Hospital Bag Checklist - Plus Things To Think About
Family, Pregnancy

Hospital Bag Packing 101

Hospital Bag – Ready for Delivery!

I vividly remember the trip to the hospital to deliver Little Fox. We weren’t sure if I was having real labour contractions or Braxton Hicks.  But the pain and frequency was so great for me that I needed the hospital to do SOMETHING! In fact, we even went in just before shift change, the one thing we didn’t want to do. Thankfully I was dilated enough and the checked me in. Shift change did delay me getting the epidural. But wow… life was great for me after the epidural kicked in.

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Little Fox came right between our NFP due date and the due date given by the doctor. We probably prepared our hospital bag three weeks in advance. I think that works well. Perhaps four weeks in advance is even better.

Our First Hospital Bag

…was definitely overpacked. And missing some essentials. It turned out that the hospital provided diapers and cloths for wipes. So, I wish we had made a diaper bag before Little Fox was born. Then those things could have been in a separate bag in the car, and not something else to carry out with a new baby.

We were also in the hospital longer than we expected. The “average” for first time moms is two days, three if it’s a caesarean birth. We checked in Monday evening, and didn’t leave until Friday afternoon.

So, from the first time I learned two main lessons: don’t overpack – check with other moms or the hospital to see what they provide, and be prepared for a longer stay in case of other complications.

Packing for Mama

Basically, packing for mothers revolves around comfort. There are a couple health essentials of course. But the main thing is when you go through labour, you’re going to experience a lot of feelings and hormones. And hospitals aren’t known for having all the comforts of home. So make sure you take the things you’ll miss the most with you.

For me, that includes a sleep mask and ear plugs. Sometimes I need dark and quiet, especially for sleeping. Having those comfort items really helped me through the weariness of staying in the hospital with a newborn. I also brought a small icon, prayer book, and plush toy for me to squeeze when I needed too.


  • Birth plan (if you have)
  • Prenatal record
  • Health card
  • Insurance information
  • List of Allergies
  • Other important data (check what your province or state requires for live birth registration forms)
  • Comfortable clothes for leaving hospital/or having visitors
  • Sweater in case you are cold in the hospital (bye-bye pregnancy warmth!)
  • A couple pairs of underwear (dark colours are best)
  • Some large maxi pads
  • Snack foods and coins/cash for vending/cafeteria (if you deliver in the middle of the night, it is a long wait for breakfast!)
  • Travel toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Nursing bra – if planning on breastfeeding
  • Flip flops or sandals (for showering)
  • Slippers or slipper socks
  • Plastic bag to hold laundry

Other Things to Think About

  • Electronics and chargers (phone and camera if you don’t use phone as camera)
  • Pen and Paper/Notebook
  • Makeup/Cosmetics
  • Dry Shampoo
  • Sleep mask and ear plugs
  • Hair brush (and hair ties/headbands/etc)
  • Deodorant
  • Large Zip Lock bag or folder to keep important papers you’ll receive

Comfort Item Ideas

  • Picture of loved one
  • Comfortable Pillow (not for me, but I know some moms like having their own)
  • Bathrobe
  • Icons
  • Prayer Book
  • Plush animal
  • Vaseline or Lip Balm (you can’t drink while in labour at hospital so your lips may get dry)

As for the DadWhat You Need in Your Hospital Bag

His stay at the hospital likely isn’t going to be very comfortable. Yes you have the hard job to do. But there are lots of sacrifices for a Dad to make while staying with you at the hospital. He isn’t checked in like you. So, he doesn’t get meals, a bed, or medication. These are important things to keep in mind when packing his supplies for the hospital trip.

Packing for Tato (Dad)

  • Travel neck pillow if you have (definitely some kind of pillow)
  • Medication for headaches/pain relief/muscle relaxant
  • Snacks for him
  • Water bottle
  • Comfortable change of clothes/sleep attire
  • Sweater/hoodie
  • His toiletries
  • Chargers (and possibly an extension cord)
  • Other: he may be the one to keep the change/cash for vending machines in his bag

What About Baby?

One thing you may want to do is to prepare a diaper bag before the baby is born. This can sit in the car. And you can always send Dad out to get something from it if it turns out the hospital doesn’t provide something needed. I still recommend keeping some baby items in your hospital bag. But the less you have to carry out with the newborn in a car seat the better.

Stay tuned to for an upcoming article on how we do diaper bags! (Available in 2 weeks)

Packing for Baby

  • Coming home clothes (Bring 2 sizes of clothes, newborn and the next size up. You don’t know what will fit your baby till he’s born, and he may need the next size up before you leave the hospital)
  • 2-3 Sleepers
  • Nursing Pillow
  • Nursing Cover (if you want privacy at the hospital)
  • Large swaddle blanket
  • Hats/mitts/socks

Note: if you are planning to take special coming home from the hospital photos, include an extra spare outfit because you can plan on the first one getting spoiled before the photo is taken.

Check out our Ultimate Guide to Baby Clothes for more on being prepared for your baby to come home!

What else to Prepare

Besides the hospital bag, there are couple other things to prepare. The most obvious of these is the car seat. Make sure you know how to adjust it. Hospitals check that you can put your baby in securely before releasing you.

I highly recommend having a list of people you want to tell that you’re going into labour. That way you aren’t stressing about forgetting anyone important. And you also know you have a support team out there praying for you. You may want to make this the man’s responsibility. But having the list means you know that everyone you want told is going to hear about it. If, for some reason, you don’t want to tell people until after the baby is born, make sure you discuss that ahead of time. With the rush of excitement and anxiety it is easy to get emotional over little things. So be sure to communicate what you want clearly before labour begins.

What To do With a Packed Hospital Bag

If you have spare chargers and other items, you may want to leave it in your vehicle. Otherwise keep it by your front door. Have a list of things to put in last minute (like chargers, a hair brush if you only have one, etc) so you don’t have to worry about forgetting those last-minute items. We are keeping Tato’s bag in the car, and mine by the door. Since this is our second baby, I have a Baba’s-house bag for Little Fox with a list of last-minute items for her on it. I also have instructions for her bedtime routine. And if I go into labour in the evening, Baba will be able to use that list and stay over at our place while I’m at the hospital.

We are working on getting me a new bag to pack as our double diaper bag. (Which will stay in the car during the hospital stay). Since we’ll have two in diapers, I need more space than our current bag allows. When it is done. Diaper bag 2.0 will be featured in our article on diaper bags. I’m looking forward to sharing our awesome organized system with you.


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