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 for packing a hospital bag.
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 suggested a couple of additional items should be considered when packing a hospital bag. 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 let me 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.
Packing a Hospital Bag 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.
Packing a Hospital Bag For the 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.
Packing a Hospital Bag For Dada
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.
When it comes to packing a hospital bag, it’s best to be over-prepared. Talk to professionals and your friends who have been through this already, but ultimately, pack what you know will make you feel at ease.