Your Cart

Your Cart is Empty
  • Subtotal
  • Total (before taxes)
Doula’s Guide to Packing a Labor Bag
September 14, 2017 10:00 am | by

You’ve taken your childbirth classes, breastfeeding classes, and newborn care classes. Baby showers are done, and you have all the sweet newborn clothes washed and put away. You are seeing your care provider weekly and your magical due date is inching closer on the calendar. You are feeling ready to welcome your sweet new baby into the world, but… what do you pack in your labor bag?

As a doula, this is one of the questions I am asked most frequently. When I do prenatal visits in my client’s home, they will show me their bag and ask me to tell them what they’ve forgotten. So, if you’re not sure what to pack, you are not alone.

Birthing Person Labor Packing List

  • Fuzzy socks with traction on the bottom. The floors can be slippery and your feet can get cold in the hospital room.
  • Easily removable bra or one you don’t mind getting cut off of you. When the baby is born hospitals like to give skin to skin time, having a bra on can interfere with the ability to breastfeed right away. Consider a comfortable nursing bra or tank for leaving the hospital.
  • Your own clothes; you do not have to wear the hospital gown. You can wear comfortable pajamas, your favorite t-shirt, or a Pretty Pushers Gown made especially for labor. One of our Cotton Babies Mob Facebook Group members reminded us to consider that if you have a surgical birth you’ll want clothes without a tight waistband that may irritate your suture sites.
  • Robe; during labor you will be very warm, but remember you will be at the hospital for a few days, so you will want a robe to snuggle up in.
  • Pillows and special blankets. The hospital pillows aren’t that comfortable and they don’t smell like you or your home. You will relax and be able to progress in your labor more effectively if you are comfortable. Having your smells around you will help with this greatly.
  • Lip balm; your lips will get very dry very quickly while in labor.
  • Energy-Providing Snacks and Liquids; Coconut water, Gatorade, bone broth, or other clear liquids that will give you energy. Many hospitals have the policy of only clear liquids during labor. If you have something you really like, bring it. Some of our Mob members recommended honey sticks as well for quick burst of energy.
  • Music; Load up your phone with your favorite music. Make playlists that you think you will want to listen to while in labor. If you have a Bluetooth speaker, bring that as well.
  • LED candles can add a nice ambiance to the room and help it feel more like home.
  • Essential Oils and diffuser. Nurses always comment on how much they love coming into a labor room that doesn’t smell like the hospital. Imagine how much you will love that when you are in labor. If you have certain scents that you love, get them ready. If you don’t have a diffuser, or don’t want to bring one, filling a cup with water and adding a few drops of your favorite oil will do the same thing. And the upside of using the cup is it is easily disposed of if you don’t like the smell after a bit.
  • Birth ball; some hospitals provide these, but if you bring your own, you will know it is blown up to the right size you will need and want during labor.
  • Toiletries for parents and baby. Bring your favorite shampoo/conditioner, toothbrush, body wash, and other items. If you have a certain lotion you love, bring it. Remember to bring whatever you need to fix your hair. You don’t want to be running to the store on the way to the hospital to get hair gel and a comb! The hospital will provide baby items but you may want your own from the beginning.

Partner Packing List

  • Snacks! Your partner will get hungry and will want something to munch on. I only recommend nothing too pungent as the birthing person won’t want to be smelling your beef jerky breath.
  • Sweatshirt; birthing rooms get COLD. Everyone except the one in labor will be pretty chilly in the room as they typically want the temperature down low.
  • Change of clothes; your partner may want to get into the shower with you, so have them bring a swim suit and a change of clothes for after.
  • Sleeping bag; This is an easy way to get some shut-eye for your partner. Much warmer and more comfortable than the hospital sheets, blankets, and pillows.
  • Labor Comfort Tools; In addition to the birth ball, these Gymnic Sensyballs are great for massage during labor. They can feel great when rubbed on the back and hips.
  • Phone chargers and cables; You will be at the hospital for several days so these will come in handy. Consider a longer-than-average charging cord for your phone because not every room has plugs in handy locations.
  • Camera; if you intend on taking photos with something other than your phone, be sure to pack this and any batteries or charging accessories you may need.
  • Point Person phone number; Instead of calling all of your family and friends, invite one person to be your point person. This is the person you can text all the critical information to (gender, birth time, weight, height, etc) and they can spread the word.

Baby Packing List

Don’t forget the little one who will be coming home with you!!!

  • CARSEAT; you can not leave the hospital without a carseat. Bring it with you!
  • Swaddle blankets; The hospital will provide some of these, but you may want your own baby swaddler from home.
  • Onesies; this is all babies generally wear in the early days and weeks.

The big day will come and go with or without any of these comforts, but when you have a well-packed labor bag, you will feel much more at ease and ready to welcome your baby into the world.

Do you have a question for the doula that you’d like her to consider answering in a future column? Leave it in a comment below or email

About the Author

Kim is a birth and postpartum doula in Austin, Texas. She is the Mom to 6 children and has experienced both cesarean birth and home birth. She is a champion for VBAC's and postpartum support. In her free time (ha!) she likes to knit, sew, read, write, and take long walks with her podcasts. You can find her on Instagram at @kimborchert.


Comments are closed here.