What should I bring in my hospital bag when giving birth?

There are many things to keep track of during pregnancy. Even if you have a good idea of what you'll need for the birth itself, it's not unlikely that you may have overlooked something essential - especially if you're a first-time mom. We've compiled a list of items that are generally recommended to bring in your hospital bag.

The hospital bag

For many people, the hospital bag is a very special item. There are a lot of emotions and expectations connected with the process of packing the bag and looking forward to the arrival of your baby.

First and foremost, it's a good idea to have a pre-packed hospital bag ready as the birth approaches. That way, you don't have to worry about packing at the last minute if labor suddenly starts and you need to get out the door in a hurry.  

It might be a good idea to have one bag for the baby's things and one for mom's and dad's things. That way, it will be easier to find and keep track of your things once you've been admitted to the hospital. If you want to bring a lot of things to the hospital, it's a good idea to use a rolling suitcase instead of a bag. That way you don't have to carry too much.

What should I bring to the hospital?

Before you start packing your hospital bag, it's a good idea to contact the hospital to find out which items they recommend you bring and which items they provide themselves. For example, some hospitals want you to bring your own clothes to give birth in, while other hospitals have hospital clothes that you'll be given on arrival.

Items to bring for mom (and dad):

  • ​A list of special requests for pain relief and birthing positions, if you've made one 
  • Breast pads and possibly a nursing pillow
  • Camera if you don't plan on using your phone's built-in camera
  • Cardigan that can be buttoned or zipped up for easy access to breastfeeding and skin-to-skin contact with your baby
  • Change of clothes that bring a little comfort from home, such as your favorite relaxation pants, hoodie and grandma's knitted socks if they bring you comfort
  • Cooling and heating pad for pain relief
  • Entertainment such as magazines or books
  • Glasses and/or contact lenses
  • Important papers such as medical records and health insurance/health card
  • Lanolin ointment for sore nipples and dry baby skin
  • Large panties that are comfortable for the first few days after birth - even if your baby is born by caesarean section. The ones provided by the hospital can be uncomfortable and scratchy
  • Medication if you need to take it regularly
  • Money or payment card in case of parking or purchasing food
  • Music
  • Nursing bras and possibly nursing tops
  • Phone + charger and possibly headphones
  • Post-birth wash bottle
  • Postpartum pads if the hospital doesn't have them
  • Slippers 
  • Snacks during and after labor - it's important to make sure you get enough calories and avoid low blood sugar when you're in labor. Since it's hard to predict exactly when labor will start and what you'll crave, it's a good idea to remember salty, sour and sweet foods
  • Soft and comfortable clothes for after the birth and the journey home
  • Toilet paper, as the hospital's toilet paper can be rough after giving birth
  • Toiletry bag with toothbrush, toothpaste, lip balm, face cream, hairbrush, hair elastics, shampoo, deodorant, chewing gum and whatever else you normally use 
  • Water bottle

What if I'm having a C-section?

Even if you are having a caesarean section, there's no major difference in what you should bring in your hospital bag. You can still expect some postpartum bleeding, but with a planned C-section, you won't need the wash bottle. However, it will be nice for you to use the cooling and warming pad for pain relief around the surgical wound. You may also expect a longer hospital stay, which means a comfortable, loose-fitting change of clothes and snacks are even more important. A good pair of slippers are also nice to have during hospitalization, as you'll relatively quickly be encouraged to move around to get your system going.

Other tips regarding giving birth in the hospital 

  • It can be a good idea to bring a disposable mat to sit on in the car in case your water breaks on the way to the hospital.
  • ​​​Know where you're going in advance so you don't have to search for the right ward when you arrive at the hospital.
  • Make sure your partner has the phone numbers of immediate family on hand so they can be updated along the way if you want them to be.

Items to bring - for the baby:​

  • Baby blanket
  • Baby clothes (at least 2 sets)
  • Baby duvet + 2 sets of bedding
  • Beanie
  • Car seat for the journey home, preferably installed in the car before birth
  • Cloth diapers
  • Diapers
  • Pacifier
  • Teddy bear or cuddly toy
  • Warm socks
  • Warm suit or sweater for the trip home

Packing your baby's hospital bag can be challenging, as it's hard to estimate how many cloth diapers or sets of clothes you'll need. Luckily, in most cases, you'll be able to drive home and pick up more items, or ask family members and friends to bring you some if you're short. The size of the delivery room will vary from hospital to hospital, so it's a good idea not to bring too much equipment into the room as there may not be room for everything. Therefore, we also recommend leaving the car seat in the car until you get to go home with your new baby.

Winter or summer baby?

The weather can be unpredictable and you can't always count on warm temperatures in the summer or frost in the winter. However, the seasons are a good guide to what to include in your hospital bag, which should be packed with the season of your due date in mind. 

If you're due in the winter months, it's a good idea to pack your maternity bag with wool. Wool is soft, warm and temperature-regulating, which means that your baby will stay warm without sweating. In addition to wool clothing and a warm jumpsuit for the journey home, you should bring a winter duvet, beanie and mittens for your winter baby.

If you're due in the summer months, wool is also a good option, as long as it's so-called summer wool, which is woven in a thinner thread. Regardless of the season, babies need to wear socks, as newborns cannot regulate their body temperature and their feet get cold quickly.

When should I pack the hospital bag?

There's a lot to keep track of when bringing a baby into the world. That's why it's a good idea to pack your hospital bag well in advance. At least then you'll have that one less thing to worry about.

It's hard to say when the hospital bag should be packed and ready, as you rarely know exactly when the baby will arrive. A good suggestion would be week 37+0, because a normal birth occurs between week 37 and week 41+6 days. Statistically, most babies are born after week 39 or 40, so if your maternity bag is ready around three weeks before your due date, you should be fine.

Sources used in the blog post: