pregnant woman packing her hospital bag
Packing a delivery bag

Your due date gives you a rough idea of when your baby will arrive. However, only about 5% of babies are born on their due dates. Since you don't know exactly when you'll go into labor, packing a delivery bag can help you prepare.

Whether you're planning to give birth at a hospital, birthing clinic, or right at home, it's a good idea to gather the essentials ahead of time.

Besides any necessary paperwork, a photo ID, and your insurance card, consider packing the following items.

Comfy clothes: If you're giving birth at a hospital, they can supply you with a nightgown and maybe a robe, but you'll probably be most comfortable in your own clothes. We recommend packing comfy pajamas or loungewear, including pants, a couple of shirts, a sweatshirt, and a nightgown if you have one.

Undergarments: Again, hospitals supply maternity underwear. But if you're giving birth somewhere else or prefer a specific type, we recommend packing a few pairs. The same goes for nursing bras — if you're planning to breastfeed, you may want to bring your own.

Cozy footwear: We recommend having a couple pairs of cozy socks at the ready and potentially a pair of comfy slippers. As you're probably well aware, slip-on styles tend to be the most convenient for pregnant folks.

Toiletries: Labor can be quick, or it can last several days. Either way, you'll want to have all your basic toiletries on hand. A toothbrush, face wash, lotion, lip balm, a brush or comb, and some hair ties might be plenty. That said, if you think you'll want any other products, go ahead and pack them. And if you wear glasses or contact lenses, bring those too.

Entertainment: As we mentioned, labor can last for days. You'll be preoccupied a lot of the time, but you could also have some time to kill. Just in case, gather a book, magazines, a tablet, portable games, knitting supplies, or anything that entertains you.

Snacks: You might want to come prepared with some of your go-to snacks and maybe your favorite water bottle. And if you're giving birth at a hospital, bring cash for the vending machines.

A pillow and blanket: If you're particular about your pillow, you can bring yours from home. Packing a soft blanket isn't a bad idea either.

Electronics: If you have a camera you'd like to use to document the big day, be sure to pack it, along with a memory card, charger, or battery. You'll also want to have a charger for your cell phone and tablet if you're bringing one.

Baby items: Hospitals and birthing centers typically provide diapers, wipes, and baby clothes, but you'll want to bring your own. You'll need something for your baby to wear on the ride home — as well as an outfit for any cute birthday pictures you have in mind. And you'll want to be prepared for en route diaper changes. Other than that, we recommend a baby blanket, a hat, and mittens if you live somewhere cold and your due date falls in the winter. You might also want to toss in baby nail clippers or a nail file since newborns often come out of the womb with long, jagged nails. And don't forget the car seat.

Remembering to pack all the right things can seem overwhelming, but if you plan ahead, it might give you some peace of mind heading into labor. You may not end up using all these items, but if you do, you'll be glad you packed them.

Check out our Hospital Bag Checklist!

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