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What Should I Remove from My Hospital Bag?

By Katie |

When it came time to think about packing my hospital bag, I did a bunch of research. I googled and clicked on tons of links, looking at what different women had packed. I could tell that some of the things weren’t what I wanted/needed, and I sort of compiled my list as a hybrid of everyone else’s bags.

Which is a good idea in theory. My husband and I sat down and made a list. (You guys, the Reminders app on the iPhone? It is a very fancy way for husband’s to efficiently nag their wives. Do NOT enable the “sharing” part. Learn from my error.) And then over the course of two weeks, we gradually filled the bag with all kinds of things. And though it zips, it’s absurd in its fullness, and I know that if I actually need any of the things in the bag, I cannot even hope to get to them.

And, to make matters worse, my husband has his own bag, which contains his change of clothes, his snacks, and my camera, because I just don’t have enough room in the bag. He also has the phone chargers, a computer, and a flip video camera. So yeah … two bags.

Since I’m realizing that this is absurd, and I have nothing else to do today, I am reorganizing the bag (since labor is CLEARLY not happening right now), and I need help. Which of these things do I NOT need in the bag, and, of course, am I missing anything? (Is it even possible that I could be missing anything?)

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What items do mom, baby and dad need in hospital bag?


These are not for a shower necessarily, they're for during labor when I need to be cooled off. I am very easy to overheat (and overheating means nausea and I just do not want to deal with that any more than I have to), and I heard that some hospitals don't provide washcloths and instead you're stuck with paper towels. I suppose I could use them for a shower, but I kind of want to wreck the hospital's washcloths instead of my own ...

So, in that mess, what do we not need? Is there anything else I’m missing?!

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Katie is a former teacher, part-time PT, wife, and first-time mother to the baby with the best ears on the Internet. You can find more of her grammatically questionable writing at her blog, Overflowing Brain. Read bio and latest posts → Read Katie's latest posts →

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38 thoughts on “What Should I Remove from My Hospital Bag?

  1. Angi says:

    Holy moly, you’ve thought of everything! That’s awesome. I would say you probably know, based on your comments, where you’re a little heavy. Although, I’m probably more inclined to say just get a bigger bag. Or use a carry on sized suitcase. *grin*

  2. emily says:

    your bag is great, and I would keep it all. That said, you won’t use it all, but who cares! You know know what you need until you don’t have it.

    I’m assuming you have a separate bag of electronics? Because you will be live tweeting this thing? Right? *tee hee*

    Also, I snuck in diet coke, because I have problems. And I also took my own water bottle.

    Oh, and I took like 3 nursing pj’s with me, I didn’t want to wear the hospital gown because I wanted purty pictures. But I’m vain like that. Speaking of which, I also brought along a few cosmetics, like tinted lip gloss and blush.

  3. ericka says:

    all your stuff looks necessary and you’ve thought of things i wish i had last time. i think you should just get a bigger bag.

  4. pgoodness says:

    Well, I say it’s up to you – take what you want!

    But…I say stick with the nursing bras. I’m not sure if you’ll need pads or lanolin so soon – but I’m not an authority, as my kid refused to latch.

    I didn’t take my own receiving blankets, because the ones they provide in the hospital (white with red and blue stripes) are awesome. Perfect size for swaddling.

    I would say no to the brush, clippers, etc as I don’t think you’ll be there long enough to use.

    And I think we only took one outfit – the hospital onesies were fine. But that’s personal preference. :)

  5. Dee says:

    All you need is a bigger bag! Oh and I would bring some snacks, music, candles, oil for perineum, camera, phone numbers, bendy straws and yummy drinks … good thing I am having a home birth!

  6. Jen says:

    This is more question than help – as I’m only 33 weeks and am just now starting to pack! But I’ve heard mixed reviews on yoga pants – some women swear by them in the hospital others say that pants of any type would have surely been a hassle and just stick with the gowns and a robe. I have issues with my legs – so I’m assuming they’re a necessity for me … but I’m curious what you’ve heard??

  7. katie says:


    I am really just packing them for the drive home. My intention is to stay in a hospital gown while in the hospital because I’ve heard that there is a great potential for leakage of fluids and I would rather ruin the hospital’s gowns than my pants. You know? Also, I heard that the nurses need to check things down there periodically, which is more complicated with pants on. I know some people bring their own, I think it’s really personal preference. I’ll let you know if this baby ever comes. :)

  8. Katie says:

    Here’s the thing. I checked in on a Wednesday to be induced. I left on Monday. No complications. Just a really long labor that ended in C-section. I needed almost everything we brought. I say bring more than you think you’ll need. It will be your husband’s job to schlep everything inside and then back to the car when you check out. Don’t you worry about whether or not you need to BYO washcloths. This is the one time you get to overpack your purse and not get any grief about it. My philosophy is to bring everything you think you may find comforting before/during/after. Deal with the sorting later.
    (Bring a few different sizes of baby clothes. Our kid didn’t even fit in newborn diapers when he was born. So FORGET about newborn clothes. We went straight to 0-3s. So grab a few different sizes to be safe.)

