When it comes time to head to the hospital, the last thing you’ll want to do is rush around, making sure you have everything you need. Packing a bag around the 36-week mark (or even earlier!) ensures it’s ready to go when the time comes. 

What goes into a hospital bag will vary from person to person. Still, you’ll want to ensure you have clothing and toiletries for yourself and your partner, everything you’ll need to bring baby home, and logistical essentials like your health insurance card and birth plan. 

Much like packing your bag in advance so you’re ready to go in the event of early labor, you’ll want to pack your bag with multiple scenarios in mind—clothing you can wear in the event of a C-section, enough toiletries to cover an extended hospital stay, and onesies in various sizes.

Read on for Harbor’s recommendations for what to pack in your hospital bag for you and your little one.

The logistical must-haves

  • Multiple hard copies of your birth plan
  • Your wallet
  • Your health insurance card
  • An empty bag: You’ll get a lot of diapers, wipes, and postpartum essentials from the hospital. Bring an empty bag and load it up.
  • An empty folder: You’ll walk out of the hospital with a ton of paperwork. Bringing a folder ensures that you stay organized.
  • A phone charger with a 10-foot cord: Your bed will likely be far from the nearest outlet. 

Clothing for you

  • Nursing bras or tank tops if you plan to breastfeed
  • Soft, loose pants: Choose something that you can wear, no matter whether you deliver via C-section or vaginally.
  • Postpartum leggings: Some people prefer leggings over loose pants, as they help to keep mesh underwear in place.
  • A going-home outfit: Again, prioritize comfort! Maternity clothing will be your best bet.
  • A comfortable, lightweight robe
  • Anti-slip socks
  • Slip-on shoes for going home: Your feet may swell, and the last thing you’ll want to do is cram your feet into sneakers!

Toiletries for you

  • A toothbrush and toothpaste
  • A hairbrush
  • Shampoo and conditioner
  • Body wash
  • Deodorant
  • Body lotion
  • Cleansing face wipes
  • Medications, including vitamins
  • Glasses and spare contact lenses, if you wear them

For labor and postpartum

  • A portable fan
  • A reusable water bottle
  • Your preferred electrolyte drink
  • Easy-to-eat snacks like granola bars, dried fruit, and pretzels
  • Playlist and portable Bluetooth® speaker (if planning to have music)
  • Nipple cream, if you plan to breastfeed
  • A pump, if you plan to breastfeed
  • Adult diapers: The hospital will give you mesh underwear, but you can bring your adult diapers if you’d prefer
  • Soft toilet paper: You’ll be sore and sensitive after giving birth, and rough hospital toilet paper can add to your discomfort.
  • Perineal spray
  • Harbor mom tip: a couple of our team members used diffusers during labor and loved it!

For your partner

  • Spare clothing
  • Toiletries
  • A pillow
  • A blanket
  • Your preferred entertainment: A laptop or tablet pre-loaded with your favorite TV shows and movies or favorite book will help pass the time

For baby

  • A car seat (many states and hospitals have free car seat inspections to ensure proper installation!)
  • Onesies in both newborn and 0–3 month sizes: You won’t know how big baby will be, so it’s best to be prepared!
  • At least two bottles
  • Formula, if you plan to feed baby formula

To recap

Whether you’re prepping for your first child or third, it’s a good idea to pack your hospital bag in advance. Packing early not only gives you one less thing to worry about but also ensures that you’re less likely to forget something once you’re in labor. 

What goes into your bag is ultimately up to you—some people prefer to have as many home comforts as possible, while others are fine without. If you have any questions or just want a second opinion, Harbor’s team of infant care experts (and moms!) is here to help.

Download a printable checklist here!