Hospital Bag Checklist - What 247 Moms Packed

Case Studies

Did you know that 21% of moms-to-be pre-pack their hospital bag 4 weeks or more in advance.

At Cadenshae we surveyed 247 amazing moms about when they packed a hospital bag, how long they packed for and what they pre-packed. With their help, we also created a downloadable hospital bag checklist full of the best tips on what on how to pre-pack a hospital bag.

In this case study results are from mothers that packed a hospital bag or bags in preparation for a natural or cesarean section birth. 71% surveyed had natural births in their last pregnancy and 29% had cesarean section births.

So what is in this case study?

  1. When did they pack a hospital bag?
  2. Were they first time moms?
  3. How long did they pack for?
  4. How long was their hospital stay actually for?
  5. What were the most commonly packed items?
  6. What didn’t they pack that they wished they had?
  7. How many bags did they pack?
  8. What was the second bag for?
  9. What advice did they have about pre-packing hospital bags?
  10. HOSPITAL BAG CHECKLIST PDF. [Download & Print]

1. When did they pack a hospital bag?


  • 8%   When they went to the hospital to give birth.
  • 17% 1-7 days before going to the hospital to give birth.
  • 27% 1-2 weeks before going to the hospital to give birth.
  • 24% 2-4 weeks before going to the hospital to give birth.
  • 21% More than 4 weeks before going to the hospital to give birth.
  • 3%   Didn't pack a hospital bag.

2. Were they first time moms last time they packed a hospital bag?


  • 64% Yes.
  • 36% No.

3. How long of a stay in the hospital did they pack for?


  • 12% packed for 1 night.
  • 38% packed for 2 nights.
  • 28% packed for 3 nights.
  • 10% packed for 4 nights.
  • 12% packed for 5 nights or more.

4. How long was their hospital stay actually for?


  • 22% 1 night.
  • 28% 2 nights.
  • 19% 3 nights.
  • 15% 4 nights.
  • 16% 5 nights or more.

5. What were the most commonly packed items?

  • 100%  Clothes for baby.
  •  95%   Underwear.
  •  94%   Nursing bras.
  •  94%   Toiletries.
  •  94%   Clothes to wear home.
  •  94%   Phone and charger.
  •  84%   Baby blanket.
  •  80%   Hair bands.
  •  80%   Breast pads.
  •  80%   Heavy duty sanitary pads.
  •  79%   Socks.
  •  78%   Lip balm.
  •  77%   Diapers.
  •  74%   Pyjamas.
  •  74%   Casual clothes.
  •  71%   Snacks.
  •  69%   Baby Wipes.
  •  68%   Drink bottle.
  •  46%   Lanolin cream.
  •  46%   Nipple cream.
  •  41%   Slippers.
  •  40%   Cosmetics.
  •  39%   Dressing gown.  
  •  32%   Pillow.
  •  24%   Camera and charger.  
  •  14%   Birth plan.  
  •  12%   Essential oils.
  •  12%   Journal and pen.
  •    9%   Magazines.
  •    8%   Feeding cover.
  •    7%   Laptop and charger.    
  •    4%   Arnica cream.

    6. What didn’t they pack that they wished they had?

    21% Nothing.

    • I was well prepared or overpacked.
    • I didn’t use half the things I packed.
    • It was my second birth so I had everything I needed.
    • I'm an over preparer so for me and baby I had everything I needed or wanted.

    16% More food.

    • Snacks (for dad too).
    • Snacks, the hospital didn't have anything gluten free.
    • More healthy and filling snacks!
    • Healthy snacks and fresh fruit.
    • Lactation cookies. I was so hungry in between meals and due to breastfeeding was constantly famished!
    • Chocolate, lollies or treats.

    16% More clothes for me.

    • Underwear. (I bled more the second time around and was not prepared!).
    • I needed more supportive high waisted underwear.
    • Granny undies, the extra extra high ones for after my unexpected cesarean.
    • Low riding underwear for use after emergency caesarean.
    • Nursing bras and tops.
    • Breastfeeding singlets.
    • More casual lounge type clothes. Loose fitting, comfortable pants. Over the belly leggings.
    • Clothes that were loose enough to deal with a cesarean birth.
    • Robe and/or extra pairs of pyjamas! (My only pair didn't make it through the first night and I ended up in my husband’s boxers and shirt that I'd packed for him in case we had a water birth and he needed dry clothing).
    • An oversized tee for straight after birth.
    • Definitely a bigger shirt! The one I ended up wearing home was a nursing shirt that was a tad bit too tight on the boobs!
    • More singlets to wear, I didn't expect it to be so hot in the ward/rooms.
    • More comfortable going home outfit.
    • I stayed for two weeks so basically needed a whole wardrobe.

