What to Pack in Your Hospital Bag
Although the hospital will have the basic necessities, it really helps to have a well-packed hospital bag before you go into labor. The items you take with you can make life more comfortable and your recovery easier. If you’re wondering what to pack in your hospital bag, read on because I’ll tell you what I used, what I didn’t, and what I forgot or wished I’d had. Plus my husband shares a few tips!
What I Used the Most
- New Mama Bottom Spray: This spray was a last minute addition to my hospital bag and boy did it make a huge difference! Everything is very sensitive down there after giving birth and while the peri bottle helps, this spray from Earth Mama Baby Angel was very comforting and soothing. I used it several times a day for weeks and wished I had two bottles. It’s a must-have item!
- Boppy Nursing Pillow: In the hospital I used the Boppy a lot to help with nursing but when I got home I decided to try sitting on it because I was in so much pain. It was a lifesaver! Sitting was truly excruciating without it and we couldn’t find the rubber donut pillow we had from the drugstore so it was very helpful during the first two weeks of recovery.
- Shampoo and body wash: I took a shower shortly after giving birth which felt amazing. I was too weak to shower after my first delivery but this hospital had a chair to sit on plus the epidural didn’t freeze my legs so I was in better shape for walking. The hospital provided me with an all-in-one wash but having your own shampoo, conditioner and body wash or a bar of soap makes you feel fantastic.
- Baby mittens: Those teeny baby nails are razor sharp so mittens are a must-have even if you have clippers. We have these Gerber ones and they work well.
- Baby hat: The hospital provided a hat but it would not stay on! Thankfully we packed a couple of our own and they were much easier to deal with. The nurse told me that newborns lose a lot of their body heat through their head so it’s important they wear a hat to keep their temperature regulated.
- Aden + Anais Bamboo Swaddles: These swaddle blankets are my new favorite baby item. They are soft like butter and were so wonderful against that new baby skin. They keep the baby warm without overheating them especially since our hospital kept the room pretty toasty.
- Nordstrom Baby Blanket: Our baby’s temperature dropped a little low that first day so we had to bundle her up. This blanket from Nordstrom was great for putting over the aden + anais blankets or a hospital blanket to get her temperature up. I have received a ton of compliments on this blanket which was a gift from grandma.
- Toothbrush and toothpaste: It is easy to forget basic items like a toothbrush but they make you feel so much better! My husband forgot his and he was pretty uncomfortable.
- Lip balm: There is nothing more uncomfortable than dry, chapped lips. Okay that is probably not true considering what happens during birth but it is definitely nice to have.
- Earth Mama Nipple Butter: This stuff is awesome! I highly recommend using it even before you start nursing. I had a lot of terrible nipple pain with my first and while it was easier with my second simply because I was experienced at breastfeeding, I know that the nipple butter helped a lot. I only had some discomfort during the first two weeks thanks to this stuff!
- Tucks Witch Hazel Pads: These help a lot and neither of my hospitals provided them. You’ll want plenty at home for recovery as well!
- A good camera: Don’t use your phone for all your hospital pictures – the quality just isn’t good enough. Bring your point-and-shoot camera or a DSLR and make sure someone is in charge of taking pictures. I have a friend who brought her camera but everything was so overwhelming that they didn’t get any good pictures and boy do they regret it. My sister and mom both took some great pictures for us.
- Deodorant: This is an obvious one but even with everything going on, I had my husband bring me my deodorant so I wouldn’t feel gross.
- iPhone and charger: Not that you’ll forget your phone but it is very helpful to have nearby. It’s fun to keep in touch with everyone and sometimes you’ll be the only one awake. Don’t forget the charger!
- Angel Baby Bottom Balm: We love this stuff! It smells great (lavender) and it is clear. Plus it is very effective and I prefer it to all the regular diaper ointments. I recommend getting the Earth Mama Angel Baby A Little Something for Baby Kit. It contains travel sizes of the shampoo/body wash, bottom balm, baby lotion, and baby oil. My baby is 9 weeks old and we haven’t finished any of them so they last awhile. Plus then you can see if you like them or not. The lotion smells a bit sweet for my tastes (orange vanilla) but everything is high quality with great nontoxic ingredients.
- Going home outfit for Mama: I wore Victoria Secret yoga pants, maternity undies, and a nursing tank from Target. I was in my hospital gown until I changed to go home so I did not use the other clothing I brought. I would have preferred sweat pants to be honest since the yoga pants were a little snug but it worked out. The most important thing is to be comfortable – not fashionable!
- Baby’s going home outfit: This is always fun to choose beforehand and you can take a few cute pictures as you are heading home.
- Infant car seat: Our hospital did a car seat check before we went home and of course you’ll need one. Try and have it installed and ready several weeks before your due date. We love our Chicco Keyfit 30!
What I Didn’t Use
- Slippers and socks: My room was super clean and I didn’t leave it once until we went home so I just didn’t even feel the need to wear them. My husband is a germaphobe, however, so he wore socks the whole time and then threw them out before we left.
- Pajamas and robe: Everyone has a different postpartum recovery but although they looked a lot more comfortable than the hospital gown, I didn’t want to mess them up. Let’s just say things were pretty messy and leave it at that.
- Nursing cover:. I was really too tired to care about modesty and the nurses can’t help you much or see that breastfeeding is going well if you’re all covered up. Plus I had a private room! However, I do recommend my Bebe Au Lait Muslin Nursing Cover. It is way more breathable than the cheap cotton cover I had with my first. Plus, the coverage is great, the prints are beautiful, the muslin is super high quality, and the open neckline is very sturdy and you can see your baby easily. And your baby can see you which is also important!
