Packing a hospital bag can seem like a harmless, maybe even fun, activity for expectant parents. However, for families who have dealt with pregnancy or infant loss, preparing for a new baby’s birth can feel overwhelming. You might procrastinate, and it’s understandable.

What to Pack in Your Hospital Bag for the Birth of Your Baby After a Previous Loss

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But packing a hospital bag can also instill hope. If you allow it, gathering your items and placing them into a bag can serve as a powerful affirmation that this is a different pregnancy, a different baby, and a different birth experience. Here are some ideas for what to pack in your hospital bag for the birth of your baby after a previous loss[1]“Hospital Bag Packing List,” American Pregnancy Association,


Take a few copies of your birth plan and make sure you have your photo ID, insurance information, and any hospital paperwork you might have already filled out. It’s helpful to gather these items together and put them in a folder if you can.


The following toiletries are useful when packing for a hospital birth.

  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Shampoo and conditioner, or dry shampoo
  • Body wash
  • Face wash and moisturizer
  • Deodorant
  • Lip balm
  • Comb or brush
  • Hair ties or headbands
  • Contact solution and case
  • Glasses
  • Any prescription medication you take

You also might want to pack a bath towel because hospital towels are usually thin and short.

Comfortable Clothing

For labor, some birthing parents are OK with the standard hospital gown, but others prefer to bring a laboring gown or a night gown. If you have a favorite pair of warm socks, especially with grips on the bottom, or slippers, pack those because they are nice if you walk the halls during labor. A pillow or blanket from home can also be comforting and useful in the throes of labor.

After your baby’s birth, you’ll want loose-fitting clothes, like jogger pants, cardigans, and pajamas. Comfortable maternity clothes are also a great choice. (Your belly will still look pregnant.) If you’re planning to breastfeed, bring nursing bras and tanks. The hospital will provide mesh underwear and giant postpartum pads, but you can bring your own if you prefer — and you don’t mind tossing out the underwear if they get stained. Adult diapers have also become a popular option for the first days after birth.

Drinks and Snacks

During labor, you need to stay hydrated, so bring your own drinks if you think you’ll like something besides water. Coconut water or electrolyte drinks are good choices because they have calories but not a lot of sugar. In addition, sucking on hard, sugar-free candy can help keep your mouth from feeling dry.

Many hospitals do not allow food during labor, but some may permit you to drink broth or consume a honey stick, both of which are excellent choices for an energy boost. After your baby’s birth, you’ll need to replenish your body, so bring some of your favorite healthy snacks.


Some laboring parents like to listen to music during labor, and many loss families choose a significant song to remember the child who died. If you’ve curated a playlist, make sure you have what you need to listen to it, like earbuds or a Bluetooth speaker. Of course, have your phone so you can take pictures of your new baby, and don’t forget your charger! Consider any other devices, like a camera and/or video camera, that are worth packing.

Feeding Supplies

If you’re planning to breastfeed, it can be helpful to take a nursing pillow to the hospital. You also might want nipple cream, and nursing pads are often useful for leaking even if you don’t think you’ll breastfeed. For bottle feeding parents, you can bring a breast pump, bottles, and/or formula if there are certain types you prefer, but hospitals usually make those items available to parents.

Memory Items

As a loss parent, you may choose to remember your baby or babies who passed away with unique memory items. This could be a photo, a piece of jewelry, or a weighted stuffed animal.

Car Seat

A car seat obviously won’t fit in your bag, but it’s a super important item. It’s best to have the car seat ready before the baby is born because you can’t leave the hospital until your newborn is safely strapped into a seat that’s been installed correctly.

Baby’s Going-Home Outfit

Including a going-home outfit is often a big step for loss parents, and it can be a reminder of hope to pack new clothing, chosen specifically for the new baby. Since you don’t know how big your baby will be, pack two different outfits — one in newborn size and another in 0-3 months. Depending on the weather, you might also include socks and hats.

Baby Blanket

Some parents like to bring a blanket to keep the baby warm for the ride home. You can make it extra special with a special monogrammed blanket or perhaps a rainbow-themed blanket to celebrate the arrival of your rainbow baby.

Most expectant parents choose to pack their hospital bag around 37-38 weeks. You might find it helpful to make a checklist and mark off items as you go. And if you forget something, you can always ask your partner or another loved one to help!

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