This post was previously posted on my blog Geeky-Mama.com. It’s been popular on Pinterest and I hope it continues to help anyone looking for a little guidance on what to pack for a birth!
I just have to cringe when I think back to the things that were (and were not) in my hospital bag for my first child. We brought tons of diapers (not even needed) and frilly outfits with an unseemly amount of buttons that no wiggling newborn was about to be wrestled into. It was a disaster. With my second I tried to go the opposite way, bringing just one bag to the hospital. We ended up having to make a trip home to get necessary things, like clothes for me to wear home. With my third I feel like I finally got it right. We had everything we needed but also didn’t have a bunch of unnecessary items that were just in the way. So I figured I’d share what I brought in my hospital bag for my third child!
The image to the right is the full list, which has been broken up into sections below, if you’d like to Pin or share the whole thing.
I was induced with all three of my kids so the things I brought were geared towards being comfortable and entertained during long stretches of waiting. These things may or may not be helpful to you, but hopefully they can give you some ideas!
I have always loved big, roomy totes, and when it comes to containing all of your stuff in one place1 they’re a life saver. I packed all of my stuff into one of my Kate Spade travel totes, which included:
- Hygiene bag
- Makeup bag
- Comfortable things to wear under my gown
- Comfortable outfit to wear home
- Hand lotion (a real necessity as sanitizer can dry your hands out like crazy, and you’ll be using a ton of sanitizer in those first few days)
A hygiene bag or travel kit packed with travel sized toiletries is always nice to have when staying away from home. I was given the Philosophy Welcome Baby gift set and it was great. It contained the Purity facial cleanser, Hope in Jar moisturizer, and Pure Grace shower cream and body lotion. A few little things that smell divine and help you pamper yourself. Don’t forget your toothbrush/toothpaste and deodorant!
In a small bag I brought some essential makeup items – BB cream, mascara, lip balm, blush, and roll-on perfume. Makeup may be the last thing from your mind during labor, but afterwards it’s the little things that help make you feel human again.
A nursing sleep bra is a must even if you don’t intend to nurse; they’re very comfortable and supportive without being restrictive, and your breasts are going to need that. For the first day or so afterwards you’ll probably be wearing those mesh disposable undies that are capable of holding the gigantic pads and ice packs and other glorious things that nurture your ladybits, but personally I like to get back into cotton underwear at least a day before heading home. Go full coverage here and opt for a pack of inexpensive ones you won’t mind tossing afterwards. Slippers are great to have to keep your feet warm and to slip on when you want to walk2.
I’m sure some women are back into their pre-maternity jeans right after delivery, but I’m also pretty sure that unicorns exist somewhere3. I gave birth in the middle of July, so a loose tank, nursing bra4, maxi skirt, and flats were perfect. Flowing, comfortable and nothing to pinch or squeeze a puffy post-baby body.
Make sure you have your wallet with your photo ID, insurance cards, and any other pertinent information. I know this seems obvious, but it’s easy to forget.
I’ve never gone into spontaneous labor, but I can tell you when it comes to inductions there’s a lot of hurry up and wait. If you’re delivering at a hospital that doesn’t have wireless fetal monitoring (which is the best thing ever and really all hospitals should have it) you could be stuck laying in a hospital bed for hours. Your laptop or tablet can save your sanity while you wait for the action to start. Your phone is good to have on hand to keep up with friends and relatives and to make calls and send pictures once your baby has arrived. Don’t forget chargers for all of your electronics and extra SD cards, just in case.
Really all dad needs is an overnight bag. Some changes of clothes, pyjamas, slippers and his hygiene products. Andrew brought his laptop, phone and camera to keep everyone updated and take pictures. Dad will also need his wallet with his photo ID, and it helps to have some bills and change for the vending machines.
The hospital provides a lot of these things (more on that in a moment), but I brought them along because I prefer certain products and to use when we were headed home.
You’ll most likely have dozens of those pink-and-blue striped blankets in your hospital room, but I personally love Aden + Anais’ muslin swaddle blankets. They’re soft and stretchy and give a great fit without being too tight or making baby too hot. Also their dream blankets are fantastic! I refer to them as snuggly blankets because I mostly use them for tucking in and when holding baby for snuggles.
