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What to Pack in Your Hospital Bag for a Natural Birth

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Inside: Wondering what to pack in your hospital bag for a natural birth? These 24 items were must-haves for me when I was packing for a natural birth in a hospital (I did it! – it IS possible to have an unmedicated hospital birth).

The nesting instinct has hit you full force and you’re ready to pack! And you do NOT want to forget a single thing you might possibly need.

Because this wouldn’t be a good scenario…

You screaming at your husband, “What do you mean you didn’t check the list?! I need that right now! HOW COULD YOU HAVE LEFT THAT BEHIND?!”

Obviously, you want to avoid this kind of thing at all costs.

Chaos, frustration, and not having what you need when you need it while you’re trying to have a natural birth already? Not.helping.

While this hospital bag checklist isn’t as exhaustive as some I’ve seen, I think it really does cover everything that you truly need for a natural birth at a hospital.

Because, as you’ll soon find out, you don’t really need to pack very much for a hospital birth.

Related: Hospital Bag Printable Checklist – Everything You Need to Pack

The Hospital Bag Within a Hospital Bag System (pretty genius)

What makes this post unique is that I recommend having two small bags OR a bag within a bag. The smaller bag gets filled with the “I’m-in-labor” things and placed at the top of the second, larger bag.

Nothing is worse than needing something ASAP when you’re in labor, and your poor stressed-out husband can’t find what you need.

You also might not have much room in the initial delivery room to set up camp.

That’s why the hospital bag within a bag system is pure genius.

Related: 7 Ways to Prepare Your Body for a Natural Birth

What to Pack in Your Hospital Bag for a Natural Birth

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The first nine items on this packing list are for the smaller bag, and the remaining items can be packed underneath in the larger hospital bag.

1. Wallet

This includes your insurance card and license. PLEASE double check your wallet regularly leading up to birth.

Once I left my driver’s license in a bank envelope after picking up cash (I rarely do this) and forgot to remove it. Needless to say, I was pretty sad when I didn’t have it to return some items at a local store without the receipt the next day.

Also include preregistration papers if you haven’t already submitted them to the hospital.

2. Lip Balm

It’s on every hospital bag checklist I’ve seen, and it deserves to be. There’s nothing like chapped and hurting lips during labor without anything to treat them.

If you’ve never tried Hanalei’s Lip Treatment, you need to.

3. Water Bottle

That is, only if the hospital doesn’t provide you with one of those awesome huge jugs with the bendy straw. Those are THE BEST.

Pack a leak-proof one just to be safe. THESE are the ones we use and love

4. Hair Elastics and/or Headbands

Get that hair out of your face, mama! It’s something you don’t think about packing, but you definitely want it when you want it.

And those pesky little things get lost so easily in bed. Pack extra.

5. Headphones and Handheld Speaker

If you don’t already have a handheld speaker, now’s the time to get one.

We’ve had this Anker speaker for over two years now, and it still works great. Just don’t forget to charge it in advance or pack the charger!

You may be sharing a labor room, so make sure to bring headphones, too.

Make a labor playlist in advance. Here is a natural birth playlist with over 100 song choices.

6. Diffuser

This was a must-have for me! I absolutely LOVED having essential oils diffusing in our room during our hospital stay.

I put this in the “I’m-in-Labor” Bag because it would be lovely to use during labor but, we didn’t end up having time to even think about getting the diffuser out when we got to the hospital.

Maybe pack your a mini, waterless diffuser and 3-4 essential oils in a separate canvas bag or something, so that you can decide last minute to take it in right away or leave it in the car until later.

7. Essential Oils

These are the ones I wouldn’t forget to pack:

  • Clary Sage
  • Peppermint
  • Lavender
  • Lemon
  • Your Favorite

I personally love peppermint, lavender, and lemon diffused as a blend. My personal favorite is Rocky Mountain Oil’s Tranquility.

8. Birth Plan

Have a few copies in case you are there during a shift change.

Or if one gets lost. Or if one gets…uh… fluids on it.

You get the idea.

9. Snacks

Oh. my. word. – Y’all pack some dang snacks for yourself and for your husband.

You will be so ravenous and the next meal might be hours away.

Related: 17 Healthy Snacks to Pack in Your Hospital Bag

10. Flip Flops

For the shower (if you end up taking one) or for general walking around.

