What’s in My Hospital Bag

What to Pack in Your Hospital Bag

You guys have been asking for this post for a while now, and today is finally the day! After weeks of tweaking this list, we finally have it nailed down. So how did I come to this? I started by asking the mom friends that I trust the most. I pooled their answers and wrote down what I thought made sense.

My friend Arielle has a great list on her site and went back after her labor to share what was helpful and what wasn’t.

Then I talked to my doula and doctor who both added a few more things. A lot of you have made some amazing suggestions too! Finally, in our first parenting class last week (which covered labor and delivery), our teacher gave us a hand out with a great list that made me rethink a few more items.

When I used to read other peoples’ lists, I thought the amount of stuff they were bringing was insane, but after extensive conversations with experts and moms, I really think most of this will be incredibly helpful. At this point, I feel like our list is rock solid, but definitely know if I’m missing anything.

8/11/17: I updated the list below with some notes in italics to let you know what I actually used and didn’t use. I hope this is helpful!

The bag itself

We’re taking two bags, this one for me and baby, and one for Anel so that while we’re there he doesn’t have to ask me where things are. I’ll go over what’s in both below.

For Mama

ID and insurance card: Both are in my wallet which is in my purse which is also coming with us. We pre-registered at the hospital so we don’t need to bring any other official paperwork.

Birth plan: Our birth plan is pretty loose (I’ll share it in the coming weeks), but my doula, Anel and I are all on the same page and want to make sure our doctors and nurses are on board too. We have a print out of our wishes to share when we get there. Didn’t even bring this out. We just talked to the nurses when we arrived!

Dopp kit: I filled my dopp kit with travel sizes of my everyday toiletries like cleanser, moisturizer, body lotion, toner, a toothbrush/toothpaste/floss, brush, deodorant, eye cream, a loofah (I’ve heard the towels/wash cloths at the hospital aren’t great), belly butter, and hair ties. I wish I had also brought a bath towel. The ones at the hospital were miniature and scratchy! It was also nice to have a razor… Shaving my legs made me feel human the day after labor. 

Make up bag: I might never need this but if we have visitors, I might swipe on some concealer. I was really glad I had this for when visitors came. It made me feel good to put in a little effort.

Lip balm: I always have it on me but everyone keeps telling me how much I’ll need it there! Yep.

Snacks: While I won’t be allowed to eat during labor, it will be nice to have some of my favorite nourishing snacks available for afterwards. I’ll also be bringing plenty of coconut water for electrolytes.

Grippy socks: I can’t tell you how many people have told me to bring grippy socks. They won’t let you walk around in regular socks at the hospital, but it can get cold in the room. Hence, grippy socks FTW! I didn’t use these once. I just slid on flip flops for the bathroom. The hormones made me really hot so socks were out of the question.

Nursing bras and nursing night gowns/shirts: For easy access. I love this maternity night gown because it’s super soft but also snaps open easily. I also have the matching robe which I’ll be bringing. I loved having this, and ended up sending Anel home to get a second one. Things get kind of gross in the hospital so it’s nice to have more than one option for sleeping in.

Zip up sweatshirt: To wear over nursing shirts if I get cold. I didn’t get cold at all but was glad I had it in case.

Loose sweat pants: These have been my longtime favorite pair. I have two so one is packed.

Going home outfit: Let’s be honest, I’ll probably end up wearing sweats, but if I feel like it I have a loose maxi dress on hand. I ended up in yoga pants and a loose top!

Phone charger: Obviously. Per your recommendations, I got an extra long charger and was so glad I had it! The outlet was far from my bed so it was nice to not have to stand up every time I wanted to plug it in.

Nipple cream: Everyone says this one is the best one out there. It was a life saver then and now. I can’t recommend this product enough. I’m still using it daily.

Belly balm: I’ve been using this one from The Honest Company for the last few weeks and I’m obsessed. It goes on smoothly and smells great too. I didn’t need or use this at all post-partum. 

Belly bandit. It seems silly, but apparently the tight post-partum belly bandit feels great after labor if you don’t have a c-section. Plus it helps hold everything in place. LOVE this… it’s helped to suck me back in. It’s hard to get used to but after a few days you forget about it.