  9. abbeyviolet says:

    Hmm, I think my comment was eaten.

    In short, I haven’t needed/wanted my own towels, washcloths or slipper socks at the two hospitals I have used (they had the socks even) and hospitals were in OK and DC.

    I do think multiple outfits are good as the baby might spit up on one or more so best to not have to go home naked. I do like having my own blankets too although have always had pics in the standard striped hospital blanket as it is such a random part of modern culture.

  10. Jen says:

    I *think* you could take out the towel, yes the hospital towels aren’t great but dude, the post baby shower is SO fantastic that you won’t care how nice your towel is. Just take a loose pair of sweatpants, you don’t need more than 1 pair most likely. I would just take one outfit for your baby, the hospital snap shirts are really nice for the first day or so when they are constantly being checked by doctors and nurses. If you are picky about pillows I would consider taking your own.

    Chapstick. Chapstick. Chapstick. Take lots, you will need it.

  11. heather says:

    I wouldn’t bring the nail clippers. Typically a newborns nails are fused to their finger tip so you can’t cut them at first and if you do, you stand a very good chance of clipping skin too. Play it safe and leave them alone. Some ladies bite the finger nails off, but I have never seen anyone do that with a really new baby. You don’t have to have mittens. I didn’t use them and my daughter didn’t wind up scarred. Also, I’ve never heard of a hospital not giving out a newborn brush and nose sucker. Their nose suckers are usually much better than what you can purchase.

    I’d ask your hospital about the wash clothes because you might not need them, but a good idea if they don’t provide them for ya. Also, pack some snacks you love because there is no telling if the cafeteria will be open after you are done delivering, plus you might get sick of the hospital offerings anyway.

    I’d also get some Tuck’s pads (witch hazel I believe). Those things are awesome for inflammation and soreness. I pretty much built a fortress of Tuck’s pads and numbing cream on my pads for several days following birth. They have an awesome cooling sensation, which helps when your girlie bits feel like they are on fire. Not sure if they are pretty standard. My hospital gave them to me, but I have friends that didn’t get them.

    Good luck!

  12. Elizabeth Hare says:

    Here are some other suggestions: nursing nighties – you won’t want the hospital gown after your delivery, dressing gown, slippers, underwear (something to stick those pads to), diapers for your baby, baby carseat and depending on the weather, car seat cover. And I agree with Abbeyviolet – chapstick! Good luck!

  13. Janet says:

    Nail clippers won’t be needed….when they are that little, the recommend you just peel their nails off instead of cutting them.

    Also, bring your own pillow! (obviously it doesn’t fit in the bag!!) just put an old pillow case on it that you can throw away after the hospital stay! You’ll be way more comfortable sleeping and relaxing.

    If your a germaphobe like I am, bring some old flip-flops for in the shower.


    The baby book to write in.

    Also a cool idea is have the husband go out and get a newspaper the day the baby is born and the first few days after and save them for when he is older and can know what was going on in the world the day he was born.

  14. katie says:

    I actually have underwear in there too, I don’t know where the picture of them went! Oops!

  15. Drew says:

    I’ve also heard of taking one bag for labor musts, and one bag for once you’re all settled with the baby (to leave in the car and make your husband retrieve for you). Then you’ll still have to have another bag, but it might be a bit easier to wrangle everything.

  16. Katie says:

    Agree to leave the nail clippers home–you can peel off tiny newborn nails, and if your husband is “super-helpful” like mine was, and unpacks the hospital bag, you’ll never find them when you actually do need them :)

    As far as the washcloths…my hospitals have always had them. Even if they don’t the standard-issue hospital towels are about washcloth-size, and you could probably wear those.

    I’d ditch any pants with any kind of waistband, and just go with yoga pants. My hospitals have also always provided a cute little lanolin sample too (which is super handy for the diaper bag). I agree with the chapstick suggestion, but if you forget it, or it’s in the bathroom and the walk seems too painful? Lanolin is actually a great substitute :)

    As far as baby clothes…mine always wore the hospital kimono shirts and then were swaddled in hospital blankets (unless they’re marketed as “swaddling” vs “receiving” most receiving blankets are to small to really get a good swaddle). And really? My boys were absolutely adorable that way, and I was way to tired to dig into our bag for more.

