What to Pack in your Hospital Bag
It’s almost time! You’ve decided on a birth plan, toured the facility where you plan to deliver, and even have a plan for postpartum. Everything is exciting and exhausting, and there’s one more thing to do before the big day. You need to pack a hospital bag. It can be difficult to know just what to put in there and it’s easy to get carried away and bring too much, but just as easy to forget important things trying to go minimalist. What’s a new mom to do?
In this article, you’ll find a list of things other moms have found helpful and some guidance on deciding what you might want to pack up to take with you to the hospital.
For yourself during labor:
First and foremost you’ll want to pack any important documents that you anticipate needing during your stay. These can include your insurance card, identification, multiple copies of your birth plan so you can hand a copy to anyone who is involved in your care that needs one, and a backup copy or two of your medications and a general summary of your health history. While most hospitals have moved to electronic medical records it’s always good to have a backup in case things go wrong, you never know when an IT problem could be lurking.
Make sure to pack anything you think might make you more comfortable during labor, if you’re a first-time mom plan to have supplies for laboring for a few more hours than you think just in case. Bringing a comfortable robe that you don’t mind parting with is a great plan, in case they want you to walk around you’ll want one, as those hospital gowns are not the most modest of outfits. Keep in mind that you might stain it, so don’t bring your super expensive fluffy one that you would be heartbroken over if you had to trash it. Socks and slippers are a given, hospital rooms are often cold and you don’t want cold feet to distract you from the work at hand. Some people like to bring a tennis ball or other things to help massage their back and feet during labor, just to get a little bit more relaxed if possible.
Bring any electronics you’ll need like your cell phone, a long charger for it, a camera or video recorder and a music device to help set the mood.
For your partner during labor:
While most of the work is going to fall to you, don’t forget to pack a few things for your partner so they don’t have to leave your side. Small snacks and water will be good and change for the vending machine. Make sure they bring their own phone and their own charger (even if you use the same type) so they can head up the communication to family and friends.
A change of clothes can be a good idea as well just in case.
For yourself after delivery:
Bring toiletries like shampoo, conditioner, body wash, and a good towel, but also bring things that will help you clean up if you’re not up to taking a shower just yet like wipes, dry shampoo and anything else that will help you feel cleaner. Pack your favorite lip balm and lotion, because while the hospital can bring you some it’s definitely not the kind you will want. Pack a brush to help with your hair after delivery. Some women like to bring a little makeup to freshen up before family arrives with their cameras, but don’t count on having enough energy to put on a full face of it.
Pack up things that keep you comfortable at night, like your own pajamas (dark colors, and ones you’re not super attached to), a good pillow, and any other things you need for sleep like a mouth guard, eye mask, earplugs or a ponytail to put your hair up.
If you’re nursing bring a nursing bra, a tank top, and some nipple cream. You might want to bring a nursing pillow with you as well. Anything you think you’ll need to get started on the right foot is going to be worthwhile to bring. If you’ve packed your own nightgown to wear make sure it can open in the front for easy access to nursing.
Bring your own underwear, make sure they are comfortable to wear with a postpartum pad and bring some extras just in case. Otherwise, you’ll end up wearing the mesh pair the hospital provides and they are not as comfortable as they sound.
Don’t forget a small notebook or notepad and a pen, taking notes when the doctor visits, making a list for your partner of things you forgot, and even just writing down your experiences and memories will all be easier if you have your own paper and pen ready.
For yourself when it’s time to go home:
Bring a going home outfit for yourself. Make sure it’s comfortable and appropriate for postpartum. Don’t assume you’ll be able to fit in your old clothes again, as tired as you are of maternity clothes right now, you might need them still for a bit. It can take a while for your stomach to get back to it’s the pre-pregnancy size and it’s fully normal for it to be a bit saggy and swollen during the postpartum period.
Having an extra small bag on hand to cart home all the extras that the hospital gives you will be helpful as well. In addition to a baby, you’ll be bringing home a lot of samples and freebies and whatever gifts your family and friends have brought for you and the baby.
For your baby:
Bring a few bodysuits for your baby that are easy to put on and take off. You’ll be not only changing diapers but attending to their umbilical stump so keep that in mind.
A hat and a few pairs of socks can keep your baby warm while you’re waiting to get discharged from the hospital. While the hospital will likely provide these you might want to bring your own as they will be higher quality.
Pick out a going home outfit that is easy to put on and appropriate for the weather. A car seat is a must, make sure you do a trial run of getting it into the car and secured properly before the baby arrives so that you’re not figuring it out for the first time when you’re on the way home.
With enough thought and preparation, you can have as nice a hospital stay as possible during your labor and delivery. This may seem like an extensive list of things to bring, but if you think about it you really do want all these things. Consider packing a rolling carry on to help cart them in and out of the hospital and don’t forget to print a checklist of all that you brought so you don’t leave anything behind.