A few essentials, and non-essentials, can be useful during labor. We suggest you pack one big bag so that you have everything in one place. You’ll find this to be particularly convenient since you (or your partner, if you have one) will also need to carry things for baby (a car seat at the very least).
Packing a hospital bag gradually over the course of your pregnancy can be a good way to prepare mentally, but make sure you’re ready before your due date in case you go into labor a little earlier. We suggest having everything ready by week 35, even though most babies are born between weeks 37 and 42. When the time finally arrives, you won’t want to have to run around looking for things.
What should I pack?
Remember that your bag will need to contain essentials for everyone present at the birth—clothes, toiletries and deodorant, face cream and toothbrushes for both you and your partner, if you have one. Co-parents have needs too and yet they’re often forgotten.
Hair clips or bands can be a lifesaver during labor and immediately afterwards if you have long hair. Pack enough clothes for a couple of days since it’s hard to know in advance how long you will be staying at the hospital or birth center. Don’t forget your health insurance card, pre-registration forms from the hospital, phone charger, and coins or a payment card to pay for parking.
Think about whether you want to bring personal belongings to add your own personal touch to the room where you will give birth. Small battery-powered candles (not real candles) are easy to pack and, because they give a certain ambience to the room, can make a world of difference when your baby is born. A playlist of your favorite songs or a pretty pillowcase can also make the place feel cozier. Why not ask a few friends to add their favorite songs to your playlist for some personalized encouragement during labor?
If you have written a birth plan, pack it where it is easy to reach when you want to give it to the midwife or doctor. Fruit, energy drinks, sandwiches or snacks are a good idea since labor can be a long process and you will need your energy. Make sure your beverages and snacks are packed so they are easy to get at when you need them the most. Nuts are often prohibited in hospitals due to nut allergies.
Checklist: what to pack in your labor bag
We’ve put together a list of essentials and non-essentials to help you pack (the list is also available as a checklist). Just check things off as you pack them.
- something from home to make the room nicer
- fruit or candy
- your birth plan, health insurance card and pre-registration forms from the hospital
- your own music, if you like
- a change of clothes for the parent(s)
- nursing bra(s), breastfeeding tops, nightgown and robe that open in the front and breast pads if you plan to breastfeed
- 2–4 jumpsuits and nightwear, a hat, a going-home outfit for the baby
- hair clips or bands
- toiletries (toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, etc.)
- phone charger