There’s something about packing your hospital bag that makes reality really sink in. It’s both exciting (“I’m almost going to meet my baby!”) and a little anxiety-inducing (“I’m going to be going through labor soon!”). The first time I had to pack a hospital bag I felt intimidated…you’ll find many extensive lists online of what to bring. But now that I’ve been through it twice…I’ve been able to fine tune what you really need and what you don’t. Take it from a mom who’s been there. Here’s what I found to be essential!
What you pack in your hospital bag is all about comfort for you. Keep in mind that some hospitals provide some of the very basic hygiene items such as pads, small shampoos and soaps, and/or underwear. When on your hospital tour, ask which items will be provided so you can pack a little lighter, or you may choose to bring some of your own familiar items anyway for comfort. So, let’s get to that list!
-Pads….LOTS of pads: Postpartum bleeding is heavier than a period. Opt for heavy flow or better yet overnight pads.
-Nipple cream….you’ll need it while adjusting to breastfeeding.
-Hair ties and a hair brush.
-Basic toiletries: pack these in a ziploc bag for convenience, this way when you want to freshen up you can easily grab your bag and head to the bathroom. You’ll need: toothbrush, toothpaste, lightly scented deodorant, face wipes, hand sanitizer, and lip balm.
-Shower things: in another ziploc bag, pack all your shower necessities together for easy grabbing. Look for sample sized items when available…you’ll only use these a few times during your stay. Pack: shampoo, conditioner, face and body wash, unscented facial and body moisturizer, and a razor.
-Dry Shampoo: in some cases after birth, such as after a c-section, you won’t be able to take a shower right away. A bottle of dry shampoo will help you feel a little more like yourself until then!
My personal must-haves:
These items I found to be essential for my own personal comfort.
-Pillow: the hospital will provide you with some, however, I found it much more easy to rest and sleep with a pillow from home.
-Flip Flops: To use in the shower.
-BIG comfortable underwear: these will especially be important if you have a c-section…you’ll want underwear high enough that they won’t dig into your incision site.
-Snacks (Protein bars, nut bars, nuts) and water bottles: I found these to be perfect for adding on to what the hospital provides in terms of food.
-Slippers and socks: Your feet may have some swelling after birth; slippers are also easier to put on than shoes for trips to the bathroom or nursery.
-Phone Charger: you’ll need to make sure your phone stays charged for all those pictures you’ll be taking of your new bundle!
-Book/Magazine: you’ll want these for down time in between feeding the baby and visits from family and friends.
⁃ 4 PJs with buttons down the front: these make it easier to breastfeed
⁃ 1 going home outfit for you: I suggest a maxi dress or maternity leggings and baggy top. Keep in mind that your belly doesn’t shrink immediately, and in the days after birth most women fit into whatever fit them at about 6 months pregnant.
⁃ 2 Nursing tops
Yes, you’ll be coming home with one more person than you left the house with! As with toiletry items, you’ll find that some hospitals provide some of these baby items. Contact your hospital beforehand to find out, or bring these to be prepared.
⁃ 5-7 Sleepsuits: many hospitals provide a basic shirt for your baby, but it feels nice to dress your baby in things you personally picked out for him/her!
⁃ Baby hat: to keep that tiny head warm!
⁃ Diapers: even if your hospital provides these, still pack 3-4 in your diaper bag in case of any surprise blowout diapers on the ride home.
⁃ Baby Wipes: Waterwipes are my personal favorite!
⁃ Cotton balls: Some hospitals prefer that in the first few days you use cotton balls with warm water instead of wipes.
⁃ Going home outfit: have fun with this one! A lot of parents spend some time picking out this special outfit. Some save it for any future babies!
⁃ Formula (If choosing to not Breastfeed)
⁃ Baby Blanket
– Muslin Cloth for swaddling
⁃ Birth plan (If you have one)
⁃ Insurance Card and ID card, as well as any paperwork the hospital requires
– Change for vending machine and parking
Last but not least, don’t forget these important extras!
⁃ Gift for siblings: with all the attention on the new baby, older siblings can sometimes feel overwhelmed and left out. A gift can help stave off some jealousy!
⁃ Gift and card for hospital staff
– Clothes and toiletries for partner: birth is often a long and drawn out process. Your partner may need/want to change or freshen up from time to time.
– Car seat: many hospitals won’t let you leave without one. Keep this in the car until the day you go home.
And there you have it! It helps to print out this list and cross off each item as you pack it so you have a visual reminder of what’s left to do. Plan to be fully packed by the time you’re about 36-37 weeks, There’s a lot to be planned for after you have your baby, so it helps to prepare as much as you can now! And don’t forget to savor those last few weeks of pregnancy before your baby makes her big arrival!