Packing My Hospital Bag

Packing My Hospital Bag | | Lisa Samuel

Last Thursday marked our 38 week milestone, meaning little Bubbles could come today…or three weeks from now. At this point, the waiting and uncertainty is the hardest part. Each night, as Elie and I go to bed, I wonder if this will be the last day with just the two of us. It’s an exciting, overwhelming and somewhat scary time. I’m not scared of birth itself, but of the unknown.

A consummate researcher, I like to be prepared. I’ve read books, blogs and websites. I’ve asked friends to share their birth stories. We’ve met with our doula multiple times to prepare for delivery, and we’ve written our birth plan. Every day, I meditate and pray, envisioning an uncomplicated birth. I’ve spend countless hours doing exercises to try to get this little one to turn face down. The car seat is installed, and the nursery is finished and fully stocked with all things baby. So, technically we’re ready. 

But I’m not sure you can ever quite be ready for this experience, because births rarely go as planned. And as a planner, that’s what keeps me up at night. In the meantime, I’m trying my best to follow the serenity prayer, doing what I can and letting go of the rest. Last week, that included packing our hospital bags, giving me at least a semblance of control.

Because I’ve loved reading and hearing about what other mamas packed for the hospital, I’m sharing my list here. But, if you have other suggestions or feedback, I’d love to hear them!

Comfort Essentials

two pillows (one for me and one for Elie), a blanket for Elie, iPhones and chargers, playlists loaded on iPhone, earbuds, camera, video camera, flexible tripod, iPads for reading, guitar

Elie and I both like to be comfortable, and so we’re bringing along a few things to make sure our stay is as homey as possible. We’ve been known to pack a pillow in our suitcase for international travel, so taking our own pillows to the hospital doesn’t feel like a stretch. I’ll just be sure and wash them well when we get home.

Elie is going to bring his guitar, in case we end up having a lot of uncomplicated down time while we’re there. We’ve also been playing and singing the same songs over and over to Bubbles, so he or she will recognize them at birth. If the baby’s hesitant in joining the world, I thought we might be able to coax him or her out with a song (and I’m only half-teasing). Elie’s also made playlists with our favorite (soothing) music and we’ve picked a few Pandora stations as well. We borrowed a bluetooth speaker from a friend to be able to play music in the hospital.

For Me

Packing My Hospital Bag | | Lisa Samuel

birthing gown, flip flops for shower, old slippers, old robe, button-up sleep shirt for after delivery, socks, one nursing tank, comfortable black underwear, outfit to go home in (soft black leggings, loose top, cardigan sweater and Uggs)

A friend of mine who recently had a baby sent me this sweet birthing gown, which she said really made her feel better during the delivery. I’ve also had several different friends tell me that a robe and slippers make you feel more comfortable (and warm, in a cold hospital), especially after the delivery, when you might have guests. I’m bringing old ones, in case they get ruined. I’ve also packed a button-up sleep shirt for after the delivery, so that it’s easy to nurse while I’m snuggling with our little one.  To go home, I have a nursing tank, black cotton underwear and a cozy outfit. I’m just bringing the softest pair of black leggings I own, a loose top, a cardigan sweater and my most comfortable Uggs. I’m thinking comfort is key for everything postpartum.

Packing My Hospital Bag | | Lisa Samuel

toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash, deodorant, shampoo and conditioner, body wash, body moisturizer, dry shampoo, face towelettes, moisturizer, lip balm, make-up, hair dryer and flat iron, hairbrush, hair ties, room mister

Some of the items on this list may seem unnecessary, and yes, it’s entirely possible that I won’t touch a hairbrush while I’m there. But I’m the kind of girl that takes a shower before I go to the beach, so I think I’m going to want all these creature-comforts. And sometimes a little lipstick or mascara goes a long way towards making you feel more human.

For over a decade, I’ve been using natural body products, since our skin is the biggest organ in our body and absorbs anything we put on it into our blood stream.  After becoming pregnant, I became even more diligent, really cleaning up my make-up routine, as well. 

Here are some of my favorite natural products, along with sources. None of these are sponsored or affiliate links. I’m sharing them simply because I love them.

I always travel with a small bottle of Dr. Bronner’s liquid soup, because it’s easier to transport than a bar of soap and lasts a really long time. I know the hospital air will be dry (and I may be in and out of the bath or shower frequently), and I love Sweet Almond Oil for moisturizing. I swear by the salt crystal deodorant–it’s the only natural deodorant that works for me. These items can generally be found at your closest Whole Foods or natural foods market, and even some grocery stores and department stores carry them.

I purchase a lot of my skincare and make-up from Credo Beauty, a San Francisco based store that only sells safe and sustainable products, and ones that work beautifully. These face towelettes are perfect for travel (I pack them in my carry-on) and I expect they will help me feel refreshed during, or at least after, labor. For face moisturizing, I love the Fig & Yarrow products, especially the complexion water and the face serum. I like the Lily Lolo BB Cream, and I love their mascara. Several people have told me to bring chapstick to the hospital, because your mouth and lips will dry out during labor. The Kari Gran lip whip is really moisturizing and not at all sticky.

Not available from Credo is the Josie Maran Color Stick and Gabriel Cosmetics Dual Powder Foundation, which is actually a Seattle-based company.  I’m also taking this room mister, in case I need a little aromatherapy boost.

nursing pads, maternity pads, nipple cream, bottom balm

You don’t really want to see pictures of these. But they are definitely in the hospital bag. I’ve linked to the natural brands of these products. I also used the Earth Mama Angel Baby stretch oil during pregnancy and stocked up on the Postpartum Bath Herbs for after the delivery. 