I ended up wearing my “labor flip flops” for like 6 weeks because it was summertime and they were just so darn easy to put on.

11. Basic Toiletries

You know the drill: toothpaste, toothbrush, deodorant, etc.

Oh, and especially don’t forget the deodorant – that postpartum stink is killer.

12. Dry Shampoo

Yes, this deserves a separate entry from general toiletries.

You won’t want to forget this!

13. Extra-long Phone Charger

So that you can reach your phone while its charging and you’re stuck under your lovely newborn.

14. Nipple Cream

‘Cause your nipples gonna be needing this. 

Your hospital might provide this, but it certainly won’t be organic and lovely like this one.

15. Frida Momwasher

While I didn’t get a chance to use it the first time around, I have heard amazing reviews on the Frida Momwasher.

“It hits you in just the right place and helps with the pain while peeing. Everyone needs this.”

This is going on my list for my next birth!

15. Dark, Loose-fitting Bottoms (2 Pairs)

You want the comfiest pants on the planet, friend.

I brought a loose pair of sweatpants with a flat (not bunchy) waistband and a pair of soft lounge/athletic-looking shorts.

16. Dark, Flowy Top (2)

For me, this was an oversized t-shirt and a flowy knee-length black t-shirt dress that I wore over shorts.

17. Kindred Bravely Nursing Sleep Bra

Yep, straight up this is the best nursing bra for comfort’s sake. I lived in this bra for WEEKS (ahem, let’s be honest, months) after delivery.

Freakin’ love this bra. It can stretch a LOT for those massive engorged boobs in the beginning but somehow keeps its shape perfectly for when your boobs are back down to normal size.

18. Big Cotton Underwear

Get a size larger than you normally wear to accommodate for a giant pad and your still-squishy belly.

Only bring one pair because you’ll end up wearing the mesh underwear or Depends while in the hospital.

19. Depends Adult Diapers

I totally appreciated wearing these. They’re more comfortable and secure than the mesh underwear but still have the leakproof, non-underwear-wrecking safety that I wanted.

Bring 4-5 pairs but you’ll probably end up wearing mesh underwear for most of your time at the hospital.

20. Fuzzy Socks

I never used socks because it was summer, and I had flip flops for walking around.

If you love em, pack ’em. If it’s winter, pack ’em.

21. Car Seat

Installed and ready to go.

You can’t leave the hospital without it. I’d call that pretty essential.

22. Zip-up Sleeper for Baby

But, know that most of the time baby will be naked or in hospital clothes underneath the comfy swaddling blankets.

23. Velcro Swaddles

Because our first was an escape artist but hated being un-swaddled, and the nurses don’t have time to come do their ninja swaddle every time you need it.

(THESE swaddles are our favorite. They legit work.)

24. Vitamin K Drops

This brand is very reputable and trusted by many. We used this in place of the artificial vitamin K shot that is routinely administered in the hospital.

This decision was approved by our pediatrician.

(I am not advising you to do or not do anything your medical provider advises, just sharing my personal preference.)

Related: 25 Things You Should Definitely Pack in Dad’s Hospital Bag

What Size Hospital Bag Should You Take?

Someone once asked me what size hospital bag you should use – if a suitcase was too much.

To be honest, I can’t remember what size bag we took.

I think we had a reusable grocery bag filled with snacks, last-minute toiletries, and the diffuser. Then, we shared a small duffle bag for all of the other stuff.

So, probably a carry-on size?

I think a carry-on sized suitcase shared by mom, baby, and dad is great.

Plan to bring a small-ish bag for that mini “I’m in labor bag” as well (this could totally be your purse). I wish I would’ve done that for my first!

Related: Natural Birth in a Hospital – A Guide to Getting the Birth You Want

When You’re Packing Your Hospital Bag for a Natural Birth, It’s Honestly Not That Different

You’ll see that my list is probably pretty similar to this hospital bag checklist.

The main differences are the diffuser and Vitamin K drops. Oh, and the postpartum care items like the Frida Momwasher and the Depends.

So don’t stress.

Here’s to checking hospital bag packing off your list, and you ROCKING your natural birth in the hospital!

Read Next: How to Mentally Prepare for Labor (+ FREE Mega Birth Pack)


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