Your Labor Bag Checklist

It's just a few weeks before your due date. Now's the time to gather everything you'll need during labor and birth, and for after your baby is born. Even if you're not planning a hospital birth, it's best to be prepared in case you need to go in unexpectedly. Have a labor bag packed by the time you are about 36 weeks pregnant.

Rules about what you're allowed to bring into the hospital vary from place to place, so check with the hospital beforehand. Before you pack all your favorite home comforts, be aware that hospitals can be short on space.

See our labor bag checklist below for everything you'll need to support your birthing experience, plus must-haves for your baby and siblings too.

FOR YOU

Paperwork & Essentials:

  • - Insurance information
  • - Hospital forms (completed ahead of time)
  • - Birth plan
  • - Glasses or contacts
  • - Toothpaste & tooth brush
  • - Medications & vitamins

Personal care & cosmetics: Hospitals tend to be dry due to air-conditioning, so bring products that ward off dryness like moisturizers and lip balm. And don't forget basics like face wash - the hospital won't supply these. Since there will be a lot of photos, consider packing a hairbrush, some mascara and blush - it can make all the difference in feeling - and looking - a bit more like yourself.

Itchy belly product: There are few things itchier than a growing belly. A good itchy belly cream will reduce or eliminate the itch right up to the birth of your baby.

Pillows: If you love your sleep, bring your own pillow. The hospital pillow might not be very comfortable. Make sure the pillow case is brightly colored so you and everyone else can identify it.

Socks & slippers: Cozy socks and a pair of slippers can make you more comfortable as you wander down the hall or around your hospital room.

Hair ties: Ponytail holders and soft headbands keep hair fuss-free. Avoid clips, bobby pins and hard headbands, which can poke you, because comfort during labor is a key.

Comfy clothes: You might love to have your own pajamas at the hospital. If you bring a 2-piece set, remember to make sure the top and bottom are loose. For your trip home from the hospital, pack loose, soft, stretchy clothes. Your body will probably be similar in size to when you were 6 months pregnant.

Panties & pads: The hospital provides disposable underwear and pads, but you may prefer your own brand. You will wear pads for several days after giving birth, and comfortable underwear is a must.

Snacks: Good food can be surprisingly hard to come by in hospitals. Bring plenty of your favorite snacks and some refreshing drinks. Coconut water is naturally packed with a wide array of electrolytes and nutrients to keep you hydrated and boost your energy during labor, delivery, and while breastfeeding.

Nursing bra: Nursing bra: If you choose to wear a bra after you deliver, pack one that is specifically designed for nursing.

Nursing pads: Pads provide leak-protection. It is comforting to have extra protection as even the sound of someone else's baby can cause you to lactate, and you never know where you might be when this happens.

Nursing pillow: A great nursing pillow can make it easier to nurse your new baby, especially if you have twins. A nursing pillow will support baby while providing relief from back and shoulder strain.

Nursing wrap: If you prefer to cover up while you nurse, you'll enjoy the protection of a wrap.

Nipple care: If you plan to nurse, have a nipple salve on hand to soothe sore nipples.

Hard candies: All the breathing and panting during labor can make for a dry mouth! Add to your comfort during labor by sucking on hard candy.

Music: You might love to have a special, sentimental and soothing mix of music prepared on an iPod or other device to play during labor.

Reading materials & videos: Magazines, books, tablets, music, and mobile devices can turn hours in the hospital into minutes.

FOR BABY

Approved car seat: Baby can't leave the hospital without an approved car seat. Want to make sure it's installed properly? Contact your local fire or police department for a car seat safety course.

A coming-home outfit: Choose something cozy and camera ready. Everyone will want photos as baby's leaving the hospital!

Warm blankets: Babies are extra sensitive to cold when they're first born. Have a warm blanket ready for the ride home from the hospital.

Seasonally-appropriate gear: If it's winter, pack outdoor gear like a snowsuit and hat. Remember, babies are extra sensitive to cold.

FOR SIBLINGS

Toys & activities: Labor may take a long time, so pack some toys, games, art supplies and other activities to keep them occupied. An older sibling can pack a bag with you to feel like a part of the experience.

Headphones: If your child is playing video games, or watching movies for entertainment, headphones help keep a peaceful environment in the hospital.

Camera: Let your child take photos. It's a special opportunity for them to participate and to later see how they experienced the big day.

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