What to Pack in Your Hospital Bag
Here is the secret no one tells you – all you need to bring to the hospital in order to have a baby there is your pregnant self. Even a cell phone charger you can probably borrow from the nurses. But, if you are reading this article chances are you are trying to be a little more organized than that. Here is a minimal list of things we found to be useful during labor and the hospital stay with a new baby. The list is best organized into 4 categories: things you will need during labor, things you will need after, things for the baby, and for your partner.
Small bag for labor:
- Papers. Driver’s license, insurance card, birth plan (which you will probably not have much time to look at), etc. Also a credit card and cash for vending machines.
- Laboring devices. Depending on how natural-birth-oriented and fancy your hospital is, they may or may not provide you with a birthing ball, inflatable peanuts and spiked massage balls. The birthing ball is probably the largest and most inconvenient item to pack, so try to find out in advance if it is available at the hospital. If not, and you have your mind set on having a natural birth, we would strongly encourage you to bring your own. Same goes for the peanut balls, which are used for positioning during labor. Massage balls are not as bulky, but it comes down to personal preference if you want to use them or not.
- Cord blood banking kit. Whether to use cord blood banking or not is worthy of a separate discussion; but if you opted for it and already have your kit, don’t forget to bring it!
- Tech. Your phone, obviously. Nowadays this also doubles as a music player, reading material, and a camera. Don’t forget the charger.
- Eyeglasses, if you wear them.
- Hair ties. Because you don’t want your hair in your face while pushing.
- Lip balm. With all the mouth breathing, your lips are going to get dry very quickly. Pack one that is easy to apply.
- Something to wear. A birthing gown and socks are provided by the hospital, but if you are set on bringing your own make sure that the gown has shorter sleeves, in case you need an IV put in, an opening in the back, in case you need an epidural (even if you are not planning on it), and access for breastfeeding and skin to skin in the front. Socks are just socks, but non-skid are better.
- Snacks and hydration. The policy on this varies from one hospital to another, but if yours allows you to eat and drink during labor you may want to bring a few of your favorite snacks with you. Water will be provided, but if you want your Red Raspberry Leaf Tea, or some lemon infused water you better bring your own.
- Lotion and/or water spray.
Mom’s hospital stay:
- Nightgown. While a hospital gown will be provided to you, we feel having your own nightgown to wear during your hospital stay is important. Having a gown style that works for you will be more comfortable, and can make you feel more human and even attractive. Stick to soft, stretchy, natural fabrics, a simple silhouette and minimal decor. Remember to make sure your gown has access for breastfeeding.
- Nursing bras. Bring the soft stretchy ones without molded cups, as your breast size will be changing rapidly in those first days.
- Comfy leggings. You could spend all day in the hospital gown, or in your nighty, but why would you want to? Dark colored leggings with high waistband are an ideal option for those early postpartum days, because they provide gentle support and coverage for your midsection.
- Tops. We think roomy tees work best, but go with whatever feels right for you. Just keep the breastfeeding access in mind when deciding.
- Warm cardigan or robe. To wrap yourself in if it gets chilly.
- Nipple cream. We recommend using one that is not lanolin based and does not contain beeswax.
- Toiletries. Yes, the hospital has shampoo and soap. No, you probably will not want to use those. Bring whatever constitutes your minimal daily routine: a face wash, moisturizer, shampoo, and deodorant. If you are a make-up girl, bring whatever essentials you can’t live without.
- Dry shampoo. In case you are too exhausted, or not allowed, to shower this will come in very handy.
- Simple flip flops. For the shower, or just to wear around the hospital ward.
- Nursing pillow. Some hospitals have these on hand, though most don’t. It may or may not be comfortable for you to nurse with the pillow, but having this option to try is always helpful.
- Snacks. The hospital will feed you on schedule, but you may not like what they serve or get hungry in between meals and even at night. Pack some protein or granola bars for those times. Lactation cookies also make a great hospital snack. Some moms prefer to make a batch right before they leave for the hospital, in order to keep themselves occupied during the very early stages of laboring at home.
- Underwear. The hospital will likely provide disposable mesh panties, but, depending on how you feel about wearing synthetic mesh around your private parts and your opinion on the disposable movement in general, you might want to bring your own.
- Nursing pads. These are totally optional as your milk may not even come in while you are in the hospital, and the hospital will provide you some if it does. However, if you are set on using organic reusable pads from day one, bring your own.
- Sanitary pads. Again, the hospital will provide these, but if you have a strong brand preference bring your own.
- Pillow. Hospital pillows are usually thin, lumpy and noisy, but they get the job done. If you are a person who can only get comfortable sleep on a very specific pillow – bring it. Don’t bother if you are not that particular though, as you will probably be too tired to notice anyway.
- Towel. The ones in the hospital are on the thinner side, so if you are particular about your towel, bring it as well.
- Going home outfit. If you think the sweatpants and t-shirt will not cut it.
Baby’s hospital stay:
- Swaddles. The hospital will provide a swaddling blanket, but it can be scratchy, and has previously been used by hundreds of other babies and bleached repeatedly for sterilization. If that bothers you, bring your own.
- Clothing. Again, the hospitals do provide some clothing and may allow you to take it home with you, alleviating the worries about repeated use and bleaching. Keep in mind that it may not be made of materials you want your baby to wear. A few hats, shirts, onesies or footies, depending on the weather, should be enough for your time in the hospital.
- Diapers. Hospitals will provide you with diapers, but bring your own if you have a strong brand preference.
- Cold weather bunting for going home. Depending on your climate and season.
- Car seat for taking your baby home.
- Diaper cream, if you prefer using your own instead of Vaseline provided by the hospital.
- Baby book for hand and footprints, if you would like those made.
- Tech. Cell phone with charger. Remember to grab a camera, if you find your cell phone is not enough for such a big event.
- Change of clothes.
- Toiletries, such as a toothbrush, deodorant etc.