New Mom Guide: What to Pack in Your Hospital Bag


If you’re like most first time moms, ‘packing a hospital bag’ is a mysterious tip you hear here and there, but don’t really know what to do with. What do new moms actually need during their hospital stay? I’m here to share a short list of the few crucial items I’ve needed after I’ve given birth.

Phone Charger

An obvious choice. So many pictures of Baby plus lots of texting with friends and family equals needing a frequent charge.

Antibacterial Wipes

I like throwing in wipes to clean off the hospital bed and its arms and tv remote. A little anal, maybe, but it eases my mind.


You don’t want your lips to “hurt real bad” while you’re stuck in bed with bigger things to worry about.

Favorite Snacks

The hospital provides meals, but it’s a great idea to throw in some of your favorite food to fill in the gaps. (Sometimes hospital food isn’t the greatest. :)) I love dried fruit, roasted nuts, beef jerky, fresh fruit, avocados, apple sauce, unsweetened coconut, and roasted chickpeas. If visitors are asking what they can bring, request your favorite take-out or dessert. It’s time to celebrate!

Note: Pack prune or mango juice in your hospital bag to aid digestion.

Water bottle with straw

You need to drink plenty of water after giving birth. Just the process of labor and birth is a huge physical feat, let alone experiencing the hormonal fluctuations, nursing letdown, and whole-body exhaustion. If you’re like me, that won’t be much of a problem because post-birth thirst knows no bounds, but you’re also busy, exhausted, worried, or sleeping and it’s easy to forget to drink. Try drinking at least 64 oz a day. (And ask the nurses for that awesome hospital pebble ice!)

Cozy Socks

The hospital will give you socks with grips on the bottom for the duration of the stay. But I liked having a super cozy, plush pair I wore only in bed. These are some of the most comfortable I’ve ever owned and worth every penny. It’s like a hug for your feet.

Wraparound cardigan

Bring a wrap, cardigan, or open-front sweater to wear in the recovery room. Something that’s easy to get on and off and comfortable enough to sleep in. Hospital rooms can be cold! I like this, this, and this self-care sweater.

Shampoo/Conditioner/Body Wash

There is a shower and bathroom in every recovery room but it’s good to bring your own shower supplies because you can never be sure what will be available. In every hospital I’ve given birth in, there was only an antibacterial hand soap dispenser on the shower wall and a small bottle of mysterious hotel-style shampoo.

Note: You may or may not feeling up to showering after birth and that’s totally okay. Also, if you need help, ask a nurse.

Flip Flops

For your first shower. Turns out hospital floors can be a bit dirty.


Two pieces are best because nurses will need access to your belly. Something that’s as easy as possible to get on/off and if you plan to nurse, buttons at the front. (I love this polka dot night gown.) Or go for a nursing tank and an oversized cardigan or wrap around sweater. Makes it easy to quickly cover up, or remove a layer to keep cool.


Throw in a couple pair of granny panties a couple sizes too big. The hospital should give you mesh underwear while you’re there, but just in case, you don’t want to be without it.

Note: You’ll be putting ice packs, sprays, and pads in your underwear so don’t worry about them being nice or cute.

If you plan to breastfeed, pack a super comfortable nursing bra like this, this, or this. (You’ll have 3-5 to rotate at any time once you’re home.) And whether you’re nursing or not, you may want a simple crossover sleep bra.

Nipple Balm

If you’re planning to nurse, try Motherlove Nipple Cream. They’ll probably have lanolin in the hospital but that’s more of a barrier cream, not a healing balm like this stuff.

Note: Get as much nursing guidance in the hospital as you can. Always break the latch before pulling baby off and ask for help at the first signs of cracking, blisters, or any pain.

Eye Mask and Ear Plugs

Hospitals are 24/7 and so is their noise. I love sleeping with an eye mask and ear plugs in the hospital because…I actually sleep. If your new baby is rooming in with you, skip the ear plugs.

Voice Memo App

The first few days after having a baby are really raw. You’re feeling every emotion while feeling physically drained. Try downloading a voice recording app on your phone and recording some of your thoughts while you’re in the hospital. Record your baby’s squeaks, the quiet of the room, your memories of birth. Then save it and email it to yourself. I promise this will be a treasure forever.

Going Home Outfit

The nurses will dress your baby in a white kimono top, pink and blue hospital hat, and in my experience, no pants. But the baby will be swaddled 24/7. Don’t worry about clothes for the baby while in the hospital but you’ll need a going home outfit. Pick something that’s easy to put on and one layer warmer than what you’re wearing. (Take lots of pictures!)

Note: Don’t forget to pack a going home outfit for yourself. A cotton dress, skirt, mumu, or sweatpants work great. (No jeans.)

If you’re expecting, do you have a hospital bag packed already? What are you taking to the hospital with you? Anything you’d recommend to other new moms that makes a hospital stay comfortable and cozy?

Koseli Cummings

Koseli is a copywriter based in the Bay Area whose clients include Airbnb, Penguin, Red Tricycle, and Design Mom. When she's not writing or podcasting, you can bet she's at a Berkeley park with her four boys.