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What to pack for the hospital or birth center

After a long and arduous pregnancy, you’re finally at 39 ½ weeks. Baby is growing big and strong, and you find that the contractions are too. Suddenly, you realize it’s go time! You’re ready to head to the hospital or birthing center and then realize, your bag isn’t ready. Scrambling for items you might want or need for you, your partner and the baby is the last thing you want to be doing if you want a calm and peaceful labor at all.

Maybe this isn’t your first rodeo, but you definitely remember over packing with the previous birth and you don’t want to repeat that mistake again.

So let’s talk about some important items that will help you, be it in a hospital or at a birthing center.


Obviously, you want your phone and maybe a tablet too, in case you need some extra entertainment or music. Don’t forget the charging cord! Hopefully you have a spare or the one by your nightstand. If those don’t serve as your camera, then make sure you have something close by to grab be it your DSLR or a cheap point and shoot.

Even if you hire a birth photographer, you will want to take pictures to share with family and friends immediately.


I can’t personally vouch for birthing centers, or maybe you just spend labor in a birthing tub, but I can say with some amount of confidence that hospital pillows are just plain ol’ awful! Bring yours with a cover on it that you don’t mind if it will get some extra liquids on it. Plus, it brings some comfort to have something from your home for when you can get some shut eye (bless those nursery nurses!).

This client brought her own pillow and stuffed frog from home. This helped her find comfort during her long labor.

Nursing items

If you choose to breastfeed, lanolin ointment will be a life saver. It’s hard enough (even if you’ve done it before) as you and baby learn how this whole process works, but your nipples take a brutal beating. Treat them kindly with some of this amazing stuff and your boobs will thank you in the long run, not to mention improve the overall experience of breastfeeding. Don’t forget a nursing bra! These babies will make life so much easier, especially if you find one that fits you well and still makes you look good! (If you find that brand, let me know. It’s like the unicorn of nursing bras!) Some women get special night time ones. I never did, and I slightly regret it. Also, include some nursing pads. Your milk might not come in yet, but just in case, you’ll like to have something that catches that extra liquid gold.

Comfy clothes

Not excited to labor in the less-than-attractive hospital gown? I've known women to bring a sarong or a swim cover to labor in. They found it so much more comfortable and easy to change out of when the time for transition came.

And then, guess what? Having a baby does not a flat tummy make. You will still (unfortunately) look 6 months pregnant. So don’t bring those pre-pregnancy clothes to go home in. It’ll just make you feel bad (not to mention uncomfortable). Bring your maternity pants or yoga pants because #yogapantsarelife.

This list is obviously not comprehensive. And your list may look different than mine, but these are just a few items that are essential to me. Having three kids may not be a lot but I see a lot of births at the hospital as a Utah birth photographer. I pick up little things here and there and take note.

What would you add to this list?

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