I started packing my hospital bag way early, around 25 weeks, because my excited mother bought me the first few items for my hospital stay and kept reminding me to pack them before I "forgot." I gradually added items to the bag over the course of several weeks and finished packing it around 37 weeks. Right around that time I decided to keep my hospital bag in the trunk of my car at all times, because I couldn't shake the fear that we might panic when I went into labor and forget the hospital bag at home or even worse, that I might go into labor somewhere away from home and wouldn't have time to come home and grab the bag. Ultimately that was the best decision I made, because just like I feared, I ended up having to be induced unexpectedly at a routine appointment and I wasn't even allowed to go home to pack a bag so it was awesome that I had everything I needed right there in the trunk of my car. They told my husband to go home and pack some stuff for me and they were all quite impressed when I told them I already had all my stuff in the car. I tried to pack light but still ended up not using a lot of things that I took with me. Here is my list of items in my hospital bag and I've labeled them either NICE TO HAVE, NEED TO HAVE or DON'T BOTHER . The best way to make sure you don't forget anything important is to make a list and then check it off as you go along, a lot of sites like Baby center or the The Bump provide a printable checklist you could follow. It's not the end of the world if you do forget something, because you can always have someone go out and get it for you, but its so much more convenient if you have everything you need on hand since it can be such a hectic time.
 Gowns/nighties - My mother gave me two hospital style gowns that button up in the front. I didn't really think I would need these, but it was great to have something that I could put on that didn't go over my head because I had a hep lock in my arm and was connected to the IV for most of the time. As we all know, the hospital gowns are open in the back so I wore the gowns my mom gave me over the hospital gown kind of like a robe when I had to go out of my room or when I had guests. A robe would have been fine too but you sweat buckets after having a baby and a regular robe would have been way too hot for me. I also didn't want to get my regular robe dirty at the hospital. NICE TO HAVE
 Towel-Our hospital provides towels, but I took my own and fully intended to use it, except I kept forgetting to take it with me into the shower and would only remember it when I was done showering, at which point the hospital towel was right in front of me, so I just used theirs. NICE TO HAVE
Toiletries- I packed a Ziploc bag full of mini toiletries such as toothpaste, shower gel, body lotion, face cream, hair elastics etc. They do provide some basics at my hospital but I was glad to use my own products. I was in the hospital for 5 days and 4 nights, so it was nice to have a touch of home and feel a little more human. Lip balm was really an essential because my lips were so dry and of course I wasn't allowed to eat or drink for over 36 hours and that only compounded the dry lip problem. It's also really important to have sometime to tie your hair up or hold it back out of your face, you don't want to have to deal with your hair in your face while you are in labor. NICE TO HAVE
Change of clothes for me- I packed a few outfits made up of loose fitting comfortable clothes that are easy to put on, I planned to wear these after the birth, but I ended up staying in the hospital gowns the entire time I was there. The hospital gowns have snaps over the shoulder, so they are the most convenient for breast feeding. It is also the most comfortable worry-free option since you constantly need to be checked by the doctors. I ended up not wearing any of my clothes at all until I was discharged from the hospital. Next time I will only take one coming home outfit. NEED TO HAVE
 Change of clothes for my husband- Since he was staying over with me it made sense that he would need clothes too. He did go home to shower though, but it was still NICE TO HAVE
 Swim shorts for my husband- Originally I was planning a natural birth and wanted to have the option of standing in the shower during labor. I was told that it would be great if my partner had swim shorts so he could help me stand up in the shower. I didn't get to labor in the shower but he still helped me in the shower the day after the birth so I say this is a NEED TO HAVE. In case you are wondering why, most hospitals don't allow for the husband or male partner to not be dressed in the hospital room or bathroom. Also my hospital has a seat in their shower and bars to hold on to, but its still great to have someone assist you.
