Waiting for your baby to make her appearance is one of the most exciting (and terrifying) times of your life. I am currently waiting for my second to arrive, and let me tell you, it’s not any less overwhelming this time around. Luckily, I’ve done this whole labor and delivery thing before and learned a few things. To be honest, we waaaay overpacked our hospital bag the first time around, and our stuff filled the hospital room to bursting. So with that in mind below, you will see just what the essentials are to keep you going and motivated throughout your labor and delivery experience.
This list is aimed at people who either plan on having a drug-free labor, or whose goal is to labor naturally for a while before receiving an epidural. But many of these would be great for C-section births as well.
If you don’t have a diaper bag yet, now is a great time to choose one of our top 20 best diaper bags for new moms! That way it can get broken in as your hospital bag. You also may want to toss in some of our top 10 best maternity underwear styles that will be roomy and comfy for you after giving birth.
Below, find our picks for the top 10 must-have items for your hospital bag during labor. There are some other things you’ll want to pack for your post-delivery hospital stay, which we will cover in another article.
1. Best Maternity Nightgown for Hospital Bag: Motherhood Bump In The Night Nursing Nightgown
You may be one of those people who are cool with wearing a hospital gown or even laboring in the nude, but I know for me, it was so helpful to have a comfy, soft nightgown that I could forget I was wearing and just focus on the task at hand. This cozy nightgown from Motherhood Maternity is actually a nursing nightgown, so it will be perfect for that first post-delivery nurse and snuggle with your newborn. It is loose fitting and sleeveless with a scoop neck so it won’t interfere with you at all while you’re laboring. And it’s inexpensive, so no worries if it gets too messy to keep after labor and delivery. This nightgown is made from a rayon/spandex blend to give you that soft yet stretchy feel. Although it runs big, it does include a built-in nursing bra, so you may want to size up if you have large breasts. Consumers report that the fit is quite flattering, so you’ll be looking great for those first photos of you and baby.
2. Best Body Lotion for Hospital Bag: Aveeno Positively Nourishing Lavender And Chamomile Calming Body Lotion
This body lotion will do double duty during your labor: it can soothe dry or itchy skin, and because of the soothing and calming lavender and chamomile, it can help you to keep calm and breathe through your contractions. Part of our labor plan is for my husband to use massage techniques during contractions, as we learned in our birthing class. I plan on packing some lotion to make the massage more effective and soothing, and the lavender scent is an added bonus! Aveeno is known for their high quality lotions, and this version is no different. It’s also got soothing oatmeal, which is known to calm irritated skin, and it keeps you moisturized all day without your skin feeling greasy. For a little over $10, you get seven fluid ounces of lotion. Another bonus is the bottle is the perfect convenient size and shape to stash right in your hospital bag!
Price: $10.68 (with Amazon Subscribe and Save)
3. Best Bluetooth Speaker for Hospital Bag: JBL Flip 3 Splashproof Portable Bluetooth Speaker
Creating a labor playlist is a great way to help you get into the mood for your labor and delivery. For many moms, ambient, soft music is what they want to hear to keep their bodies and minds as calm as possible during labor. I created a playlist and uploaded it to my Android phone so I can play it in the hospital without the need to connect to a WiFi network. In order to play it during labor, I’ve included a Bluetooth speaker in my hospital bag, which should pack a bigger punch than my puny mobile phone speakers. The JBL Flip 3 Splashproof Portable Bluetooth Speaker is a great choice for a portable Bluetooth speaker that will easily pack into your hospital bag. It’s waterproof, so it will be protected even when things get crazy (say, your spouse knocks his drink over onto it during your labor)—plus, it rinses clean with water! You can connect this speaker to up to three phones or tablets, and it offers up to 10 hours of continuous playtime!
Price: $76 (24 percent off MSRP)
4. Best Yoga Ball for Hospital Bag: Black Mountain Static Strength Exercise Stability Ball with Pump
If you plan on laboring on your own at all, then a yoga ball is your best friend. It helps you get into a comfortable squatting position that spreads your hips wide and allows you to rock back and forth, which can help your labor progress naturally. Many hospitals and birthing centers have yoga balls you can use while in labor, but you should check with your beforehand to see—mine doesn’t provide them, so I will be packing one of these to take along. Yes, they can take up a lot of room—but this one comes with its own handy pump, so you can bring it deflated and have your birthing partner pump it up for you when you are ready for it. This yoga/exercise ball is a professional grade exercise ball (you can keep it for after your delivery to use during workouts!). It’s rated for up to 2,000 pounds and comes with a manufacturer’s warranty. Choose the size that’s right for you—Black Mountain offers sizes 45, 55, 65, 75 or 85 centimeters.
5. Best Drink for Hospital Bag: Vita Coco Coconut Water (Set of 12)
Labor and delivery can be a long and grueling process, and you will need to occasionally break between contractions to refuel. Water is great, but coconut water can deliver that extra dose of energy and natural sugars that could help give your body a little push (no pun intended). Bring it in a cooler (perhaps one of top 10 best breastmilk coolers) with ice if you can to keep them cold. (And make sure to check your hospital’s policy ahead of time to make sure they are okay with you bringing your own beverages and snacks.) Vita Coco Coconut Water is full of vitamins, nutrients and electrolytes (including more potassium than a banana). It’s super refreshing and delicious; it’s also fat free, gluten free and non-GMO. It’s a natural, healthier choice as compared to a sports drink or soda. You can grab a 12 pack for just $13.99.
