My Labor and Postpartum Bag Essentials

A good friend of mine is due with her first baby girl next month. I have had so much fun sharing my “veteran” mom tips with her. It really is the most incredible exciting time. After emailing her my list of hospital bag essentials, I just knew I needed to share this one with you all too!

I vividly remember being 8 months pregnant and searching the internet for what in the world should I put in my hospital bag?! I was determined that if my hospital bag had all the right contents, we would go through labor smooth sailing and bring home a healthy baby boy… if only it was that easy, right? I found many helpful tips and believe my whole experience was better off due to my research. Thank you, to you who have posted what was inside your hospital bag. I hope this list can help the next mama to be!

Hospital Bag Essentials
When I made my list for the hospital, I divided it into categories. It makes it easier to gather what you need, check it off, and get it done!  I like having things in separate bags. This way when you get to your postpartum room, your husband/helper/SO can get you what you need. I brought 4 small bags:

  1. Labor Backpack
  2. Mom and Dad Essentials – my husband and I put our items in a shared bag.
  3. Baby Essentials
  4. Room Essentials

It may seem like a lot of bags. However, both times we found it kept us organized and made for easy unpacking when we arrived home with our new baby. Let’s take a look at each these bags!

Labor Bag Essentials

1. Labor Backpack
For me, the items in my labor backpack were the most important. Only the labor backpack went to the labor and delivery room. I had this bag ready to go a month ahead of time! The backpack is nice because it stands out and is easy for your spouse/SO/helper to remember, THE BACKPACK.

I went to classes and did a lot of research on what items are best for a natural birth and medication free labor. Thus, my labor backpack was geared towards a natural and medication free labor. Make sure you tweak the contents of your bag to what your needs are. Keeping in mind anything can happen during labor!

  • Robe – I went to the hospital both times in a nursing tank top with my robe over it and leggings. I know many people advise against this, saying you will ruin your items. For me, it was really nice to have something cozy and my own. I wore the same robe for both boys and it is in the very first pictures we took. I think I’ll have it forever! But again do whats best for you.
  • Slippers/Grip Socks – My sister bought me UGG moccasins the Christmas we found out we were pregnant with baby #1. They are amazing and fabulous and I’ve been known to go out in them on numerous occasions. It was a no brainer for me to wear these both times. Any kind of slipper/grip sock will work. I purchased a pair of grip socks the second time around and love them!
  • Memory Book – I asked our nurse for baby footprints in the footprint pages of our memory book. Actually, I was sooo worn out by then, my husband asked and I am SO happy he did. If it had not been in the backpack, we wouldn’t have remembered to do that with all the excitement.
  • Camera and Video Camera – Make sure batteries are charged, and anyone that will be in the delivery room knows how to use these.
  • Docking Station – With my 1st, I can say with certainty my “labor day playlist” was essential to sticking with my goal for a medication free labor. Most hospitals have these in the rooms now, but ours did not, so thankfully we brought it along!
  • Water bottle – Unfortunately, not every mama is going to be allowed to drink water during labor. I have this one, I would take a sip, toss it to my husband and get ready for the next contraction.
  • Chapstick – A necessity. Again, most hospitals have plenty of chapstick, if you want to go that route.
  • Small Cosmetic Bag – This is where I put my chapstick, small hairbrush, deodorant, and toothbrush. It takes some time to get to your postpartum room, so it was nice for me to be able to clean up a bit after labor.
  • Heating Pad – If I had to pick one thing to have in my labor bag this would be it! When I went to the hospital for baby #2, I was 7 cm dilated and the first thing I did was find an outlet and plug my heating pad in. Also, postpartum for stomach cramps, it is a dream to have. I did not get nearly enough warning for how much worse the stomach cramps would be after baby #2!
    • There is an important note I need to mention, especially as a nurse myself. Technically, the nurses and doctors are required to have you use their heating pad (K-pad in hospital language). The K-pad does not get as hot and shuts off automatically.
    • The K-pad is great too, and I would highly recommend that you ask your nurse for a K-pad immediately if you do not have a heating pad or if the hospital won’t allow you to use yours. Okay, I think my point has been made.
  • Tennis Balls – I put three tennis balls in a long tube sock – pink flamingos that remind me of the beach. My husband rolled it with deep pressure into my legs (my contractions were completely in my thighs with both babies!).
  • Pictures of Focal Point – I remember looking at this a lot with my first labor because we got there when I was only 2 cm dilated. With my second guy, when I got there I was not in the mood to be looking at any kind of picture!
  • Clothes for tub – This one is for those mama’s trying to go without meds. This one brings back all sorts of painful (literally) memories, but I’ll sum it up with bring an extra change of clothes. Although, the hospital has robes if you run out of clean dry clothes.
  • Toilet Paper – A must. I did not know about this little secret with my first babe. It was rough! The second time it was at the top of my labor backpack list, highlighted and underlined. Having your own toilet paper is a dream! (I must warn you though – I did get many comments about bringing my own toilet paper)
  • Snack bag – I had a few things in my bag for my husband to grab on the go. Especially if you go into labor in the middle of the night, there will be no food in sight for a very long time. I remember right before I was about to push, my husband literally shoving a whole granola bar in his mouth.