For Elie

old yoga pants, t-shirt, hoodie, old sneakers, swim shorts, pajamas, slippers, flip-flops, change of clothes, toiletries 

We’ve been told by our friends that labor is messy for the husband, too, so we’re packing accordingly, with old, comfortable clothes for Elie and a pair of sneakers he won’t mind throwing away (not to scare you). We’re also taking a pair of swim shorts, in case he needs to get in the tub or shower with me. For after labor, a soft pair of pajamas and slippers for him to put on and be comfortable, and his toiletry bag and a change of clothes for going home.

For Baby

Packing My Hospital Bag | | Lisa Samuel

diaper bag, baby book, diapers and wipes, organic body wash, two swaddle blankets, two onesies and hats for during the hospital stay, going-home outfit, blanket for the car seat, car seat

I received this Petunia Pickle Bottom diaper bag as a gift at our shower, and I love that it looks stylish, but has all the compartments to keep a diaper bag organized. It was so fun packing this bag! I stocked it with tiny diapers and wipes from The Honest Company, natural body wash and lotion and organic bum balm. We have multiple brands of natural baby products, so we’re going to use them and see which work best. I’ll keep you posted. 

All of the clothing I packed are gifts from friends and family, including two onesies and hats for during the hospital stay, a soft and snuggly outfit for going home from Serena & Lilly, and two blankets for keeping Bubbles warm on the way home. Lastly, I tucked in our baby book, a beautiful, simply-designed one from Mushy Books, so we can capture those sweet first footprints. 

Packing My Hospital Bag | | Lisa Samuel
A blanket made by a friend, with a piece of the shirt I was wearing when Elie proposed. (This photo by Jenelle Laila Photography)
Packing My Hospital Bag | | Lisa Samuel
(This photo by Jenelle Laila Photography)

Snacks, Celebrations & Thank You’s

Packing My Hospital Bag | | Lisa Samuel

for Elie: a version of these homemade crackers, KIND bars, a jar of peanut butter, apples, dark chocolate. for the nurses and midwives: this granola. for me: homemade chicken stock, orange juice, Synergy kombucha, bananas, yogurt, hard candies, mints, champagne! 

We always travel with a snack bag filled with healthy food we like to eat, so packing for the hospital feels pretty easy, and necessary. For Elie, I’m making his favorite crackers, which are high in protein and sustaining, his favorite KIND bars, apples, a jar of peanut butter, and some dark chocolate (of course). The peanut butter can be eaten on the apples or the chocolate.

I’ve made a big batch of my olive oil granola and packaged it in individual cellophane bags, as a little ‘Thank you’ gift to the nurses and midwives at the hospital, and our doula. 

I’ve been told I won’t feel like eating much during the delivery (and may not be allowed to), so I’ve made and frozen quarts of homemade chicken stock to provide some nourishment and hydration. I’m packing orange juice and kombucha, in case it’s hard to choke down plain water, and bananas and yogurt, if I’m allowed to eat. And friends have told me to bring hard candy and mints, because your mouth gets really dry during labor.

Lastly, my sweet husband bought a great bottle of champagne from our friends at our local wine store. Because this definitely calls for a celebration! xo, Lisa


I am married to my best friend, Elie, and we are the proud parents of a little boy, Theo, born February 11, 2016. Until Theo was born, I was a practicing registered dietitian nutritionist, but I am secretly a homemaker at heart, as I am happiest at home, cooking, organizing and making our home a comfortable place for our family and friends to gather. Elie and I are also travel lovers, and I share our travels here. Since Theo was born, this blog has morphed into a parenting blog as well, and those are actually my favorite posts to write and share.


  • I think it’s wonderful that you have a doula, especially since you’ve not been down this road before. It’s sounds like you’ve got the best hospital bag and diaper bag ever. I mean, you sound pretty covered. Make sure you have some baby mitts/gloves so Bubbles doesn’t scratch themselves. They aren’t always available at the hospital. I can’t remember if you mentioned them or not. I listened to a hypnotherapy disc at night. I think it helped me relax and fall asleep quicker especially toward the end of my pregnancy. I will also say that soaking in the warm tub was so comforting to me during labor. I highly recommend giving it a try. Wishing you all the best!

    • Thanks so much, Julie! Thanks for the tip about the baby mitts! I did forget to add those. The birthing rooms do have tubs, which I’m grateful for. Other friends have mentioned the bath really helped them as well. xoxo

  • Looks way more complete than my packing was. By number 4, I just put the car seat in the car and a baby gown, hairbrush, sonic care and mouthwash in a grocery bag and headed in. Bubbles is lucky to have such thoughtful parents. (It may make all the difference when Bubbles hits 13.)

  • You might want to add a little notebook and a couple of pens so you can jot down a phrase or sentence occasionally as things progress — dilation, length of contractions, special moments before and after the birth. You, Elie, your doula, and your midwife could all contribute to this.

    I like the thoughtfulness and thoroughness with which you’ve prepared for this event like none other before in your lives, one that will unfold minute by minute.

    • Thank you, Cynthia! That’s a great idea to bring a notebook. I’ve started a pregnancy album with thoughts, and memories from the birth would be great to add. xoxo

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