Diffuser and essential oils: While I’m not planning to use any on my skin (I want the baby to learn my scent quickly without distractions), we do plan to use my diffuser during labor to help with nausea (peppermint oil) and to help calm down everyone in the room (lavender oil). We ended up not using it during labor, but it was so nice to have in our room afterwards. We would diffuse lavender oil at night and peppermint oil during the day to make the hospital room less stuffy.

Flameless candles: I used to make fun of people for bringing these but the only options in the room are blaring lights or pitch black so these make a great and comforting happy medium. Didn’t even take them out of the box!

Noise cancelling headphones: I have recordings from my hypnobirthing class that I’m planning to listen to when we arrive. I was so happy to have these once I got my epidural. I listened to music overnight before I started pushing.

Speakers: We also have portable iPhone speakers for calming music when the headphones are no longer an option. I  downloaded two labor and delivery playlists from Spotify that are incredibly calming. Didn’t use these because I had the headphones.

Flip flops: For the shower. Necessary.

For baby

Two onesies: One that’s newborn sized and one that’s 0-3 months. We have no idea how big she’ll be so we wanted to be covered for every scenario. The hospital gave us outfits for her to wear during our stay, but it was nice to have one to take her home in.

A hat: I found the cutest little newborn hat on Etsy that I want her to wear in her first picture. So so cute! We were glad we had it for the first photos.

Swaddle: This swaddling blanket (in pink stripe) will be so sweet to wrap her up in when we leave the hospital.

Breastfeeding pillow: I didn’t want to bring this at first because it’s so bulky but everyone I talk to says it’s necessary so our Boppy is coming along for the ride. I ended up forgetting it and wishing I had it there!

Going home outfit: We’re probably just going to put her in a tiny white onesie and swaddle her up. She can get fancy another day! Yep, she ended up in a plain onesie in the car seat with a blanket over her legs.

Organic formula: While I do plan to breast feed exclusively, I want to be prepared for any situation. If she ends up needing formula for whatever reason, I want to make sure it’s one that I feel ok with. Arielle and Aimee recommended this one that comes from Germany. Fingers crossed that I won’t have to use it, but if I do then I do. We didn’t end up using this but again, I was glad I had it as back up.

For Anel

PJs: We’ll be spending two nights there (Five if I end up needing a C-section) so he’ll want to be comfy.

Dopp kit: His dopp kit is packed full of travel sized toiletries, a toothbrush, razor, comb, and all of his everyday essentials.

Pillow and eye mask: Poor guy will be sleeping on a cot both nights so at least he can have some comfort with his own pillow. We assume there will be lights and people walking in and out of the room all night so hopefully the eye mask lets him get a little more sleep. He ended up going home and getting a blow up mattress as well because the cots were so uncomfortable. He told me to make sure I mention this to save all the new daddy’s out there!

Comfortable clothes: Not much to say here. Pretty much a no brainer! This includes socks and underwear obvs.

Noise cancelling head phones: In case he needs an escape.

Snacks: We have no idea how long I’ll be in labor so we want to keep him fueled at the hospital even if I’m not allowed to eat. We’ve stocked up on perishables like bars (he likes these), nuts, coconut water, and gluten free pretzels.

iPad: For reading, TV, and sending emails to our friends and family.

A bathing suit: Weird, right? I thought so at first too but our teacher at The Parent Collective said it’s helpful if I want relief in the shower at the hospital during labor. The partner isn’t allowed to be naked so a bathing suit helps. Ha! Definitely didn’t use this one.

Flip flops: Also for the shower.

Shop:

  • hithaonthego

    This is a solid list! I would recommend bringing a light pair of pants for the baby – you’ll have to unswaddle her when you put her in the car seat, and the blanket may slip off her little legs. Also, baby socks! I’m so thrilled for you and Anel!

    • Thank you! Everyone keeps saying leggings so adding to the list xoxo

  • Julie

    Pick up a bag of your favorite hard candy to have on hand. Hospitals are SO dry and it was the only thing that helped my throat feel better! I was allowed to have them right up until It was time to push!

  • Kristin

    Someone suggested to me an extra-long phone charger (available from Amazon). Goes a lot further than the traditional size. I thought it was a fantastic idea.

    • Meghan

      Or an extension cord for same reason, the outlet in my room was far from the bed. Good luck!

