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I’ve mentioned this before, but before Little J was born, I had my bags packed and ready to go a month before my due date. I spent hours looking at what other people had said to pack in my bag and in his bag, and honestly, not a lot of it was helpful. I packed what people told me and when I got to the hospital, I didn’t use half of it, and I ended up bringing things that I didn’t even take out of the bag. With baby girl, I have changed a few things on my list (she is due in 30 days so I just packed my bag and have it ready to go!), and I feel like I know pretty well what I am going to need and what is going to help me the most while I am at the hospital since I have already done this once before.
First, I have a big tip for you. Pack everything you can live without for a month, and set that aside. Then, for things like your camera or phone charger, write those all on a little list and put them on top of your bag so that when the time comes to head out, you have a list of what you need to grab and you won’t forget anything. This was awesome when the time came for us to head to the hospital because we weren’t scrambling to remember what we needed to bring and it was easy to just throw it all together and head out the door. So really, pack everything you can live without for a month, and then make a little list of the other things you will need to grab before you leave.
I have broken it down into three lists: What you definitely want to pack in your hospital bag, what you will want to write on a little note to pack right before you leave, and then things I didn’t use the first time I went to the hospital, but I am still packing the second time anyway.
What to Pack in Your Hospital Bag
Bag of travel-sized toiletries. Toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, and body wash, lotion, contact solution (if needed), deodorant, face wash, things you use every day pretty much. It is really nice to just buy travel-sized ones because they take up less space, and you can already have them packed when it’s time to head out.
Slippers. Hospital floors can be both cold and germy, so you will want to grab some slippers. They are also nice to have when you wake up at night to go to the bathroom and when you want to leave your room and go out in the hall.
Socks. Your hospital room might be chilly at night or you may just have a thing about wearing socks when you are sleeping (like me). So pack a few pairs of socks that you can wear while you are there. This helps especially if you don’t want to bring slippers.
Notebook and pen. The nurses and doctor tell you a lot of information before you leave the hospital. And you also might have a lot of questions before you leave the hospital. So it’s nice to have a special place to write any information down so that you have it in one place and won’t lose it when you get home.
Folder. You get a lot of paperwork when you have a baby, and it was really helpful for me to have a folder where I could put it all so I didn’t crush it in my bag or lose it while we were there.
Outfit to go home in. Obviously you can’t wear the lovely hospital gowns home, so make sure you bring an outfit for yourself to go home in. I highly recommend something loose that you wore during pregnancy. I brought some pants and a shirt that I wore in the beginning of pregnancy and they were both way too tight, making me feel extra fat and bad about myself. So maybe some maternity pants or sweatpants and a big t-shirt. You really don’t have to look cute, I promise.
Plastic bag for laundry. If you are like me you will want a place to store your dirty clothes so you don’t have them just randomly spread around in your bag. This makes it a lot easier once you get home from the hospital, too. Less time spent unloading your bag!
Nursing pads. When your milk first comes in, it is like a waterfall and it is very leaky as your body adjusts to how much your baby will drink. So bring some nursing pads (you can read more about my recommendations here) so that you aren’t leaking through all your shirts.
Nursing bras. While it is possible to nurse your baby using regular bras, nursing bras are the best! They clip down so you can just reveal one at a time and that way you don’t have to awkwardly move your bra around to feed your baby. They are very important to have. Again, you can read my recommendations here.
Lanolin.This is probably one of the most important things! Our hospital gave me a tiny sample, but it is nice to have your own in case your hospital doesn’t give you any or you lose the sample or something. But lanolin is really helpful in the first few weeks of breastfeeding. So make sure you bring some.
Hair ties. You get pretty sweaty during labor, and depending on how long your hair is, I bet you won’t want it in your face. Hair ties are also helpful during nursing and if you decide (like me) that you aren’t really keen on showering much while you are at the hospital.
Underwear you don’t care about. Preferably big and cottony. Our hospital gave me some big mesh ones that were really stretchy and nice, but if you don’t want to wear those or you don’t think they are comfy, it is important to have some breathable, cotton underwear you won’t care about. Why? Because birth gets messy and for a few days after you will have some bleeding. Yes, you will have pads down there, but if they leak then you don’t want to be ruining your favorite underwear. Plus, since things get very sensitive after birth, you want to make sure you have comfy underwear that won’t be suffocating your lady parts.
