID, insurance information, hospital forms, hair ties, lip balm, cell phone charger, pillows, and a bath towel.

Order Your Insurance Covered Breast Pump

4. Include Items for Your Baby

While this won’t be in your bag per-se, the most important item to pack for your baby is a (securely installed) car seat. You won’t be able to take your baby home from the hospital without it. You should also bring a few different outfits to bring your baby home in and have your pediatrician’s contact information on hand. You don’t need to bring any diapers or baby wipes, as the hospital will provide these and may even give you a stockpile to bring home.

5. Add Some Snacks

Nobody likes hospital food, so give yourself other options by packing lots of snacks and healthy food. Try to cover all of the different taste categories including salty, sweet, and savory. While expecting moms won’t be able to eat these during labor, they’re nice to have on hand after delivery and will help keep your partner fed as well. Focus on snacks that are easy to transport and don’t necessarily require refrigeration. This can include apples, bananas, protein bars, pretzels, carrot sticks, beef jerky, chips, or anything else you think you might crave after delivery.

6. Don’t Forego Postpartum Recovery

Items for postpartum recovery are also recommended. These can include things that help with breastfeeding like maternity bras, nipple cream, and breastfeeding pillows. You may also want to bring your own maxi pads, especially if you’re sensitive and have a preferred brand. While the hospital will provide these for you, some women find their options to be uncomfortable or irritating. You can ask your hospital about these before your due date to plan accordingly. Also include clothes that will maximize your comfort during postpartum recovery in the hospital. Avoid anything that’s tight or difficult to get into and try to wear materials that are breathable to encourage healing. Bring a travel-sized laundry bag along with you to help keep things organized and separated during your stay.

7. Leave These Items at Home

While you may feel like there’s nothing you could do to overpack, that’s not necessarily true. A hospital bag is meant to make your life easier, not more stressful. First of all, avoid packing too many outfits for your baby. While it may be tempting to start dressing them up, a onesie is often the most they’ll need during the first few days of their life. Hospitals also tend to provide newborns with a blanket and an outfit, so don’t worry about running out. If you’d prefer not to use hospital items, packing a few onesies for each day of recovery, a sleep sac, and a blanket should be sufficient. You should also leave all of your valuables at home. Don’t bring diamonds, expensive watches, or a bunch of cash. While hospitals don’t tend to have high crime rates, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Finally, you can forego piles upon piles of diapers. Make the most out of your stay (and your budget) by using the free diapers provided for you at the hospital.

Your partner may also want to have a small personal bag packed for themselves. If they plan to stay with you during the entirety of your recovery, this should include a few changes of clothes, toiletries, and even a lightweight pillow or blanket. While hospitals will gladly provide your partner with these accessories, they don’t always provide adequate support or coverage. Another thing your partner may want to include in their bag is some type of entertainment in case there is some down time. While the media typically shows hospitals as action-packed and constantly hectic, there’s a surprising amount of quiet and it’s helpful to have something to help pass the time. A book, iPad, laptop, or headphones are great options that take up minimal space.

While breastfeeding should be established during those first few days, you may also want to bring along a breast pump just in case. Byram Healthcare works hard to make the process of ordering a free breast pump through insurance as easy and straightforward as possible. Browse our selection of breast pumps and begin your order today.