This is my 3rd time packing a bag for delivery at the hospital and I have learned a thing or two about what you do – and don’t – need in the hospital. I’ve delivered with both a c-section and a nonsurgical delivery stay and the stuff you need is similar, but you will be at the hospital about 5 days with a C and about 2-3 with a vaginal birth. Here’s the ultimate hospital bag checklist:
- An easy swaddle – the nurses at the hospitals are baby burrito making PROS. They can use whatever scrap of cloth is handy and swaddle your baby like it’s still in the womb. My husband and I never could. Bring a swaddle that keeps it simple, or just take advantage of the nurses’ swaddle skills.
- Going Home Blanket – my babies have all been wrapped in the same blanket leaving the hospital. A good, easy way to start a tradition.
- Footed, One Piece Sleepers – don’t waste your time with anything really fancy – brand new babies need to be bundled. Bring 2-3 one piece sleepers.
- Going Home Outfit – don’t get too fancy here, but it is fun to have something special in mind for bringing home baby.
- Hat – little itty bitties can’t regulate their temps well, hence the newborn hats from the hospital. If those aren’t your style, bring your own – I love the look of knotted newborn hats.
- Car Seat + Base – can’t leave without this, so make sure you have the seat and base ready to roll before you leave for the hospital. We never installed ours early, just had it by the door ready and waiting.
- Important Papers – bring a stapled, printed copy of your license, insurance card, birth plan if you have one, and pediatrician’s contact info. Makes it SO MUCH EASIER than having to pull everything out in the middle of contractions.
- Comfy Socks – your temp goes up and down from all the post-birth hormones, plus your feet might not fit into whatever shoes you walking into the hospital wearing. Cozy socks will make you feel better about shuffling around the hospital. Bring a couple pair.
- Robe – whether you give birth vaginally or via cesearean, there are so many nurses and doctors who need to check you out constantly. A robe makes it easier to disrobe (ha, ha) for these checks. Plus, super easy to pop it open when it’s time to nurse.
- Great Cardigan or Jacket – for pics and looking decent when there’s family around.
- Black Leggings / Dark PJ Pants – trust me, you want to wear something dark on the bottom. Super-soft leggings or pj pants with a very easy waistband are essential.
- Tunic Tops – pack a couple blousy, soft, comfy tunics to cover the bump – you’ll still have one :).
- Going Home Outfit – you’ll want something loose and comfy for going home in. A maxi dress works great in the summer but this time around, I’m packing some comfy leggings with a big tunic to cover my huge pad diaper ;).
- Comfy Shoes – sometimes labor and the fluids can make you SWELL. A lot. You’ll want something on your feet when you get up and shufflin’ around, so make sure it’s a pair that can accommodate a fatter foot.
- Nursing Bras – with my first, I waited to buy nursing bras at the hospital because I wasn’t sure how big my chest would be.
- Breast Pads – even if you don’t plan to breastfeed, you will leak. Seriously, your breasts will leak colostrum and/or milk and you’ll want these to soak it up before your clothes get all milky.
- Nipple Cream – if you have a brand you like, bring it! I prefer the Medela lanolin over the Lansinoh. Personal preference but I’m packing the Medela.
- Late Night Snacks There’s nothing in this world like post-labor, new-nursing hunger. Snacks I’ll be packing: everything pretzel crisps, granola bars, raw almonds.
- Earplugs and/or Eye Mask – with my last baby, we were right by the nurses station and it was LOUD all.night.long. You really do need your sleep after having a baby, so try to make it happen, even if it means wearing earplugs or wearing an eye mask.
- Your Own Pillow – hospital pillows are NOT comfy. I bring my own pillow from home every time and never regret it. You will want to have a pillowcase you don’t care about throwing away just in case, and I wouldn’t bring my favorite pillow of all time, because there’s always a chance it could get ruined.
- Water Bottle My hospital gives you a large (JUMBO) cup with a lid and straw, which is great, except it can and will spill if it gets tipped. I’ll be packing my favorite one hand, leak proof water bottle for my next stay.
- Slippers – if socks aren’t your jam, pack a pair of comfy slippers.
- Flip Flops – for the shower, if you’re picky about that sort of thing.
- Heating Pad – there are some – ahem – aches and pains associated with labor. Your hospital probably won’t have a heating pad for you but it would be SO nice to have one for anything that hurts.
- Dry Shampoo – essential for any mom but especially if you have a c-section and can’t shower right away.
- Toothpaste/Toothbrush – this is a given ;).
- Towel from Home – in my experience, the hospital towels cover only my left thigh and absorb almost nothing, so I’m bringing my own towel for shower time.
- Chapstick – the hospital air is really drying so pack a chapstick or two.
- Lotion – see above RE: dry hospital air.
- Deodorant – another given but especially important if you have a c-section and can’t shower right away.
- Brush/Comb – another essential.
- Makeup – I’m talking the basics here – concealer, mascara and maybe eyeliner. Whatever will make you feel pretty postpartum.
- Hair Stuff – elastics and/or bobby pins, anything to keep your hair off your face.
- Vision Stuff – glasses are a good idea, even if you almost always wear contacts.
- Phone + Charger – for all those texts you’re going to have to send announcing baby’s arrival.
- Camera + Charger – bring the “real” camera for pics of baby + visitors with baby.
- Laptop + Charger – there’s a lot of downtime at the hospital… perfect for Netflix and browsing.
- Hair Straightener / Curling Iron – whatever you use to feel normal and style your hair with besides a blow dryer (most hospitals have blow dryers).
- Sound Machine / Bluetooth Speaker / Alexa Echo Dot – I’ve been OB.SESSED. with our new Alexa Dot for playing music (deep sleep mix every night!) but anything to block out the hospital sounds would be great. If you have a small bluetooth speaker or sound machine, I’d pack it.
- Waterproof Crib Sheet – for the ride to the hospital. My water has never broken on its own but I always have a fear of it breaking in the car. Gross.
- Gift for Your Bigs from Your New Little – obviously if it’s your first baby, there’s no need for the baby to be “giving” anyone a gift. But each time we’ve added a new baby to our family, the baby has gotten it’s older sibling(s) a “nice to meet you” gift. Helps them get off on the right foot ;). I’ll have my big’s gifts from their new baby sibling wrapped and ready to give at the hospital.
- Big/Little Clothes – I love matching “hospital” shirts. This time, a girlfriend of mine made me a “big”, “mid” and “lil” shirt for each of the kids to wear for a photo opp. Adds to the excitement for the older siblings :).
- Picture Props – my hospital has photographers who visit you in-room. If you’re planning to take advantage, pack any photo props (special blankets, booties, etc) you want for babe’s newborn session.
WHAT TO SKIP
- Baby Mittens – I have never used these at home or in the hospital. Most onesies and sleepers have foldover sleeves to block baby’s little fingernails from scratching his/her face.
- Baby Gowns – the gowns just aren’t for me – I favor onesies or sleepers.
- Tons of Outfits for Baby – changing a brand new baby’s clothes 3xs/day is not easy! They’re still so curled up, it’s tough to change their clothes. No need to pack their whole closet.
- Gifts for Nurses – no, I’m not a monster! Just wait to send something or drop something off AFTER your stay. The reason? You may get a really great nurse for whom you want to give something extra special or personal. So I just hold off until after we’re home to send something fab.
- Diapers and Wipes – the hospital has them and you’re paying for them… use them and take what you don’t use!