What I’m Packing in My Hospital Bag for Labor & Delivery

Most people end up bringing way too much stuff to the hospital for labor and delivery! Learn what you really need (and don’t need), plus some tips for third trimester and making hard decisions.

As I get ready to head in for a scheduled C-section at 39 weeks, I’ve been putting a lot of thought into packing for the hospital and what to bring (or not bring). With this being my third baby, I’ve learned a lot that I hope will be helpful to you as you think about what to bring for your own labor and delivery!

Much like my normal vacation packing, the amount of stuff I brought to the hospital for my first two deliveries was…well…excessive.  But the third time’s the charm, right?!

Three things to remember when packing your hospital bag for labor and delivery:

  1. The hospital gives you SO. MUCH. STUFF. And really has everything that you and baby will truly need.
  2. That said, you do want to be comfortable, so having some of your own stuff will make those few days more enjoyable.
  3. Don’t forget the car seat!

My Hospital Bag List

For Myself:

  • Insurance and ID cards
  • Compression socks (To help with swelling from the epidural and IV fluids.)
  • Comfy PJs
    • Because I’m having a C-section, I am bringing nightgowns as I likely won’t want elastic around my waist.  
    • My favorite nightgowns are this one and this one. You can also get nightgowns with nursing bras built in.  
    • My favorite PJ separates are these, these and these.
  • Robe  (This one is my favorite.)
  • 1-2 nursing bras.  (I just got this one and really like it.)
  • Slippers
  • Flip flops for the shower
  • Pillow (Bring a distinct pillowcase so it doesn’t get confused with the hospital’s.)
  • Lip balm
  • Hair ties
  • A long phone charger (So you can have your phone in the hospital bed with you.)
  • Electrolytes (To help with dehydration, swelling and getting things moving afterwards.)
  • Toiletries.  Having your own stuff is so nice!
  • Makeup.  I know.  Completely unnecessary.  But a little foundation and mascara will provide a nice little pick me up after delivery.
  • Glasses/contacts
  • Portable speaker
  • Travel sound machine (Don’t get your hopes up about sleeping a lot, but this will help you snag a few hours here and there!)
  • Laptop/Kindle/Book (You will want some kind of entertainment.)
  • Going home outfit

For Baby:

  • Going home outfit for baby.  Bring a 1-2 options because you don’t know how big they will be!
  • A cute blanket for pictures and draping over them in the car seat when it’s time to leave.
  • Car seat
  • Pacifier (Your hospital may provide pacifiers.)

For My Husband:

  • Blanket and pillow
  • Toiletries
  • A few changes of clothes
  • PJs
  • Laptop/Kindle/Book (some kind of entertainment)
  • Snore sleep strips (Lord help him if I fall asleep and his snoring wakes me up. Don’t knock em’ til you try em’ people…they work!)


  • Thank you notes/treats for the nurses.  This is not at all expected, but I loved doing it with my previous deliveries and it meant so much to them! Check with your hospital about what’s allowed. This time I’m bringing a stack of Starbucks gifts cards. And, in the past, I sent two coffee cakes from a local bakery to the nurses’ break room — one cake for the day shift and one for the night shift.
  • Water and snacks.  The family pantry at our hospital is closed. My nurses will be able to refill my water, but they have about a zillion other things to do, so having our own stash will be helpful.

Pregnancy at 39 Weeks

And here we are at the finish line! These final weeks of pregnancy are NEVER comfortable, but I have thankfully felt better than I did during my first two pregnancies at this point.  It was a welcome break from abysmal first and second trimesters!

A few key things that have really made a difference are:

  • Working with a physical therapist who has helped to manage my rib and back pain, in addition to helping me feel very well prepared for my C-section and recovery. The importance of pelvic floor health is not widely discussed, but is SO critical before, during and after pregnancy. I wish I had paid more attention to it with my first two babies. (If you’re in Atlanta, Charlotte or Denver, I cannot recommend The Revelle highly enough! Its co-founder, Dr. Amy Meehan, was recently on a bonus episode of The Upside podcast and it’s a great listen!)
  • Low-impact exercise.  Weights and a goal of 7,000 steps a day.
  • Drinking water constantly.

As my due date drew closer, I really struggled with the decision to have a repeat C-section.

A C-section is major surgery and recovery should be taken seriously. My nervousness has primarily been around recovery. I wasn’t expecting it with my last delivery and now I have two super cute, energy-filled toddlers and hate the thought of not being able to keep up with them for a little while!

As background, here is a quick rundown of my first two deliveries:

  • Baby 1: Vaginal delivery that was a piece of cake. No tearing and I pushed for 8 minutes. He did have the umbilical cord around his neck, but that is fairly common and he was fine. Getting to the hospital was a bit of a debacle, as my water broke 2 weeks early on a Wednesday but was only presenting as a “leak”, which I assumed was just pee. I (naively) didn’t call my doctor until Friday morning when the leaking was increasing. They asked me to come in immediately, confirmed it was amniotic fluid (not pee) and sent me straight to the hospital.
  • Baby 2: Emergency C-section. During my 39 week appointment with my high-risk specialist, the baby measured smaller than he had 2 weeks previously and brain-sparing was detected. Off I went to the hospital, where they realized that, again, the umbilical cord was around his neck (twice) and he wasn’t going to be able to sustain his heart rate through contractions. Given the ease of my first delivery, a C-section and the subsequent recovery was a real shock that I did not handle particularly well.

My OB, who I trust completely and have the utmost respect for, recommends a C-section but has also made it clear that he will support any decision I make. There are not any specific facts or studies that made me choose a repeat Cesarean over VBAC (vaginal birth after Cesarean), it’s a very personal decision.

The things that helped me to decide were:

  • Conversations with friends who have had multiple C-sections
  • Conversations with friends who have had successful VBACS
  • Information from my doctor, midwife and physical therapist about the pros and cons of each
  • Thinking about my personal life circumstances with two toddlers at home

Since deciding to have a C-section, some things that I’ve done to help me feel prepared are:

  • Getting everything I need ready at home:
  • Having a recovery plan (@the.revelle, @dr_shweta_desai and @expectingandempowered share tons of great info!)
  • Having help lined up! I am really terrible at asking for help (can anyone else relate?!), but we are making an effort to tap into all of the offers we’ve gotten from family and friends for food, childcare and errand-running!  Some specific help that we’ll have in the first few weeks includes: a Meal Train, help in the evenings after picking up our two oldest from daycare and lots of play dates for the boys on the weekends!

I will also say that having a scheduled date and time on the calendar has given me a lot of freedom these past few weeks, which has led to me being able to enjoy this time more.

Despite all of the planning, we do know that nothing ever goes exactly according to plan. So, we’ll hold things loosely, trust our medical professionals and say our prayers as we welcome our precious little girl into the world!

(Note: All of the information in this post is based on my own opinions and experiences. You should always consult your medical professionals in regards to your pregnancy, labor and delivery!)

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Jennifer and Laura

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