I recently just had my first child (yay!). I tend to be a very prepared, plan ahead kind of person, but I took FOREVER to pack my hospital bag. Really, I was still adding to it right before leaving for the hospital…then again, I tend to be an over-packer. Thankfully our little girl had no plans of showing up early.
I had to ask myself – What was necessary? What was important to me? What would provide comfort in the moments when I needed it most?
Based on a lot of different resources and lists from others who had experienced labor and delivery, I compiled my own list of hospital bag must haves. I’ll preface this by saying I had a hospital birth, and I ended up being induced. I packed with the intentions of having a natural birth, but ultimately had an emergency cesarean delivery. Ultimately some of the things I packed I didn’t end up having much use for.
Realistically, you could go to the hospital with the bare minimum and still have all that you need. Everyone prepares differently, but these are the things that were helpful in my hospital bag for labor and delivery.
Hospital Bag Must Haves for Mom:
- Insurance card and I.D. – pre-register at your hospital if you can so you have less paperwork to do when you’re sleep deprived.
- Phone and charger – extra long charging cord or an extension cord
- SNACKS! – You really don’t know how long you’ll be in labor or at the hospital (in my case I labored for over 24 hours). These mainly come in handy for your support person/spouse, but I did have some lifesaver mints and jolly ranchers for myself during labor. This was so helpful when my mouth was dry and my breath was probably disgusting. I also looked forward to the distraction.
- Devices and charging cords – for playing music, reading books, or general entertainment. I used my tablet for playing calm music throughout my labor
- Labor/Delivery/Nursing Hospital Gown – this was worth EVERY penny for me, since the hospital gowns provided are so uncomfortable.
- Hair ties
- Chapstick…because dry, cracked lips are no fun when you’re trying to focus on other more important things
- Essential oils – this ‘relax’ blend by everyone for everybody was my preferred scent throughout labor
- Toiletries (toothbrush, toothpaste, face wash or makeup wipes for convenience, deodorant, etc.)
- Makeup – since I regularly wear makeup, I wanted something to make me feel presentable and slightly put together for visitors)
- Handheld mirror – for easy makeup application
- Loose-fitting clothing/lounge wear/pajamas – I actually didn’t pack enough of this. Since I had a c-section I ended up being in the hospital from Thursday night (induction) to Tuesday afternoon. An extra pair of pants would have been useful, especially since I had to be mindful to wear pants that did not press against my incision. I was obsessed with these pants throughout my pregnancy and post partum recovery. Also, high-waisted leggings are a beautiful thing.
- Sandals – for the shower
- Your own pillow(s)
- Sleep eye mask
- Robe or zip up/cardigan – I found this helpful to quickly cover up when I had visitors.
- Socks and slippers – if you don’t want to wear the hospital grippy socks. I loved having these slippers for easy slip on and off!
- Going home outfit – remember, you will likely still want something loose since you may still look about six months pregnant. Also, if you plan to nurse bring an outfit with easy access.
- Underwear – This is all about preference and somewhat circumstantial. Since I had a longer hospital stay and a c-section, I was happy to have a few pairs of these high-waisted underwear to keep everything supported and to have clothing that wasn’t rubbing against my incision. I personally could only handle a few days of the mesh panties, but I know some people prefer them.
- Extra tote/collapsible bag – the hospital sends you home with a lot of items/toiletries for both you and baby
- Baby book – if you want to have your baby’s footprints placed inside. Our hospital actually did the footprints on stickers and did an extra set for us, so really you could skip bringing the baby book and bring the stickers home to place inside later.
- Witch hazel, Tucks, perineal spray, and a peri bottle – I can’t truly speak to these since I ended up having a c-section, but I packed these items with the intent of using them after they were highly recommended by others. Some hospitals may provide them.
If you plan to breastfeed:
- Nursing bras and/or tanks – even if you don’t plan to nurse, a front zip sports bra or something that unsnaps easily would be great for easy skin-to-skin time! These have been my favorite nursing tank tops and these are by far my favorite nursing sleep bras.
- Nursing pillow – I have both the boppy and my brest friend pillow. They both offer different benefits.
- Nursing pads – I brought a few of the disposable Lansinoh nursing pads just in case and made sure to have a stash at home as well. Everyone’s body is a little different. Some women experience leaking soon after delivery or even throughout the end of their pregnancy.
Our hospital provided many pads of varying sizes, mesh panties to hold said pads in place, towels, and plenty of pain meds, so I didn’t bother packing any of these items.
Hospital Must-Haves for Baby:
- Car seat
- Outfit – for photos/birth announcement if you plan to do so at the hospital
- Swaddle or blanket for photos – I fell in love with this swaddle design for our summer baby
- Going home outfit – have at least one newborn size outfit and 0-3 months size just in case
- Mittens – to prevent scratches
Our hospital provided diapers, wipes, a sleep sack/swaddle, hats, receiving blankets, and bathing necessities while we were there. They even sent us home with all of these as well. No need to waste room in your diaper bag bringing these items to the hospital.
If you’re still in the process of deciding what items to buy for baby, see my post “Baby Registry Must-Have Items: Newborn and Beyond” here.
Hospital Must-Haves for your Support Person:
- At least one change of clothes
- SNACKS – as mentioned above
- Pillow and blanket
- Phone and charger
- Cash and/or card – for parking and food/vending machines
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