Hospital Bag Checklist: What to Pack for Hospital or Birth Center 

September 28, 2023

what to pack for hospital or birth center


What to Pack for Hospital or Birth Center

Having a go-bag ready and at arm’s reach once you’re in the likely range of going into labor can make your rush to the hospital or birthing center that much less stressful. It can take the pressure off your already flooded mind and give you peace of mind that this one piece of preparing for your little one is done and ready. However, deciding what to pack for hospital or birth center can be confusing. 

Especially for first-time parents, it’s hard to know what you will need and want until you’re in the moment. Reflecting back on my own time in the hospital, and after talking with recent new moms, I’ve compiled this hospital bag checklist, to help you decide what to pack for hospital or birth center. Consider your own preferences, and adjust as you see fit. I’ve included links for some recommended products to make prepping even easier.

A note on packing:

I recommend packing each category into its own packing cube. This will keep everything organized, and so your partner knows how to find everything. A small suitcase works best, which is easier to roll around than carrying a bag or multiple bags. 

For the Delivery Room:

what to have during labor 

  • Bluetooth speaker to drown out the hospital noises
  • Headphones for when you need a quiet moment for yourself, without the sound of anyone else’s voices. Noise cancelling is a bonus. Keep in mind that in contractions, it’s easy to not notice a small ear bud falling out, so I recommend avoiding wireless ear buds.
  • Playlist, Pandora, and any apps you find helpful, like a hypnobirthing app. I HIGHLY recommend checking out the music of Jason Vieaux. He’s a classical guitarist, and I just feel a wave of calm surge over me whenever I listen to his music. He was a godsend in my days of postpartum anxiety. 
  • Oil Diffuser; don’t forget look up your oils to be certain it’s safe for baby. I recommend lavender, or anything else that promotes calmness.
  • Snacks; you’re going to want plenty of protein and healthy fats. Think beef jerky, cheese sticks, almonds, protein bars, etc.
  • Drinks; Electrolyte powder, Juice (orange, watermelon, or coconut water). Warm bone broth for after delivery (if you can handle bone broth… my sister swears by it, but I personally hide when I’m sick when I’m around her lest she force it on me). 
  • Large Stanley 40 oz cup and straw
  • Phone charger; with extra long cord (you never know where the available outlets will be)
  • Dimmable Nightlight: when you don’t have nurses and doctors in the room, it’s nice to turn off the horrible fluorescent lights and use something more calming. The linked light below doubles as the BEST nursery nightlight! I still use it for my 8 year-old.
  • BaoBei Adore Birthing Bralette; soooo comfy

For the Maternity Room

items to ease your recovery and help keep you comfortable during a very uncomfortable time

  • Hair Ties
  • BaoBei Support Bloomers: these are very supportive for the pelvic floor after vaginal delivery, and supportive for the tummy after c-section.
  • BaoBei Adore Bra: the most comfortable and soft 
  • Silverette Nursing Cups
  • It’s Bodily Mesh Undies and your own pads. Yes, the hospital provides these, but they feel awful and it’s just nice having any simple luxury that makes you feel good.
  • Adult Diapers: these work a lot better and are more comfortable than the giant pads provided at the hospital. Yes, I mentioned pads above, but you don’t quite know what will suite you best until you’re in the moment, so it’s nice to have options at arms reach.
  • Frida Mom Peri Bottle: again, the hospital will provide a peri bottle, but these little gems just work better and can squirt upside down, unlike the hospital bottles.
  • Shower Sandals 
  • Basic Toiletries
  • Your Own Pillow: there’s nothing like feeling comfy in your own bed, so having just this one perfectly worn-in item can help bring you that comfort. Just wait to bring it in from the car until you’re transferred to the maternity room) 

For Baby

  • A few nice swaddle blankets. The hospital does have plenty of blankets for baby, but they quite thick and not the easiest to learn how to swaddle when you’re a new parent. They just don’t quite stay together unless you are an experienced swaddler. Plus, the soft fabrics are just so cozy.
  • 3-4 onesies
  • Photo/Coming home outfit 
  • Car Seat 

For Your Partner

  • Shower sandals
  • Basic toiletries
  • 2 comfy outfits
  • Pillow: there really are not comfortable sleeping options for partners, so having a supportive pillow can make a huge difference 
  • Snacks (that are not mom’s snacks)  

Wondering when to schedule your maternity portraits? Check out this blog post.

black and white maternity photo of mom and dad holding bump; what to pack for hospital or birth center

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ABOUT Ashley

Lover of antiques, rustic European style, and fluffy animals. Middle of three sisters. Collector of vintage cameras, milk glass, and music boxes.

HI! I'm Ashley :) I am mom to a spirited and confident 9 year old daughter (and our super snuggly cocker spaniel, Dorothea). I believe in giving ourselves grace, and creating the life we want to live, separate from anyone else's expectations and norms. I'm an eternal optimist, and strive to see the beauty in others. Portraiture is how I connect with people, and I'm honored to show mothers and families the beauty I see in them. 



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