- Nursing pads: I packed a few just in case but my milk didn’t come in for about 4 days anyway so they just weren’t needed. The ones from Lansinoh are great and you will need them once your milk comes in because they will be leaking all over the place, trust me!
What I Wished I’d Had
- Baby clippers: My first baby’s nails were attached to her skin at first so we didn’t need to clip them right away. My second baby was born with regular, long nails and she gave herself a big scratch even though we used mittens! I really wish I had packed some clippers. I really like these ones. Also, if clipping your baby’s nails terrifies you it’s totally normal. It’s hard and sometimes they cry even though you’re sure you didn’t hurt them!
- Small notebook and pen: I wish I had packed a small notebook to track wet and dirty diapers and nursing sessions. The nurses would ask questions (how many times, how long etc) and we were so tired that we had no idea! This info can also be recorded on your phone but a notebook would have been a very visual reminder to write things down.
- Newborn diapers: The hospital provided Pampers Swaddlers and sent home a couple with us but I had only stocked up on size 1 diapers so that is what I packed in my hospital bag. However they were way too big and everything leaked. I don’t remember using newborn diapers with my first but we used them for about a month with my second. I did end up getting Pampers Baby Dry because they are cheaper but I have to admit the Swaddlers are my favorite now.
- Snacks: I didn’t pack snacks and the hospital food was pretty terrible. It would have been nice to have some granola bars at least because I was ravenous the whole time! Thankfully my mom brought food when she visited and my husband ran out to Subway.
- My own pillow: I didn’t care about the pillows at all with my first baby but this time I really wished I’d had a softer, fuller pillow especially to help prop me when I was breastfeeding. The hospital pillows were terribly flat and plastic-y. It is a pain to pack a pillow but it might be worth it to you.
- Larger shoes: My biggest mistake was not packing sandals or sneakers. I went to the hospital wearing my Toms but they did NOT fit when I went home! My feet were very swollen and it was pretty embarrassing walking through the hospital to the parking lot with my toes just stuffed in as far as they could go and basically walking on top of the shoes. It was awkward to say the least especially since walking was already very difficult due to pain.
- A nursing friendly hospital gown: I never thought I would say this but I wish I had purchased a speciality hospital gown like this one (although I hate the name!) The hospital gowns were so huge and difficult to figure out. Plus they are NOT at all nursing friendly. Since I wore the gown all the time to avoid ruining my own clothes, it was a huge pain to get ready to breastfeed.
- Gifts or thank you notes for the nurses: I had three absolutely amazing nurses whom I will never forget. I wish I had taken the time to pack something to give them. I am sure a simple thank you note would have been much appreciated. Once you leave the hospital, time flies and things are very chaotic so it’s hard to do it after the fact.
Other Items You Might Want in your Hospital Bag
There are some items I didn’t pack or mention that you might want in your hospital bag simply because everyone has different preferences.
- Birth plan: I have to admit I did not create a birth plan for either of my deliveries but if you have one, don’t forget to pack it and keep a copy on your phone. (You can create a free birth plan on Earth Mama Angel Baby’s website)
- Baby wipes: We only used the hospital’s wipes but you might as well have some packed. My favorite are the Huggies wipes because they’re really thick and sturdy.
- Pacifier: If you’re breastfeeding, you might want to hold off on introducing a pacifier because it is best to have your baby nurse as much as possible to get your milk flowing but that is up to you. The best selling pacifier on Amazon is the Philips Avent Soothie but that’s all I know about pacifiers because neither of my babies would take one.
- Nursing bra: I find tanks a lot easier to deal with but if you won’t be using one, you might want a nursing bra instead. This one from Bravado is my favorite but Target has some nice ones (like this one from Gilligan and O’Malley) that are more affordable.
- Undies: The hospital will give you mesh undies that you can throw away but you might want to wear your own. It all depends on how you are feeling.
- Towel: If you feel weird about using the hospital towels, bring your own! It will be much softer that’s for sure.
- If you wear contact lenses, you’ll want your case and solution.
- Hair tie: If you aren’t able to shower, it will be nice to keep your hair out of the way.
- Makeup: I knew I would not even bother but some of my friends did and they looked great in their pictures!
- Baby memory book: You might want to put footprints in it or write everything down before you forget it.
- ID and insurance. Try and pre-register at your hospital long before your due date!
- Hand sanitizer. The hospital usually has dispensers on the walls but you might want a small one in your bag.
What My Husband Says to Pack for Dad
Dads need a few things as well!
- Toothbrush and toothpaste
- Change of t-shirt and underwear
- Phone and charger
- Socks to toss
- Flip flops for the shower
- I thought this was so sweet. My husband said he wished he had packed something to celebrate the birth and create a special “we did it!” moment. I know some men do “push presents” but he was thinking a box of gourmet chocolates. He knows me well!
- This isn’t something you would pack but he said it would be smart to get to know the food options nearby (restaurants etc) if the hospital isn’t in an area you know. That way it is easy and fast to run out and get something good to eat.
- His other piece of advice is to designate one person to update everyone so you don’t have to worry about texting 20 family members. So you update that one person and they are in charge of updating everyone else. It can get pretty overwhelming with everyone texting and/or calling to check on things!
Whew! That’s a lot but just remember this. You can go with nothing and still be okay. The hospital will take good care of you and you’ll manage just fine with the bare minimum. Best wishes to you as you prepare to welcome your baby! It’s a truly awesome experience.
What do you recommend moms-to-be pack in their hospital bag?