Being someone who has already had a baby, I tend to be the go-to person for friends and family who are about to have their first. One of the main questions I have received is “What do I pack in my hospital bag?“. Thankfully, my hospital has a handy-dandy little booklet that gives a list of what Mama’s bag should contain and what Baby’s bag should contain (just don’t forget about Daddy’s bag!) but sometimes it is really nice to hear a personal opinion from someone who has been there before. What items could you do without? Which ones are absolutely crucial?
The problem is, in all the hubbub of having a baby, remembering what I packed over two years ago is no easy task. When I first got this question from my sister, I spent a few hours putting together a list for her. Thankfully, I now have a pretty thorough checklist of what I need to be packing as I put together the final things in my hospital bag.
So here it is. I hope that it will provide that little bit of experience for anyone needing to pack a hospital bag for the first time, or for anyone who needs a little reminder (like me). (Remember, different hospitals and birthing centres will provide different amenities and things might change depending on how and where you give birth.)
Laura’s List for an Awesome Hospital Kit
- Clothes: Consider how long you could possibly be in the hospital and bring enough comfortable clothes to accommodate. Remember that stretch is important! Some people come out of the hospital even bigger than when they went in because of swelling. (I have even heard stories of some people not being able to fit into their shoes post-partum). In my case, I brought way too many clothing options when I was in the hospital with Cameron, but this is because I was too uncomfortable to even put on pants and socks each day. I spent my entire hospital stay in a hospital gown. Don’t feel bad if you do too, but most people prefer to actually get dressed each day.
- Pants: Remember that your body will likely be recovering from major trauma no matter how you deliver. Jeans might not be the most comfortable option. Yoga pants and sweat pants are great.
- Shirts: Assuming you are planning to try breastfeeding, consider shirts that are loose-fitting and give you easy boob access. I really suggest investing in some nursing tank-tops. These tops have been a crucial part of my wardrobe all throughout the year following Cameron’s birth, and even during this pregnancy. I prefer ones that are nice and heavy because they helped keep all my jiggly bits secure. With a nursing tank-top, almost any shirt can be used as a nursing top.
- Nursing Bra: There is always a big question about whether you should purchase a nursing bra before or after baby is born. It is true that your breast size will change after your baby is born. And it will continue to change throughout your nursing life. But it is good to have at least one nursing bra during those first few days after delivery before you are able to get sized for another bra. My best advice is to get a night-time nursing bra that fits you in your late pregnancy and leaves room for expansion. Don’t worry about under-wire or padding. The goal here is to allow for maximum comfort and possible stretch. Once your size starts to even out, you can then go and invest in a few good daily nursing bras. (Also, see note on what to wear during labour below.)
- Underwear: Again, it is important to remember that your body will be recovering from major trauma no matter how you deliver. When packing underwear consider that you’ll either be wanting to pack your underwear with ice or be avoiding elastic over a c-section incision. Thankfully, most hospitals will provide you with some disposable underwear to wear directly after the birth of your baby, but I also suggest bringing some of those awesome maternity underwear or giant granny-panties. Yup, I went there.
- Socks (Also, see note on what to wear during labour below.)
- Pajamas and maybe even a housecoat
Nursing Gear: If you put nothing else in your hospital bag, do not forget nursing pads and nipple cream. You will probably want the nursing pads even if you aren’t planning to nurse. And don’t do what I did during my first birthing experience by assuming I would get nipple cream if I needed it. If you are breastfeeding you will definitely need nipple cream at some point during your nursing life and you will likely need it when you first start nursing. It is way better to have it in an accessible pocket in your kit bag than trying to send out a confused husband to the store when you can absolutely not stand the pain any more.
- (Optional) Nursing Pillow
- (Optional) Nursing Cover
Heavy-duty, Long Pads: Even if your hospital will provide these, you will need them when you get home, assuming you delivered vaginally at least. Tucks wipes or some other cooling pain relief for your sensitive bits. Lip Balm: Hospitals tend to get dry. You also shouldn’t forget… Moisturiser
Slippers: But not your favourite slippers to wear around the house. Make sure these ones can be thrown out if they get covered in any number of bodily fluids. Bathroom bag: Tooth brush, tooth paste, shampoo, conditioner, soap, deodorant, hair brush, elastics, headbands, hair pins. It might be a great idea to get new items or travel-sized items for your hospital bag so that you can still have these things at home for your main grooming necessities as you wait to go into labour. Entertainment: You might spend hours in the hospital waiting for your baby to be born. You might find yourself awake at night nursing a baby with very little else to do but gaze at the perfection of the life you created. You might never touch your entertainment items, but you might use them all. Consider packing things like a deck of cards, magazines, laptop, tablet, cell phone, book, ebook reader, book light, notebook, pens, and of course all chargers that you will require to keep these things running. Camera
Food and/or Money: Know what food amenities your hospital boasts but also consider that you might be wheeled into your room in the middle of the night when everything is closed after not being able to eat for 15 hours. Consider bringing change for vending machines and granola bars or something for a quick snack. List of phone numbers for those people you want to call as soon as labour starts or when Baby arrives
- Baby Items:
- Diapers: Check to see if your hospital provides diapers or not. Mine recommends bringing them, but I am sure they also have them available for use. This is extra important if you plan to cloth diaper right away.
- Baby Wipes: Sometimes a wipe is just easier to use than a facecloth. It is good to bring these in case you need them.
- Diaper Cream
- Clothes: Lots of people pick a special “take home outfit”. This is great, but also make sure to bring some sleepers and onesies.
- Burp cloths and/or receiving blankets
- One heavy baby blanket
- Infant Car Seat
You should also consider what you want to be wearing while labouring. Keep these things at the top of your hospital bag for easy access. My biggest mistake last time was wearing a sports bra during child-birth. It was comfortable but couldn’t easily be taken off to nurse once Cameron was born, especially because it was one that needed to be taken off over the head. I will definitely be wearing a comfortable nursing bra or a bathing suit top this time. I loved spending some of my labour time in the bathtub and so perhaps a bathing suit for you (and maybe even your husband) is a good idea.
One of my best decisions last time was wearing giant, fluffy socks. Although the nurses and my husband totally made fun of my fat, cookie-monster blue, furry socks, my feet stayed comfortable and warm all throughout my labour. Often, delivery rooms are kept cooler, and your circulation isn’t always top-notch, so many women find their feet get cold. Don’t forget some nice, warm socks. (And remind your partner to dress in layers to accommodate the room temperature).
There is one thing you won’t find on my list. Makeup. When I gave birth to Cameron, I trucked my giant makeup bag to and from the hospital knowing that there would be lots of pictures taken. But when post-partum realities hit, makeup was the last priority on my list. This time I will do myself a favour and leave my makeup at home.
**If there is anything that your bag is missing when you pack it add it to a list of what needs to be added last-minute and keep that list next to the bag. Don’t try to rely on your memory when the excitement of labour starts.**
Now that your bag is packed, remind your husband to pack his bag too!
Guess what?! I have created a check-list that you can print and use for your hospital bag packing needs. Click Here to print.
Did I forget anything? What was the most important thing you brought to the hospital or plan to bring the hospital for your labour and delivery experience?