What’s in my Hospital Bag?

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There are sooooo many lists out there of what to bring in your bag to the hospital. I think it really depends on the person, but I thought I’d write about what I packed for my first baby to give you just another opinion 🙂 FYI…the pictures in this post are of what I actually packed, but I have since edited the post to only include what I used.

Mom, Dad, and Baby

One of the things I wish more people wrote about was what they brought for their husbands. My husband is so chill, so I knew I needed to make a list of things for him to bring and pack some things for him. We ended up going to labor and delivery and sent home one night, so it was kind of a wake-up call to him that he actually needed some things at the hospital, like a pillow haha! When we actually went in to deliver this baby girl, he was be a bit more prepared 🙂 I made a list further down on this post of what to pack for Dad.

What I packed for myself (Mom)

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Clothing (think labor, post-delivery, and going home)

In the hospital, especially if you plan to breastfeed and do lots of skin to skin, I would suggest that you simply plan on wearing the hospital gowns. I preferred to wear the regular gown (not the breastfeeding one) while in the hospital because the breastfeeding ones have giant holes that aren’t covered, so I felt really exposed when I wasn’t breastfeeding. Plus, the best way to learn breastfeeding is to keep your baby right close and skin to skin with you, so you don’t really leave anything on while feeding anyways, just cover up/keep baby warm with a swaddle blanket or sheet with baby underneath.

  • Flip-flops
    • I brought some cheap flip-flops to wear in the shower or while walking around. I even ended up wearing mine home! I suggest bringing ones that are a size bigger than normal for you because, trust me, your feet will be way swollen after delivery and it may be hard to fit in you normal size for a few days!
  • Nursing sleep bra
    • I packed a nursing sleep bra, which I only used going home from the hospital. Since this was my first baby, my milk didn’t come in until 5 days postpartum, but if you milk comes in really fast then you may end up using it to hold breast pads. It’s easiest to just not worry about the bra while you are figuring out breastfeeding.
  • Sweater (with zipper/buttons)
    • I packed a simple zip-up sweater to wear in case I got cold. I love hoodies, but didn’t want to bother with having to pull something over my head to nurse. I only used it while going to/from the hospital.
  • Hands free pumping bra
    • My baby struggled with nursing, so I had to make sure to pump when we couldn’t get her to latch. I had my mom go buy me a hands-free pumping bra about halfway through my stay and I used it a bunch.
  • Going home clothes
    • For some, this means a T-shirt and loose sweats. For others, it is a nightgown. I wore a nightgown because it meant nothing around my waist. You won’t need any undies because you get to wear the snazzy mesh undies the hospital provides for you 😉

Toiletries

  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Floss
  • Mini shampoo and conditioner
  • Mini bar or bottle of body soap
  • Mini face wash
  • Mini lotion
  • Mascara/Makeup (optional!)
  • Deodorant
  • Hair brush
    • My mom and sister were so good to braid my hair before and after delivery (multiple times during each!). I suggest bringing a nice everyday brush (not travel size) because your hair will get messy and tangled.
  • Hair spray and/or detangler
    • I wish I had brought detangler! And something I absolutely don’t regret bringing is my hair curl spray. My mom and sister used it after braiding my hair to help things stay in place. Plus, it smelled so good and made me feel a little more put together.
  • Hair ties (I wrapped them around my hair brush so they wouldn’t get lost in my bag)
  • Chap stick
  • Glasses/contacts
    • I brought my glasses, even though I usually wear contacts, because they were easier to use. Don’t forget the case and solution if you choose to bring contacts.