 Flip flop slippers- My mother gave me a cute pair of fuzzy slippers to take to the hospital but I never wore them because I didn't want to get them dirty. No matter how clean they look, hospital floors are grimy so instead I used flip flops all the time. I wore them in the shower, around my room and in the halls; basically everywhere. so they were an absolute NEED TO HAVE.
Underwear- I packed lots of underwear because I mean it's the natural thing to do when you are gonna be away from home for a few days! But I didn't get to use any of them. I don't know why I didn't think of it before, because it makes perfect sense; underwear is not required for labor & delivery! After the baby was born I was given weird mesh underwear which turned out to be uber comfortable! I seriously want to sneak back into the hospital and steal a few more pairs! I'm seriously considering it, that's how much I liked them. DON'T BOTHER
Baby clothes- I packed a few outfits for the baby to wear at the hospital plus a "coming home" outfit. I really only needed the coming home outfit for her because while she was in the hospital she mostly wore the wrap around shirts provided by the hospital. Those wrap shirts are awesome because they don't go over the baby's head and it's so much easier to put on and take off a newborn with such a fragile head and neck. Be sure to wash all your baby's clothes before you pack them though. NEED TO HAVE
 Swaddle blankets- I took a couple of Aden & Anais blankets to wrap the baby in for her ride home. It was a cold and rainy day when we were discharged from the hospital so the blankets came in handy. Be sure to wash these before you pack them NEED TO HAVE
 Birth plan- I packed a printed copy of my birth plan which I will be blogging about soon. In my case due to complications I didn't get to follow my birth plan at all, but its still NICE TO HAVE
 Cell phone charger. Firstly if I knew my hospital would charge me a flat rate for their phone service I would have actually used it! It really annoyed me that I had to pay a fee when I didn't even touch the phone! I basically only used my cell phone during my hospital stay and I got so very many calls and messages from friends and family, having the charger there was an absolute life saver. NEED TO HAVE
 Insurance card, paper work and ID. This should really be number one on the list, but I put it at the end because most people carry their insurance card and ID in their wallet anyway, so most likely you would already have this on you. NEED TO HAVE
 Lansinoh Lanolin I took this with me to use as a nipple ointment in case I had issues breastfeeding, but then I totally forgot that I had it until I got home. If you are planning to breastfeed this is a NEED TO HAVE
In addition to the items that were in my hospital bag I also had my husband bring me:
 Camera- The only reason I didn't pack this into the hospital bag is because our camera is a DSLR and it's quite bulky with all the accessories, so we kept it in a separate bag and didn't have it with us when we first got to the hospital. For me this was the most important thing I took to the hospital and I would have been devastated if I forgot it. I know that most smart phones have cameras these days but you want a "real" camera for something as important as the birth of your child. You absolutely want to capture the first hours and days of your baby's life. They change so much in the first few months so every picture counts. I also took pictures of myself while waiting for the induction meds to kick in and also while in surgery. Its good to capture all the memories and one day I can show them to my baby when she is all grown up and she can appreciate how much of an event it was to bring her into the world! NEED TO HAVE
Laptop- At certain points during labor I was bored out of my mind, the TV frustrated me because there were so many food commercials and I was starving and not allowed to eat, so I thought my laptop would be a good distraction, but I was never motivated enough to use my laptop. I was always too anxious and my mind was all over the place so I ended up not using it at all but its NICE TO HAVE just in case.
 Infant car seat- We already had the base installed but left the seat at home, so went back home for that. No other way to get the baby home without it! NEED TO HAVE
I also considered taking;
 Exercise ball to sit on during labor, I used mine a lot during pregnancy but I didn't want to deflate it and it was too much hassle to carry that around ever where while inflated. Our hospital does have birth balls in the natural birth room, but since I was induced I didn't get to use them :(
NICE TO HAVE
 Diapers, wipes, baby food and breast pump, but everyone told me that the hospital would provide these and they were right so I didn't need any of those. DON'T BOTHER