My Hospital Bag Packing List
A few days ago, I panic-packed my hospital bag. Gathering my stuff has been on my to-do list for awhile but had never made it to the top. I figured I would get to it eventually? This being my third go-around at giving birth, I’m surprising even my extremely Type-A self at how nonplussed I am about some things. But mostly, deep down, it felt like not packing the bag made the whole thing seem not real, which I was OK with?
A few contractions changed all of that! In a moment of mild terror, I started throwing things into a small bag, promptly ran out of space, and graduated up to my carry-on-sized suitcase. Within a few (mighty productive) hours, it became clear that Young Lady Stuart was staying put — thankfully! — so I stopped and took a breath. Then I remembered all the fantastic hospital bag suggestions you submitted on Instagram… and now I’ve repacked my bag entirely. It is much better, so thank you! I wanted to share all these awesome suggestions, so I compiled a list below, and added a few thoughts where I could.
So many of you also noted, quite correctly I may add, that you don’t really need to bring anything. Most hospitals these days supply the essentials, at the very least, and some ups and extras, too. The one true necessity? “Just a lack of modesty,” wrote one commenter.
What did I miss? Please add your suggestions in the comments below!
Robe —This is my go-to tip for any mama-to-be. A colorful robe is practical (keeping you warm and cozy while making nursing easy) and a total mood lifter. Plus, it looks great in pics!
Nursing-friendly pajamas — For me, a close second to the robe would be nursing-friendly pajamas. I brought the navy Nordstrom cotton set for Oliver’s birth and love it. I still wear these PJs all the time! I’m extremely bummed the purple set is not available now, and I tried out the light pink set but it was a tad too see-through for my taste. In my bag now is this Nordstrom floral set, which I’m hoping does the trick.
Clothes to wear home — As royal watchers know, the hospital departure can be a moment if you want it to be. My advice when selecting an outfit is to consider your shape at six or so months pregnant. Bring clothes that would be comfortable and fit your body at that stage. (I had a visible bump both times I left the hospital, and wore maternity dresses.)
Clothes for baby to wear home — Again, a moment if you choose to make it into one! You can pack various sizes to be safe, or just make what you have work. Both times, my boys were swimming in the ensembles I brought. But I don’t even care! The pics are adorable and remind me just how little they were.
Clothes for your partner — Partners can often leave and come back, which means they don’t need much. But a few extra things, especially T-shirts, helped in that first stretch.
Flip flops — Hospital showers are… kind of gross.
Slippers or socks with grips — Hospital floors are also... cold, slippery, and germy. I’m planning to bring an old pair of slippers that I can toss on my way out the door.
NEW MOM SUPPLIES
Maxi pads or adult disposable underwear — I have always brought the former, as a supplement to the mesh undies and cardboard pads they give you. But several of you recommended Depends, and I’m down to try them. (S/o to the commenter who also recommended “huge black knickers.”)
Nursing bra — I didn’t bring any the first time around, which was a major mistake. Not sure what I was thinking! But if you plan to breastfeed, you will be doing a lot of that right out of the gate.
Pumping bra — Both times I started pumping in the hospital, and forgot to bring my pumping bra. Again: what was I thinking? It’s packed this time!
Nipple balm — If you plan to nurse, this is a lifesaver. The hospital’s lactation consultant will likely give you some, but I prefer a more natural brand. I recently ordered a new jar from Earth Mama.
Your own pillow or pillowcase — I have never brought my own pillow but I totally get why some people do. It’s a comforting (literally!) piece of home. I love the suggestion of your own pillowcase, too. Much softer than the hospital one.
Your own towels — Hospital towels are often very small and very scratchy, though I’ve always made do with those, too. If you bring your own, make sure they are in dark colors.
Baby blanket — Most hospital have an abundance of sweet flannel blankets, but this time I’m packing a few cotton muslin wraps from Aden + Anais, too. So cozy + good for pics.
Lip balm — Hospitals are dry dry dry, and labor involves a lot of mouth breathing. You’re going to want to moisturize early and often.
Mouthwash — Because sometimes brushing your teeth is just a lot to ask.
Eye mask — Sleep is a precious commodity! An eye mask will come in handy, at all hours of the day.
Hairbrush + hair ties / headband / bobby pins — Long before any of my hatband proselytizing, I gave birth to my first son in a simple elastic headband. I wanted those strands off my face! But I cringed at the thought of a ponytail or anything that would be uncomfortable at the back of my head. This time around, I’m bringing a floral four-pack of headbands.
Face wipes — I steer clear of disposable wipes in my daily life. But for hospital stays, I have found them to come in handy, be it to remove makeup (when walking to the bathroom is just too much) or to refresh my face. My faves are these Yes To Cucumber facial wipes.
Facial spray — I brought an Evian facial spray mist with me to use during labor with my first, but several commenters were raving about the Caudalie Beauty Elixir that appears to be a toner and a fresher in one. Tempting!
Blowdryer — My old boss gave me this advice: hospitals are not hotels. Thus, they do not stock blowdryers. If you are fine with your locks air drying, go you. If not, pack your dryer. (I’m also bringing my curling iron.)
Dry shampoo — To avoid the aforementioned hair washing! I swear by Bumble and Bumble’s Prêt-à-Powder.
Lavender oil / scented lotions — Scented things can be very calming and soothing, both during labor and after the fact. I love the lavender soap and dryer bags (really) from Trader Joe’s.
Makeup — I know some people may scoff at this, but! To each her own! I brought an abbreviated version of my usual daytime makeup to the hospital. I can’t say I put it on every day of every stay but when I did it made me feel more like myself. Several commenters recommended just bringing a few things; mascara was tops on that list.
An extra long charging cable, extension cord, or power strip — Hospitals don’t put outlets in easy-to-reach places, sadly, so I’m packing this 6-foot iPhone charging cable (and thinking of adding an extension cord to my bag, too).
Headphones and/or ear plugs — Hospitals can be quite loud, especially if you are sharing a room.
Wireless speaker — Make sure it’s charged and your playlist is loaded on your partner’s phone.
A phone, tablet or laptop with downloaded content — Don’t count on the hospital WiFi to, ahem, deliver your favorite shows. Download what you can before you go, so you can distract yourself while you labor.
A camera — Cell phone snaps will suffice, surely. But if you have a nicer camera at home: charge those batteries and add it to the bag.
White noise machine — This was a new one to me! Several people said they started using it as soon as the baby arrived, to help both mama and little one sleep.
Battery powered string of lights — Also new to me! A few folks said they preferred to use their own lighting while laboring.
FOOD + ENTERTAINMENT + MISC
Snacks — All the snacks! In most cases, hospitals don’t let you eat while you are laboring and hospital food can be mighty hit or miss. Several commenters suggested fiber-rich foods, too, to help your digestive system after the fact.
Mints — A little breath freshener always made me feel better... and I have to imagine the others around me appreciated it, too LOL.
Your own straw cup — My hospital gave me a massive mug, which I loved, because it meant I could avoid all that styrofoam.
Wine — CHEERS TO YOU!
A notebook and pen — Record your thoughts! Whether you want to journal or keep a log of when the baby eats + poops, bring a notebook to write it all down.
Extra tote bag — This is absolutely crucial. Pack an empty tote bag or two to use to carry all the supplies they give you home with you. We’re talking extra diapers, wipes, mesh undies, hot packs, even a few blankets. Swipe it all!
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