      • BRN

        Agreed on this!

        • Thank you all! Just bought a long phone charger from Amazon. It was only $11!

  • Emily

    I loved having my own pillow. Hospital pillows are the worst. I had an emergent c section and my stay was long than expected, so I was especially glad to have my down pillow to “sleep” on!

  • Michelle

    I brought a few pretty robes to wear myself – you will definitely have visitors and it just can make you feel a bit more put together!

    Also, bring your own stand up travel mirror for touch ups!

    Lastly, bring extra swaddles, I wish I had packed more than just the 1 I had for going home. My little one peed on that day 1 :/

    • Sarah

      Ditto on the robe. Someone recommended I bring one, it was great for nursing and having on when visitors came.

  • Brittany Olander

    oh man i’m just so excited for you! its so soon!!i had my daughter at a birth center, so we went home 4 hours after i popped her out- we didn’t need much! your list looks pretty good to me!

    xo, brittany
    mom two piece swimsuits on my blog today!
    http://www.notablob.com

    • Tiffany

      Would love your recs, Brittany, as I am also having a birth center birth in November. I do want to be prepared, though, should (heaven forbid) I need to be transferred to a hospital.

  • Lindsay

    A water bottle with a built-in straw was key for me during labor. It’s much easier to take a quick sip between contractions. If your husband is planning to do skin-to-skin with the baby, I’d suggest adding a zip-up sweatshirt. This way, he can stay warm and snuggle at the same time. Best of luck!

  • Anne [A Squared]

    This list is good! I’d also pack disposable wipes (for you). I had a c-section so showering was rough for the first day or two. The wipes were key for a quick freshening up and making me feel a little more like me. Good luck!!

  • Ashley

    Great list! I loved having my own pillow after delivery, especially since I ended up having a c-section and staying at the hospital for four nights (pro tip: put your own pillows in a non-white pillow case so they don’t get mixed up with the hospital linens!). I also wore my ugg slippers much more than grippy socks, though the socks may come in handy before delivery in case of…. leakage… :-/

  • Julie

    Great list! Both hospitals I delivered at gave me as many pairs of grippy socks as I needed. Hospitals are gross, and I was more than happy to throw them away when I left. Bring flip flops too – I hate sleeping in socks and it was easy to have them to slip on to get up and go to the bathroom. I’d also bring a sleeper instead of a onesie to bring the baby home so her skin doesn’t chafe against the car seat buckles. (Probably not a big deal but this always bothered me with my summer babies!) And finally, I definitely echo others’ suggestion of a robe. I spent most of the time in the hospital in a nursing tank and mesh undies, and I threw the robe on when we had visitors. I got a cheap cotton one from Target so I felt like I could toss it if it got gross (but it didn’t).

  • Kaitlin

    I wish I’d brought more clothes for my baby to wear while we were in the hospital. The hospital provided kimono tops but they didn’t fit well and weren’t very soft. I was happy we brought a few muslin swaddle blankets to wrap her up in while were there.
    I was theoretically allowed to eat during labor but had no interest in food, and then was ravenously hungry after the birth. My family brought us a bunch of good food, but you might want to have something fairly substantial on hand in case you deliver in the middle of the night and the cafeteria/nearby restaurants are closed.

  • Whitney Oesting

    bring your breast pump, just in case! You can leave it in the car! I was also really happy I had my laptop/ipad with a few movies so I could watch them (I got induced at 41 weeks and it took some time for everything to get going) and it helped distract me while my husband rested as well as keep me occupied at night the days following birth. I also brought our baby book so they could stamp my sons feet in it at the hopsital! Lastly, I sent my husband out the last day to buy thank you cards I wish I had brought them – I LOVED my L and D nurses and wrote them both thank you notes. Good luck!!

  • Ashley

    This list is solid and echoes most of what is on our list. There are a few things I have packed that I don’t see on here – a beautiful Pink Blush robe will be great to give you color and make you feel beautiful after labor while still being inexpensive enough if it gets dirty. Someone told me to have the husband pack a button down shirt so he can easily do skin to skin with the baby. Don’t forget your nice camera and charged battery etc as well as an extra long extension cord for your iPhone(s). Bo is actually bringing a dock charger for both ours. I would also recommend figuring out who you want on that initial, most important text list of “We are at the hospital and things are starting” as well as sharing with friends and loved ones what you want yoru hospital experience to be like. Our OB today mentioned this as yesterday she saw an overwhelmed mom have 5 girlfriends come meet her and she was just exhausted and told my OB she wished she’d told people to wait until home for visits.

