Whenever I pack for a trip, I like to keep things simple. I’m a minimalist at heart, although I don’t mind having a few extras here and there as long as they aren’t too cumbersome. So when it comes to my hospital bag, I know I only want to pack the essentials! After all, I have a sneaking suspicion that I’m not exactly going to be up to the task of lugging a heavy bag through the hospital doors as I’m gritting my teeth through a contraction. And I don’t want to make my already-nervous hubby’s job any more difficult than necessary.
So what does a new mom need for delivery day? This hospital bag essentials checklist will help you to pack ONLY what you need, and NONE of what you don’t! The focus here is the stuff you’ll need to make yourself comfortable (and feel human again) during the first day or two after baby’s arrival. (Note: If you’re looking for the even-shorter list of things you’ll need for baby, that is covered in this post.)
Here’s what I packed in my hospital bag:
If you’re planning to breastfeed, then this item is an absolute must-have! You’ll want to keep things hydrated from the beginning to help mitigate any soreness, cracking, or bleeding as your nipples adjust to feeding a baby. I’ve heard great things from many moms about this brand (which is what I purchased for myself), as they report that it works way better than other brands to keep your nips happy! It’s also 100% safe for baby and does not need to be washed off prior to nursing, which is convenient and not always the case for other brands.
Although the hospital usually provides these for you, you may have a particular brand or style that you prefer. Not to mention, you’re going to need a bunch for after you get home from the hospital anyway, since you will likely be dealing with a couple weeks of post-partum bleeding. Pick up a big pack of these ahead of time, and stash some in your hospital bag just in case.
You’ll most likely have a shower at your disposal to clean yourself up after labor and delivery is over. Pick up a travel-sized shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, toothbrush, deodorant, face wash… whatever combination of items you typically need to make yourself feel comfortable and rejuvenated.
Comfy PJ Pants
After baby has arrived and you’re all cleaned up, you’re going to want to feel comfortable. Pack a pair or two of your comfiest pajama pants! Make sure they’re not too tight, as you might be a little sore afterward (especially if you’ve had a C-section). A lot of women prefer something soft with a drawstring, but you can also pack yoga pants or leggings, if that’s your preference. And if you pack two pairs, then you can wear them when you’re ready to go home, too (which makes one less outfit to pack!).
Never underestimate the comforting power of your favorite tee, like this super cute “Mama Bear” relaxed-fit t-shirt! This versatile item can be quickly thrown on if you have visitors coming by to see baby, or worn around the room as you relax and recuperate, but will still be comfy enough to wear if you decide to take a nap. You can also wear it home from the hospital, along with a pair of your PJ pants. No one really needs to look fancy as they leave the hospital… your number one focus will likely be on getting baby home safely, anyway.
This item will make breastfeeding baby a lot easier! It’s basically a cami with detachable clips on the straps in the front, so you won’t need to do much adjusting in order to feed baby. Just un-clip the strap on the side that you’re planning to use to nurse, and voila… instant access for baby! And when baby is done, just clip the strap back on again. Work smarter, not harder!
Whether or not you’re planning to breastfeed, nursing bras are probably a wise investment and something you’ll appreciate having handy at the hospital. When your milk comes in, not only do your breasts increase by a cup size (or more!), but they can be tender and sore. Having some stretchy nursing bras to wear will make things much more comfy for you! If you are planning to breastfeed, then a nursing bra makes access for baby even easier as he/she nurses, without you having to get undressed. They come in a variety of styles, so you’ll have to experiment until you find one that you like. I purchased one of the pull-to-the-side types that are meant for sleeping, as well as one that has clip-down straps (just like the nursing tank). Once you figure out which kind you like best, you’ll probably want to invest in a few more for wearing around the house.
These are essential for discreetly tucking inside your nursing bra or tank, in order to soak up any accidental (and inevitable!) leaks that will happen. No one wants wet milk splotches on their shirt or in the bed! You can buy either disposables or the washable/reusable kinds, but it may just be easier to have a few disposables on hand for your stay in the hospital.
After baby is born, having a few pairs of granny panties to wear will be especially helpful for holding those maxi pads in place. The mesh undies that the hospital provides are actually pretty comfortable, but they are not exactly the most snug for holding in a thick pad. Pick up a cheap multi-pack in your preferred style, and be sure to take them along with you!
Hospital floors are cold. Pack a warm but light pair of slipper socks like these sherpa-lined ones that you can wear in and out of bed. The kind with the grippy nubs on the bottom are the best, so you don’t accidentally slip and fall as you’re maneuvering around your delivery or post-partum room. I personally think slipper socks are a way better alternative to actual slippers (at least for the hospital), because then you won’t need to take them off every time you get back into bed!
Any robe that opens in the front can serve as a nursing robe for the hospital. The idea is to have something to cover up with whenever you have visitors, but which can still provide easy access to baby whenever he/she needs to nurse. You can wear your nursing bra underneath, if that makes you feel more comfortable. If you’re looking to pick up something special for your first days as a new mom, the line of nursing robes offered by Pink Blush Maternity come in a variety of gorgeously feminine, floral patterns!
As you master the best position for holding and feeding your newborn, a Boppy pillow will be a lifesaver for your arms! (If you’ve also just had a C-section, this will also help to mitigate unnecessary abdominal pain near your incision site as it takes the pressure off your tummy as you hold baby.) It wraps around your waist and allows you to comfortably rest baby on top of it. This item will also come in handy for any visitors while you’re at the hospital, especially young family members, who may want to hold your little one but who need a little extra support underneath as they do so.
After baby has arrived, it’s pretty likely that you’re going to be starving. After all, having a baby is like running a marathon! Depending on what time of day (or night) this happens, the hospital’s cafeteria may or may not be open for business. So do yourself a favor and pick up a box or two of your favorite granola bars or protein bars to help tie yourself over until you’re able to order that first glorious, post-delivery meal.
Chances are good that you’re not going to be worrying too much about your make-up while you’re busy pushing out baby. But many women report that their lips become super dry and chapped during labor (maybe it’s all those deep breathing techniques you learned during birthing class?), so having your favorite chapstick on hand will be handy, indeed! Also, after baby has arrived and you’ve had a chance to clean yourself up, you may decide you want to put on a little bit of make-up, especially if you have visitors coming by to see your new arrival or if are planning to have professional photos taken.
Make sure to have a copy of your birth plan packed to give to your doctors and nurses after you arrive at the hospital. In the middle of contractions, you may not remember or be able to fully communicate your wishes regarding your labor and delivery. And even if you’re going in with an openly flexible plan, it will still make things easier if your medical team knows ahead of time what you’re at least hoping for, so that they can at least try to steer things in that direction. At the very minimum, they’re going to want to know what your desires are for pain management.
Phone & Charger
This one may seem like a no-brainer, but I’ve included it here so you don’t forget to toss it in your bag before you leave the house. You’re going to want to take lots of photos of your adorable little one, and probably make at least a few important phone calls! It may also come in handy for entertainment purposes if your labor ends up going on for a while and you’re stuck in the room without much else to keep yourself occupied (that is, if you’re not in too much pain to be feeling bored).
Even if you’ve already smartly pre-registered during your hospital’s maternity tour, you’re still going to need to check in with your labor and delivery triage center when you first arrive. Although this will (hopefully) be a speedy process, they’re likely going to need some sort of identification from you. So don’t forget to pack your driver’s license and insurance card, at the minimum!
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