Other

  • Journal
    • I packed my journal in case I had the urge and energy to write down anything related to my baby’s birth. Sometimes I can’t sleep after big events like this until all my thoughts are safely written down. I didn’t end up using it, but I don’t regret bringing it either. I do wish I would have written in it, though. I think it would have helped me organize my thoughts after birth. I remember trying to sleep for the first time after the birth and not being able to because the whole labor and delivery kept running through my mind.
  • Car seat cover– I made a car seat/nursing cover out of some stretchy knit fabric and it was so cute and easy!
  • Snacks (for mom and dad)
    • I packed some granola bars, pretzels, fruit snacks, gum, and change for the vending machine just in case we needed to refuel. My husband and I each picked out a “celebration treat”- I got a chocolate bar and he got Sour Patch Kids. You may want some mints/gum as well. Some moms say gum or hard candy helps their mouth not get so dry during labor, but you will have to ask your hospital if it’s okay for you to suck on something during labor. Generally if it’s sugar-free it’s okay.
  • Nursing pillow
    • I used my Boppy nursing pillow as a pillow for myself and for nursing.
  • Water bottle
    • Something you can drink from one-handed. They do provide you with one in the hospital, though, so this isn’t a necessity. I’m just attached to my water bottle… Sometimes it was nice to have 2 full bottles because you get really thirsty after delivery and while breastfeeding.
  • Phone charger with LONG cord
    • I’m talking a 10 ft long cord! Hospitals have limited outlets available, so bringing a long cord will ensure you can have your phone/tablet nearby. Plus, it’s nice to have around the house later for when you’re breastfeeding and need to charge your phone but may be far from an outlet.
  • Folder to keep paperwork in (discharge papers, educational materials, etc.)
    • Include any paperwork from your OB/GYN
    • Bring a copy of your birth plan, printed out
  • Phone
  • Camera (plus any extra batteries, and don’t forget to charge them!)
  • Wallet with insurance card and ID– keep somewhere handy for when you arrive, like in your jacket pocket, not deep in your suitcase.
  • Eye cover
    • For getting some sleep…hopefully! I used mine a lot because I liked to keep at least the bathroom light on at night for when my baby was feeding. Bring one for the hubby, too!
  • Breast pump
    • Keep in the car just in case. My hospital had a really nice pump that they brought in just after delivery and it was a life saver.
  • Games/activities/entertainment/book
    • Who knows, you might get really bored while you’re waiting for contractions to start if you’re being induced, etc. I recommend downloading some movies onto your device, bringing some small games, and/or a book. Don’t forget headphones!
  • Headphones
  • Labor props
    • Every mom has different things she plans to use for labor to comfort her. I brought and used the following:
      • My phone ready with relaxation sounds/music
      • Headphones
      • Wash cloth to get wet and put on my forehead- I actually ended up just using the hospital’s washcloths, but was glad I brought one just in case there wasn’t one handy
    • Some moms have suggested other tools, like:
      • Spray bottle of water/mineral water
      • Hand-held fan
      • Massage oils/lotions
      • Essential oils (lavender, orange, peppermint)
      • Rice bag to warm up and put on your lower back (although most hospitals have some sort of heating pack you can use)
      • A towel to use as counter pressure (you put it behind your back and pull forward)
    • Check with your hospital to see if they have larger labor props you can use, like the peanut ball, exercise ball, grab bars, etc. I used the peanut ball a lot and think it helped labor progress for me.
    • *I suggest leaving the essential oil diffuser at home since they generally aren’t allowed in the hospital (although you can usually use essential oils on your skin, like putting the oil just under your nose). They don’t want the smells getting into the hospital ventilation system because some patients have sensitivities to smells.

What I packed for baby

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  • Kimono style shirt
    • These are really nice for newborns because you don’t have to pull anything over the umbilical cord. Most hospitals provide these or other shirts to use, though, so they aren’t exactly necessary. I did like having them for when we got home for the first week or two.
  • Going home outfit
    • Many moms’ favorite decision: what will their baby wear home from the hospital?? At first, I got so excited about the cute nightgowns I had for my baby girl and that’s what I planned as her going-home outfit. But then a day later I realized that a baby nightgown won’t work with the car seat straps! So make sure you pack something that has legs– like footie pajamas or a onesie and pants
  • Blanket and swaddle
    • I made a cute stretchy swaddle blanket for my little one that I packed just for fun/pictures. Make sure to also bring along a warmer blanket to put over your little one in the car seat. You can’t take hospital blankets home. It was nice having a thicker and bigger blanket to cover baby and me while we were nursing since the ones provided were really small. My baby was tall, so that probably didn’t help… A flannel receiving blanket or fuzzy (ex. minky) blanket are nice to have.
  • Hat, mittens, and socks
    • For the ride home/cute pictures and to keep them from scratching their face (or you!) until you trim their fingernails. Hospitals provide a hat, but I loved having one that was cute that I had made 🙂

What I packed for Dad

Well, I didn’t actually pack much for my husband. But here’s what I suggested he bring:

  • Laptop (my husband is in school, so he worked on his homework while we were waiting for labor to start since I was induced)
  • Charging cables (for phone, laptop, etc.)
  • Button-down shirt (for skin to skin)
  • Sweatpants (double as pjs and real clothes)
  • Socks
  • Shoes/slippers/flip flops– he can decide what he wants to wear
  • Phone
  • Wallet
  • Jacket/sweatshirt
  • Headphones
  • Ear plugs (for sleeping through the screaming laboring woman in the next room…)
  • Pillow
  • Sleeping bag or blanket
  • Toiletries
    • Toothbrush, toothpaste, razor, shaving cream, after-shave, comb/brush, hair gel, deodorant, etc.
  • Underwear 
  • Water bottle
  • Tylenol/ibuprofen (mom does not need to bring any medications for herself, but dad might need something)

