Hospital Essentials for a Comfortable Stay during Childbirth

Reviewed by James Brann, MD
If you are getting close to your baby due date and wondering what you should bring to the hospital to make your stay more comfortable, you are in the right place! Most women must stay overnight in the hospital for at least 48 hours; longer if you are in labor for more than a day, and even longer if a woman has a cesarean. You can’t plan on how long it will take, as it varies depending on your baby and your personal experience.
However, you can plan on being prepared to make your stay as comfortable as possible! First of all, you must think of all the scenarios. Plus, you will have to think about the new baby you are bringing home and bring something for him or her, as well. Although the hospitals do provide a lot of immediate essentials, this varies depending on your state and the community in which you live. Better to plan ahead and have your bag packed.

First things first. Prepare your car by:

  • Putting a towel or drop cloth in your car is a good idea, just in case your water breaks on the way to the hospital.
  • Bring your first infant car seat and store it in the back. You will need it to bring your new baby home from the hospital, so don’t wait until after you have the baby, as you will not feel like going shopping at that time. The hospital personnel will not let you leave with your baby unless you have an FDA-approved car seat for your baby.
  • Leave a diaper bag in there, just in case. You may not need all of these things in the hospital, but if you do, your spouse can run out to the car and get it.

For labor and delivery:

  • Something to read in between contractions
  • Socks or slippers – your feet will get cold if you get an epidural or even during the delivery
  • Your photo ID, insurance info and any necessary paperwork
  • Money to pay for a private room if you do not want to share with another mom (it’s better to have your privacy if you can afford it)
  • Glasses if you normally wear contacts, you may not feel like dealing with them
  • Loose, comfy nightgown that still offers easy access to the nurses for checking your blood pressure. The hospital will give you a gown, but if you want added comfort, bring your own.
  • Some women bring either a robe or their own blanket for added comfort
  • iPod to listen to music
  • A birth plan if you have one, even written on an index card is fine

After the baby is born, you will need:

  • One washcloth/bath towel, if you do not want the thin, rough one at the hospital
  • Disposable underpants and extra thick maxi-pads
  • Fresh change of clothes – preferably “picture worthy” PJs for the many visitors who might stop by to meet your new member of the family
  • Cheap flip-flops or slippers
  • A button-up, comfortable shirt for nursing, if you plan on breastfeeding
  • Yoga pants (optional)
  • Lotion or cocoa butter, and lip balm to keep skin hydrated
  • Mouthwash, toothbrush, toothpaste
  • Your own shampoo, conditioner, shower gel & spray (get mini sizes to save space)
  • Hair ties and hairbrush or comb
  • Basic makeup, like mascara or lip gloss; mostly to feel better in photos
  • A magazine, Kindle or book(s)
  • Crossword puzzles & pen
  • Satin sleep mask (to block out the light) and earplugs (block out the hospital noise)
  • Some people bring their own pillow, but this is not really necessary if you use the one at the hospital
  • Snacks – sometimes the hospital doesn’t give you enough to eat or if you get hungry in the middle of the night after breastfeeding it is convenient
  • Extra underwear in case of leakage

For the baby:

  • Nursing aids, such as lanolin cream and a nursing pillow
  • Nursing bra/tank top & breast pads
  • Memory book to ask nurses to stamp the hand and footprints
  • Some people bring a small, handheld video camera
  • At least three newborn baby outfits, in case you stay longer than planned.
  • Some women like to buy a “going home” outfit to take a photo of baby in something other than the hospital swaddling blanket
  • Baby nail clippers & file – believe it or not, some babies’ fingernails are long by the time they are born
  • Pacifier – other than hospital brand you may like something you picked out that is BPA-free
  • Blankie – the hospital provides baby blankets but your baby will love a soft blanket from home

To go home:

  • Street clothes to wear home on your last day
  • Shoes or boots (depending on the climate, time of year)
  • Thank you cards for all nurses who helped care for your baby on his or her first day in the world

There are also a few things you should NOT bring to the hospital:

  • Medications, unless you need them to live (such as thyroid medicine, etc.)
  • Jewelry or valuables and any cash beyond what you will spend on private room or a few things at gift shop
  • Diapers are not really necessary since the hospital provides these
  • Bottles are not needed
  • A breast pump is not necessary
  • Bringing too many clothes is too excessive
Of course, you may have other needs that do not appear on this list. Think about things you “can’t live without” for three days and make sure to include anything you must have. Comfort is key during this exciting time of your life, but don’t get so into planning that you overlook the enjoyment in having your baby.


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