A Doula’s Guide to Packing Your Hospital Bag


A doulas guide to packing your hospital bag des moines mom

As a labor doula who has helped many people carry their hospital bags into their birthing room, I thought I would share some of my favorite ideas for packing your “go-bag”. There’s a balance between having some great items without overpacking. Hopefully this list will give you a starting point!

The hospital will provide a lot of the items you’ll need during birth, after the birth, and for your baby. You will find mesh undies, recovery sprays and medicines, giant maxi pads, and ice packs for you. The hospital will provide diapers, wipes, hats, and blankets for your baby. You will also be able to order from the hospital cafeteria during your stay. (Pro tip: Order as much as allowed even if you aren’t hungry. The extra food can stay in your room mini-fridge and may come in handy later in the night!) 

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For Mom

  • Your own clothes to wear in labor. Pro tip: wearing a t-shirt or tank top plus a knit skit will allow you to be comfortable and your health team to monitor you too.
  • Maternity clothes and pajamas for the remainder of your stay. Be comfortable!
  • If you’re breastfeeding, you may want to consider a nursing style top like this one from Target. Since you won’t know your future bra size yet, having a tank top in a more generalized size is helpful and comfortable. 
  • Gripper Slippers
  • Snacks for your entire stay. You will likely be hungry during those middle of the night feedings!
  • Large water bottle with a straw. Pro tip: A bendy straw will allow your support partner to offer you drinks easier during labor!
  • Hair bands and bobby pins
  • Toiletries
  • Birth Plan
  • Frida Mesh Underwear. Pro tip: while I think the mesh undies the hospital provides are just fine, another Des Moines Mom contributor swears by these!
  • Pillows and/or anything else you may need to feel more comfortable sleeping
  • Consider adding a belly binder to your bag too. (There are different styles but a large Velcro style one would work!)

For Support Partner

  • Comfortable clothes for three days. Most support partners will wear sweatpants, hoodies, and tennis shoes.
  • Zip or button up shirt like a hoodie or flannel shirt. Why? The non-birth parent should also be doing skin-to-skin with baby starting on day one and having access to their chest is important! Here’s the science on why. 
  • Toiletries
  • Snacks, food, drinks (most hospital rooms will have a mini-fridge)
  • Phone and chargers
  • Roku stick or something similar 
  • Small fan for keeping mom cool during labor and for the hospital stay. Some people bring a small hand-held battery-operated fan with them.

For Baby

  • Appropriate Rear-Facing Car Seat
  • 1-2 outfits for hospital stay. Pro tip: skip anything that has a waist band. I love sleep sacks!
  • One outfit for going home and/or hospital photos
  • Car seat cover if it’s colder weather. Do not bring a winter coat for baby as anything thick cannot be buckled into the car seat with baby.
  • Baby blanket

I hope these ideas are helpful to you as you’re getting ready for your baby’s birth. If you have already had a baby, please leave other ideas in the comments and keep our list going! 

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Katie Nyberg
I am married to my high school sweetheart, Wes, and we have two energetic boys who are active in hockey, cross country, choirs, bands, and track. Our family loves to explore Des Moines, travel around the country, and do anything sports related together! I own a birth and postpartum doula agency called The Iowa Baby Ladies that supports families in Central Iowa. We love serving mothers in our area as they grow, birth, and mother their babies with confidence!


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