What to pack: Having a baby
In between contractions is no time for packing your bag. We want to help you be ready when your baby is.
The length of your hospital stay may vary, but a few items can help make your time during and after labor more comfortable.
Here is our list of 10 essentials for your hospital "go" bag:
- Infant car seat. When you pack your bag, don’t forget to also bring your car seat. You cannot leave the hospital without one. Need help choosing and installing your car seat before baby’s arrival? Learn more about our car seat safety program.
- Change of clothes. Wear something comfortable for laboring — layering is helpful. Pack something like a flowy dress or a pair of yoga pants and a nursing tank top to wear home. You will likely still need maternity-style wear. Don't forget slip-on shoes. Bending over to tie your shoes isn't easy when you are recovering from childbirth.
- Cell phone charger. A phone with a dead battery adds unnecessary stress. A charger will make sure you can text friends or family, announce your new addition on social media, play relaxing music and capture those first memories.
- Toiletries. Toothbrush, toothpaste and hair ties are essential. Though the hospital provides some hygiene items, many women prefer to use their own. Lip balm is especially helpful, since labor can last for hours and your lips might get dry.
- Snacks. You won’t be able to eat during labor, so once baby is here, you may need to replenish your body before your meal arrives. Having a few things to munch on in your birthing suite also means your support team won't have to leave your side when hunger strikes.
- An extra bag. You're likely to go home with more than you arrived with. Visitors may bring gifts, and you'll have paperwork and some complimentary baby and postpartum products from the hospital, including diapers. Place a bag inside your to-go bag so you can conveniently carry everything home.
- Clothes for baby. Going home is a special occasion so a "going home outfit" is a popular item to have in your bag, too. A sleeper-style outfit and cap will keep your baby warm from head to toe. Since predicting baby’s size isn’t always 100 percent accurate, pack newborn and 0-3 months sizes just in case.
- Blanket. When not doing skin-to-skin, your baby will spend a lot of time wrapped in a blanket. Don’t forget to pack a cozy one for yourself (and one for your support team). Bring a receiving blanket to ask the nurses about safety tips.
- Nursing essentials. A nursing tank or bra is helpful and if your milk comes in during your stay, breast pads will help absorb any leaks. Some women also like to bring their own nursing pillows to have the nurses and lactation consultants demonstrate how to use them.
- Birth partner footwear. Comfortable shoes are crucial for your support teams. They may need to go back and forth and will be encouraged to participate in the delivery — which can mean a long time on their feet.
Some women also like to bring their own robes, slippers or socks with grips on the bottom. The hospital provides these basic items, but bring whatever will make you feel your best.
Hospitals are like miniature cities. If you forget something like snacks or toiletries, don't worry — you can likely purchase it in the hospital gift shop or cafeteria. Many of our locations have an on-site Mom and Baby Boutique where you can find many of the items on this list.
Don't miss the other lists in this series:
This article was originally published June 2014 and updated November 2018.