The Ultimate Hospital Bag Checklist

What to pack for Mom, Dad and Baby

What to Pack In Your Hospital Bag for Labor, Mom, Coach & Baby

Having a baby is one of the most exciting, yet anxiety-ridden moments of your life! This ultimate hospital bag checklist is comprehensive for Mom, Coach and baby and will ensure you have what you need for your birth experience.

Separated into four “categories” you’ll know just what to pack and what to leave at home. From slipper socks, to essential oil sprays, this list was made by real moms who have been there!


(Hey Mama, just a head up that this post contains affiliate links. I may receive credit if you purchase items from links on my blog but there will be no extra cost to you. Check out my disclosure policy for more information. Thanks for supporting Happy Mama Wellness and our programs!)


Before the Big Day Arrives

You’re probably thinking, “Why are these TASKS on a packing checklist?”. Because this is the ULTIMATE hospital bag checklist! I want you to have all the information you need to feel ready for the arrival of your little one. Consequently, that means getting some things accomplished before they are here.

Take a tour of your birthing facility

If you are not having a home birth, taking a tour is a must! Why? Because you are already experiencing SO MUCH uncertainty, why add one more thing to the list.

Taking a tour of your birthplace, getting to visually see what things look like, walk the path you will take when you arrive in labor and meeting the staff can all go a very long way in helping you to have the all important 3 C’s of labor (as I call them). In other words, remaining Cool, Calm and Collected is vital to letting the labor hormones do their thing and a birthplace tour will be a major factor.

You know what else will be a major factor in your ability to have the 3 C’s? The next item on our list.

Complete a childbirth preparation course

First of all, if you’d like to read ALL about why I think a childbirth preparation course is VITAL check out this guest post I did for Simple Mom Journey. But for now, let’s just sum it up…

  • A woman’s body was built for growing and birthing babies. Taking a class will help you understand what to expect from your body and increase your confidence for the big day.
  • During your childbirth preparation class, you have the opportunity to discuss your fears about labor and birth with both the instructor and the other students. Calming these fears can actually keep your labor on track and progressing normally.
  • Some students find that completing a class with their partner creates a stronger bond that better prepares them to parent together. Once you have worked as a team to bring your baby into this world, there is nothing you can’t do together.
  • During a good childbirth class, you get a full picture of ALL the options available to you. After all, if you don’t know your options, you don’t have any.
  • The labor process is a very intricate dance of hormones and when adrenaline (the stress hormone) spikes in the early stages, it can actually stop your labor. The adrenaline then blocks your body’s natural pain killers (endorphins) and increases your discomfort. When you know what to expect, what is normal, and have tools and techniques to call upon, you can prevent the early adrenaline spikes and keep your labor progressing and minimize your discomfort.

How do I know all of this?

Two reasons. First, I personally grew, birthed and breastfed a baby…and lived to tell you about it LOL! Second, as a Certified Childbirth Educator, I have been supporting families both privately and in hospitals since 2014. I even have my own online curriculum that you can take in the comfort of your home.

Here’s a FREE gift from me to you…my Labor Basics E-course to get you started on your childbirth preparation journey!

Choose your baby’s pediatrician

This is not something you should take lightly. Trusting your pediatrician is SO important! When you make that first phone call in the middle of the night, you don’t want to be second guessing what your baby’s doctor is telling you.

How do you choose a pediatrician? Find a few close to your home, close to where you work, close to baby’s daycare facility. Ask around to friends and family. Make a list of 4-5 places you’d like to check out.

Call their office and set up an appointment to interview the doctor. Most practices have appointment times set aside for this purpose, other have a certain time each week where ALL potential families can come and ask questions. Either way, here is a list of things to consider and questions to ask a pediatrician:

  • Are they accepting new patients?
  • Do you want a single or multi-doctor practice? (i.e. is continuity of care or availability more important to you?)
  • Which hospital does your doctor work out of? (i.e. where would your child go if needing to be hospitalized?)
  • Office hours? (especially weekend availability)
  • How do wellness visits work? (i.e. how long are the appointments typically, do they have special times for ONLY wellness visits or are wellness patients mixed in with sick patients)
  • Do they have breastfeeding support on staff?
  • How are emergency/after-hours situations handled?
  • Any other topics you want to be on the same page about (i.e. vaccinations, circumcision, discipline, sleep, alternative methods, etc)

I know this seems like a lot, but trust me, you’ll want to have all of this information ahead of time. Getting a newborn in a practice is very simple…getting an older child in a practice can sometimes be very challenging.

