With this being my second child, I am using my experience from both deliveries to circle back and show you what to pack in your hospital bag. Keep in mind, I delivered during the COVID-19 pandemic, so my list includes current requirements from our local hospital.
On average, moms who deliver vaginally stay in the hospital for one to two days. But if you deliver via c-section, plan to pack for three to four days.
Please call your hospital to check what their current rules are. I was allowed to have one support person during the entire labor and delivery experience. My husband was allowed to leave once per day to check on our dog. They did not allow our 4 year old or any visitors at the hospital.
Prior to labor, we made arrangements for our daughter to spend the night with family members. Once labor started, my husband dropped me off at the emergency room and he was not allowed to accompany me since he had to care for our daughter until she was able to go with family. Therefore, definitely plan ahead.
Let’s go ahead and jump right into the must-haves.
MUST HAVE ITEMS FOR YOUR HOSPITAL BAG:
1.) Face Masks
Wear a face mask as well as your partner. (Our local hospital will not allow entrance without one.) The hospital may have you change into a mask they provide once you’re admitted. But based on my most recent experience, they will require you to wear masks any time someone enters the hospital room throughout your stay.
2.) Driver’s license, insurance card, and pen
You will need these for admission and for filling out the numerous forms after delivery. Bringing my own pen was for my own peace of mind. Plus I used it to write down our menu selections when I called to place our daily orders in advance.
3.) Your birth plan
My doctor recommended I write out a birth plan in advance. I used this FREE printable birth plan I found on The Bump. I brought one copy and they hung it up next to the computer inside the room. Each nurse would look over it after their shift change. It’s a great feeling for everyone to be on the same page.
(On a side note, I chose to use a special mirror during delivery and it made all the difference, plus I tore less because I could see the progress of each push. More on that in a separate blog post.)
4.) Phone, Phone charger, and tape
Having your phone allows you to stay in contact with family and friends. Plus you can take lots of cute newborn photos.
*The Maternal Hobbyist Tip: Pack some type of tape to use on your phone charger. After delivery, once you move to postpartum, plug in your phone charger near the hospital bed. Run the charging cord along the hospital bed’s side rail and tape it down. This ensures your phone charger won’t slip down between the rail and the mattress. It gives you easy access to plug your phone in at any time. (Make sure to use the side rail that won’t be moved up and down constantly.)
5.) A small basket of goodies for the staff
A little thank you goes a long way! After asking numerous nurses, the general consensus was the same. They are so busy working that they usually don’t have time to eat. They love snacks and food! Since I have a gluten allergy, I made sure to include gluten free snack options for others.
I made a Costco run a couple weeks before my expected due date and put together a box of individually wrapped snacks. We included bags of chips, trail mix, granola bars, Rice Krispies Treats, fruit snacks, packs of gum, and mints. I also added a thank you note on the box and told each staff member who entered, to help themselves. Once I got to postpartum, I asked my nurse if she would please take the entire box to the nurses station and share with everyone. They were so happy!
6.) A super-comfy nursing bra
During my first delivery, I was so busy thinking about my baby that I completely forgot to think about my own comfort. The second time around, I was better prepared and brought a couple comfy nursing bras. The French Terry Bra was soft, seamless, and easy to use when it was time to start nursing my little man around the clock. If you normally sleep braless, this bra is the closest feeling to that. It’s ultra soft and comfortable! However, bra-less life will become a thing of the past once your milk comes in, so be sure to bring one of these.
Another amazing option is the Sublime Hands-Free Pumping & Nursing Bra below. It’s currently my favorite bra to wear during the day because I also pump in addition to nursing. You can literally pump hands-free and you have the option to pump WHILE nursing! This is a game changer! Thankfully, the fabric is very stretchy and it comes with a size extender for the first weeks/months after delivery. This particular bra gives me much better support than all the others I tried.
*The Maternal Hobbyist Tip: Use code HOBBYIST20 to save 20% off your Kindred Bravely order!
7.) Breast pads
Once your milk comes in, you will want breast nursing pads. Some pads can irritate sore nipples. Others stick to your nipples, which are not fun to remove. Since you’ll be wearing them every day and night for a while, you definitely want comfortable, reusable ones. Kindred Bravely’s reusable bamboo nursing pads are soft without being bulky. These nursing pads don’t dimple or show through your shirt. The waterproof bag they come with is perfect for carrying wet pads after you change them out. Be sure to machine wash them on warm after you use them. But don’t use fabric softeners or dryer sheets.
8.) Nipple Cream
I’m not going to sugar coat it. Breastfeeding is painful for the first couple weeks. Your nipples will be tender and sore. So the last thing you want is more pain, cracks, blisters, and bleeding. Do yourself a huge favor and use this Organic Nipple Butter to heal those nipples. Since it goes in your baby’s mouth it’s Non-GMO Project Verified. So there’s no need to wash it off before nursing! (I’ve been using Earth Mama Organics for over 4 years now so you know it’s amazing.)
*The Maternal Hobbyist Tip: Use code HOBBYIST20 to save 20% off your Earth Mama Organics order!
Bring the things you use on a daily basis. I use my hairbrush, hair ties, toothbrush, toothpaste, floss picks, deodorant, face wash, body wash, shampoo, conditioner, hair dryer, lotion and lip balm. Bring a razor and travel shaving cream if you want to shave. But if you wear contacts, be sure to bring your contact lens case and solution. (Travel-sized products are your friends here.)
