Giving birth soon? What you should pack in your hospital bag


It was probably in October 2016 when we started packing our hospital bag. I wasn’t due till the first week of December, but I had this fear that my labor pains would start, and we wouldn’t be ready. In fact, I may have dreamt about it!

So we picked out a suitcase and started throwing things in it. We referred to some lists, and learned from the experiences of fellow new parents. We thought about the things we normally packed for trips, and things that would make us comfortable in the hospital. We thought about things we would need to bring, things we could easily buy, and things we might need in the middle of the night.

Obviously, we overpacked. But I think our hospital bag was pretty good!

First, we checked lists on pregnancy sites: What To Expect and Baby Center. We reviewed their recommendations, and thought about what would be useful in a local context. So here’s what we actually packed:


  • Pen and pad, for taking notes. I always have a notebook or two on me, but barring that, Oneal and I usually take notes on our phones too. Still, we had these in the hospital bag just in case.
  • Birth plan. Our doula, Ros, gave us a link to a really useful site for putting together our birth plan. Though we had discussed it–Oneal and I, our OB, and our doula–and written it down, Ros recommended that we make a version with icons instead of text, because it would be easier for the nurses to understand. We planned on printing several copies, so all staff, on all shifts, could get one. Unfortunately, I went into labor before we could even print it!
  • Hospital paperwork. We had paid for a delivery package at the hospital, so we brought copies of the receipt, the contract, and all other paperwork we’d gotten from admissions and accounting.
  • Printed copies of your medical history. A doctor friend warned me that I would be repeatedly asked for our family’s medical history, so I wrote it down and typed it up. Oneal printed several copies, and I handed it to every resident to came to check on me at the start of my labor.
  • Authorization letters. We had gotten permission for Oneal and for our doula to stay with me throughout labor. Our OB and the hospital’s medical director signed off on it. It was a good thing we had that authorization, otherwise I would have labored alone!
  • Hairties, to keep hair out of your face
  • Candies and snacks. I’d told our doula that going hungry would make me very unhappy, so she made sure the nurses allowed me to eat light meals throughout my labor. We also brought cereal bars, candy and water. If I couldn’t eat them, at least Oneal could!


  • Toiletries. One of the first things I did when we were in the hospital room, after I’d given birth and felt a little rested, was brush my teeth! Oneal brought me a kidney dish because I couldn’t stand up yet, and I brushed my teeth while sitting in the hospital bed. Bring all the toiletries you would normally use: toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash, facial cleanser, moisturizer, toner, lotion, deodorant, brush or comb, lip balm, soap, shampoo. Trust me, being clean and fresh (at least from the neck up) will help you feel loads better.
  • Extra-absorbent maxi pads. You’ll bleed. You’ll pee. Bring a whole pack. What you don’t use in the hospital, you can use at home.
  • Disposable bed pads. You’ll bleed. You’ll pee. You don’t want to be sitting in your bodily fluids, and you don’t know how often the hospital staff will change your sheets.
  • Snacks. I’m a snacker. I get hungry in the middle of the night. I couldn’t always ask Oneal to go out and buy something, because of course he couldn’t leave me and Lucas alone for long. So we had snacks on standby.
  • Makeup. I brought my makeup kit, in the hopes that I would find the energy to pretty myself up for visitors and pictures. That totally never happened.
  • Bath towels, hand towels and washcloths. Because you might be able to take a shower or a sponge bath. Because you need to feel fresh and clean and human. The hospital might provide a towel, but nothing is as comforting as your own stuff. 


  • Disposable underwear. This is useful because you don’t have to worry about washing it clean afterwards. Buy the biggest size possible, because you don’t want to wear anything tight after you give birth!
  • Extra pairs of underwear. Don’t bring your sexy panties. Bring the granny panties, because you’re going to be wearing giant maxi pads. And you’ll want comfortable underwear for when you go home.
  • Nursing bra, if you’ve already bought it. I didn’t buy mine till a week after giving birth. In the hospital, I didn’t bother wearing a bra because I was breastfeeding so often.
  • Nightgown or pajamas. Eventually you’re going to get sick of that hospital gown, and you’ll want something more familiar and comfortable.
  • Socks and slippers. Do your feet get cold? Mine do. We brought fuzzy slippers, so that my feet would be warm even when I wasn’t under a blanket.
  • Comfortable clothes. During the day you might want to wear something a little more presentable than a nightgown, just to feel human again. Or maybe you’re expecting visitors. I packed nursing dresses, so they were loose, and had those openings so I could breastfeed. And of course, you’ll need an outfit for going home.
  • Sleeping mask. You can’t always turn off all the lights in a hospital room.
  • Bathrobe. This was useful when I was taking a sponge bath and I felt cold. It also helped when I felt cold and the blanket wasn’t enough. 



  • Loose clothing. Side-tie kimonos, frog suits and loose onesies are great.
  • Socks or booties, cap or hat, mittens. You never know how cold it might be in your hospital room.
  • Diapers. Bring a few different brands and sizes. You don’t know how big your baby will be, or if he might have an allergic reaction to one brand or another.
  • Receiving blanket or swaddle. Ask the nurse to teach you how to swaddle your baby.
  • Baby wash. A nurse will come by to give your baby her first bath, and to teach you how to bathe her at home. It’s best to use the same baby wash you’ll be using at home. Also, it’s one less thing the hospital can charge you for!
  • Wet wipes. Be prepared to spend the next five or so years keeping these handy.
  • Bath towel. For the bath!
  • Washcloths. For the bath, for drool, for spit-up, for whatever might happen.



  • Rear-facing infant car seat. In the US, you can’t even leave the hospital if you don’t have this properly installed in your vehicle. In the Philippines, we’re very lax about this. Still, we had one, handed down to us by some good friends whose son had outgrown it. It’s a good thing it was already in the car when I went into labor!
  • Wet wipes. They’re not just for your baby! When I couldn’t get up from the bed yet, these were all I could use on my face, just to feel fresh and clean again.
  • Tissue. You’re always going to need these.
  • Water bottle. It’s a hassle to keep asking the nurses for water. Most hospitals have water dispensers in the pantry near the patient rooms, so we just kept refilling our thermos.
  • Straws. Sometimes you can’t sit up, but you desperately need a drink. 
  • Travel mugs. We have travel mugs with covers, with our names on them. This was useful for when we wanted soda or juice instead of just water.
  • Disposable cups, plates and utensils. Sometimes people bring food!
  • Phone chargers and extension cords. Your battery will probably run out as you respond to greetings and take pictures of your newborn. 
  • Blankets and pillows. The hospital will probably charge for additional blankets and pillows, so better to bring your own. Also useful for breastfeeding. 





  1. Did you get to eat those cereal bars? Was there something you forgot or wish you didn’t bring? Not that I’ll ever use this list, haha.


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