Wash your baby’s clothing and bedding

This one is simple. Laundry should be done SEPARATELY from yours and you should:

  • Use detergent that is dye and fragrance-free
  • NOT use any fabric softener or dryer sheets (even if they are dye/fragrance free there are OTHER chemicals that help them do their job that we don’t want anywhere near baby’s very sensitive newborn skin)

Overwhelmed by all the options? It’s understandable.

My favorite baby detergent is the Charlie’s Soap line. It comes in a liquid, a powder and packets and more. Dye-free. Fragrance-free. And bonus…it’s biodegradable so we’re doing something kind for Mother Earth.

Create your birth plan (complete post here)

Let’s get real for a moment here…

There is only ONE GUARANTEE I can give you about your labor and birth experience. And that is this: Your birth is NOT going to happen according to your plan.

I know. You’re probably thinking “Then why the heck take the time to write one?”

Here’s why…

  1. Because you and your coach need to be on the same page. Sitting down to write your birth plan, reviewing all of the options and discussing your priorities will make sure that happens.
  2. Because it is a tangible item you can share with your support people and your medical team to make sure EVERYONE is working towards the same overall goal.
  3. Can you imagine how much anxiety you (the Mama) will be feeling if nobody knows what you want. Writing your birth plan and knowing there is at least a foundation to work from can help you feel infinitely more calm and relaxed on your big day.

Download your printable checklist here.

Install your baby’s car seat

Child safety seats reduce the risk of fatal injury by 71% for newborns/infants and 54% for toddlers. (source) That’s huge! However, 46% of seats are installed incorrectly. (source) Imagine how much the first statistic would increase if more of us would just get our car seat installation checked by a professional?

Here are the AAP guidelines for child safety seats as of 2019:

  • Children should ride in a rear-facing car safety seat as long as possible, up to the limits of their car safety seat. This will include virtually all children under 2 years of age and most children up to age 4.
  • Once they have been turned around, children should remain in a forward-facing car safety seat up to that seat’s weight and length limits. Most seats can accommodate children up to 60 pounds or more.
  • When they exceed these limits, child passengers should ride in a belt-positioning booster seat until they can use a seat belt that fits correctly.

Looking to get your car seat installation checked? The NHTSA website is a GREAT place to start.

  1. Go the NHTSA car seat page
  2. Choose “Installation Help” then “Inspection”
  3. Enter your zip code
  4. Peruse the list of places in your area that are certified to complete car seat inspections

Want more car seat safety tips? Check out this blog post.

Fill your freezer

My friend, and fellow Mama Support Person, Maranda Bower from Serenity Grows has an incredibly powerful take on postpartum nutrition. This blog post will tell you more about what your body needs after baby than any other I have come across.

Make meals ahead of time and put them in your freezer you can have easy-to-make, nutrient dense, postpartum-friendly edibles right at your fingertips!

What to Pack in Your Labor Bag

THIS BAG, PLUS DAD’S BAG, ARE THE ONLY THINGS YOU NEED TO BRING IN WITH YOU WHEN YOU FIRST GO TO YOUR BIRTHPLACE!

Everything else can stay in the car and get brought in after baby is here. Trust me, you’ll be thanking me for cutting down on the clutter in your room during labor!

  • Birth Plan
  • ID & Insurance Cards
  • Music/Playlist – Make sure to have music that touches on many moods – dancing/happy, motivating/inspiring, calming/relaxing (here is a link to my sample playlist on Amazon music…it has different types of songs for you to include on your own playlist!)
  • Tablet/Laptop/Book
  • Small, table-top fan
  • Essential oils (most birth places want aromatherapy to be contained…so make sure to check ahead of time! If you can’t use a diffuser or spray, simply apply your oils to cotton balls and place in a ziploc bag)
  • Pillow/blanket from home (before transporting, place a trash bag over your pillow for protection and place your most brightly colored/patterned pillow case on it so it doesn’t get mixed up with the hospital pillows by accident)
  • Clear fluids with water bottle (at most birth places, once you are admitted, you are only clear fluids. One loophole here is to bring in broths or stocks that have been well strained. These will give you lots of nutrition while still playing within the rules. Also, it’s important to keep Mom hydrated – that will happen much easier with a straw container rather than one that needs to be sipped.)
  • Mental/Emotional relaxation tools (focal points, guided imagery, guided meditations)
  • Physical relaxation tools (tennis balls in a sock, hand massage tools, scalp massage tools)
  • Baby book

What to Pack for Dad

Let’s talk terminology here first…by DAD I mean your coach, partner, support person. That could be your baby’s Dad, it could be their other Mom, it could be their aunt, uncle, Grandma or close family friend.

Whatever their title in your life, let’s call them your “Coach” when it comes to labor and birth.

