The basics: Just like mom-to-be, you should plan to bring a couple outfits, pajamas and toiletries for your stay at the hospital. Unlike mom, who will be spending most of the time feeding and snuggling with baby, you might actually be going out in public (and getting your partner some takeout sushi, perhaps?), so you should keep that in mind when packing.
The comforts of home: Each hospital is going to have a very different setup for you. Some have a full pullout couch, others expect you to sleep on a recliner chair. When you take your hospital tour before baby’s arrival, make sure you get clear idea of the space you will be given to sleep. This way you’ll know if you should bring a few things from home to make yourself more comfortable (pillow, blanket, slippers, etc.).
Electronics: We like to put dads in charge of electronics, meaning you pack the camera, camera charger, phone chargers, a speaker for music and whatever other devices you both might want. Your partner will have enough in her bag without having to worry about these things!
Paperwork: While every labor is different, in the event your partner has one that starts off with a bang, or ends up with her being totally “in-the-zone” while working through contractions, it’s a good idea for you to be in charge of paperwork you’ll need for the hospital like insurance information and registration papers.
Snacks, change and more: Many hospitals do not provide food for dad, and even if they do, it’s always a good idea to bring along easy, healthy snacks. You never know if hunger will strike in the middle of the night when the hospital kitchen’s closed (nobody really gets a full night of sleep while they’re in the hospital — not even Dad!). You should also be sure to pack small bills and change for parking and/or vending machines and a water bottle you can keep filled. If your partner doesn’t have a doula and you will be her main labor partner, it might be a good idea for you to pack things that could be helpful in the event of a long labor like massage aids and oils and a handheld fan (to help cool your partner down).
Regardless of how you decide to divide the packing list, we do recommend you and your partner sit down ahead of time and make sure you have all of your bases covered. Everything moves a little smoother when it is clear who is in charge of packing what. There’s nothing like getting to the hospital and realizing nobody packed the camera charger! You can use our from this post and tweak as necessary to fit your individual needs.