6. Best Energy Bar for Hospital Bag: Clif Bar – Berry Pomegranate Chia (Set of 12)
Alongside your beverage of choice for staying hydrated during labor, you may also want to pack some snacks to keep you (and your labor partner) going for the long haul. Your hospital may not encourage eating during labor (the worry is that you may end up needing a C-section, and doctors want you to have an empty stomach for surgery)—but many hospitals and doctors recognize the importance of nutrition during labor. After all, if you’re laboring for many hours, you are going to get tired and hungry. These Clif Bars are small and easy to pack, and they’re full of protein and fiber to energize your body and keep you full. This berry pomegranate chia flavor is delicious—a combo of strawberries, cranberries, pomegranates and chia seeds that is sweet, tangy and satisfying. Clif Bars are non-GMO and low in fat.
Price: $12.23 (with Amazon Subscribe and Save)
7. Best Robe for Hospital Bag: Baby Be Mine Maternity Labor Delivery Nursing Robe
If you don’t have a nursing or maternity robe yet, now is the time to pick one up. Not only will it come in handy after you deliver (both in the hospital and at home), but you will also appreciate having it on hand during your labor, especially if you plan on walking around the hospital while you’re laboring. (Yep, walking slowly can sometimes help your labor progress.) You may want to be covered up for modesty or because it’s drafty. Either way, having a comfy robe will help you to feel comforted and calm. This Baby Be Mine robe is 100% cotton and machine washable. It comes in a bunch of gorgeous colors and patterns that will help you to feel more put together when you wrap up in it after delivering. The robe is roomy enough to wear while still pregnant, and it has an adjustable belt that will size down with you as you lose that baby bump over the coming months. Consumers note that this robe runs small, so you may want to size up.
8. Best Slippers for Hospital Bag: Luxehome Women’s Cozy Fleece House Slippers
Equally as important as a cozy robe, comfy & soft slippers are a must-have for your hospital bag. They will come in handy if you plan on walking around the hospital during your labor, and needless to say, you will appreciate having them after you give birth as well. You may have the perfect pair at home, but if not (or if your feet have swollen and they don’t fit), then you should grab a pair like these Luxehome Women’s Cozy Fleece House Slippers. I love that they don’t have backs, so you can slip them on and off easily according to your body’s demands. They are made from cotton and have a rubber sole, so you can safely walk on wood or tile floors without worry about slipping. These slippers are affordable—and you can even toss them in the washing machine if you need to give them a refresh! They are designed to be roomy and fit even extra wide feet. I am partial to the neutral apricot color featured above, but they also come in light purple, pink and wine—all pretty colors that you can match to your nightgown/robe.
9. Best Nursing Bra for Hospital Bag: HOFISH Full Bust Seamless Nursing Maternity Bras (Set of Three)
This is one item you may not need during labor but you will DEFINITELY need post-delivery, as you prepare to nurse your baby for the first time. You’ll want to make sure your breasts are supported yet your baby has access for nursing. Some women prefer to labor with a bra on, and these nursing bras are the perfect option because they are stretchy and comfy enough to fit your newly larger breasts, and they have convenient clips to unclip when it’s time to breastfeed. These nursing bras come in a set of three in neutral colors, and you get the whole set for under $24. The set includes bra clips and bra extenders to maximize your comfort; you can make the bra roomier in the back, and you can even use one of the included pieces to convert the bra into a racerback. These bras are seamless and super supportive, and they include removable foam cups. They should give you plenty of room if you need to insert nursing pads for leaky nips after your milk comes in. The buttery soft fabric is made from nylon and spandex and is 100% breathable. Don’t leave home without ’em!
10. Best Lip Balm for Hospital Bag: EOS Lip Balm Stick Pack – Pomegranate Raspberry, Vanilla Bean & Sweet Mint
The last thing you want to happen during labor is for your lips to get chapped. Make sure you throw in a fresh lip balm into your hospital bag to keep your lips moisturized during labor and delivery. My pick is the EOS Lip Balm Stick Pack—it’s a great deal because it comes with three awesome flavors, pomegranate raspberry, vanilla bean and sweet mint (the sweet mint is my favorite all time lip balm flavor!). This brand makes my favorite lip balms—I love both the egg and the stick versions. Their balms are 100% natural, paraben free and petrolatum free. They’re not tested on animals and they are 100% vegan. Packed with antioxidant-rich vitamin E, shea butter and jojoba oil, these lip balms will keep your lips moisturized longer than other brands. They smooth on clear as well, meaning you don’t have to worry during your intense labor that you got your tinted lip balm all over your face. You’ll want to go ahead and grab the three-pack so you continue to have a go-to lip balm for after the birth of your baby. You will need it on your bedside table (alongside your giant water cup) for marathon nursing sessions.