You and your coach both have important jobs to do – they are just massively different in their task lists! Here are things your Coach will need to keep them energized and ready to support you on this journey! This is why they need their own hospital bag checklist!

Remember: THIS BAG, PLUS THE LABOR BAG, ARE THE ONLY THINGS YOU NEED TO BRING IN WITH YOU WHEN YOU FIRST GO TO YOUR BIRTHPLACE!

  • Their very own copy of the Birth Plan
  • ID & Insurance cards
  • Cell phone and charger (with the playlist/music accessible. Notice Mom’s cell phone is in HER bag, not the LABOR bag. That is on purpose. Coach’s phone is the point of contact and device of choice during labor.)
  • Changes of clothes (your coach may be in the tub or shower with you, they may be hot or cold…they should be prepared for anything)
  • Comfortable, supportive shoes (you will be changing positions every 4-5 contractions…your coach will most likely be on their feet for the majority of the labor. It’s important to take care of their feet!)
  • Drinks & Snacks (You may not be able to eat once you’re at your birthplace, but your coach surely needs to. Also the snacks/light meals in their bag may come in handy if you give birth at 2:00 am and the cafeteria is closed!)
  • Pillow/blanket from home (before transporting, place a trash bag over your pillow for protection and place your most brightly colored/patterned pillow case on it so it doesn’t get mixed up with the hospital pillows by accident)
  • Toiletries (purchase extras of everything and just have them packed and ready to go – toothbrush, travel toothpaste, deodorant, body wash, lotion…you get the point)

What to Pack for Mom

Here is your hospital bag checklist for Mom. Customize for your needs.

In other words, if you have short hair, maybe replace “hair ties” with “headbands”.

  • Eye glasses/contacts
  • Hair ties
  • Lip balm
  • Toiletries (purchase extras of everything and just have them packed and ready to go – toothbrush, travel toothpaste, deodorant, body wash, lotion…you get the point)
  • Hair brush
  • Comfortable, loose clothing (function over form here…yoga pants, sweats, robe, sweater, sweatshirt, skirt…nothing that will be tight or form-fitting. Your body will be swollen and sore and you may have a cesarean incision to contend with…this is not fashion contest…be comfortable!)
  • Slippers/socks (yoga socks, warm socks, slippers – all will be fine here…the important thing is that they have good grip on the bottom and something around the back of the heel – we don’t want Mom slipping out of her slippers in the middle of a contraction!)
  • Shower shoes
  • Cell phone & charger

What to Pack for Baby

I know this list looks short, but your birthplace should everything baby NEEDS for the first few days (while you are there). That means you DON’T need to pack things like:

  • Diapers
  • Onesies/layette shirts
  • Blankets
  • Hats
  • Creams & ointments

However, baby’s bag SHOULD get packed with things are the cute, cuddle, fuzzy things you’d LIKE to have on hand…plus an outfit for them to go home in. Oh…and their car seat!

  • Clothes (aka their “going home outfit”…pack several sizes – preemie, newborn, 0-3 – as you don’t know how big your baby is going to be)
  • Soft, cuddly blanket
  • Car seat (installation inspected before baby arrives!)

Optional Extras

These are some hospital bag checklist items other Mamas told me they were glad they had with them at their birthplace…

  • Nursing pillow (you will surely need this once you get home. It’s “optional” because you may or may not need it at your birthplace. My FAVORITE nursing pillow is the My Brest Friendthey even have a version for nursing twins!)
  • Ear plugs and eye mask
  • Tiara (yes…to make you feel like a queen)
  • Bath towel from home (make it your most colorful one so it doesn’t get mixed in with the hospital gear!)
  • Depends Women’s Underwear (you will get mesh underwear and pads from your birthplace…some Mamas don’t like the feel of those and prefer wearing depends underwear as it includes the absorbent pad inside of it)
  • Waterproof bag for wet clothes

There you have it Mama!

Your ULTIMATE hospital bag checklist…everything you need for your labor, birth and postpartum stay…and nothing you don’t! And remember, if you have questions I am only an email (or comment, or message) away…

Happy Mama Wellness

The Ultimate Hospital Bag Checklist


Hospital Bag Checklist: items that you need for labor, birth and postpartum

Lynn Turcotte-Schuh is a CAPPA Certified Childbirth Educator and a Parenting Coach. She is also the Chief Executive Mama at Happy Mama Wellness where she helps Mamas master calm and connection. Lynn is highly passionate about helping Mamas feel empowered in pregnancy, birth and beyond. When not supporting families, she loves to spend time with her own. Her wife, daughter and small farm of animals keep her on her toes. She is a nature lover and tries to go barefoot outside every day (when it's warm enough). She is teaching her daughter to love herself, love life and love Mother Earth.