Packing your hospital bag may just be one of the most stressful things about being a mom-to-be. There are about a million things running through your head and the last thing you want to do is forget that CRITICAL item you feel like you won’t survive without. The great news is, there really isn’t anything that crucial that you can forget. The hospitals have everything you actually NEED to deliver your baby. That said, I put together a hospital bag checklist that will help any mom-to-be. These are things I’m thinking about as I pack my bag for the second time.
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Is it really an issue if I overpack for the hospital?
The first thing to note here is that you aren’t going on a deluxe vacation. This is a (hopefully short) hospital stay and you don’t need to be dressed to the nines. Everything you bring in, you do have to bring out — along with a baby.
That’s not to say you can’t bring things to keep yourself comfortable, but for all my chronic over-packers out there, note that the hospital rooms aren’t usually that large. 10 suitcases will just make you more uncomfortable in the long run.
To help with this, you can (and should) pack two separate bags. It’s always funny to me when people ask if my hospital bag is packed. Labor is what happens fastest, so make sure you pack that one first!
Pack two bags and leave your hospital bag in the car while you’re laboring. This will keep your bag size down, will ensure you don’t ruin anything while laboring, and will generally keep everything neater. Let’s break down what you’ll need in each bag.
What to pack in your labor bag
A weird but important note here – don’t bring your Louis Vuitton luggage into the labor room. Not that I have Louis Vuitton luggage, but I wouldn’t bring it if I did. There will be a separate space for things, and you will likely be able to put your luggage on a couch or some other high up area. But that’s not to say it’s 100% safe. Things happen quickly sometimes during labor and there are a lot of bodily fluids.
You don’t want to risk ruining your favorite luggage in the event something doesn’t go as planned. Also – if I got “fluids” from birth on my suitcase, I’d just let that puppy go. And I’d be REALLY upset if it was anything expensive!
Since you’ll need different things for labor and postpartum, only bring in the bag you need at first. You can swap in the car after the main event.
Many of these things will be similar to the hospital bag, but you’ll want a separate set for after you’ve labored. Trust me on this one.
Trust me, you want this to hold your hair back, for reals.
The good one, and someone designated to take pictures if you want them.
Pain coping strategies
If you want anything to cope with the pain (music, tennis ball, or heated rice packs) don’t forget to put them in your labor bag.
You might be braless but if you want a bra to hold up the ladies, no one will tell you to take it off.
Labor is an inopportune time to forget your ID or insurance card. Make sure they’re in your purse, and then don’t change that purse the month before you deliver.
What to pack in your hospital bag – post delivery
Things you’ll need for you:
Shower Essentials and Makeup
This tops the list for some reason on almost every “what to pack in your hospital bag checklist.” I’m guessing this is because people just feel better when they have their own stuff around. After going through birth, you’re going to want to feel as relaxed as possible.
There will be some hospital grade shower essentials in the hospital room, but I like specific hair product (hello curls) and want to feel as normal as I can after labor. I’m bringing my own products and a small makeup bag so I at least know I won’t have frizzed out hair to deal with as well.
No – I don’t get dressed up to the nines since I don’t wear a lot of makeup anyway. However, if anyone is looking to get a few pictures I’d rather have the option of throwing on some concealer if I haven’t slept for days.
Tucks Pads & Dermoplast
I almost put these on the “optional” list because I believe most hospitals give them out, but since you’re going to need a supply for home anyway, go ahead and pack some in your bag.
These will really help with the healing process and they’ll be good to have on hand in case you’re waiting for more to come to your room, etc. In case you don’t even know where to get this stuff, Amazon to the rescue!
Don’t forget to pack a going home outfit in your hospital bag
Comfort is key here. You might be working around a c-section scar or very sore lady parts. Putting on tight fitting or chafing clothing at this stage in the game just isn’t what the doctor ordered.
I think I actually wore a maxi dress home because I knew it would be super flowy and allow anything that needed to breathe some fresh air.
I’d say that jeans or anything super tight are an absolute no-no. Go with something loose fitting or flowy, and just bring a coat if it’s winter!
Nursing Bra & Breast Pads
Most of the time you’ll either be topless or doing skin to skin in the hospital, it’s just a fact. However, for some of the larger chested mammas or those who just really need the support of a bra, you can bring your nursing bra with you to the hospital.
This is something they won’t provide, so if you want one, don’t forget to pack it. Typically your milk doesn’t come in until 3-5 days postpartum, but I was already leaking in the hospital with my first daughter.
I had no idea that I’d even have leaking problems, so I didn’t think to bring or use my breast pads. Since I’ve heard your milk can come in even earlier the second time, I’ll be bringing them this go around as well.
These are really great and stretchy nursing bras that are awesome for immediately post birth when you just want comfort. Grab some disposable nursing pads as well! **NOTE: WASH the black bra before you sit anywhere. It dyed a pillow of mine before I’d washed it enough to get the dye out. They’re comfortable, but since the price is right we’re sacrificing somewhere.
They will likely give you this in the hospital as well, but if you have one you know you like (or just don’t want the old fashioned lanolin) bring your own.
Boppy or My Breast Friend Nursing Pillows
I’d keep your nursing pillow in the car until you decide if you need it or not. We made due with the hospital pillows, and while not always ideal, at least you don’t have to worry about cleaning them.
