My hospital bag checklist (and what NOT to bring)
After a few hours of pretty painful Braxton-Hicks contractions Sunday, I decided it's probably about time I get my hospital bag put together! We've all seen various renditions of the "what to bring to the hospital" posts and articles but I feel like they're lacking some serious, albeit, not some pretty information about what you need and why! There are just a few things I wish I knew with my first going into that whole hospital experience so I could have planned out what I brought a little better. So let's get started!
1. The bag
I fell in love with Fawn Design bags years ago and decided I had to have a fresh new one to go with my fresh new baby. I got the black bag this time and looooove it! This is the ultimate bag guys! It's the perfect carry-on with the back-pack and purse straps, it has a ton of space and pockets inside to keep your ridiculous amount of stuff organized, it's super easy to clean as the entire thing flips inside out so you can wipe it down, and it's just PRETTY! I'll be putting all my labor/delivery essentials in this bag so things are accessible and well organized when I'm at my most stressed and use a small suitcase to hold my post-delivery items.
2. Nursing gown
I had read an article when I was pregnant with my first that suggested buying a hospital gown for labor and delivery as well as a comfortable nursing night gown to use during your stay. While I think feeling cute is great, and sometimes necessary, I hate the idea of spending money on a cute hospital gown that is likely to get DESTROYED in labor and delivery. I'm so glad I just used the standard hospital gown last time. If you're like me and you go into labor and delivery with your water broken you'll be leaking fluid literally the entire time. I changed gowns 3 times while in active labor. Also...once you move into pushing phase, there's going to be blood and fluid like crazy and that cute gown is most definitely getting ruined. So...save money and just get a cute nursing night gown for post-delivery!
With my first I got a heather grey henley night gown I changed into after that post-delivery amazing shower. While it was cute and functional, there was one thing I didn't know about or plan for...post delivery uterus shrinking tactics and...more blood and fluid. Turns out after delivery the nurses frequently come into your room to "help your uterus shrink back down". They do this by pressing, hard, on your stomach and forcing out any blood/fluid they can. It's not fun and not the best if you're wearing a light heather grey nightgown. Now that I'm more seasoned, I opted for a black gown that won't be stained and ruined if something gets on it.
I got this one on amazon. It has working buttons down the front to make nursing easy, is really flattering, and I'll be able to use it long after baby comes.
3. Comfortable nursing bras
I did a horrible job in the nursing bra department with my first. I had a horrible uncomfortable bra with an underwire that dug in, 2 stretchy ones that were one size too small because I didn't realize my boobs would be so huge, and a few nursing tanks with built in bras that were kinda hideous. Like, hideous to the point that I avoided mirrors. I didn't want a repeat of that situation! This time I opted for bras that seemed supportive, appropriately sized, cute, and COMFORTABLE. I got 3 of these crisscross bras in different colors from Lamaze Intimates and they seem perfect! They're spandex so kinda sports-bra-like offering some support without being overly compressive. I also got one cotton one which I've actually already I started wearing because it makes such a comfortable sleeping bra. I also got 2 of these lace back bras from Coobie I'm going to try. I like the lace back detail and that they're lightly padded with straps that unhook for nursing.
4. Shoes for all the things
Hospitals are cold and your feet will be too. They give you these awful non-slip socks but it's better to just bring a good pair of comfy mocs for walking the halls. These ones are from target but I couldn't track them down online but they might still be in stores. They're so comfy, and provide traction which is important! Also, that post-delivery shower I talked about, it's wonderful, but could be totally ruined if you start thinking about the dirty things that could be in that shower space so....bring flip flops! You'll also have whatever shoes you came in with.
As I said before...blood and fluid are abundant after delivery. Bring some dark, comfortable, underwear in a size up! Sizing up will accommodate the ginormous maxi pads the hospital gives you to absorb all that, previously mentioned, blood and fluid. The hospital does offer this strange meshy underwear but it's not comfortable by any means. I love the Gap Body boyshorts and will be packing a couple pairs of those.