What you do NOT need to bring to the hospital

  • Medications for Mom/Baby
    • If you take any medications, including prenatal vitamins, your hospital can provide those for you. In fact, most hospitals do not want you taking your own pills so that they can keep a record in their system of everything you take. If you have a prescription, take a picture of the bottle/prescription so that you can tell the physician exactly what and how much and when you take your medication.
  • Maxi pads
    • Some moms bring their own because they say the hospital ones are uncomfortable, but I doubt you’ll care for the first day or two when you are bleeding so much. The hospital ones are super absorbent and long.
  • Panties
    • Again, some moms bring their own. But the hospital provides mesh panties to help hold down the ice pack and maxi pad. Plus, they are disposable so you don’t have to worry about throwing away your nice panties.
  • (Generally) Tucks pads/Dermoplast spray
    • Most hospitals provide witch hazel (Tucks) pads and some sort of cooling/numbing spray. You can check with them beforehand, though, if you’re not sure if your hospital does.
  • (Generally) Nipple cream/Nipple shields and sometimes nursing pads
    • Again, check with your hospital if you’re unsure
  • Diapers/wipes
    • The hospital has plenty of diapers and wipes for your baby. And you get to take home anything that they bring into your room.
  • Socks
    • The hospital will provide some grip-bottom socks you can use if you want. My feet were too hot to wear socks or slippers, so I mostly just wore flip flops.
  • Pacifiers
    • I packed one because I didn’t plan to use a pacifier until we had breastfeeding down. I wanted to be prepared just in case we were in a pinch and decided to use one. Turns out, our little girl loves her pacifier. The hospital provided us with some to use, though, so I didn’t end up needing the one I brought.
  • Laundry bag/plastic bag
    • The hospital has plenty of personal belongings bags that you can use for dirty clothes/extra stuff.

Optional Items (Things other moms have said they packed)

  • Makeup remover
  • Robe
  • Portable charging pack
  • Pillow (I used my Boppy and the hospital pillows)
  • Hair styling essentials- hair spray/gel, hair dryer, curler, etc.
  • Large T-shirts (V-neck for breastfeeding) or Nursing tank tops
  • Sweats/Leggings/Loose PJ pants
  • Depends/Always Discreet underwear
  • Razor
  • Slippers
    • This is something that every mom I have read about has in their hospital bag. I recommend getting the slip-on kind so that you don’t have to bend over at all. However, I never used my slippers because I was too hot. If you get cold easily, they may be of more use to you.
  • Towel
    • I packed my travel microfiber towel– it is soft, dries really quickly, and folds into practically nothing. Plus, mine came with a hand towel that is great for washing my face, etc. However, I ended up using hospital towels because I didn’t have to wash or dry them.
  • Nursing Pads
    • My amazing mom made me a bunch of washable nursing pads, so I packed a few of those and threw in some disposables pads that I had received as samples. However, I didn’t need them until after my milk came in and I was already home. If you need some in the hospital, I’m sure they will have some for you to use.
  • Thank you cards/pen
    • On recommendation from a friend, I packed a couple thank-you cards and a pen in my bag. My friend also likes to bring a treat, like a box of fruit snacks, for the nurses/doctors/aides on the unit.
  • Blanket
    • Hospital blankets and sheets are scratchy, so I packed a fuzzy blanket for myself just in case. I was too hot to use it, though. If anything, I just used the fuzzy minky baby blanket my mom made for us.
  • Burp cloths
    • I packed 2 just in case, but didn’t use them. My milk hadn’t come in yet by the time we left, so there wasn’t any spit up to clean up.

Don’t forget the car seat!!

Among all the things you pack, make the car seat a priority! Keep the base in the car and the car seat either in the car or by the door. I suggest practicing (with your husband) putting the car seat in the car around 36-37 weeks pregnant, or earlier. Some car seats are difficult to install, and you may need to attend a car seat installation class or stop by the police/fire station to have someone help you install the seat. Plus, it’s hard to put the seat in when you are farther along and don’t feel like doing anything!

How will I remember everything?

Not all of the things I planned to bring to the hospital were available to go in my bag when I packed. For example, I still needed my wallet, phone, and charging cable until we went in to have the baby. So I made a list of all the things I needed to add to my bag last-minute. The list ensured I didn’t forget anything and allowed me to give the last-minute packing job to my husband in case I wasn’t feeling it.

How to organize your bag

A hospital bag will have so many things- some for labor, some for after delivery, and some for going home. My favorite way to organize all the things in my bag is to use packing cubes! You can find these on Amazon or virtually anywhere these days. I used one for my labor items, one for mommy items (clothes, breastfeeding, etc.), one for toiletries, and one for baby (in the diaper bag). This way, you don’t have to dig through your whole bag to find one item. Instead, you can just pull out the appropriate cube with what you need at the time.

How do I avoid feeling like I’m “moving in” to the hospital?

At first, I dreaded the idea of coming into the hospital with pillows, blankets, and bags and having to drag them from one room to another after delivery. The best solution I have come up with is to keep things that are bulky or you aren’t sure you’ll need in the trunk of your car. You can always send out your husband/family member to grab something if you need it.

When should I be packed?

Generally, you should have your bag packed around 35-36 weeks. But you don’t have to have absolutely everything at that time. I waited until I was 37 weeks to put the car seat in the car, along with pillows, sleeping bag, etc.

That’s it! Overall, I recommend keeping it simple, but don’t be afraid to pack something you think you might want. You can always keep it in the car until you know you need it. Good luck!

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