I also am a complete germaphobe so I wanted to wash everything that came into the hospital with scalding hot water. This is difficult when you need to use the pillow ever two hours.
That said, if you’re a first-time-mom and want to get lactation help with the props you’ll be using at home, it might be worth it to bring these into the hospital for guidance.
Robe or comfy PJs
If your own clothes make you feel more human, and you know you just want to get dressed after labor, be sure to pack a robe and nursing friendly PJS. I definitely brought my own clothes the first time but ended up living in the hospital gowns.
I know this sounds a bit strange, but I just want to give you a little heads up on why you might want to do this as well:
- They have great breastfeeding and baby access. I felt like I was topless most of the time anyway
- There is a lot of bleeding after birth, and I was disgustingly sweaty most of the time as my hormones shifted. I probably changed my gown 2-3x a day, and I definitely didn’t bring six pairs of PJS
- Potential for staining – remember the blood I mentioned? I wasn’t into the idea of soaking or ruining perfectly good PJS immediately after I got home from the hospital
If you’re going to have lots of guests I would suggest at least a robe for modesty, but I only had close family and I really didn’t care how I looked.
Rooms are cleaned after each patient, but I don’t shower in public places without shoes. And remember the fluids and germaphobia I mentioned? Those don’t stop in the shower.
For me it was shower shoes or no shower. Is this 100% necessary – absolutely not. The floors are clean. But, I wasn’t taking any chances. I have enough to worry about postpartum without catching some sort of rash from the shower.
Slippers with grips
See above on the need to wear something on your feet. The grips are traditionally a hospital requirement, so definitely make sure you have something to wear that won’t allow you to fall.
I’m going to buy some cheap ones that I can toss out after I go home. Again, no need to bring all those germs home with me!
Don’t forget to bring snacks for both you and dad. You’ll likely be hungry after labor or in between meals. It’s so much easier to have snacks on hand than to try and figure out what place will deliver at 4 a.m.
Long cell phone cord or portable charger
Your bed might not be near a free outlet, so getting a long cord or just using a portable or battery pack charger should do the trick.
Since the list can be comprehensive (even if you’re packing lightly) I put together a FREE hospital bag and baby prep checklist . You can grab it right out of the resource library. If you want instant access to all our FREE resources, enter your email below!
Optional things to bring to the hospital:
Let me be clear here – pads are not optional postpartum, but bringing your own pads to the hospital definitely is. There will be a LOT of bleeding and the mesh underwear from the hospital is a life saver.
Some people just prefer the brand name pads they’re used to, and aren’t huge fans of the hospital grade diaper like contraptions you’ll be wearing while you’re there. This is totally up to you. My vote is to use EVERYTHING at the hospital, and then take it all with you when you go home.
You’ll need a lot of pads and postpartum recovery items, and just a quick trip to the store isn’t gonna happen, so it’s better to stock up now.
This one might sound a little bit strange, but if you’re planning to have your placenta encapsulated you definitely need to bring something to get it home. I wasn’t about to use our hard sided food storage container, so we got a cheap disposable cooler and called it a day.
I read so many benefits about placenta encapsulation that we decided to try it. I’ve had both anxiety and depression in the past, so I wanted to do anything I could to ward off any postpartum issues. Although I didn’t escape the baby blues with my first, I wasn’t in full blown postpartum depression, so we’ll likely do this again.
What to pack in your hospital bag for dad:
Clothes for 2-3 days
Just in case. You never know how long you might get stuck there unintentionally.
Ipad or other electronics
Not that anyone has TOO much downtime in the hospital, but dad will want something to entertain himself, especially if there is other family around to help out.
Small toiletries kit
In most cases, dad will head home to shower and see any other siblings at some point, but you’ll want him to have a few essential toiletries like deodorant, toothpaste and anything else he uses daily to freshen up.
You can bring one for yourself as well, but dad is more likely to need an extra than you are. Sometimes hubby ends up sleeping in the most distressing positions due to the lovely partner accommodations.
What to pack in your hospital bag for baby:
The hospital will provide outfits for your little one to wear, but if you have anything specific you want for photos, don’t forget to pack it.
You’ll also need a going home outfit, and bring an extra just in case of blowouts!
Diaper Bag – Stocked
A packed diaper bag looks different for everyone, but you’ll definitely want to include the following:
- Newborn Diapers
- Diaper Cream
- Receiving Blanket
- Swaddle Blanket (trust me, you can never have too many blankets when they’re this young)
- Extra clothes
This obviously won’t go in the bag, but you won’t be allowed to leave with your baby until you bring your car seat to the room. It’s a good practice to install the base (or carseat) around 36 weeks so you’re not scrambling when the big show hits.
Optional things to bring for baby:
You might want to bring your own pacifier. Many hospitals won’t offer pacifiers until breastfeeding is established. If you want to avoid this conundrum and know you’ll be using a pacifier, just bring your own.
I found the above list to be pretty comprehensive, without being overwhelming or feeling like I was packing for a two-week vacation in Europe. However, if you want to check out another list, Baby list has some good ideas as well.
I hope you found this post informative! Feel free to pin it or share it for later. Sharing is caring!