    • Melody

      I second the robe! I was too exhausted and sore to change out of my hospital gown for visitors (many of whom came into the recovery room right after I gave birth!), so having a nice robe to put over my hospital gown made me feel less gross.

  • Tara

    Great list Julia!! I’d add your own pillow (I honestly wish I had had two, plus pillow case changes. If you use one for labor, you’ll definitely want to change the pillow case for recovery. Things get sweaty!), your own towels, a large spillproof tumbler or water bottle with a straw, Depends Silhouettes (got this suggestion from Brooklyn Blonde – so great and especially awesome when you get home), and a donut pillow to sit on after during recovery if you have a vaginal birth (I was so surprised that my hospital didn’t stock these!). Also, helpful to have your own Motrin stash, and your own stash of stool softeners for when you get home. TMI, but I’m sure you don’t mind lol! All in all, I’d say: have no shame in bringing a ton of stuff! The hospital is so bare-bones that I really felt that I needed almost everything I brought and actually had to leave some needed things behind because I live in Brooklyn and was ubering to the hospital! I’d just stash the extra pillow, towels etc in the car and you can send Anel out as needed. Almost there lady, you’ve got this!!!!

    • Melody

      I second the Depends! Things can get a little…messy…and I preferred wearing something disposable. Also, grab as many post-birth comfort supplies (padsicles, mesh underwear, Dermoplast (numbing spray)) as you can from the hospital. Ask for more if they don’t give you much!

  • Morgan

    GREAT list! I would also add nursing tanks. They are just so easy and can be worn with those cozy sweats and either a wrap sweater or robe. The ones from Target are great (Bravado or Gilligian and O’Malley brands). Facial wipes for yourself. I loved the Yes brand cucumber scented ones. You aren’t always allowed to shower right away, especially if you had an epidural so its a nice way to feel clean and fresh instantly. Nursing pads in case you leak, amazon has some great organic bamboo ones at a great price. The washable ones are great! This might be TMI but buy the numbing, pain relief, antibacterial spray by Dermoplast. You can get it at target. It DEFINITELY helps with the swelling and pain if you have a vaginal birth. Also definitely makes sure one pair of pants that you bring or the dress you are going home in is darker in color, just in case! Good luck!!! You are so prepared and that definitely helps relieve the nervousness!

    • Just bought some nursing pads and love the idea of facial wipes too. Thank you!

  • Erin

    A headband! Hair ties, yes, but a headband saved me when I pushed for three hours and just wanted all fly aways and hair off my face 🙂

  • Soo Peterson

    I’m glad you looked into great organic formulas. I have EBF for 9 months and am trying to wean and in doing research, both holle and hipp seemed to be the best.
    From my birth experience, a blanket and shoes/flips that are a size larger were key. I had an unplanned c section and I was just shivering from the cold right before the surgery (their blankets are so thin). Also, I was in labor for 20 hours before the surgery. With all of the fluids pumped into me, my legs and feet were sooo swollen. I couldn’t fit into the same shoes when I left the hospital. A cheapie pair of flips one size larger would be great.
    I never used more than 75% of the stuff I packed in my hospital bag, it never hurts to over pack! Rather have it and not need it.

    • Morgan

      I second the nail clippers!

    • We had some one bring a nail file – those nails really do come out sharp! We were scared to use clippers on those little bitty nails…

  • Katie

    Newborn mittens (socks work even better) or a sleeper that has the option to keep hands covered. Hospitals don’t have these things and babies come out with insanely sharp nails!

  • dcl

    Hi Julia! You might reconsider the outfit for baby girl for going home. Will you be taking her home in a car seat? If so, that won’t work with swaddling, since the car seat buckle will have to go between her legs, which will be all lumped together if you have her swaddled. Might want to think of another idea! Cute onesie, little going home dress?

    • After reading comments, we’re going with a onesie and leggings. Thank you!!!

