What To Pack In Your Hospital Birth Bag According To A Doula

Congratulations, you're having a baby!! And you've chosen to have your baby in a hospital, awesome. Now as you enter that third trimester you're starting to think about what you need to bring with you. This is a big decision, and as a Birth Worker of over 15yrs, I've seen a lot get packed and not used and many times there were things we could have used. So let me break it down for you on the most important things I've found that are needed for a comfortable and stress free birth.


Paper Work:

While not sexy or mind blowing, its important to remember to have all your paperwork. That includes, Your Provincial/State Health Insurance Card, any private health insurance information, and of course your birth plan.

Basically, remember your purse/wallet. When labour takes off and you are headed out the door, your personal information is usually the thing that gets left behind.


Something To Wear In Labour:

One of the biggest questions I get in my prenatal classes is "What do you wear in labour?" Keep in mind that labour and birth are messy. There isn't any way of getting around that. What you wear should be comfortable and easily removable.

Most hospitals in my area, Toronto, will supply pads and disposable underwear to utilize during your labour. What you will need to focus on is what wear on top.


You could easily step into the blue hospital gown, though it can often put you into the mind set of being a patient and being sick. And having a baby is usually the one time you are coming to the hospital when you aren't actually sick. So if you want something a little more comfortable, try a large oversized shirt, a light robe (not your yummy snuggly robe, that might get messed during the labour), maybe even a yoga top and wrap for the bottom. Or consider a swim top in case you want to utilize the tub or shower if your hospital has that option.


And don't forget your feet. You won't want to have bare feet in a hospital, but you also don't want to use your fuzzy, snuggly slippers either. Consider sticky socks or cheap flip flops that can be thrown out after if you step in any birth...


There is also the option of buying your own personal birthing gown and there are several companies that offer these.


Personal Items For Comfort:

Some personal items you may find helpful during your birth include:

  • Lip Balm, hospitals are notoriously dry and all that breathing will dry out your lips

  • Hair ties or hair bands, your hair will get on your nerves by the end of your labour, so have something to hold it out of the way.

  • Heating pad and ice bag, these will help with any back or muscle aches you may be experiencing. But be careful with heat if you have an epidural, we don't want you to get burned.

  • Ipod, or mini speaker, music can set the mood for your labour room so have some playing to create a comforting atmosphere.

  • Pillows, bring two, one for you and one for your support person. During down time or when there is an epidural, you'll both be able to get some rest and the hospital only has one flat pillow available for you. And make the pillow cases bright and colourful so they don't get mixed up with the hospital linen.

  • Unscented massage oil or lotion, if you are planning on having your partner doing any massage for pain relief, you will want to have some type of friction reducer.

  • Massagers or Tennis Balls for back massage and counter pressure on the lower back. Note: If using brand new tennis balls, make sure you wash them a few times before as they will often have a strong chemical smell that can be irritating to the birthing parent's heightened sense of smell.

  • Food/Snacks for you and your partner. You can eat during labour. For more ideas about what to eat in labour check out my "What To Eat In Labour" post.

  • Change of clothes for you and your partner.

  • Toiletries for you both - Having your toothbrushes and paste handy can be helpful if you end up vomiting in labour which isn't uncommon. And for your support person, after many hours and many cups of coffee, the birthing parent will appreciate a fresh mouth coaching you through pushing.

After The Birth/Postpartum

A couple of hours after baby is born, you will be moved to the postpartum unit to begin your recovery. You will want to basically pack like you are going to a hotel for a weekend.

  • Toiletries as mentioned above, including shower items. The birthing parent will be allowed to shower, the partner however will have to rely on extra deodorant and clean clothes.

  • Something comfortable to wear while you recover, pjs with the ability to undo or remove the top for infant body feeding.

  • Loose comfortable closing to go home in. Make sure to avoid tight clothing around your abdomen while it heals. And you will still look about 4-5mths pregnant so your pre-pregnancy clothes will have to wait a bit.

  • Large, full coverage underwear or disposable underwear.

  • Long, thick, overnight sanitary pads. I don't personally recommend using incontinence underwear to manage your postpartum bleeding, at least for the first few days while the bleeding is quite heavy.

  • Bra designed for body feeding your baby and pads to manage any leaking

  • Ear plugs. The hospital will have p.a. announcements, people talking in the hallways, and your room may have another birthing parent and a baby. For those times when your support person has charge of baby, try to get some sleep, ear plugs will help.

  • Clothes for baby including diaper shirt, sleeper, hat, blankets. These are mostly for going home as baby will be likely skin to skin with you or your support person or feeding so a swaddle blanket is only needed for the time in hospital.

  • And what would go in a diaper bag. Most hospitals won't supply any of these things.

  • 10-15 diapers

  • bum cream

  • wipes

  • Infant Care Seat

Things You May Not Need To Bring

These are some things you won't necessarily need to bring, but check with your hospital first to be sure.

  • Formula - If your plan is to body feed your baby but something happens where formula is necessary this means it becomes a medical need, and the hospital will supply it. If however, you are chosing to only formula feed you will need to bring your own bottles and formula

  • Feeding Pillow - I get this question a lot, and given the hospital bed will sit up and angle things as needed a feeding pillow won't be necessary. Plus I feel its just one more thing to carry and another point of contact for germs

I hope this list is helpful for you. If you would like to learn more about your birth or pospartum, check out my virtual, self paced classes.