My Hospital Bag Packing List for Labor and Delivery

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Baby #2 is due very soon! Here’s a list of what I have packed in my hospital bag, based on what I found useful for baby #1.

For Labor

  • Adult diapers (if your water breaks) – I love, love, LOVE Depends Fit Flex. My water broke with baby #1, and it was NOT FUN sitting in a pool of my own amniotic fluid at 2am. You definitely want these for the car ride (good luck getting THAT stain out of the upholstery otherwise). Even if your water doesn’t break, you’ll want them for postpartum, when a seemingly endless stream of bodily fluids and goo basically leaks out of your body for weeks on end.
  • Yoga bolster – If you’re pregnant and don’t have a rectangular yoga bolster yet, go get one. You should be able to find a good one for under $40. It is fantastic for prenatal and postnatal stretching, and essential for lumbar support during labor and recovery in a hospital bed. (Side note: Why do all hospital pillows suck so much?)
  • Vaseline or Aquaphor – You need a thick, greasy lip balm for your lips because they are going to get parched. My mom put Vaseline on my lips at the beginning of labor (thanks, mom!), and it was still there 7 hours later when the baby arrived.


  • Lollipops, Lifesavers, or other hard candies that you won’t choke and die on – I went through a bunch of See’s Candies lollipops and a roll of Butter Rum flavored Lifesavers early in the labor process. They helped distract me from the pain a little. After the first hour or two, they didn’t really help.
  • TENS unit – I used this massage unit on my lower back to relieve contractions while I was laboring at home (after my water broke, they let me go home for a few hours). I didn’t bring it to the hospital with me, but if you choose to (or have to) go through early labor at the hospital, it may be worth bringing.

For the Baby

  • Nail file – When babies come out, they have these crazy sharp nails! They’re like puppy teeth. I prefer a rotary file because they seem pretty foolproof. I have the ZoLi B, but based on a cursory Amazon search, it looks like there are a bunch of comparable, cheaper options available (like this one, and this one), possibly because moms are figuring out how handy these things are.
  • Unscented (non-toxic) newborn diapers and wipes – Hospitals often have contracts with the big diaper supply companies, so the first thing on your newborn’s butt is a toxic, scented product. No, thank you. I’d bring a couple different brands of unscented, non-toxic diapers since you won’t know what will fit, and each brand is sized differently. (Of course, you can also bring cloth diapers. I don’t have experience with cloth, so my list includes disposables, only.) Here are a few options:
    • Bambo: My favorite brand (get the green pack, not the newer white one). The trouble is, the newborn diapers run really wide, so may not work for your baby until they are a few weeks old at least.
    • Babyganics: These run narrower than the Bambo. A good alternative for fit, but they feel a little more paper-y than Bambo.
    • Andy Pandy: Have not tried these, but they have good reviews and are chemical-free.

I also have tried Seventh Generation and Honest Company diapers, and cannot recommend them, based on performance (leaky, and weirdly paper-y in feel).

My favorite wipesSeventh Generation baby wipes (I haven’t tried any other wipes because I haven’t needed to.)

  • Portable white noise machine – It can get very loud in the postpartum suite, with babies crying in every room, and nurses and hospital staff coming in and out at all hours. I have the Marpac portable noise machine and love it. It is great for travel, and it makes for a great baby shower gift.
  • Newborn clothes – Pack a few soft footies or bodysuits (something you can dress your baby in to take them home!), and an extra hat, just in case.
  • Extra receiving blanket – Nice for swaddling or for an extra bundling layer when you take your baby home.


  • Infant swaddle – I was not comfortable swaddling with a blanket, so I brought a few hand-me-down swaddlers with me to make it easier. Here’s what I’ve tried with a newborn:
    • Woombie swaddle: This was the one I brought to the hospital that actually fit my newborn. It was very easy to use.
    • Swaddle Up: This is the swaddle my baby ended up using when we got home. She liked having access to her hands. For baby #2, I am only bringing this one with me, and an extra swaddle blanket (Kickee Pants makes a good one; I find the stretchy bamboo/viscose types of blankets are easier to handle if you aren’t used to swaddling).
    • SwaddleMe: I know other parents have had good luck with this one. I tried it but I think it was a little big for my baby at the time.
    • There are bunch of other options out there, too. I found that the velcro swaddles were too noisy to take on/off and to adjust (they also have to be washed and dried in a lingerie bag or else they snag your other clothes), and generally preferred the zipper styles.

For the Postpartum Suite

  • Adult diapers – Let me take this opportunity to give another shout-out to Depends Fit Flex, for all your adult diapering needs.
  • Nipple shields – Especially important if you are a first-time mom, and/or if you anticipate any difficulties breastfeeding. Don’t bank on your hospital’s lactation center being open when you’re checked-in to the postpartum suite (mine was closed because I delivered on a weekend); bring your own breastfeeding essentials. I prefer Medela shields, and recommend getting the small and medium sizes.
  • Lanisoh Gel Soothies – In case your nipples get sore (or crack and bleed) during breastfeeding. I have tried many, and these were my favorites. They are significantly cheaper on Amazon than in the big box stores, so stock up!
  • Hemorrhoid pads – If you have a vaginal birth, you will almost certainly get hemorrhoids. Not fun. I like Tucks brand pads.
  • Extra-long phone charging cable – Because you don’t know where the outlets are going to be, and it sucks to have your phone run out of batteries. For example, this 10-ft iPhone cable should suffice.
  • Comfy pajamas – I get the pregnancy newsletters from What to Expect, and whenever I see articles with headlines like, “The Cutest PJ Sets for the Hospital!” I want to die laughing. Just get whatever feels good, washes well, and has pockets. Bonus points if it hides stains. Literally, that’s the criteria. I like these Gilligan & O’Malley PJs from Target (the short bottoms are worthless to me, but the top is great for breastfeeding, and has a stretchy pocket that fits a regular iPhone).
  • Nursing bra and/or nursing tank (must be comfy enough to sleep in) – These are my favorite cheap nursing tanks, and this is my favorite nursing bra (recommend the Full Cup version if you are size D or above).
  • Bathrobe – Good for puttering around in. Recommend getting one with pockets.
  • Thick socks or slippers – So your bare feet don’t touch the floor.
  • Comfy underwear – If, for some reason, you aren’t in Depends 24/7, get some full-butted, comfortable cotton underwear that can accommodate a maxi-pad the size of a loaf of bread (aka the pad the hospital gives you).
  • Flip flops – So your bare feet don’t have to touch the floor when you shower.
  • Shampoo and conditioner – Treat yourself to a really good hair washing when you’re in the postpartum suite, if you can. You don’t really know when your next opportunity to take a long, hot shower is going to be.
  • Bath towel – The hospital towels, like the pillows, suck.


  • Hairdryer and hairbrush – I brought my hairdryer with me the first time because I couldn’t stand sleeping with wet hair. But 2 years of motherhood has inured me to this discomfort, along with a litany of other previously intolerable discomforts, humiliations, and indignities.
  • Wine – This isn’t optional for me, actually. Because I have a toddler with a sleep regression, and I NEED A DRINK, LIKE, YESTERDAY. Don’t forget to bring an opener. Wine glass optional. I feel like I’m ready to drink straight out of the bottle at this point. Did you know they let you drink basically right after you check-in to postpartum? (I asked.)


Screenshot 2018-07-18 15.15.13
This is my hospital bag, a plain black duffle that I got over 10 years ago from MUJI. It’s the best, and unfortunately discontinued. But you can find similar ones at MUJI.

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