      • Sara

        I wouldn’t do leggings. You have to be careful while the umbilical cord heals and falls off. Just zip up pajamas are the best for the first couple of weeks. Nothing with a waist.

        • dcl

          Excellent point! The waistband of the pants will likely hit right where her little umbilical cord “stump” is and be uncomfortable for her. By onesie I meant a one piece footed outfit, which I know some people call different things!

  • Neely

    I would do a cute onesie and baby leggings for going home. SUPER easy! we did that for our little one in Feb. Also take extra lounge pants and lots of extra nursing bras. YOU WILL LEAK. Nursing pads are also really helpful to sleep in. A workout headband, dry shampoo, and mints. Also take your own pillow and your own blanket. TRUST ME. My husband did too and at first he thought this was insane but he kept saying how glad he was he had it.

    • So many people keep saying that so I think I’m going to go for it! I have a cute pair of baby leggings so that is easy. Will bring more bras and pads too. Thank you!

      • Agree with blanket! and definitely nursing pads, there are organic cotton ones from Amazon you can buy and wash/re-use! That was one item I didn’t know of pre-baby!

  • I have one in there actually. Great call!!

  • Jessica Osgood

    After both of my kids I was so glad that the hospital gave me Tucks wipes. This really helped me. I also didn’t see a car seat for the ride home.

  • Michelle

    A longer length robe! I wore my all the time in the hospital! You’ll wish you had it when you don’t feel like wearing pants or a shirt but need easy access for feedings. Plus you can rock it with your grippy socks…

  • Jeanie Marie

    I second the dermoplast spray, or Pinterest an essential oil recipe for after delivery spray. Your body will thank you. Also, Hanes panties from target, only way to go after delivery/the first week and you can throw them away when done because they are so inexpensive. Good luck, you will do great!

    • Carrie Barnett Miller

      I second the oversized granny panties! You can toss them in a week or so but you will not want to be in your nice undies and the disposable ones they give you are not so great!

  • Zach Cat

    MENUS.

    Here is the deal if you give birth in the late evening/early morning hours the cafeteria at Stamford is CLOSED. And the only thing the delivery room can get you are saltine crackers….You can pack lots of “healthy” “nourishing” foods like granola bars but it won’t cut it if you haven’t eaten since the night before and have been laboring for hours! Make a list of who stays open 24 hours and delivers. I am going to look up and see if I still have my list to send you. My first was around 10pm and we barely cared about the baby just where could we get some food. Forget the baby – where can we get a burger?!?! (ESP if you lose a lot of blood you’ll be craving iron). Whatever you like to eat when you’ve had a rough night is what you are going to want. Second time I went armed with a list of restaurants, menus, AND a italian sub we picked up on the way. But the L&D nurse had the genius advice to order something before the kitchen closed that would set aside and be easy to reheat post-birth so we did that. For sure some moms aren’t hungry at all after delivery. And for some a granola bar might cut it. Just be prepared that you might be ravenous!

  • Leah

    This is great! TMI but still here I go – there is one item you should bring – Prunes….or Prune Juice. Just in case you have a C-section, or even with a regular birth, you want to get your insides going. They do give you medicine to help, but I was popping prunes as soon as I received the clear to eat :).

    • Lily C

      This is good advice! Also TAKE THE COLACE if you are offered it. It’s a stool softener. I actually brought my own bottle to the hospital and made sure to have a bottle ready at home. Trust me, this is an essential!!

  • Melissa

    I would also recommend a nursing cover- it was helpful for when visitors were in and out of the room while I was pumping

  • Elizabeth

    Julia, I just had a baby 2 weeks ago and spent 5 days in the hospital after a long labor and an unplanned c-section. We had 2 bags, one for the labor and delivery and the other for postpartum, which worked really well for us. there were a bunch of things the hospital gave me after birth that I didn’t need to pack: nipple cream, disposable undies (no reason to potentially dirty your own; I also felt this way about towels), Motrin. You can check to see what will be available at your hospital so you don’t have to over pack. The nurse also cut my baby’s nails for me so I didn’t need baby clippers. Getting out of there on discharge day is no fun when you have a billion things, plus flowers and gifts from visitors, plus the baby! Also, I really do not think you will need the breastfeeding pillow in the hospital. Your postpartum belly will still be too big to have the pillow on your lap. I’ve already lost 25 of the 38 lbs I gained during pregnancy and my bf pillow still is not comfortable yet. If anything, throw it in the car but don’t bring it into the hospital right away. Finally, on the advice of a friend who also had an unplanned section, I brought face cleanser wipes and they were a godsend because they made it possible to clean my face after I got the epidural during labor (also not my original plan) and after the c-section when I couldn’t get out of bed right away. Good luck and hope the final weeks of pregnancy are not too bad!!

