This Packing List for Giving Birth will help you pack a hospital bag, pack a labor bag for delivering at a birthing center, or organize for a home birth. For a home birth, you can organize your home birth kit in a box or basket.
It's a good idea to have your bags packed by at least 36 weeks into your pregnancy, in case your baby decides to make an early appearance.
If you would like to minimize the number of bags, you can combine items from the Labor Bag Checklist, Recovery Bag Checklist, and Diaper Bag Checklist. Just make sure that items you will need at a certain time will be easy to access. I ended up combining my labor and postpartum items into one tote bag, and packing items for my newborn in the diaper bag.
Items for everyone to have at Home
These items are useful to have at home, no matter where you will deliver your baby.
- Watch or smart phone app for timing contractions
- Homemade ice pops
- Frozen washcloth
- Phone numbers for:
- Midwife/ Doctor/ Doula;
- Birthing Center/ Hospital;
- La Leche League/ Lactation Consultant.
- Thick cloth sanitary pads, for after giving birth.
- Postpartum Bath Herbs
- Mother's Milk Tea
- Healthy frozen meals, for the early days with a newborn.
- Take for the ride to the hospital or birth center: If your water has not yet broken, or you are leaking, you may want to bring a large towel and plastic bag to sit on in the car.
Home Birth Kit Checklist
Your midwife will let you know what items to have on hand for a home birth, but here is a basic list to give you an idea.
- Chux pads (absorbent pads with a waterproof bottom)
- Old towels, wash cloths, and sheets
- Waterproof mattress protector
- Trash bags for soiled items
- Warm blanket
- Large mixing bowl
- Birthing pool
- Birth stool
- Peri bottle
- Cord clamp
- Sterile gloves
- Bulb syringe
- Mesh underwear
- Hydrogen peroxide for cleaning
Paperwork Folder Checklist
If you are planning to birth at a hospital or birth center, be sure to bring along important paperwork. If you are birthing at home, ask your midwife ahead of time about any paperwork needed for obtaining a birth certificate for your baby. Pack in your paperwork folder:
- Copy of admission papers. It is likely you preregistered with the hospital or birthing place, but it is nice to have an extra copy of your admission papers, just in case.
- (3) Signed copies of your birth plan. Be sure to discuss your birth plan with your care provider at least one month before your due date.
- Copies of your Health Insurance Card and ID. Keep the originals in your wallet.
- List of people to call once your baby is born.
- Optional: A small sign to hang on the bassinet reading "Please, NO bottles or pacifiers" and clear tape.
Once your paperwork folder is packed, you can place it in your Labor Bag.
Labor Bag Checklist
This Labor Bag Checklist includes items to have easily accessible during labor. The basics include comfortable clothing, items to help you manage contractions, and snacks and water to keep you fueled.
If you deliver your baby in a hospital, a hospital gown will be provided, but you may feel more comfortable wearing your own labor outfit. Socks and slippers will keep your feet warm, and a robe will allow you to cover up while walking the halls. Bringing your own pillow with a colorful pillowcase may help you feel more at ease. Swim wear is useful for either a labor tub or taking a relaxing shower.
You may want to freshen up during labor with a toothbrush, tooth paste, and lip balm. A brush and hair ties keep your hair pulled back and out of the way.
A small gift to thank your labor team will be much appreciated!
- Paperwork Folder
(See Paperwork Folder Checklist above)
- Weekender Bag
- Gift for Your Labor Team
- Non-Slip Socks
- Bathing Suit
- Lip Balm
- Hair Brush (hair bands, headband, clips, comb)
- Eye glasses and Contact Lenses
(If you wear eye glasses or contact lenses.)
- Water Bottle
- Coconut Water
- Music Player with Labor Playlist
(Relaxing songs, visualizations, or guided meditations.)
- Focal Point to Concentrate on While Breathing
- Massage Oil or Coconut Oil
- Back Massager
(You can make your own warm back massager by filling a cotton sock with 6 cups of rice and tying the end. Heat in the microwave for 30 seconds.)
(For vending machines, parking, taxi)
Recovery Bag Checklist (Baby is here!)
This Recovery Bag Checklist includes items you may need right after giving birth, especially if you are staying in the hospital for a couple days.
- Wallet, cell phone, keys
- Surge protector or battery-powered charger for electronics.
- Cell phone charger
- Laptop and charger
- Nursing Nightgown
- Nighttime Nursing Bra
- Daytime Nursing Bra
- (3) Nursing Tank Tops
- Open Cardigan
- Maternity Pants
- Reusable Nursing Pads
- Nipple Cream
- Warm/Cold Nursing Packs
(Shampoo, Body Wash, Deodorant, Lotion)
- Going Home Outfit for Mom
(Choose an outfit that fit when you were 5-6 months pregnant and is comfortable for nursing.)
Diaper Bag Checklist (For bringing baby home!)
If you will give birth at a hospital or birthing center, you will probably want to pack a diaper bag with a few items for bringing your baby home. Most hospitals provide basic baby care supplies for your stay, such as disposable diapers and wipes. If there is a particular type of baby product that you plan to use, you may want to bring it along with you.
Consider delaying your baby's first bath for a week or two, in order to allow protective vernix and beneficial bacteria to soak in. When you do bathe your baby, water is sufficient. You can use a little bit of olive oil or coconut oil on dry skin, but remember that peeling skin is normal for a newborn.
Skin to skin contact is so important for bonding with your baby. Instead of dressing your baby in complete outfits while in the hospital, you can hold your baby against your skin and cover him with a blanket. When it is time for a photo shoot or to bring your baby home, that is a good time to dress him in his first outfit. I suggest bringing along two going-home baby outfits, in case the first one gets spit up or pee on it.
Here are some basic items to bring along for your newborn baby:
- Infant Car Seat
If you will be heading home with your baby in a motor vehicle in the USA, you will be required to have a car seat. Some hospitals provide a free safety check ahead of time, to make sure the car seat is properly installed in your vehicle. You may want to take advantage of this service, being that 80% of car seats are used improperly. You can find lots of useful tips about car seats on Car Seats for the Littles.
- Diaper Bag
- Mini Emery Boards for Filing Nails
- Accessories for Newborn Photos
- (2) Going home outfits for Baby
- (2) Receiving Blankets
- Thicker Baby Blanket (depending upon weather)
- (2) Burp Cloths
- Disposable Baby Wipes
- Many hospitals provide disposable wipes, but they may be filled with synthetic fragrances and chemicals.
- Newborn Cloth Diapers (optional)
- Cloth Wipes (optional)
- Wet/Dry Bag
- To store wet cloth diapers and baby clothes.
Labor Support Person Checklist
Your labor support person (husband, sister, mother, friend, etc.) should also pack a bag with items they will need.
- Change of clothes
- Snacks and drinks
- Toiletries: toothbrush, toothpaste, brush, shampoo, body wash
- Wallet, phone, keys
What do you consider must-have items to pack in your labor bag for giving birth?