    But really? I’d probably just say to move up to a wheelie bag and pack it all :)

  17. Taz says:

    YES to the chapstick comments and would like to add hairties or headbands! If you are looking to downsize I would say let go of the towels. I was offered wetted towels during labor and the shower ones weren’t that bad…but this is just my experience. I didn’t bring extra pads or more than one baby outfit or any baby grooming items or the socks (my hospital also provided those)…but my personal items were enough to fill a whole bag so I’m not judging anything! I had makeup, shampoo, conditioner, body wash, and a makeup mirror…I knew people would be snapping photos and I wanted to look a little glamorous and not look like I was in the hospital cause I was ill or something!

  18. Krystal says:

    Bring a robe! It was a must for me with both my kids.

  19. Nanette says:

    As silly as this may seem, my favorite item I brought was a roll of the softest toilet paper I could find. Hospital TP is like sandpaper, especially on your sensitive post-labor wobbly bits. Not that you’re scrubbing down with it, but it was still nice to have the plush stuff for the “pat, patting” during recovery. All my nurses thought I was brilliant for bringing my own.

  20. Hollie says:

    YES to chapstick. Also extra hair ties, headbands, whatever you use to keep it off your face. And swap your washcloths for like 3 baby washcloths – they pack smaller and work just as well for cooling you off or showering (thank the LORD for the washcloths during labor! I was totally hot, clammy, and naseuous and they helped). And I would just use the hospital pads; if you hate them, you can use your own at home but I don’t think you’ll have THAT strong of an opinion on them in the first 48 hours. :)

  21. Rachel says:

    Here’s my thing–only bring it to the hospital if you don’t mind if it gets lost or ruined. Also, remember that anything you bring of yours will become your own laundry responsibility. So keep in mind that you’re going to have to pack the icky towel from your post-birth shower, which is cool if that’s what you want to do. Anything you use of the hospital’s, you can just hand over and walk away from. Personally, I would leave the hand-knitted hat and booties at home and just take cute pictures in them once you get home. Since those are intended to be keepsakes, I wouldn’t want to risk losing them or forgetting them somewhere. (My husband lost his childhood security blanket at the hospital when he was a kid, so this is what I kept in mind when I was going in for my birth).

  22. Dana says:

    If you have all of that in that backpack, I’m really impressed! I had a backpack like that for the baby, and a carry-on rolling bag for me and my hubby. LOL I personally would do without the towels, and couldn’t you call the hospital you’re going to deliver at and see if they can provide washcloths during labor? You definitely want the lanolin, and start using it with the first feeding. I wore black yoga pants when I left the hospital, and a lot of time after that, so to me, those are the perfect choice of the three. I wore the hospital socks, but I’m not picky about socks, so if you want your fluffy ones, I say go for it. And I wore the hospital gowns as well. I personally did make room for my makeup, because I’m a redhead with practically invisible eyelashes and brows, so without it I look sick, but that’s a personal vanity…if you’re comfortable without it, it’s a great thing to leave off…wish I was that comfortable. And like another commenter said, it is great to have a few of your own blankets for pics and stuff, and an outfit for the hospital pic, and to wear home, but as for everyday use while you’re there, my little boy wore the wrap-around t-shirts they give you, and we swaddled him in the hospital blankets…I used them to swaddle him at home until he got too big…they are truly the perfect size. Here’s hoping you get to meet your little one soon! :o )

  23. alex says:

    I took a diaper bag with baby things, a backpack for me, a bag for my boyfriend, a bag with electronics, and a vera bradley mini cooler with drinks… Don’t feel like you have much! It’s about feeling comforatable :) . Better to have it, and not need it, than need it, and not have it.

  24. koolchicken says:

    I wouldn’t fret about over packing, if bringing all this stuff makes you feel better go for it. Your list looks good but I would probably bring a spare top as well, just cause if you have only one you know it’ll get spit up on. And if you’re driving you could always pack two bags. One for the essentials, stuff you’ll use during and right after delivery. The other can be the back up, extra baby clothes, blanket, etc. and just leave it in the car incase you need it. It’s easier than having to have someone go to your house looking for stuff you need, but it’s still out of the way and one less thing to worry about as you pack up to head home.

  25. Jessica says:

    My hospital had washclothes and towels and toiletries, maybe you could call and check (bonus: you don’t have to wash the hospital towels after). I needed chapstick and a hair elastic. I couldn’t wear a bra because my breasts became ginormous and wouldn’t fit the bra I brought so I went without. I ended up needing an emergency c section and the underwear I brought hit right at the incision so I sent my mom out to get some big granny panties (just a thought). You’re going to need more than 3 pads, I hope you packed more than those.

  26. Tonya says:

    I was told to skip the newborn clothes and go right to 0-3 month, and to my surprise I had a 5 lb. baby! I had to send other people shopping to get preemie clothes that actually fit until he could grow into newborns!

  27. Noelle says:

    Take it all! My hospital did not have washcloths, but the towels for showers were fine. I used more than one outfit for my little one, and wore my own nightgown and robe after delivery. It was really nice to have when I needed to get up to go to a breast feeding class.

