What to Pack for the Hospital

Make Your Stay Comfortable

When planning a stay in the hospital, whether it is for surgery, childbirth, or an inpatient procedure, it is important to be prepared.

This involves packing everything you need not only to be comfortable, but to make up for some common shortcomings of the hospital (such as food or the lack of privacy).

While modern hospitals are designed to be more people-friendly than ever, function, hygiene, and durability are more important than comfort.

This article will help you think through what you may need to take with you so you're not stuck doing without during your hospital stay.

man staying in hospital
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The Basics of Packing

As you prepare for your stay, think about all of the things you'd take on a weekend trip. Then cut down. Especially omit valuables like jewelry or electronics.

Hospitals won't take responsibility if personal belongings are stolen. It's ultimately your call as to whether you're willing to risk it or take out a short-term insurance policy to cover the loss.

If you really must bring electronics, such as a laptop, ask the hospital in advance if they offer lockable storage in the rooms. If they do, check to see if your belongings will fit inside.

If you're uncertain whether to bring a valuable, ask yourself if you're willing to lose it. If not, keep it at home.

Once you've cut back to the basics, decide which things would:

  • Help you sleep comfortably
  • Maintain your daily hygiene
  • Help with privacy
  • Keep you healthy

You should also bring entertainment and, if your treatment or procedure allows, maybe some snacks or drinks.

Recap

When packing for a hospital stay, think of what you need to be comfortable, modest, healthy, and for hygiene. Avoid taking any valuables that aren't necessary. See if there's anywhere you can lock things up.

Your Hospital Stay Checklist

You won't have a lot of space to store things. Try to fit everything you need into a standard carry-on bag. Be sure it's well-labeled and lockable for security reasons.

The clothing you may want to take includes:

  • Comfortable pajamas (loose-fitting is best)
  • A light robe for modesty, especially in a shared room
  • An eye mask for sleeping, as the room may not be very dark
  • Eyeglasses, which may be simpler to deal with than contact lenses
  • Plenty of socks and underwear
  • Slippers with rubber soles (to prevent slipping)
  • An outfit to wear home (something loose is best, also make sure it won’t rub on your incision)

Personal care products to take are:

  • A hairbrush or comb
  • A list of your current medications, including names, dosages, and dosing schedule
  • Personal medications, preferably in their original container so the nurse can help you with them
  • Soap, skin-care products, and hair care products if you prefer your own (ideally travel size)
  • Products like tampons, sanitary pads, or denture cream
  • Toothbrush, toothpaste, and deodorant
  • Earplugs if you're ​a light sleeper
  • Your pillow(s)

Electronic and entertainment items may include:

  • Cellphone and charger
  • Earbuds or headphones for your phone or computer
  • Books, e-reader, tablet, portable DVD player, puzzles, magazines
  • A laptop and charger

You may want to ask if you can bring non-perishable snacks and drinks, especially if you have dietary concerns such as diabetes or medications that need to be taken with high-fat foods. This may not be okay, depending on what you're having done.

Having a Baby? Don't Forget These

When you're delivering a baby, you need to think about an additional list of things. For labor and delivery, you may need:

  • A birth plan, if you have one
  • A camera, extra batteries, and plenty of storage devices
  • Any music that you've selected for labor and delivery

For your stay after delivery, you may want to have:

  • Nursing pajamas
  • Nursing bra
  • Breast pads
  • Maxi pads

For taking your baby home, you'll need:

  • A fully equipped diaper bag
  • Baby’s going-home outfit
  • Blankets
  • Car seat

Hospitals will not allow you to take a newborn home without an appropriate car seat. Be sure yours is properly installed before you go into labor.

Any clothing you plan to wear at the hospital or on your way home should be loose-fitting even if it's not maternity clothing. Whether you have a C-section or otherwise, your want to be as comfortable as possible.

Summary

Before you check into the hospital, make sure you've packed everything you'll need and want for your stay. Leave valuables at home. Consider what you'll want to wear, personal hygiene items you'll need, things to ensure your comfort, and how you'll entertain yourself.

If you're having a baby, you'll need certain items for labor and delivery, the hospital stay, and taking your baby home.

A Word From Verywell

Much of the time, facing a hospital stay is daunting. They're not the most comfortable or private places, and the days can be long and dull.

The things you pack can make a big difference in how your hospital stay goes. A little thought and planning can make things a lot better.

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3 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. Naithani S, Whelan K, Thomas J, Gulliford MC, Morgan M. Hospital inpatients' experiences of access to food: a qualitative interview and observational studyHealth Expect. 2008;11(3):294–303. doi:10.1111/j.1369-7625.2008.00495.x

  3. Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. Car seat safety: newborn to 2 years.