What to Pack in Your Hospital Bag

Have you ever had to pack for a very important occasion and had no idea what to bring?

Have you been tempted to pack EVERYTHING yet know you don’t need it all?

Let DC Doulas help with your packing list.

There are 5 basic categories of items that you need:


In labor, wear something cool and comfortable, yet easy to move out of the way for the fetal monitor or a cervical exam. If you plan to wear your own clothes through the process, make sure you are ok with getting it messy, possibly to the point of it needing to be thrown away. Hospital gowns are available and they make good robes if you happen to get chilly!

You will likely have a 2-3 night stay at the hospital after your baby arrives. The best clothes for this time are ones that are comfortable and easy to move and breastfeed in. A good nursing bra is a must! If you are choosing not to breastfeed, you will still need a good bra for support as your body adjusts to not being pregnant.


Aside from your normal list, here are items you don’t want to forget!

Lip Balm Between all the breathing and dry hospital air, you will want something to keep your lips moisturized.

Eye care products – do you wear glasses or contacts? Take all the cases and solutions you need, in case you want to change things up. You can wear either, but your eyes can tend to get dry when wearing contacts.

Hair ties- you will want the hair out of your face and off your neck. Bring several ties or clips and make sure your partner and doula know where they are.

Important Paperwork

When you arrive in labor the hospital, the receptionist will ask for your driver’s license, your insurance card, and an advanced directive if you’ve prepared one. The nurses will ask to see a copy of your birth plan, so add an extra copy for them to your hospital bag.  Make sure your support person knows where this paperwork is located so they can check you in if you are too busy laboring.


What do you need to stay relaxed and calm?  A good rule of thumb is to think through you 5 senses and consider what things will help.

sound (what’s on your playlist?)

scents (keep it close, but not on your skin in case it starts to make you nauseous)

a focal point (a picture or memento)

touch (favorite massage tool or heating pad)

Don’t forget your camera, phone, and chargers!


Most hospitals prefer you do not eat during labor. The hospital will provide fruit juice, ice chips, and water, or you can order a clear liquid tray from the cafeteria. Considering bringing coconut water, Gatorade, or even runner’s goo to keep you going. Pack some snacks for your partner and for yourself after baby is born.

Last Tips

There are a number of self-care products that your hospital provides for you during your stay. So while you don’t need to pack sanitary napkins, nipple cream or hemorrhoid care products, it’s a good idea to have those ready at home for when you return.

For Partners

Packing as if you are going away for the weekend is a good rule of thumb. Taking a blanket and pillow just for you can make that hospital chair a bit more comfortable when resting.

What about baby?

Your little one will spend most of its time at the hospital eating and sleeping. The hospital provides t-shirts, blankets, diapers, hats and all you need to care for your baby. The most important items for baby’s packing list? Clothes to go home in, a blanket or covering to keep baby warm, and the car seat. ProTip: pack a newborn and 0-3 month outfit so you have the size needed.

Now that you know the basics, packing should be a breeze!