    9% Certain toiletries.

    • Thicker face cream as the air con is super drying.
    • Nose spray! Weird but it must be the hospital air drys everything out.
    • Distilled witch hazel.
    • Lavender or eucalyptus disinfectant spray for refreshing smells in Labor. (My SIL has it her birth I attended. It was so beautiful and refreshing.
    • Too much information but a spray water bottle or similar, to help wash clean when in the toilet.
    • Postpartum spray from Eko Hub. I didn’t discover that until I was home!
    • Eye mask as you have to sleep with the night light on for the nurses.
    • Hair bands, body wash/soap, dry shampoo, make up, or a razor.
    • Tea tree spray.

    7% Things to do.

    • Cell phone, tablet, iPad or laptop, an extra long charger cord and earphones.
    • Baby book - to get the footprints. the nurses do a great job getting those.
    • Book/magazines or thank you cards to finish thank you notes while baby napped or between visitors.
    • Notebook/diary and pen and my baby journal to document labor, birth and feeding bubs after.

    7% Pillow and/or blanket. Something for extra warmth.

    • My own pillow, a blanket for me and/or nursing pillow.
    • Extra blanket for baby for feeds during the night! He was a winter baby!
    • A comfy blanket that wasn’t too hot.
    • Wheat bag, hot water bottle.

    6% Nipple cream, breast pads and/or maxi pads.

    • Adult diapers. Unfortunately for me, heavy duty pads can and do leak.
    • Lanolin cream.

    5% Smaller clothes for baby.

    4% Slippers, socks or slip on shoes

    • Slip on shoes to wear home.
    • Compression socks.
    • Slippers, my feet were freezing!
    • Flip flops for the shower.

    4% Nappies, wipes, onesies, wondersuit, swaddle and/or more baby clothes.

    1% Breast pump.

    • My pump supplies. My little guy ended up in the NICU for five nights, and pumping was my only option at first.

    1% Fluids.

    • Powerade.
    • Coconut water - felt super dehydrated after.
    • Reusable water bottle.

    3% Other bits and pieces.

    • Money for the vending machine, earplugs, beer for dad and melatonin.
    • Social insurance number.
    • Stuff to help my milk come in eg. Complan, brewers yeast, and kiwi fruit juice.
    • An extra empty tote bag to carry all the bits and pieces people bring to the hospital for you.
    • Boobie ice packs.
    • My present for the toddler from the baby and for the baby from the toddler.
    • Container or snap bag - for the jewellery I had to remove. I ended up losing my earrings.

    7. How many bags did they pack?


    • 47% packed 1 bag.
    • 53% packed 2 bags.

    8. What was the second bag for?


    • 70% one bag for baby and one bag for me.
    • 12% one bag for labor/birth and one bag for the hospital stay.
    • 8%   second bag for extra stuff.
    • 7%   second bag was for my partner and an overflow of mine and the baby’s bag.
    • 3%   second bag was for snacks.

    As you can see the most popular method of how to pack multiple hospital bags is to pack one for the baby and one for yourself, however, packing one bag for your labor/birth and one for your hospital stay is also an effective and organized way of packing your hospital bags.

    9. What advice did they have about pre-packing hospital bags?

    Take plenty of full brief undies (not hipster). You don't need loads of outfits, just clothes that are loose-fitting, comfortable and breastfeeding accessible.

    Cull things from your hospital bag or have another bag full of maybes at home that dad can bring later if you need.

    Take very large BLACK pants.

    You don’t need bibs 😂 for newborns.

    Don’t go overboard!  Have an essential bag that goes in when you get admitted, leave anything excessive in the car and it can always be grabbed later if you need it!

    Heavy-duty pads! NECESSARY. 

    Don’t stress about it, you will forget stuff and your friends and family are more than happy to bring you anything you forget.

    Take the little things that make you feel comfortable and homely.  Your hospital stay may be short or long but can be a little foreign and may even make you feel a little homesick, even though you have your new baby with you. If your partner or someone else is not staying with you overnight.  

    Put baby clothes in zip lock bags with all the items needed for the change so you do not have to look for tiny items.

    Get it done early! I went into preterm labor at 32 weeks six days and my water broke so it was chaos trying to pack a bag for me and baby in 15 - 20 mins.

