What to Pack in Your Hospital Bag for Childbirth


When it comes to packing your hospital bag for childbirth, it is a good idea to at least be roughly packed by 36 weeks. You never know when labor will start, and it can be hard to focus your mind and pack properly when you’re in a rush. The best starting point is usually a good packing list. As a newborn photographer in New Market, Maryland, I feel invested in the care of new parents and their babies, so I hope this list is a helpful tool for you if you are preparing to welcome a new little one into the world.

New baby girl posed inside of a bucket with a painted floral design.

What Do You Really Need to Pack in Your Hospital Bag?

The first thing I’ll say is that it can be all too easy to overpack for the hospital, so here is a list of the essentials that will hopefully keep things simple for you. 


Oftentimes, the last things on a laboring woman’s mind are her ID and insurance cards, but the hospital will ask for these at check-in and you’ll want to have them on hand. If your hospital has a pre check-in option, be sure to print and pack that paperwork to hand in. And if you have a birth plan that you would like to give your nurse, be sure to bring a few hard copies of that as well. 

Comfortable Clothing

Even though you’ll probably be in a hospital gown for much of the time, you may find your own clothes a more comfortable choice after that strenuous but refreshing first shower post-birth. You’ll also need a change of clothes to go home in. Whether you plan to look cute or casual, make sure you pack comfortable, loose clothing. You’ll likely be pretty sore and weak after birth, so leggings aren’t necessarily the best choice. Keep in mind as well that you will probably be very hot for the first few days after birth and want a t-shirt and shorts regardless of the weather outside. You’ll want to pack a nursing bra if you plan to breastfeed and/or pump, and many women like Always Discreet adult diapers as an alternative to the mesh underwear from the hospital. 


In addition to your toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, hairbrush, and whatever else you include in your toiletry bag, be sure to include a hair tie, chapstick, and lotion. Hospitals are typically very dry, and the combination of the dry air and your hormones can cause your lips and skin to dry and crack very easily. Many women also choose to pack their own shampoo, conditioner, and body wash rather than use the hospital’s. 

 Extra long phone charger

Hospital outlets are usually pretty far away because of the bed setup, so it’s a great idea to bring an extra long phone charger. You will be primarily in bed for at least a couple days, so you’ll want to keep your phone charged.


The hospital will probably have a small selection of snacks and will also provide meals, but hospital food isn’t known for its quality, so you’ll be very glad to have your own stash of favorite snacks.

Boppy pillow

Bringing a Boppy nursing pillow can make navigating feeding a newborn for the first time so much easier! Even if you’re bottle feeding, the Boppy will allow you to rest your arms and not have to hold your baby up all the time. You’ll be tired and your baby will eat often, so having a comfortable nursing pillow for extra support can be a game changer!

Yoga mat

If you plan to labor for a while before getting an epidural, or if you plan to give birth without one altogether, you’ll be switching positions often. A great position is getting on all fours or being on your knees while draping yourself over a birthing ball. Both of these positions are so much easier and more comfortable if you have something soft under your knees, like a yoga mat. It can be helpful for your partner or doula – if you have one – to have something under their knees as well, in case they are giving massages or counter pressure while you are in those positions.

Baby Items

This is the single lightest packing list your baby will ever have, so enjoy it: a car seat, clothes, and a blanket. That’s really all you need to bring for your baby, because the hospital will provide diapers, wipes, a hat, etc. I would recommend packing three changes of clothes – sleepers are great – just in case the baby wets or soils one outfit.

Smiling baby who recently went through childbirth, posed on a blanket and is sleeping.

Partner Items

Your partner should obviously pack comfortable clothes and toiletries, as well as a pillow and blanket or sleeping bag. They may want to keep in mind that you may be hot and prefer to keep the room cool, so an extra layer wouldn’t be a bad idea. There will also be a lot of time where you will be engaged with nurses, feeding the baby, and sleeping, so they’ll probably want to have something to pass the time, like a laptop or headphones, for when they aren’t doting on you!

While You’re Working on Your Hospital Bag, Why Not Go Ahead and Book a Newborn Photography Session?

Preparing yourself for the trip to the hospital can sometimes seem overwhelming, so I’m hoping you found this article helpful as you plan! While you are planning for the arrival of your new baby, don’t forget to plan for your baby’s first portraits. Newborn photography sessions can sometimes seem like an “extra” thing that doesn’t matter much, but these early days fly by and your baby will look and act so differently in just a few short weeks. There is something so special and sacred about the newborn days, so it is a significant thing to capture images of this time that you can cherish forever. If you are located in or around New Market, MD and you’re interested in booking a session, reach out here and we can chat!

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