The hospital will provide pads, ice packs and numbing spray.
10.) Hand Sanitizer
I bring my hand sanitizer spray everywhere I go. Earth Mama Organics Lavender Hand Sanitizer spray is my absolute favorite! It smells heavenly and contains glycerine to leave your hands less dry.
By the way, all hand sanitizers are NOT created equal. According to the FDA, some of the hand sanitizers on the market contain the toxic ingredient, methanol. Methanol is dangerous when ingested or absorbed through the skin. It can also be fatal in large quantities. So be sure to check the FDA’s list of “do-not-use hand sanitizers” — check it out right here.
11.) EYEGLASSES (IF YOU WEAR THEM)
Since I have a gluten allergy, and the kitchen closes early, the hospital options are very limited after hours. Think juice and jello. So I knew to bring gluten free snack options this time around. (Please note that snacks must be approved by your doctor and nurses as they did not let me eat while in labor.)
Also, have your partner pack food and snacks so they don’t have to leave your bed side or wait on food to arrive. I packed my two favorite snacks as a post delivery treat. I buy these Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Heavenly Hunks from Costco. (They help my breast milk during nursing too.) I also packed this Sweet Chaos White Cheddar Popcorn to satisfy my pregnancy craving.
13.) Postpartum Undies
Although the hospital provides mesh undies, giant pee pads, ice pads, and numbing spray, this is a personal choice for me the second time around. My body shrunk more the second day and I went home wearing these Postpartum Recovery Panties. They feel much more supportive than the mesh undies or my regular undies. They actually provide just enough compression for my abdominal muscles so my stomach doesn’t feel like it’s hanging loose.
Just for reference, I’m 5’9″ and I wear a size medium. I weighed 160lbs at delivery and 125lbs prior to pregnancy. You will definitely want to wear these at home! And don’t worry about getting blood on them. Simply apply a small amount of hydrogen peroxide to help remove any staining from postpartum bleeding. Machine wash cold, gentle cycle, with like colors in a lingerie bag. Tumble dry on delicate (low.)
14.) Clothes for Baby
Pack 2-3 outfits for your newborn. With our first, we took newborn photos in one outfit. The hospital was out of newborn clothes at the time so we were very glad we brought warm pajamas for her. Then we changed her into one final outfit before we went home.
The second time around, due to COVID, there was no newborn photographer and he only wore 2 outfits. (Remember to bring socks, newborn mittens and warm layers if needed.)
I use the Boppy every time I nurse my babies, so this was an automatic pack for me. Thank goodness I did because I was so exhausted I couldn’t hold my little man up for that long without it. I highly recommend investing in a nursing pillow. They can be used for tummy time once the baby is older.
16.) Change of Clothes for yourself
Bring a comfortable outfit to head home in. A friendly reminder that you will still look 6 months pregnant, so plan accordingly. Bring socks if you prefer to wear your own over the hospital socks.
If your weather is warm, you will love this Maternity and Nursing Lounge Dress. It is super lightweight and soft. We stopped at the pharmacy on the way home, which took a while. Thankfully I wore this because my little man started crying in his car seat and his dress made it so easy to nurse him! Look how beautiful the pink fabric is.
17.) Car seat
Finally, remember to bring a car seat in order to take your baby home from the hospital. I recommend installing the base/seat into your car 2-3 weeks before delivery. That way you can avoid a time consuming hassle when you are ready to go home with your new love. You can choose to have it inspected by a certified technician as well. You can find one through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
OPTIONAL ITEMS FOR YOUR HOSPITAL BAG
Pack whatever will make you as comfortable as possible! I know a mama that took her makeup and did a full face because that’s her routine. Another mama I know that wore her heels because she doesn’t feel normal without them.
1.) Camera or Video Camera
If you want to capture your labor and delivery experience or take newborn photos and videos, bring this. Remember to bring the charger just in case.
2.) Comfy delivery gown
Rather than wearing a hospital gown with ties that take two hands to close, check out this super-soft Universal Labor and Delivery Gown. The Velcro closures extend the full length of both front and back gown openings. So it’s great for fetal monitoring, ultrasounds, C-section incision inspections, and skin-to-skin contact, and epidural placement. Plus, the shoulder snaps make nursing much easier.
I still wear mine at home as a nightgown because these newborn feedings are so frequent.
3.) Headphones or small Bluetooth speaker for music to help during labor.
Hospital Bag Checklist for Partner
Now that you know what to pack in your hospital bag, don’t forget about your partner. Here’s the simple list my husband used.
1.) Cell phone and charger
2.) A change of clothes
Bring the things you use on a daily basis like a toothbrush, deodorant, face wash, shampoo, conditioner, contact lens case and solution or eyeglasses.
Your partner may want to pack something to read, listen to or watch.
6.) Any Daily medications
One FINAL TIP FOR PACKING YOUR HOSPITAL BAG
Once your hospital bags are packed, stash your hospital bags by the door.
I recommend having your bag packed and ready to go by 35 weeks. So if the unexpected happens, you will be prepared. You want to avoid any last-minute scrambling once you go into labor and it’s time to head to the hospital.
Let me know in the comments below if there’s anything you add to my “what to pack in your hospital bag” list above. I would love to know.
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