Woman in nursery packing hospital bag

Unexpected items to pack in your hospital bag

You’ve probably already heard about all the necessities you should pack in your hospital bag — you’ve packed your clothes and toiletries, and you’ve even already put Baby‘s car seat in the car — but here are a few items you might not have thought to bring, but will be thankful that you did.

Snacks, both small and substantial

A lot of people bring snacks when going to the hospital for other reasons, thinking that the food offerings might be subpar during their stay. But what about during labor? Especially if it’s long? Not all women are able to eat during labor, but if you can, you may be glad to have some munchies on hand to power you through. Some women get nauseous during labor, so you may want to pack something that will be easy to keep down — just in case. Lean protein and starch can be good — say a simple chicken, rice, and cheese burrito, or some whole grain granola bars. And after delivery, if you’re getting sick of hospital food, you might want to have a favorite meal on hand or some good takeout options in mind.

Eye mask and ear plugs

These goodies can help you shut out the world and sleep, rest, or just zone out during labor and then later on during your hospital stay. When laboring, you might need a break to just chill and recharge or recenter and focus, and afterwards, you may be trying to sleep in a space full of lights and noisy interruptions. These can help you get the rest you need.


Not for everybody, but sometimes labor can be made a little easier with some tunes. Maybe you decide to make a labor playlist in advance of songs that will help power you through or sounds that will take you far and away. You can bring headphones or a small speaker — whatever you think will work for you. Same goes for other forms of entertainment. Magazines, your favorite show on demand — bring what you like, but keep in mind that heavy reading and viewing might not really be something you can handle during this rather intense time.

Hair ties, head wraps, or headbands

This is the time for an easy do, so unless you have short hair, you’ll want to bring a few things to get your hair out of your face. Even after labor, you might not be able to take on your usual hairstyling routine, so something that can easily and quickly style your hair while making you feel good is key. The bright side? This very special occasion can be a fine excuse to get a new head wrap or headband.

Health and beauty short cuts

Even if you were a beauty minimalist prior, you’ll find that during your hospital stay simplicity is key — you might skip drying your hair to feed Baby or even feel too uncomfortable to walk to the bathroom to wash your face or brush your teeth. If you think you’d find it helpful to bring some options that can provide a little refreshment for little investment, then you may want to pack some items that can provide you with health and beauty shortcuts. Products like dry shampoo (which may soon be your new best friend as a mom anyway), face wipes, or little water-free toothbrushes can be great choices.

Extra batteries and memory for any electronics

You already know to pack all your chargers, (Pack all your chargers!) but unless you have a phone or camera with tons of storage, if you take pictures or do any video recording, you might quickly max out your baby-recording capabilities. If you have the chance, it can be a good idea to free up storage before heading to the hospital, but if not, extra storage options might be key to capture all of those first — and all of the following — moments.

Going-home outfit options

Have you already packed the super cute outfit Baby will be wearing home after your hospital stay? Then you’re ahead of the game. But since you just can’t be certain of what size they will when they arrive, it can actually be helpful to pack a few options. And what about you? Pack some comfy options — shoes included — that you’ll feel good in, and keep in mind that you won’t lose that bump immediately after delivery and your body will still be a somewhat pregnant-looking shape and size (think 4 or 5 months along) when you go home. It’s also helpful to think ahead in terms of outerwear, especially if you live somewhere cold or are delivering during a season in which the weather changes quickly. Is there a chance that you’ll need coats, hats, or snuggly blankets for going home? If so, plan accordingly, even if it’s mild when you head to the hospital.

Something that will bring you comfort

Maybe it’s a favorite blanket, a beloved necklace, or a picture. Maybe it’s an massage ball or overstuffed pillow. Having items you think will provide you with physical or emotional comfort can go a long way in being a nice touchstone when you’re laboring and then during your hospital stay. You might even want to bring in a new something special, like a baby book to start to record baby’s firsts before you head home.

Any daily toiletries, medications, or health care items

If you’ve been a busy bee and packed your bag well in advance, you may have already packed toiletries like travel shampoo, conditioner, body wash, and such, but it’s important to remember the things you can’t really pack ahead of time. This might include regular medications, your everyday face lotion, eyeglasses and other items that might be stored elsewhere — like in your medicine cabinet or on your nightstand — in the days and weeks leading up to labor. It can be helpful to make a list of these sort of necessities in advance so that when you do go into labor, and your attention gets suddenly focused elsewhere, you or a loved one can gather these items quickly and easily so you’re not caught without them.

Nursing accessories

Whether you’re going to be nursing or not, your milk may very well arrive in full force before you leave the hospital, so nursing pads will be a must to keep leaking in check. If you are planning on breastfeeding, you may also want to bring lanolin or nipple cream to soothe what may soon be some sore nipples, and comfortable nursing bras. Keep in mind, you’ll want something soft, supportive, and roomy, as your breasts may swell and become engorged once your milk comes in. 

But what if you run the risk of overpacking?

You know that old rule about how to avoid overpacking? The one that says once packed you should look over your bag and remove a few items? Here, you might do that by unpacking anything that the hospital or birthing center will provide you with during your stay. Some of what will likely be on hand includes a hospital gown, postpartum underwear, pads, peri bottles, a sitz bath, witch hazel wipes, and nipple cream for you, and diapers, wipes, cream, nail files, and bath soap for Baby. Your location may even provide you with an exercise ball to labor on. Certainly, many moms do want to bring some of their own items for a bit of comfort and normalcy — for example, you may want to change out of your hospital gown and into a favorite nightgown and bathrobe from home after delivery — but if you’d just as well rather use the items provided, you should check with your hospital or birthing center in advance to learn just what they’ll have on hand for you.

And remember, if heading to the hospital catches you off guard, don’t stress — you can, in reality, pack lighter than you think — since you don’t really need much when you’re there. In truth, if you have some clothes to go home in, toiletries and health care items, your phone and charger, and some clothes and a carseat for baby, then you’ve got your basics covered. These extra items above aren’t necessities, but they can be nice. So, hey, do pack that eye mask and those nursing pads if you’re able!

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