I recently saw a blog post from a very cute, very excited first time mama about what to pack in your hospital bag. I showed the list that she wrote out to my husband, and his reply was “is she going on vacation for two weeks before going home?!” The truth is, you really don’t need much with you at the hospital. In fact, packing less means that you will have less stuff to keep track of, potentially leave behind, and lug around the hospital with you. Between taking care of your new addition and family coming and going, your hospital room may start to feel cluttered and chaotic. The last thing that you want to do is add a mess of personal belongings on top of that. Here is a list of what you really need to take to the hospital with you. Hopefully, it will help you to pack your hospital bag without overpacking.
What you really need in your hospital bag:
Birth plan or notes – Some women choose to write a birth plan, and some just go into labor with loose ideas of what they want. If you would like help on figuring out what to put in your birth plan, this post here can help you.
Going-home outfit – Something that no one may have told you yet is that you will leave the hospital still looking pregnant. Not just a little bit – the consensus seems to be that most moms are about the size they were at 6 months pregnant. Pack accordingly. For me, it was my maternity yoga pants and a comfy hoodie.
Nursing Bra – I wore my nursing bra under my gown all through labor. Some moms choose not to. Either way, you will likely want to wear a bra at some point after giving birth. Some sources will say that underwire will prevent your milk from coming in, so you probably want to go with the comfy sports bra style ones.
Toiletries – I chose to keep it simple with this one. Toothbrush, face wash, deodorant. I had a new one of each of these things in my bag so that everything could be packed ahead of time. You can always just add them to your last minute adds section. If you are a glasses or contact wearer, don’t forget to add those things to the list. Also, I didn’t bring shampoo or conditioner with because I forgot them. The hospital did have an all-in-one product for me to use and it was just one less thing to carry. Your call on that one.
Chapstick – No matter what you pack for toiletries, don’t forget your chapstick! Hospitals are notoriously dry and you are likely to be dehydrated at some point in your delivery experience.
Snacks and drinks – Most hospitals won’t let you eat during labor, but once you are done you may hit a point where you remember that you are starving! For me, snacks didn’t cut it and I sent my mother-in-law for a meatball sub. Having a few packaged snack won’t hurt.
Water bottle – Hydration is key!
Mints and hard candy – Mints are great for reducing nausea and just having something when you’re not able to eat. I was really sick during labor, and a pack of Lifesavers ended up being just the thing that I wanted.
Extra Pillow – This one is probably a part of the optional list. It’s a nice comfort to have though.
Phone and Charger – No explanation needed here.
I’ve seen lists that include a robe, a gown, slippers, etc. Some hospitals will let you wear your own clothing and some will not. Our hospital, for example, required me to wear their grippy slipper socks for walking around. No complaints here – they are pretty comfy! Also, think about it this way… do you really care what you wear to give birth? (some women do and that’s ok!) and Do you want to have to do the laundry from whatever you are wearing at the time? I opted for no on both.
Change of clothes
Pajamas – Slippers may also come in handy if Dad’s not a big fan of wearing shoes all the time.
Phone List – This is an important one that many people forgo now! We had a list of people to call when we went into labor, people to text when we went into labor, people to call when baby was born, and people to text when baby was born. Include phone numbers in case you end up needing help to send messages or if there are numbers that are in your phone and not Dad’s or vice versa.
Snacks and drinks – Unlike mom, Dad can grab some snacks while you are in labor. Pack some things that are quick and easy to keep him going. He may also appreciate a caffeinated beverage like an iced coffee in there.
Toiletries – Same as above – keep it simple.
Phone and charger
Extra Pillow and blanket
This seems to be the place that most packing lists loose me! The hospital will have everything that you need to take care of your baby while you are there.
Going home outfit – You may want to bring a couple of going home options for baby. Most doctors suggest a shirt instead of a onesie to let their cord breath. Otherwise, just pick something cute and comfy. I brought one newborn size and one size 0-3 months outfit just in case.
Rear-facing infant seat – You want to have a car seat installed correctly in your car BEFORE baby arrives. You may even go have it inspected by a licensed car seat technician. When you get to the hospital, you can leave the seat in the car and go get it before you leave.
Diaper bag – The diaper bag can also stay in the car until the day that you depart. Like I said, the hospital will have everything that you need to care for new baby. It’s nice to have a stocked and ready diaper bag with the essentials for a newborn before he or she arrives. Diapers, wipes, burp cloths, diaper cream, portable changing pad, lotion, hand sanitizer.
Last Minute Adds
The most important part of this sheet is the last minute adds. If you are a control freak like me, you want everything ready ahead of time in case you are not the one who will be actually packing your bag when you leave. In my case, it was my husband upstairs grabbing the last minute adds and bringing the bag down to pack the car. This list made it easy for him to know what he needed to add to the bag. My list ended up being retainers, glasses, wallets, and phones and chargers. Everything else I had already packed.
Reading material or DVD’s – If you are in labor for a long time, you may want something to try to take your mind off of what is happening. I didn’t pack any things to do because my plan was to labor at home through the part where I was able to focus enough on an activity anyway. (Turns out Peanut’s arrival went from 0-60, so I didn’t have much time even at home. Maybe I will share that story another time. TBD.)
Make-up – If you want to pack a little bit of make-up, you go for it! No, it’s not a necessity and no one should be worrying what you look like, but if putting some make-up on helps you to feel clean and like yourself after giving birth, then you have every right to do so.
Breast pump – You don’t need to bring your breast pump the the hospital because they have them there should you need one. In some cases, your insurance won’t even cover a breast pump until after your baby arrives anyway. The reason that you may want to bring your breast pump to the hospital is so that a lactation consultant can help you to learn how to use your specific pump correctly.
As a side note – make sure to grab EVERYTHING that you can from the hospital while you are there.
Most likely the nurses will help you pack somethings up, but don’t be afraid to ask for extras. You will especially want some of those giant diaper like pads for the first few days.
Some items that you want to snag include:
- All care items for you
- Numbing spray and/or foam
- A squirt bottle
- Pads and mesh underwear (super attractive, right? ;-))
- Diapers (if they’re there, may as well grab them)
- Formula samples
- Swaddling blankets (one of the nurses at our hospital told us not to take our blanket because they reuse them…the one who was there when we were discharged didn’t complain.)
- Grippy socks
One more TMI note. The hospital that I delivered at automatically sends mamas home with a prescription for stool softeners. If your doctor doesn’t offer, ask for one. Trust me, you will want it.
Alright mamas – What do you think? What was a must in your hospital bag? Anything you could have left behind?