What You REALLY Need to Pack In Your Hospital Bag

You know you should pack a bag for the hospital (preferably before active labor sets in!). But what will you actually need? Probably not as much as you might be inclined to take. Who better to answer that question than mamas who’ve gone through it? We asked and they answered (thanks to the magic of Instagram).

Here’s a comprehensive list of the most helpful hospital bag items experienced mamas suggested, along with some verbatim comments, both funny and informative. Take a look, and adapt to your own personal style!


Hospital food can only go so far. Many mamas suggest bringing a stash of your favorite snacks, so you have fortification on hand at all hours, whether it’s right after delivery or during those middle-of-the-night nursing sessions. Think: nuts, dried fruit, granola or protein bars, pretty much anything from snack emporium Trader Joe’s, and don’t forget the chocolate.

  • “SNACKS!”
  • “I was constantly starving. Bring twice as much as you think you’ll need.”
  • “Is wine an acceptable answer?!”

For the Room:

Pillow: Let’s just say hospital pillows might not be the most comfy, and having your own favorite pillow might make those precious hours of sleep all the more rejuvenating.

  • “Your own pillow in a different colored case so you won’t lose it when you leave. Makes a huge difference in your comfort! Hospital pillows are plastic and make you sweat more = no fun after hormones kick in.”

Phone charger: You might be doing a lot of texting, picture taking, Googling (“Is xyz normal?!”), and, depending on how long your hospital stay is, simply catching up with the outside world. An extra-long phone charger will ensure you always have a charge nearby, no matter how awkwardly located your room’s outlets are.

  • “A long phone charging cable—like 10 or 15 feet long. Because there is never an outlet right by your bed. Amazon sells these at a great price!”

Diffuser and/or essential oils: If you’re an essential oils fan, having a few uplifting scents to inhale during labor can help boost your energy and mood, and using a diffuser after delivery can help make your room more cheerful and homey.

  • “Essential oils with a diffuser. It made the room feel less sterile and way more relaxing. The nurses loved it too!”
  • “An uplifting essential oil like peppermint to inhale during periods of exhaustion during pushing.”

Sound machine: This lil’ gadget is a must once baby comes home, but it can be super helpful in the hospital too, drowning out all the beeps and boops of a medical environment.

Portable fan: If you don’t have control over your hospital room’s temperature, a small fan can save you from some serious sweats.

  • “They usually keep the recovery rooms really warm for the new babes; if you are a hot sleeper the mini fan is a MUST, especially with all the post-delivery hormones.”
  • “Just gave birth on Saturday and the only thing I wished I had was a portable fan to clip on my hospital bed.”

Wireless portable speaker: You’ll need something for cranking your labor playlist, and having music post-delivery is nice too.

  • “Wireless speaker—jams, ladies!”

For Mama:

Pajamas or robe: Hospital robes aren’t the height of fashion or comfort. Bringing a pair of jammies that are nice and loose or a soft and cozy will help you look and feel more like yourself.

  • “A comfy robe! I don't think I took mine off.”
  • “A pretty and comfortable robe. They photograph better, are easier for breastfeeding, they’re more comfortable and not scratchy.”
  • “Loose comfortable pajamas!”

Chapstick: During labor or in the days after, putting on chapstick can feel like a wonderful little luxury. A sterile hospital environment (not to mention the demands of labor and delivery) can suck the moisture right out of you!

  • “Chap stick!! Number 1!”

Slippers: A cozy pair of slippers can make getting to the bathroom a little bit nicer (not to mention being on the move during labor!).

  • “Slippers for labor because socks are too slippery!”

Gum: Trust us, you’ll want it.

Hair ties: A very tiny item that can make a very big difference.

Toiletries: The hospital will provide the necessities, but having your own favorite items including face wipes or wash, facial mist, deodorant, shampoo, conditioner, lotion, dry shampoo, toothbrush, and toothpaste can make you feel more at home.

Mascara: You probably won’t want a full face of makeup before or after delivery, but a little touch of mascara can work wonders in the “feeling put together” category. (And you might want to make sure it’s waterproof.)

  • “Mascara and extra hair things. Really missed both when I tried to feel less like I just got out of 28 hours of labor.”
  • “Waterproof mascara for all the happy tears.”

Nipple balm: Those first few breastfeeding sessions can be the most painful. Your hospital will probably provide nipple balm if you need it, but if you have a brand/ingredients preference, it won’t hurt to pack it yourself.

  • “Earth Mama nipple butter. Apply generously.”
  • “Lanolin nipple cream if you plan on breastfeeding!”

Comfy undies: Hospital-issued undies actually have a cult fandom (moms have been known to swipe a couple pairs on their way out the door), but you might want to bring your own (big, loose!) pair to keep you as comfortable as possible.

  • “Comfy underwear!”
  • “Granny panties (that you don't mind getting rid of later).”

Pads or adult diapers: It’s an unfortunate truth—a need for big ol’ pads or adult diapers is just a post-delivery necessity. Another item the hospital will provide, but if you think you’ll be particular, pack your own.

  • “Extra long maxi pads so you don't have to leave the hospital wearing the hospital underwear pads.”
  • “Diapers (for me).”

Nursing clothes: If you’re breastfeeding, you’re going to be doing so around the clock, so having pieces that make it easy will be a huge help.

  • “A nursing nightgown. #NoPantsClub or at least the first 2 days!”
  • “A good nursing sleep bra!”

Fridababy Fridet: The Momwasher: If you have a vaginal delivery, you’ll need a peri bottle to help keep you clean down there. The hospital will have a generic one you can use, but many mamas swear by Frida’s version.

  • “Frida momwasher! MUST HAVE.”

For Baby:

Swaddle: Hospital swaddles can feel like mystery swatches of fabric with no rhyme or reason to their intended manipulation. Bringing your own parent-proof swaddle can help you skip that learning curve.

  • “A special swaddle, like one that zips or Velcros so swaddling can be quick, easy, and effective. Especially for first-time parents, or for parents like me who stink at swaddling despite experience!”

Breastfeeding pillow: Something you’ll probably be doing a lot of in the hospital is breastfeeding. And having the right support can make the transition more comfortable.

  • “Boppy pillow!”

Newborn clothes: Surely you’ve got a favorite tiny outfit that you want to bring baby home in. Don’t forget to bring it with you! 

Truly the Only Must-Have: Now, with all that said, you know what you actually need to pack? Nothing. The hospital will have everything you absolutely need, so don’t stress out about putting together the perfect bag. Just take the items you think you’ll appreciate the most, and call it a day. The cargo you’ll be coming home with is much more precious.

  • “Nothing! The hospital has everything! I way overpacked.”

    Ingrid & Isabel was born when its founder, Ingrid, was newly pregnant with her daughter Isabel and could no longer button her pre-pregnancy bottoms. She fashioned the first prototype of the Bellaband and spent three years perfecting the design before it hit shelves in 2003. To this day, every piece we make, we design with, on, and for moms. Shop our full line of maternity wear.

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