    • Zach Cat

      Oh but DO pack Motrin or whatever your husband uses for headaches. Mom can get whatever drugs she wants but the hospital will not give anything at all to dad!

  • Lily C

    If you end up using formula, I highly recommend purchasing from this website: http://www.anewyorkbaby.com I use Hipp Organic, but she also carries Holle if that’s your jam. I have absolutely no connection to this seller other than being a very happy customer! She is a mom herself and ships from Dobbs Ferry, NY so it’s always super quick (and trust me, you don’t want to run out of formula!). I exclusively breastfed until I went back to work at 4.5 months, and it really eased my mind to give my son the best formula possible!

    • Lily C

      Oh, and if you are going to get formula as a “just in case”, get the pre-mixed liquid kind. They come in smaller portions (8 oz or so) and you won’t waste. Once you open up a box of the powder, it’s only good for a couple weeks. You won’t need that much if it’s for emergencies only. It’s also shelf-stable and easy to toss in a diaper bag.

      On an entirely different recommendation, I recommend bringing a lavender rollerball for baby. We started using essential oils from day one with our son (lavender oil + fractionated coconut oil in a rollerball) and it was awesome for helping create a routine. We swipe a tiny bit on his chest and on his feet, and it helped him know how to go the f*ck to sleep starting very early on. Establishing sleepy signals is key!

  • Megan Diffley

    I am SO excited for you! You’re list is a great! A few things I’d add – baby nail files – their nails will be too small to clip. Also, hospitals often times won’t allow their staff to file/clip babies nails for you. Slippers with a treaded bottom. These are easy to slip on and you can go for walks around the halls during labor/if you need to stretch. We also packed a small bottle of champagne and opened it on our second night in the hospital to celebrate 🙂 While I was nursing so only had a little, it tasted amazing and was worth the wait. I would also pack a book – you might have trouble falling asleep between nursing sessions and this will occupy your mind space. For baby, I’d bring cozy jammies. Sometimes heat is difficult to regulate in hospitals so layers are key. This is also a great outfit choice for the ride home especially not knowing what the weather will be like. Also – love the idea below about the thank you notes for the nurses – I didn’t do this but wish I had 🙂

  • Katie Coby

    Great list! For sure bring depends (like some other people have posted) because those one size fits all diapers kept falling off of me. Socks specifically for delivery so that you can throw them away if you get blood all over them (it was like a horror movie in my delivery room). I was also so happy to have a big pillow in the delivery room to hold on to/put between my legs and the boppy for nursing which can double as a donut.

    Jim says it was crucial to have a laptop in the delivery room. He said I was miserable to be around (because I didn’t want any talking or music or noise) and he needed a way to stay awake all night. He put on some nature documentary on mute or a really low volume that wouldn’t bother me.

    My main regret is not taking some photos immediately post delivery. I wanted give myself a day to recover and put on some makeup first and I’m glad I had those photos to share, but now I wish I had that classic awful ones for me.

    In a side note, someone I know brought in honey sticks for energy during labor.

  • You have a great list! I brought a phone charger but my cord wasn’t long enough for me to have it on my bedside table. I wish I would have brought a longer one. Also, the hospital will have clothes for your baby but they didn’t fit our son that well. With our daughter, I brought extra onesies (kimono style so I didn’t have to go over her head often) and put her in those.

  • Cora Waring

    I recommend a pair of leggings. As a mama who had three C-sections, I got into leggings as soon as possible. They just made the whole area feel more “protected and together” than sweats did.

  • Alyssa Loring

    I’m bookmarking this list – expecting a baby girl in September! How early did you pack your hospital bag?

    Alyssa | http://www.feathersandstripes.com