  28. Melody says:

    HI, I’d definitely also pack snacks for the labour. To save space you could leave your going home clothes and baby clothes in the car for your hubby to fetch if/when needed.

  29. Kellie says:

    I don’t think you will need the nursing bras just yet, usually milk doesn’t fully come in until the third day. (just put some pads inside your shirt if you start to get leaky) I never used the pads I brought until my 2nd week at the hospital. (my daughter was a month early and in ICU) the hospital pads are actually extremely comfortable and this is coming from a strictly tampon only girl. I don’t think you’ll need that many outfits if your only going to be there overnight. A pair of Jammie’s one or two simple onsies and the going home outfit will do fine. Lannolin won’t be needed until the 1st or 2nd week of breastfeeding unless your a very sensitive person. And then maybe by the 4th day you’ll need it. Nail clippers won’t be neccisary just yet. I highly advise a comfy robe though, pillows and comfy blankets for you, your husband and the baby because hospital pillows and blankets are cheap and uncomfortable. You can try snacks but they usually won’t let you eat anything after they insert the IV due to fear that you’ll throw up. If you have good company for the people planning to be there for the birth then you

  30. Kellie says:

    Won’t find a lot of use for the electronics. But they are nice to have just in case. I think if your phone does Internet then you will be pretty set though. Hair brushes and make up, maybe? Just incase? Lots of water. They usually will give you water also, and Ice chips to keep you hydrated. Chapstick. And a hair band that helps a lot :)
    Hope I was of help.

  31. kt says:

    I’m a L & D nurse and I am always amazed at how much stuff people bring. How long are you planning to stay? IN labor you need very little. My rule of thumb is never wear ANYTHING in labor that you you hope to see again. It can get kinda messy. Be sure you have chap stick, phone chargers & camera chargers — I’d say those are the most forgotten items. The tennis balls & washcloths are helpful. My hospital does not provide shampoo unless you pay big bucks for a private room so you might want to get some travel sized bottles just in case. The towel is probably overkill — hospital towels are no worse than gym towels. You might also consider bringing some pillows (bring them in bright colored cases so you don’t get them confused and leave them behind) and a boppy. Those early breast feeding lessons are the toughest and they’re made especially hard by not having a nice positioning pillow. I like the idea of having one bag for labor & one bag for postpartum. Good luck!

  32. FWS says:

    Looks good to me! We packed 2 bags: a labor bag and an overnight bag. After baby was born and we were settled, hubby went to the car and brought up the overnight bag with like 70 pillows! I wish I had packed my boppy pillow, and to me, a nightgown/ shirt of my own after delivery made me feel more new mom, less hospital patient. Your list is awesome! Good luck!

  33. Kel says:

    Only a couple things you’ve forgotten– a Boppy or other nursing pillow, since they’re so helpful in getting positioning right with newborns, especially when you’re tired, and some bed pillows of your own– hospital pillows are pathetically thin and useless. And bring some stretchy underwear, in case you hate the disposable panties. I did.

  34. Hollie says:

    YES THE BOPPY! I literally thought of this post and how it was missing a nursing pillow in the shower last night and went, “Crap, how am I going to remember that?” ha ha. I had to send my husband home to get ours (we lived 40 minutes away, so that was an almost 2 hour mission).

  35. Taz says:

    Totally agree that the Boppy is necessary!!

  36. Suzanne says:

    I agree with the Boppy, but I had two c-sections and it was so much nicer.

    For nursing, the hospital gowns can be a pain, so with my second, I had a nursing nightshirt.

    The towel is unnecessary, you won’t notice if you are drying off with sandpaper. Really.

    And I’m a huge Satsuma fan, too. (It’s especially good for waking you up after a night tending to a newborn!)

  37. Anon says:

    Less pants! I don’t think I wore actual pants the entire time I was there… but my shirts seemed to get so yucky! But I was in for 5 days come to think of it because i was induced…

    anyway, my big regret was too many clothes (i didnt wear half of them – even at 5 days away! i just wore the same nursing shirt, the only time i wore pants was CHRISTMAS DAY, which is hilarious come to think of it). and I definitely wouldn’t bring a towel… just another thing to drag around. also, after birth, they give you SUPER HUGE pads that will put any pad you have ever seen to shame, and then a whole pack which i actually continued to use at home. I brought my own, but theirs were just… made for the task. oh, and no washcloths. you can ask for extra towels and use those for labouring if you need them. Extra underwear is handy, i had a lot of “sweat” coming from down there and wanted to change them a lot.

    On another note, shampoo is a must… I found out when i got there that there was no shampoo or soap for the shower, and had to get someone to bring me some. I don’t know if that’s always the case, but better a travel one than nothing.

  38. Anon says:


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