Confession: I totally overpacked in packing my hospital bags as a first-time mom giving birth.

This isn’t surprising at all: if it’s your first time giving birth, like it was for me, you really have no idea what you are going to want (or need), so it pays to have it all at your fingertips!


In this hospital bag checklist, find out what I took with me (and what I used), as well as the things I took and didn’t use, and the things I chose not to take at the last minute. I packed my bags 4 weeks before my due date, and wound up giving birth the day before it!

You’ll see that I’m breaking this list up into “things to pack on the way out the door,” as well as a “pre-birth bag” and a “postpartum bag,” to keep everything organized.

Do you really need two hospital bags?

No, you don’t really need two hospital bags — you probably need just one.

I got this idea from my friend, who suggested a “birth bag” and then a “postpartum bag,” because there are things you need in labor & delivery, versus things you’ll want access to later.

The idea is that the birth bag comes with you on your way in, and your postpartum bag can stay in the car. Your partner (or other person helping you out) can go out to the car and get the postpartum bag in the hours after your baby arrives.

It was actually really smart, and because we had our car parked right downstairs in the hospital parking lot, I was glad to have more options with us, rather than fewer. You can decide what’s best for you and your hospital stay when you give birth.

Things to pack in your “birth bag “(everything I packed)

I used a backpack for my “Birth Bag.” Dan and I shared it, because it had so many snacks.

  • Water bottle with straw: I kind of wish I had picked up a Stanley for this occasion. The hospital straws with the cups they give you aren’t that great when you are laying down.
  • Snacks (crackers, trail mix, crunchy stuff, dried fruit, nuts, cookies). Pack anything that is packaged, so you can pack your bag well in advance.
  • Extra-long phone charging cords: we got these 10-foot ones and they saved the day. They’re not wasted because we use them all around the house and even travel with them!
  • Eye mask (CRUCIAL for me, personally, to get some sleep and naps after delivering). The hospital rooms during the day might be bright, so even if you’re not big on eye masks, it might be a good idea to try to find one that you like.
  • Hair scrunchies or clip: as I’ve heard it, some hospitals don’t allow you to pin your hair up during labor, but mine did.
  • Clothing layers for your partner like a zip-up hoodie (some hospitals are kept very cold).

What to pack in your “postpartum bag” (everything you need)

We used a 45-liter backpack for the postpartum bag, with packing cubes to separate and organize the items.

  • Frida Peri Bottle: I’m sorry to tell you this, but you absolutely need this recovery product. It’s better than the one the hospital will give you. It was one of the most useful things I packed.
  • Toiletries, including things like lip balm and Q-tips: your travel-sized versions of your face wash, shampoo, body wash and conditioner (if you don’t want to use the ones the hospital might give you — and I didn’t know the hospital was even going to give me these things!).
  • Maternity clothes to go home in: All you really need is a big T-shirt and a hoodie (unless you want to look cute and glammed up, but consider that you’ll still be “maternity” sized). I had loose elastic sweatpants in a maternity size.
  • Baby’s “Going Home Outfit” + Onesies: This includes a “cute swaddle” for some photos, as well as tucking baby into the car seat when you leave, and a onesie will be a necessity, for the trip home.
  • Nursing tanks/bra & underwear: I literally didn’t change my clothes from hospital gown til I left, but a nursing bra was an essential.
  • Socks: I only wore hospital socks the entire stay, but I’d suggest bringing socks for going home (or wearing flip flops).
  • Nipple cream or nipple balm: this is something I wish I had brought, and will bring the next time I pack a hospital bag! I liked Motherlove, as it was referred by a friend.
  • Pillowcase from home, if you don’t want to risk not liking ones from the hospital.
  • Baby nail file: didn’t use, but should’ve, as newborns can have CLAWS when they come out due to 9 months of no nail filing! I used the Frida Baby Grooming Kit in the coming weeks.
  • Reusable bags/totes folded up in luggage: we used a few reusable totes for dragging miscellaneous things to the car, like postpartum recovery products that our nurse told us to take from our restroom. You should totally ask your nurse how much you can take, too.
  • Newborn name sign: these are pretty adorable, and you might want to get this if you have your baby’s name picked out ahead of time. We wanted to keep our child’s name a secret, almost from ourselves, so we didn’t get one. Check out the ones from Caden Lane (this’ll also come in handy if you plan to take newborn photos down the line).
Helpful Tip

If your baby has been “measuring small” like my baby was, bring along preemie onesies (size P). I had never considered that I might have a baby who weighed less than 6 lbs. at birth and that newborn clothes (size NB) would be gigantic. It’s hard to picture!

Things to pack on the way out the door

This is a real category in this list, because there are things I wanted to pack in advance, but just couldn’t. Keep this list handy for the things you have to grab when you’re literally walking out to get in the car.

