The Hospital Bag (Or How To Not End Up Packing a Suitcase)


All pregnant women are familiar with the “infamous” hospital bag. Early on, our childbirth instructors remind us we need to pack one, our smartphone app sends  us alerts every week, and our friends constantly ask us if we’re all zipped up and ready to go yet.

But wait — don’t I still have a solid two months to go?

With so much conflicting information on the internet, how do we know what to pack? Even more importantly, how do we not end up with a suitcase full of useless items that we won’t even miss once we get to the hospital?

Here is a short list of basic items you should definitely remember to pack, some optional ones, and the ones you definitely will not need, despite everything you may read online:


Picture ID, Insurance Card & Birth Plan

Installed Car Seat

Labor clothes (I opted for a large/long t-shirt and robe to slip over it — no paper hospital robe for me)

A change of clothes to go home in (think loose and comfy – sweatpants, shirt, hoodie)

Baby clothes (think easy, stretchy, and warm – long sleeve pyjamas and hat)

Baby blanket

Brumisateur Facial Spray (basically just water in a pressurized bottle. Feels heavenly.)

Washcloths (for your partner to wet and dab on your face, shoulders, etc…)

2 Gatorades or coconut waters / straws (you’ll most likely want to drink more than you’ll want to eat — a straw will come in handy because you will not want to get into a sitting position every time you want a sip of your drink.)

2-3 granola bars (just in case)

1-2 nursing bras (if you are planning on breastfeeding)

1 pair of nonskid socks / flip flops (for all the walking you will be doing up and down the hospital hallways)

Toiletries (Unless you live really far from the hospital, bring only the basics – toothbrush, hairbrush, deodorant, lip balm, face wash)

Extra hair tie

Cell phone charger

Change for vending machines (depending on what time you give birth, vending machines might be your only food/drink option)

Change of clothes / toiletries for partner (toothbrush, toothpaste, boxers…)


Birth Ball (the hospital might not provide you with one)

Bathing suit (if you plan to use the labor tubs or shower)

Motion sickness bands (great tip from our childbirth instructor: if you wear the bands at the center of your feet (with the pressure ball facing the soles of your feet) they can help alleviate tension and stress)

Extra pillow (to feel more at home at the hospital)

Boppy pillow (might help with first time breastfeeding)

Essential oils (for those who swear by them, lavender, arnica, and peppermint oil are some great oils to have in your bag.)




Diapers (the hospital will provide some)

Maternity pads (the hospital will provide some)

Your own breast pump (if you end up needing it, the hospital will provide it)

(Keep in mind that you can also leave some things in the car. Your partner will be there to grab them if necessary after you give birth.)

Posted by

Johanna Riehm teaches in the department of Communication and Media at Manhattanville College and in the department of English at Mercy College. She teaches courses in the history of communication, public speaking, and social media, as well as creative and technical writing workshops. Johanna’s work has been featured in Graffiti Literary Magazine, The Write Place at the Write Time, The Bangalore Review, Cactus Heart Press, and the LaMothe Review. She is working on her first longer work, a creative nonfiction novel called We Carved Our Names in Tamarind Trees.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s