There’s not much cuter than a newborn in a white onesie. I love Carter’s bodysuits because they’re well made and soft and just feel more substantial than cheaper ones. I brought booties, hats, mittens and socks along with us to keep baby warm and comfy. But of course I always made sure to get a picture of brand new baby in those adorable pink and blue hats and mittens the hospital provides.
I love The Honest Company. Their lotion, shampoo, and sanitizer smell lovely. I’m not entirely sure they’re really healthier than Johnson’s or anything else really, I’m just a sucker for cute packaging. If you don’t have a preference for baby toiletries you don’t even have to bring these. The hospital will provide you with shampoo and lotion, likely Johnson ‘s.
I’ve had two winter babies and now a summer baby, and it was definitely far easier to dress the summer baby. When it comes to what your newborn wears home you can rely on a simple of rule of thumb:
When it’s cold: dress baby in the same layers you’re wearing, plus one more.
When it’s hot: dress baby in the same layers you’re wearing.
Additional note: the plus one when it’s cold can be a blanket, which I suggest using when you’re leaving the hospital as you’ll probably only spend a few minutes outside and the rest of the time in a warm car traveling home. You don’t want baby to get too overheated so it’s nice to be able to remove a layer by just pulling off the blanket. Also, even when it’s hot it’s nice to have a thin blanket with you to cover baby if they seem to be getting too cool, especially in an air conditioned car
If you plan to cloth diaper you should throw a few of those in as well! If you don’t have a diaper preference you don’t have to worry about packing them, the hospital will provide them.
Here are a few items that aren’t necessary but can help make your hospital stay more comfortable.
I love our Boppy and it makes propping up baby for nursing so much easier than trying to arrange a bunch of pillows into the right position, not something you want to deal with when you’re trying to breastfeed for the first time (and trust me, even if you’ve done it before, when you have a new baby it’s your first time breastfeeding).
Your hospital provides pillows and blankets for your hospital bed, and most likely has some for dad along with a place to sleep, but I’m very particular about my pillows and the flat hospital ones simply don’t cut it. Andrew brought a throw for himself because he says one of those typical woven hospital blankets isn’t enough to keep him warm (hospitals are often chilly) but two is too much. So to avoid any discomforts (even minor ones can suck when you have a brand new baby) it doesn’t hurt to bring your own.
Despite popular misconceptions I’ve never been disappointed in the food I received at the hospital (but then I’ve always birthed in birthing centers that had separate kitchens from the main hospitals) and it is actually quite easy to procure food from other sources if you don’t like it. Many places will deliver to the hospital, ask your nurse about how to go about doing that. And of course you can always bring your own food. I made sure to have some drinks and snacks on hand for after birth and when we’re up late at night with baby.
I’ve mentioned a few times that there are quite a few things the hospital will provide you. Honestly it’s been my experience that you could walk into a hospital and give birth and be completely taken care of for your entire stay as long as you have a car seat and the clothes on your back for when you leave. Here are things that most hospitals will provide for you:
- Nursing pads and lanolin
- Sanitizer, and tons of it
- If you need a pump a lactation consultant can help you with that. If you use an electric pump while in the hospital they’ll give you the pump kit to go with it, or they’ll give you a manual pump.
- Postpartum recovery items for the war zone that was once your vagina (if you have a c-section they’ll definitely provide you with all of the items necessary for the care of your incisions)
- Hospital gown
- Formula if you need or want it
- Diapers and wipes for baby
- Those cute little button tees (they’re great for squirmy newborns and new parents), hats and blankets for baby
- Baby toiletries like diaper cream and lotion
- Bulb aspirator (toss it when you leave, those things don’t ventilate well and get very gross very quick)
- Pacifier if you want one
So there you have it, all of my wisdom from three births. I hope this is helpful!
What other things would you suggest people bring/leave behind when headed to the hospital?
Which is nice to be able to do in a hospital room. ↩
I’ve seen the floor of my birthing suite before they cleaned up. No matter how much bleach they use, I wouldn’t walk on it in my bare feet. ↩
The existence of narwhals kind of proves this. ↩