Bookmark this part of the list, so that you don’t forget these personal essentials in your labor and delivery bags.


  • Laptop & charger: As a mom about to give birth, you will most likely be in a hospital bed the entire time. Your partner, however, might like the convenience of a laptop, especially if your labor is a day or more.
  • A “real” camera: Dan packed his camera, and we used it in the moments after our baby was handed to us! We had planned on getting really nice photos of our newborn the entire time. (Unfortunately, the battery died when our daughter was about an hour old, so see the next item.)
  • Camera batteries or charger: Make SURE to pack these, so that the camera doesn’t die like ours did. Apparently finding a USB-C or Micro USB cable in a hospital are impossible.


  • Toothbrushes & toothpaste (although the hospital may provide these — mine did!)
  • Retainers, if you wear any
  • Deodorant
  • Lip balm
  • Skin routine and/or hair essentials for if you shower (I did not shower)


  • Pillow(s) from home: some women like to consider their favorite pillows as essentials, in case the hospital ones are flat or bunchy.
  • A blanket from home: a hospital might provide a sheet or blanket, but im almost 100% sure that a blanket of your choosing will be a lot more comfortable.


  • Giant water bottles for both you and your partner. Our flood had a water filling station with ice. It was nice to fill up a big quantity of water instead of filling ant-sized cups.
  • Snacks, snacks, snacks

Baby’s car seat

  • Car seat (in car), installed 2 weeks before (this is part of the list to serve as a reminder)
  • This is also a reminder to watch a few videos or have something queued up for how to put your new baby in the car seat.


  • Your wallet and ID! This is so easy to forget. You will be asked for ID when you check into the hospital and you might be asked multiple times for it.

Things you do NOT need in your hospital bags!

These are the things I had on my list, but wound up either not taking at the last minute, or not using!

  • Bluetooth speaker: I had packed this in case we were bored and I was in labor for ages, and wanted to listen to relaxing music, but in the end, we didn’t even unpack it.
  • Headphones for me and Dan: We never even took them out of the bags.
  • Nursing pillow: I didn’t use this, and I didn’t pack it. Would it have been useful? Maybe, but I was too tired to care.
  • Nightgown: nope, didn’t use this either.
  • Robe: didn’t use. I had a cute one from being a bridesmaid that I had packed. I wore a hospital gown the entire stay — I’m not even exaggerating.
  • Bath towel: didn’t use. A lot of blogs I’ve seen online complain about scratchy towels in the hospital for when you take your first postpartum shower. Honestly, I feel like after giving birth, the last thing on my mind would’ve been how scratchy a towel is… but I could be wrong! (I didn’t shower at the hospital).
  • Printed birth plan: Ha, what a joke. I printed my birth plan just to do what the Internet and other blogs had told me to, and believe me: this stayed untouched in a backpack. It never left the backpack.
  • Birth book: I definitely didn’t need this! Who on Earth gave me this idea?
  • Flip Flops or Slippers: didn’t use. I just walked around in my hospital socks.
  • Pumping bra: I didn’t use this because I didn’t do any pumping.
  • Breast pump and parts: you don’t need to bring your own because most hospitals will have a “hospital-grade pump” if you ask. You can forget this unless you plan to pump, and I did not plan to. This is probably something geared at second-time mothers who know what they did already during their first pregnancy.
  • Copies of license and insurance: I also saw this idea in another blog. I didn’t need these, but maybe your hospital suggests having backup forms of ID.
  • Diapers: the hospital should provide these. I will note, though, that if you have a long trip between the hospital and your home, you might want to consider bringing along newborn diaper bag essentials. Take a few extras from the hospital in case there’s some sort of emergency in the car.

Helpful notes on hospital bag packing

Use my notes to see what I’ve told friends and other new moms, ever since I developed this list.

Food to pack

If you have allergies or don’t like certain foods, pack a lot of snacks. With my being allergic to gluten, dairy and soy, I wasn’t even sure I was going to eat hospital food at all (I did, in the end, but only full meals, at meal times).

We brought SO many snacks, and came home with most of them, but it gave me peace of mind to know that we had food along the lines of what I could eat, for the duration of my stay.

General packing advice

Use packing cubes! We used packing cubes to group things together like our “tech,” and also the baby’s clothes. Try out these affordable and best-selling packing cubes that we also use for packing for trips.

Baby’s clothes

Like I mentioned above, bring size P onesies if your baby has been measuring small or light in terms of length and weight. Newborn clothes may be too big. Hospitals generally will size all babies in newborn clothing, which is perfect for normal and bigger babies. But it’s way too big for smaller babies.

If your baby has been measuring big, consider bringing size 0-3M in addition to NB, just in case your newborn is a giant!