What to Pack in Your Hospital Bag

Expecting parents carrying a hospital bag

When a woman is about 36 weeks pregnant, we usually start telling her to get her hospital bag prepared so she’s ready to head to the hospital when she goes into labor.

Some women may end up delivering their baby a little on the early side, and their bag may not even packed yet. Or, if you’re like me and most other first-time moms, your baby will decide to take her sweet time and your bag will sit in the corner of your room and continue to collect dust for the last two months of your pregnancy. By the time I was actually in labor, I had taken out most of the contents to wear again or use, and of course, forgotten to return them.

You live and learn, and so I thought it might be helpful to make some recommendations based on personal and professional experience.

First things first, let’s talk space. Although the hospital rooms are clean and neat, they are not by any means big. Therefore, you should pack like you would when flying: One small suitcase and a bag for personal items.

Here’s what should go in each bag:

In your suitcase

  • Comfortable clothing: Yoga pants, sweatpants, tank tops, sports bras, granny panties, t-shirts, and a sweatshirt are all good to have.
  • Slippers or flip flops: Make sure you wouldn’t mind if they got dirty or even had to be thrown away. It’s labor—it can get a little messy.
  • Bluetooth speaker: Make a variety of playlists that you think you may like during the different phases of your stay. You may want something relaxing for when you’re trying to breathe with the contractions. How about something upbeat or groovy for pushing? Try something soothing for after baby is born and you’re bonding with your new family on the postpartum floor.
  • Small toiletries: A toothbrush, toothpaste, and other small-size versions of your favorite toiletries can make you feel more at home and comfortable during your stay.
  • Something to stream: Bring your favorite streaming device, laptop or tablet, especially if you’re going in for an induction. Induction can take time, and having a comforting distraction can be really beneficial for you and your partner. (South Shore Hospital has WiFi!)

In your personal items bag

  • Chapstick
  • Phone charger
  • Hair ties or headbands: Anything to keep your hair out of your face.
  • Essential oils: Scents you find energizing or relaxing are best. (Lavender, peppermint, and citrus are common choices.)
  • Snacks: Something that gives you energy, but is easy on the stomach.
  • Beverages: Hydration and caloric intake are essential to keep your body going during labor. Electrolyte water or drinks are a good choice.

And, while it’s not part of your bag, be sure that your infant car seat is up-to-date and installed as you start your final preparations before baby arrives.

To sum it up, pack light but with intention. Get together the stuff that keeps you calm, comfortable and inspired. Take along people that support you and bring you peace and comfort. Don’t pack too early, or at least try not to steal things from your own bag before you get to the hospital.

We will always do our best to accommodate you with all the resources we have at South Shore Hospital, but I will be honest, there’s nothing like your own toothbrush.

Click here to learn more about midwifery care at South Shore Health.