6. Something cozy to wear
I found the perfect cozy hoodie for wearing in the hospital and to go home in from Love and Fit, the best part, it's nursing friendly! It has discrete little zippers for nursing, is super soft, and so cute! I was really excited about this find and am definitely making room for it in my bag.
7. Pillow and blanket
You're going to be tired and you want to be comfortable through labor and after! Trust me, bring a pillow and blanket from home. The hospital obviously will provide these but they're thin and sad. I get that bringing these adds bulk and are not the easiest to pack and cart around but they're worth it!
8. Nursing pillow
Nursing is hard...like really hard, and it hurts! I really struggled with nursing when I had my first. One thing that made it worse, an aching back! Bring a nursing pillow, I like the Boppy, and use it! It helps so much to bring that baby up to where you need them and give your arms somewhere to rest. Seriously a must-have!
9. Things for your poor nipples
Did I mention nursing is hard and it hurts? Because it is and does. I thought nursing would be really natural and easy but turns out bloody nipples are the norm when you're figuring all that out with a new baby. These gel soothies from Lansinoh saved my life on more than one occasion. You can reuse them for a certain period of time too. I like having two sets so I can keep one in the fridge and rotate them when things get rough. Also...nipple balm! I never found one I really liked with my first, but I'll be giving this one from Palmer's a go this time. The hospital should provide disposable nursing pads while you're there so don't stress bringing those.
This is it's own sublist since there are a few things you might need.
- Makeup - Some women think this isn't worth bringing, which I get. You just had a baby and don't need to worry about looking your best but...sometimes it helps make you feel more human. Also...you're going to want to take pictures and feel good in them! I'll be having a photographer shooting photos in the hospital so I'm bringing a little makeup bag with some essentials. Nothing crazy, but enough to feel like I'm put together.
- Moisturizer - Pregnancy makes your skin really dry and hospitals just make it worse. I'll be packing an oil treatment and moisturizer from Juice Beauty along with a pregnancy mask.
- Dry shampoo - Because you may not feel like washing your hair. I look like a lion if I wash my hair and let it air-dry so I'm going the dry shampoo route. This is a travel size bottle from VERB that frequently saves my life. I'm allergic to almost all aerosol dry shampoos so I live and die by this sprinkle in magic.
- Brush - You'll want something to work out all the tangles after laying in a hospital bed for days. I love the silver brush from BathPack. They're amazing for your hair, especially if you have extensions, and only $5.
- Shampoo and conditioner - In case you do feel like you want to wash your hair! I'm just bringing little samples from VERB as a just-in-case.
- Hair ties - You should always have one on your wrist but heaven forbid it breaks!
- Hair tools - I have an old curling iron at home I no longer use. I plan to throw it in my bag in case I want to do something with my hair for photos.
- Deodorant - postpartum sweating is a thing and it's gross. Your body is trying to re-balance your hormones and that triggers massive night sweats and just more sweat during the day too. I remember just smelling BAD with my first. Bring some good deoderant so others, and you, can stand to be around your-sweaty-self.
- Chapstick - Burt's bees is my favorite! As I said, hospitals get dry and labor is hard. Make sure you pack something to keep your lips hydrated!
- Zantac 150 - If you've had horrendous heartburn through pregnancy, sometimes labor makes it worse! Make sure you pack and take some zantac to keep it under control.
- Baby nail clippers or a nail file - baby's can have sharp long nails when they're born. I was too afraid to use clippers with Hudson but a nail file worked wonders!
- Tucks witch hazel pads- These are little cooling pads you can line your giant hospital maxi pad with to soothe your lady bits. The hospital provides ice packs for swelling, and some provide Tucks, but you'll definitely want them!
11. Postpartum wrap
This may be something you bring or leave home, it's a toss up. I used a BellyBandit with my first and found it really helped me with my posture and helped my abs come back together. That being said, I want to strongly stress that I couldn't put it on for the first week or so after giving birth. I took it to the hospital and tried after the first day and ended up feeling really depressed when I couldn't close it.
So...you can bring it but understand that your uterus has to shrink and your body has a lot of fluid to let go of and it may not fit right away! For this pregnancy I got the bamboo bandit in black. I love how soft it feels and will definitely wear it consistently again to help with recovery, once I can get it on!
