Labor and Delivery Bag Check List: What I Actually Used in the Hospital

You’re about to have a baby, and you’re packing your hospital bag!

Here’s all you need (really, the bare bone essentials here):

  • a giant inflatable flamingo
  • 17 dozen donuts (make sure they are baker’s dozens)
  • 2 cans of grey spray paint
  • 12 different scents of air fresheners
  • a special handmade bathrobe (crafted out of your nicest pair of leggings, your favorite hoodie from 5th grade, and your wedding dress)

Haha okay, not really. But sometimes I read people’s lists online about what they bring to the hospital, and I am slightly baffled at their giant list of “needs.”

I overpacked for my first baby, under-packed for my second, and got it just about right for my third.

In all actuality, what you need at the hospital depends on you. So, here’s what I brought (and keep in mind, it might not be what you need!)

For Mom:

  • Hair ties (these ended up being useful, you can never go wrong with an extra elastic to keep your hair out of the way)
  • Flip flops (These were not used for my first 2 deliveries. I know it’s gross to stand on the shower floor in the hospital or whatever people say, but I just. didn’t. care. at. all. I was too tired and achy to worry about stuff like some germs on the bottom of my feet. However, I did end up using them with my 3rd delivery, because I am a germaphobe and also because I could actually walk after that baby was born.)
  • Socks (These are comfy. The hospital can be cold.)
  • Toiletries (You’re stuck in the hospital, and your beautiful baby has arrived, and you want to take a shower. And the hospital just provides some awful shampoo that makes your hair knotty, and no conditioner. Bring a little travel size of your favorite hair products and soaps so that you feel awesome instead of meh. I did that this time, and it was the best decision ever.)
  • Clothes for going home + nursing bra (And also maybe clothes for the hospital. I mostly just wore their gowns during my stay, for all 3 deliveries. It was just easier, especially with all the breastfeeding and testing and prodding and uterus massaging they do. If you don’t know about that last one, you’ll find out… it’s the worst. BUT, you do need clean comfy clothes to go home in. And try loose clothes. Because trust me, you are not back to pre-pregnancy size yet.)
  • Entertainment (Cause most babies take time to be born. And when you’re doing something you enjoy, you’re more likely to be relaxed. And when you’re relaxed, you’re less likely to hurt. So, bring your knitting. Or your favorite playlist. Or your favorite magazine. Nothing too intense, just something you can pick up and put down again without being annoyed that you’re interrupted by a nurse checking your vitals.)
  • A plan (You don’t need to have everything written up on a perfect birth plan, because I have not yet had a nurse or doctor who cared whether or not I had one, BUT you do need to know what you want to happen, and you need to be on the same page with your husband about it, so that when you’re exhausted from a 15 hour labor, you’re not trying to make important decisions.)
  • Wallet, keys, and phone charger. (No explanation necessary.)

For Dad:

  • Toiletries, comfy clothes, and snacks (cause he is going to stay there, too, and the hospital might have hours when their snack bar is closed)

For Baby:

  • Car seat (You can’t go home without it)
  • Going-home outfit (Some hospitals give you clothes for the baby, but some don’t. Also, bring a couple different sizes, just in case your baby is bigger or smaller than you expect.)
  • Pacifiers (Just know, it’s recommended that you don’t use one for the first few weeks of life–so that the baby learns to latch properly when breastfeeding, but pacifiers are also are linked to lower SIDS rates, so decide which one is more important to you.)
  • Swaddle sacks (Our babies have slept so much better when they are swaddled.
    I personally have never loved swaddling babies with a blanket. They tend to be less secure (or chokingly tight), and then the baby is more likely to get their arms loose, and end up with the blanket over their face (which is stressful as a parent). We always use the velcro swaddles, and I feel they are much more secure and less of a hazard.)
  • Nursing pillow (This was a lot more essential with my first child. I struggled so much to get breastfeeding down, and I think that the problem was exacerbated by the lack of a nursing pillow in the hospital. The pillow could have held the baby where he needed to be, so that I could figure out the rest of it. I brought a nursing pillow for my second baby’s birth, and that was glorious.)
  • Burp rags (The hospital usually provides these, but a couple of extra absorbent burp rags never hurt anyone.)

*NOTE: I packed the baby items in a separate, smaller bag, so that I wasn’t rifling through the baby stuff as I used my own items.

Things I did NOT need:

  • Pads (the hospital should always provide tons of giant pads)
  • Milk pads (I was worried about my milk coming in and soaking me, but it didn’t come in until after I left the hospital)
  • Extra underwear (This is semi-important, because you never know the quality of the disposable underwear that the hospital provides. I have been in 2 different hospitals for deliveries, and their disposable undies were very different in comfort. However, this wasn’t a problem for me this time.)
  • Make-up (Honey, you don’t need this. I know that birth photography is a thing, and if that’s YOUR thing, wonderful. But I am eternally grateful that I chose not to stress about how beautiful I was in the hospital, because I was more focused on my baby being born than on whether or not I looked a hot mess.)
  • A robe (I planned on it, this time, but I didn’t use it. I walked around during my natural labor, but I never left the hospital room. It probably would have been useful if I’d left the room, for modesty purposes.)
  • A giant inflatable flamingo 🙂

And there you have it, my hospital bag list!

Let me know if you have any questions!

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