    Wearing a skirt was helpful for me. Going three days lots of checks downstairs and I could just hitch my skirt up. Also, I took my UE boom in, the background music was awesome.

    Make sure there's some extra stuff for your partner, undies, change of clothes, deodorant etc. And super comfy clothes for yourself! Also, take a variety of baby clothes sizes as they might not fit. Our bub was 9lb and didn't fit a few newborn things we had taken.

    You don’t need half of what you pack. Narrow it down. I opted to wear their gowns instead of my own robe because I was so gross for so long. Pack shampoo, theirs is no good. Lip balm is a must.

    Do it well before your due date in case the baby comes early and don't forget snacks for the father. They can be annoying if they suddenly decide they are hungry during your labor.

    Pack your bag, then unpack it & see if there are things that you really don't need. Then repack it, you'll find some stuff isn't needed.  And ask your friends what they put in their bags.

    Pack a hospital bag early enough so you don’t have to worry about it and make sure you have the things you want. Find out what your hospital provides so you don’t need to bring those items with you.

    You likely won’t need a lot of clothing for yourself or baby. Baby stays naked and swaddled for easy access for doctors and nurses and it’s comfy to just wear the gown for a bit for mama! Good luck mamas don’t stress... also snacks are a must.

    Pack earplugs if you are going public! Have a "labor bag" and a separate "hospital stay" bag.

    Do it early so you don't forget anything in the rush! My babe was born almost 3 weeks early! And wear a nursing bra in labor. Chances are you will have an IV put in and you won't be able to get a non-nursing bra off, and you'll want to nurse baby right away!

    Most hospitals/birthing centres supply wipes and diapers for your baby so don't stress about those! Make sure you have a warm hat at the ready if you have a c-section.

    Don’t worry about appearance, the first few days are about you and baby bonding so easy comfy clothes for you is what you will use most. Also flip flops, because your feet will swell even more after birth.

    Do it early, but don't stress if you forget something as you can always ask a relative or friend to bring you what you need.

    Pack one hospital bag and one for the birthing centre afterwards.

    Pack more changes for yourself than you think you'll need. I hoped to go home within a day and didn't even factor in for needing to stay longer and as lovely as they are, new dads are a bit brain foggy and might struggle to remember to bring you back the things you request!

    Have your post-delivery shower toiletries and change of clothes in a separate bag at the top of your hospital bag.

    Pack snacks! Prepare for a longer stay just in case. I planned a natural one night in hospital birth but ended up having a c-section. Luckily I was prepared.

    Make sure you pack extra breast and maternity pads. Having a bag pre-packed six weeks prior to my due date made me feel like I was prepared for labor (even though I totally wasn’t).

    Make a list, check it off as you pack. Then get a bag checklist off Pinterest and check you’ve got everything on those lists too. There are some great ones on Pinterest. Also, you can never pack enough snacks.

    Take your hospital bag with you everywhere! Leave it in your car.

    Even if your midwife/OB tells you what size the baby will be, still pack clothes in a smaller size! 

    Have a few extra baby singlets, rompers in the car in case you get a spewy baby. I packed the same amount as when I had my first but by day two of four I ended up going through them all including bub’s going home outfit (needed it the middle of the night!).

    You do you. Pack what you think will make you feel good/better/comfortable.  But at the end of the day, the only thing really critical is knowing you have a safe car seat so you can take bubs home.  Other than that, if it’s your first baby and you plan to breastfeed, a top you can get your boobs fully out of (something like a button-front shirt, rather than a feeding top that might provide more modesty but is probably better suited once you’ve got the hang of it) is a tip from me. Makes it easier if you’re not fighting with fabric while you’re getting to know your boobs.

    Make sure you have it packed ready to go. Nothing more stressful (IMO) than trying to pack when you are stressed. It's ok to overpack. Better than being under packed. If you forget something it's ok. Someone can bring it into you. Bring a nice shower gel with you so you can associate it with the memories when you get home.

    Check what your hospital supplies, if they supply diapers and wipes don’t take any! Do pack decent toiletries for yourself, a nice moisturizer and body scrub is something small that will make you feel human again. Big black undies for the maternity pads.

    Write down a list and have it handy so you can keep adding to it as things come to mind... Don’t forget to pack LOADS of undies for yourself... You may soak through them before and after labor. Don’t forget to have a hospital bag for your partner too!

    10. Hospital bag checklist PDF. 


    Written by Nikki Clarke.





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