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  • Sarah Landry

Hospital Bag: Top 5 must-pack items for birth!

Updated: Jan 21, 2021

Hospital bag top 5 items from perspective of a mother, childbirth educator and birth doula

I have a pretty simple system of HOW to pack and plan your hospital bag, but you might want to know WHAT to pack for a hospital birth, too. There are umpteen lists you can download, and you can/should look at them to get an idea of what to pack! But those lists (including the editable sample list I give clients) can be long and overwhelming. They're meant to include things you might not have thought of, and more. You will likely have to narrow it down to cater to you, and you likely need less than you think (odd coming from a chronic over-packer, I know)! To simplify, here’s a list of my PERSONAL and PROFESSIONAL favourite items (organized by bag) that should be on your list. Think of it as a starting point you can add to and adjust to meet your needs. These items were picked based on my own births, clients’ births, things I see often, and things I just really like!


1. Flip-flops for the shower (if you decide to shower in labour!) and slippers for warmth/comfort. Choose either old slippers or ones that are washable!

2. Lip balm and hand cream, because hospital air is pumped in straight from the desert I'm certain. 3. Electrolyte drinks, either homemade (coconut water base) or store-bought! My favouite brand is Roar. I break the seal (important!), freeze a couple before births so they stay cool, and use them as ice packs! Be sure to bring one unfrozen as well for immediate use.

4. Gum/candy/mints—fresh breath (you and partner), mints to help you feel alert, and candy (or honey) for a quick boost of sugar and energy!

5. Stress ball, comb and/or TENS machine for the wonders of counter-irritation! Squeezing something that causes a bit of “pain” can trick your brain into focussing on that pain more than that of contractions. TENS machines are just the bee’s knees, and are my top labour “tool” hands down!

Pack flip-flops, slippers, lip balm, hand cream, electrolyte drinks, gum, candy, mints, stress ball, comb, TENS machine for your labor/labour and birth


1. Sleep mask and earplugs, because you’ll likely be in a recovery wing with other families and babies that also don’t know night and day. You want to sleep when you can!

2. Loose, comfy clothes—preferably old or dark-coloured to hide inevitable stains.

3. All the snacks. Especially in pandemic times when in-hospital food items may be extra limited. When you think you’ve packed enough snacks, pack some more. No... more. Another pack. One more. There you go!

4. Soft toilet paper for patting dry after rinsing with your peri-bottle. That hospital toilet—er, tissue paper is truly not the "luxurious" experience your nether-regions want right now. Trust me.

5. Adult diapers or soft pads are a necessity! Diapers aren't just for babe. The diapers are two-fold for comfort and postpartum bleeding. If you choose pads, they should be SOFT AF (no dry-weave material), thick, and long (double up if you must!) to be worn with either mesh undies or the old, loose underwear you bring.

Pack a sleep mask, earplugs, loose comfy clothes, all the snacks, soft toilet paper, adult diapers or soft pads in your recovery bag for your hospital birth


1-4. Zippered sleepers. Honestly, they're (mostly) all you need. Pack a baker’s dozen. No one wants to line up tedious snaps 800 times a night, and newborns honestly don't need pants and cute outfits, especially in hospital!

5. But also… do bring the common-sense items like diapers, wipes, scratch mitts (unless you find sleepers with built-in ones!), and a hat if the hospital doesn’t provide these items!

Pack zippered sleepers, diapers, wipes, scratch mittens, and a hat for baby in your hospital birth bag

Happy packing!

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