This probably seems like a lot to cram into a backpack, but we have one similar to this and it fits everything!

Postpartum Essentials

2. Mama’s Essentials
The hospital will supply you with basic toiletries, even lanolin cream. Personally, I like throwing in my own toiletries. But again it is personal preference and you may just not want more stuff to bring!

  • Clothes:
    • Robe/Nursing gown – The one you wore to deliver in will need to be sent home to be washed ASAP.
    • Loose fitting maternity or nursing pajamas – I wear these the entire time.
    • Grip Socks
    • Going Home outfit – If it’s summer, a loose-fitting maternity dress or skirt is perfect. With my first, it was August and I wore my maternity skirts and dresses for a long time after baby. Just remember to throw in shoes if you don’t want to wear your slippers home.
  • Nursing:
    • Cover
    • Nursing Bras
    • Bra pads, lanolin
    • Boppy – Can not say enough great things about this item. Some people say a waste, I say a must. I nursed both boys for over a year and used it every day all day. When I was in the hospital if I was not using it to nurse, I was sitting on it.
  • Toiletries:
    • Shampoo and Conditioner
    • Toothbrush, toothpaste
    • Chapstick
    • Face Wash Wipes – These are a lifesaver at the hospital and in the first few weeks after baby. I do not think I would have washed my face for months if it was not for these!
    • Moisturizer – Body and Face
    • Deodorant
    • Hair Brush, Hair Elastics
    • Makeup – I brought tiny mascara, concealer, and blush. I actually did use it the day we left!
    • Toilet Paper – Few more rolls.

2. Dad’s Essentials

  • Chargers
  • Comfortable Clothes, Pajamas, Shoes
  • Dop Kit
  • Going Home clothes

Baby Hospital Essentials3. Baby Essentials

  • Baby hats, mitts, socks
  • Going home outfit – Something super cozy and soft!
  • Onesie/Gowns
  • Receiving Blanket– The hospital has plenty of these. The nurses know how to get those blankets into the most perfect swaddle for your little bundle.
  • Swaddle Blanket – I can not swaddle worth a darn, so we have used these easy swaddles for both babies and swear by them! I brought one to the hospital for baby #2, and it was so nice to not call the nurse at 2 am to swaddle our baby.
  • Pacifiers – Bring two to have on hand (although neither of my newborns took them).
  • Diaper Bag – I had my diaper bag packed, and my mom brought in with the car seat the day we were leaving to go home. No need to have this in the hospital room.
  • Car Seat – Have this in your car ready to go. Just be sure the car you have at the hospital has the base!

4. Postpartum Room Essentials

  • 2 pillows with pillow cases – Obviously your room will come with pillows, but we loved having our own.
  • Baby Briefcase – I am obsessed with this item and get it for all my new mama friends. But of course a folder works too!
  • Notebook – Put important phone numbers like your pediatrician in it.
  • Snacks – We brought things like microwave mac n cheese, peanut butter, jelly, bread, pudding, sprite, Gatorade. Our hospital food was great, but only open certain hours so having a few things in the room was awesome.

No need to pack your breast pump, feminine products, bottles, diapers, or wipes. The hospital will have these things and will be super accommodating as you just birthed a baby.


I could not resist throwing in a few pictures of my little guys as newborns! Anyways back to business… I hope this helps you feel a little bit more prepared! And for those “veteran mamas” what did you find super helpful to have on hand?

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Hi, I'm Jess. Soon to be mom of three and lover of all things decor and design. Follow along as we renovate our newly bought farmhouse one room at at time, and welcome baby #3. So happy you are here!


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