Birth plan. A birth plan is a paper that tells the nurses at the hospital what you want and don’t want to do during labor and postpartum. Things it may include are “I want to use the birth ball” or “I want a mirror so I can watch the birth” (which I definitely did not highlight). Some hospitals provide papers for you to fill out, but if you don’t get one of those beforehand, you can just print off one online and bring your own. It is nice to have because you can just give it to the nurse and they will know what you had planned. Of course things may change during labor and you may not be able to follow everything, but it is good to have a plan. I actually have a post all about what to include on your birth plan that you can check out here.
iPod or music. Labor can take a long time, and you may way music either to pass the time or to help you relax during contractions. And make sure you either charge your iPod or have batteries for whatever it is you are bringing to play music.
Boppy. I loved my Boppy. It helped me so much, especially in the beginning of breastfeeding when I was trying to figure out the best way to hold Little J and to get comfortable myself. I have tried using just a pillow and it really is not the same. So get a Boppy and make sure you bring it to the hospital so that you can start breastfeeding off on the right foot.
What to Pack Before You Leave
Makeup. I guess it depends on the person, but I wanted to make sure I didn’t look how I felt when I was at the hospital. And it actually was nice for me to be able to wash my face and do my makeup at the start of each day. It was sort of a confidence and a morale booster every morning.
Camera and charger. A camera is one of the most important things you can bring to the hospital. You want to document your time there (maybe not the during labor part) so you can remember it later. We got pictures before my labor got intense, and then right after baby was born, and of course pretty much every minute until we left the hospital. And make sure you bring your charger! And if your memory card isn’t super big, it’s not a bad idea to bring a second one. You will be taking lots of pictures, I promise.
Phone and charger. Again, super important. I’m sure you’ll want to tell all your family members who aren’t there with you pretty soon after the baby is born. My phone was also a good distraction in the beginning of labor, too. And don’t forget your charger because your phone is going to be super busy getting calls and texts of congratulations after your baby is born. And if it dies, you will be sad and it’s better not to have to send your husband home to get it for you.
Toothbrush. Obviously you need to use this up until you leave the house for the hospital, and you will definitely want it while you are at the hospital. I don’t think it needs much explanation.
Contacts. Ideally these will already be in your eyes, but if you have to go to the hospital at night, make sure you grab them. You don’t want to have to wear your glasses the whole time you are at the hospital (at least I didn’t).
Glasses. Again, you will want to grab these so that when you are tired you can take out your contacts and still have a way to see if you need to.
Tablet or laptop (for entertainment in case your labor takes a long time). This isn’t necessary, but it can be helpful if you want to make sure you have things to do during labor. I have a friend whose labor took a really long time and she and her husband watched a few movies before labor got too intense to keep watching. Especially if it’s your first baby and you don’t know how long it will take, it’s nice to have something to do while at the hospital!
Wallet/purse. I’m not going to explain why you need this. I think it’s pretty obvious.
Things I Didn’t Use But Packed Again
Shower things. Okay, so it’s possible that I only showered once while we were there and I used the stuff they had there because it was just a quick shower. But in my defense, I was super sore and wasn’t really going anywhere so I wasn’t getting dirty or sweaty or anything. And I did shower as soon as we got home. But maybe this time will be different and I will want to shower daily like normal, so I am planning on bringing shampoo, conditioner, and body wash (travel size, see above). You never know!
Flip-flops for the shower. Hospital floors gross me out, and hospital shower floors are no exception. Of course I forgot to get my flip-flops the one time I showered, but I am definitely bringing them again.
Pajamas. Honesty, I just stayed in the nice hospital gowns they had the whole time we were there. I changed into a new one every day, but they were just so comfy and light and loose that I wanted to stay in them all day and night. But I am planning on bringing pajamas in case I feel like I want to wear them, because you never know!
A few changes of clothes. This explanation is pretty much the same as above, so I’m not going to repeat it. But I am bringing them again in case I want to change.
Jacket. Our rooms were the perfect temperature so I didn’t ever need my jacket, but I was glad I brought one. Have you ever been in a hospital that was cold? Yeah not fun. So if your room does turn out to be a bit chilly, you may want to bring a light jacket. It’s also a good idea to make sure it’s a zipper one, or one that opens in the front so you won’t have to take it off to nurse.
Big absorbent maxi pads. The hospital provided me with some of these which is why I didn’t use the ones I packed, but I am bringing them again just in case. Every hospital is different and you may not like the ones that you are given, or you may not be given any. And you will want these for all that leakage your body will be doing after birth. Trust me. They are fantastic and necessary.
And if you want access to my free printable Hospital Bag Checklist, subscribe to Mamadvice here.