In addition to installing the car seat, packing your hospital bag is a monumental step in getting real about baby’s arrival. It’s a good idea to have things ready to go around week 36 of your pregnancy or even earlier if you’re high risk or expecting multiples. You may only stay in the hospital overnight, but it’s best to plan on being there at least for a few days. If you’re having your first baby, it can be tricky to decide exactly what to take without packing everything you own! Assuming you’ve got the basics down (phone, purse, insurance card, etc), here are some things you’ll definitely want to include in your hospital bag and some others you may want to leave out.
What To Pack In Your Hospital Bag, For You
● Anything you need to get through labor/delivery: First and foremost, you need to get through the big event! Things to consider to make it more comfortable: speaker and playlist, aromatherapy, a hair comb to grip for distraction, hard candy or ginger drops for nausea.
● Extra long phone cord: The nearest outlet in your hospital room may be right next to your bed… or it may be on a far wall. Go ahead and pack the longest cord you have.
● Snacks: You’ll have hospital meal service during your stay, but you may want to bring some things you’ll know you’ll like. The Thursday meatloaf special may not be your thing, and you don’t want to get hangry waiting on food delivery.
● Folder and notepad: You’re going to be coming home with lots of printouts and paperwork. The hospital may provide you with a folder, but you may want to bring something to keep things organized just in case. A notepad is great for writing down questions to ask your nurses or even to record your birth story when it’s fresh on your mind.
● Bed pillow: Hospital pillows are notoriously terrible, and postpartum sleep is invaluable. Bring your pillow from home and anything else that can make your stay even a teensy more restful.
● Belly binder: If you have a c-section (or even if you don’t), the hospital may provide an abdominal binder for you, but don’t count on it. Many c-section moms really enjoy the feeling of everything “being held together” after surgery, so you may want to get one in advance. Sometimes insurance will cover the purchase of a binder before you deliver, so check with your provider.
● Slippers and robe: You probably won’t be going for brisk walks around the hospital grounds after having a baby, so some cozy indoor slippers should suffice for your postpartum shoes. Your body temperature may be a bit up and down after giving birth (hello, night sweats), so having a robe nearby and other layer-able clothes is helpful.
What To Pack In Your Hospital Bag, For You If You’re Breastfeeding
● Nursing bras and pads: Your milk may not come in until you get home from the hospital, but you’ll want to be prepared if it comes in sooner (i.e. your breasts start leaking). Even if you opt to formula feed you’ll still want some kind of leak protection until things regulate.
● Nursing-friendly clothes: Things that button up the front are now your wardrobe staples!
● Breastfeeding pillow: If you plan on breastfeeding, go ahead and bring the pillow you plan on using for support because again, hospital pillows are notoriously terrible. If the hospital has a lactation consultant on staff, she may even be able to help position you and baby properly with the pillow so that you’re more prepared once you’re home.
What To Pack In Your Hospital Bag, For Baby
● Swaddle: The hospital may provide you with a velcro or zip swaddle (yay!), or they may just leave you with a traditional blanket. If you’re new to the mulsin or blanket swaddle game, it’s not always easy to get the hang of, and it may not be something you want to tackle in the first few days of baby’s life. Bringing a swaddle that velcros or zips can make that early time in the hospital much easier.
● Outfits in a couple of sizes: Babies are rarely born at the exact weight that’s been estimated at scans, so if your baby is anywhere close to being on the edge of 2 sizes you may want to bring outfits in both. A general rule is that Preemie = up to 6lbs, Newborn = 6-9 lbs, and 3M = 9-12.5 lbs. Footie pajamas are a safe bet. Extra points for ones that close with magnets or zippers instead of snaps.
What NOT to Pack In Your Hospital Bag
● Lots of different outfits for baby: Other than bringing things in a couple of different sizes, you don’t want to bring too many baby clothes to the hospital. You’ll be too focused on survival to be changing him in and out of cute outfits!
● Lots of outfits for mama: Depending what your birth recovery looks like, you may be doing well just to change out of a hospital gown!
● Nice loungewear: Don’t bring anything too fancy that you’d be upset about if it got stained. You will be bleeding after giving birth, so darker colors will help mask potential bloodstains.
● Underwear: You may throw some in just in case, but even if you have a c-section there’s a really good chance you’ll just be wearing the hospital-provided stretchy postpartum underwear. Or adult diapers. Leave the cute panties at home.
● Breast pump: Some may argue that the hospital lactation consultant (if they have one) can help show you how to use your pump if you choose to breastfeed. But you’ll probably want to spend the few moments you’ll have with her going over actual breastfeeding instead of pumping. If you’re looking for things to cut from your list, leave the pump at home for later.
● Diapers, wipes, diaper cream, burp cloths: The hospital will provide you with all the essentials for baby. Unless you’re dead set on using a specific brand, don’t worry about packing these.
● Hemorrhoid treatment: Many women get hemorrhoids as a result of vaginal delivery, but if you opt to use Labor Guard during your birth, you won’t have to worry about this common compilation of postpartum recovery. Labor Guard may allow you to leave the Preparation H at home!
If you’re planning on having a spouse, partner, or someone else stay with you at the hospital, go ahead and keep things simple and have them pack their own bags. That way, you can more quickly grab what you need without rifling through a bigger suitcase. Packing cubes are also super helpful for smaller baby items and will continue to be useful as your kiddo gets older.
All of this preparation may seem overwhelming now, but you’ll have your baby in your arms before you know it, mama. Once you’re changing diapers and doing middle of the night feeds, all this delivery prep will seem like a distant memory!