When to pack your hospital bag for labor: Useful tips from 7 moms

When I was pregnant, I packed my bag at 30 weeks. But it was half-packed as there were other things that I couldn’t put in it yet like my mobile phone.

So how many weeks pregnant should you pack your hospital bag? In a perfect world, 34-36 weeks are the best times to do your packing. This guideline is based on when you’re expected to go on labor. It’s not too early that your heart isn’t in it yet. But also not too late in case of premature labor.

When are you likely to give birth? Let research guide you

CDC’s 2012 Singleton Birth data shows that most women deliver their babies on the 39th week as the graph below shows.

Based on this study, we can assume that for most women, anytime before the 38-39th week is the ideal time to pack a hospital bag.

But if there’s one thing you probably already know by now, it’s that when it comes to pregnancy, things don’t always turn out the way you plan.

So here’s a different way to look at it:

When you pack your hospital bag for labor depends on when’s the time that’s most comfortable for you.

Here’s what I’ve observed while reading lots of Reddit comments researching this article:

Most moms pack between 30-38 weeks. Why the big variation? Because when you pack usually depends on your personality or your unique situation.

Below are a few different cases that moms on Reddit have said. Choose which one you belong to and let that be your guide.

Parents who want to be uber-prepared

No shame in packing much earlier than what the experts recommend. Your nesting instinct will probably kick in so early that packing that hospital bag will be foremost in your mind. So if you want to pack well before 34 weeks, go right ahead, sister 🙂

Here’s what WombofSteel says:

I’ve been working on mine since 20 weeks, but I’m still adding stuff as time goes along. I want it to be ready to go by 30 for sure. My oldest was 8 weeks early and I had nothing when I went to the hospital, so I am not messing around this time!

When you’re A go-with-the-flow type

On the other side of the spectrum are parents who don’t fuss too much about this. I salute your calmness 🙂

At the very extreme, some moms pack while on labor like mom iaabohp

I can’t even lie, I’ve always packed while in labor. The hospital will have everything you need for LO, besides clothes. You have plenty of time! And will probably pack/unpack a billion times once you start nesting lol.

Or like mom LampGrass, who waited until her water broke!

I packed it after my water broke, haha. Talk about last minute. I only used the clothes I brought, nothing else.

But I’m guessing that what most of us will do is along the lines of what mom Moondog55 says

I’m someone who’s been jumping the gun getting ready for stuff this whole pregnancy, but I actually just finished packing the hospital bag a few days ago at 35 weeks pregnant. I think as long as you’re not experiencing super early signs of labor, you can totally afford to wait a while to pack.

But sometimes unique circumstances demand preparation

If you’re aware of any specific reason that you might go on labor early, then it only makes sense to prepare much earlier than most like mom Zooooort

I packed early all 3 times. But with baby 1, I was high-risk with cervical incompetence; Baby 2, I didn’t have family within 1,000 miles and my husband was 300 miles away for work M-F during the third trimester; and baby 3, because I had baby 2 early and with a whopping 10 min of labor.

You might also consider this if you’re having twins. This is what mom a_cute_puppy124 says,

I packed mine around 30 weeks because I knew that twin pregnancy can be unpredictable. I just figured it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Your due date: guide not gospel

Here’s the thing: packing your hospital bag at 34-36 weeks is merely a guideline. If there’s one thing you probably already know it’s that anything can happen.

It’s not the worst thing in the world if you don’t have anything packed by the time you go on labor. Sure, it will be an inconvenience. But hopefully, your husband or a family member can go back and quickly put a hospital bag together.

If this does happen, here’s what you can do now to prepare for that possibility:

  1. Make a list of the things you’ll need in a hospital bag. This way, you can easily give it to another person to pack it for you.
  2. Always have your medical documentation ready in your purse

So that’s all you need to know about the best time to pack your hospital bag.

Don’t want to worry about packing? Consider buying pre-packed hospital bags…

Pre-packed hospital bags have the necessities that you and your newborn are going to need in the hospital. If you want something small that carries all the basic toiletries, these bags can help make the packing easier and quicker (they also make great baby shower gifts!)

Hospital Bags for Labor and Delivery - Pregnancy Maternity Hospital Bag...
  • New Mom Ready, Set, Push! Maternity Hospital Bag Essentials are ready packed for your big delivery day! Grab it with...
  • Must-Have Products: for your birthing Experience, contains healthy, travel-size products to bring the luxuries of home...
  • So Leave Your Pregnancy Worries Behind: You are now ready. Just one less thing to worry about, we have you covered.


BirthBag - Pre Packed Maternity Labor and Delivery Hospital Birth Bag Gift...
  • Our essentials bag contains lots of the items you will need for your maternity hospital bag. Just add your hospital...
  • Why spend extra time and money on lists when you can find all your mom to be and baby essentials in one place.
  • This Birth Bag is designed for labor and one night in hospital after birth.


Your turn:

When do you think you’ll pack yours? Do tell me in the comments section below. I would really appreciate hearing from your own experience, so other moms can learn from it, too.

Want to read more about packing hospital bags for labor? Check out my other articles:

  • What is needed in a hospital bag for baby?
  • What kind of bag should I use for my hospital bag?

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