If I can't get it on for a while, I might try using my Baobei support band I used during pregnancy if it's not too big. This acts as a kind of belly sports bra and supports your belly during pregnancy but I thought it might still help a bit those first few days. We shall see!
12. Dark sweat pants and a loose shirt
I'm not Kate Middleton so I have no plans to leave the hospital in a well-structured dress and heels. I'll be going the sweats and superstars route! Your uterus and body are still going to be swollen and larger than pre-pregnancy so plan accordingly. Bring loose sweats, again in a dark color because of all the leaking fluids, and a loose shirt. I opted for these Calia by Carrie jogger sweats and this longline v-neck tee in white from Bohme.
13. A Notebook
Pregnancy brain is real and takes some time to ease off. Also, post-delivery you may need some pain meds that can mess with your head a bit and make you foggy. Bring a notebook and pen to write things down! I plan to document the birth story while it's fresh, keep track of discharge instructions, and write down anyone I might want to send a thank you note to later.
During labor and delivery you're not allowed to have anything but ice chips, which I secretly love because I'm an ice chewing addict and crave ice when I'm anemic...which pregnancy does to me. However, once you're moved to the maternity ward there aren't really snacks and hospital food is kinda meh. Bring some healthy snacks to help keep your energy up and combat the hospital food taste.
We frequently switch between cars so I'll be installing a carseat base in each vehicle and then moving my carseat and hospital bags depending on which car I'm in. Hopefully I don't go into labor with none of my stuff!
16. Going home outfit and items for baby
I plan on bringing two outfits just in case of spit up, blow outs, or bad weather. Make sure you have essential baby accessories such as hats, bows, socks, and most importantly, SCRATCH MITTENS! It's crazy how long baby's nails can be and how quick they scratch their little faces. It's also nice to have a cozy blanket to cover the baby with since they're not great at regulating their body temperature in the beginning.
17. Sibling gift
We want to make the big brother transition fun and exciting for Hudson. We've been prepping him for the majority of my pregnancy and he's very excited for his baby sister, as far as he can understand. We decided to get a little sibling gift from the baby to Hudson that'll he'll receive when he comes to meet her in the hospital. With so much focus and attention being on the baby we want to make sure he doesn't feel left out. I think this will help kick off their relationship and ease potential jealousy. We picked out a lego set book about being a big brother that we're sure he'll love.
What NOT to bring
The hospital provides a number of things which can save you packing space! You'll want to have some of these items stocked at home for when you leave the hospital, but it's nice to not have to worry about bringing them.
- Maxi Pads - hospital usually provides
- Diapers - hospital usually provides
- Wipes - hospital usually provides
- Perineal spray/squirt bottle - hospital usually provides
- Nursing pads - hospital usually provides
- Padsicles - funny story...I made some of these with aloe vera gel and witch hazel with my first but didn't realize the aloe had added lidocane. OMG did that sting! I had made 30 of them and couldn't use them ha ha!
- Pre-pregnancy clothes- These won't fit and it'll just depress you. You're still retaining a ton of fluid, have a uterus that needs to shrink, and have some new extra fat stores that will prevent those pre-pregnancy jeans from sliding on. Go for comfort and pick loose clothes that fit when your were ~5-6 months pregnant.
- Breast pump- Your milk will likely come in a few days after the baby is born so you shouldn't need a pump, however, DO make sure you check to see if your insurance gives you a free one, find out what types they cover and read reviews, and make sure you have it waiting for you at home! If you end up staying in the hospital longer due to c-section or other complications the hospital should have a pump for you to use if needed.
- Formula and bottles- hospital usually provides if you need them
- Too much clothing- Don't pack 8 outfits for you and for baby, 4 blankets, 6 pairs of socks, etc. The baby will be in hospital provided clothes and blankets until you take them home.
I hope this list was useful and took down your stress level! I feel so much better knowing my things are packed and ready! If there was anything I didn't link you'd like suggestions on let me know in the comments and I'll for sure get back to you! Good luck mama!