I’m a planner. I am a ‘prepared, get it done, check-it-off my list kinda girl.’ Yet, when it came to packing my hospital bag (for all of my children), I avoided it like the plague. It was daunting – I got overwhelmed and confused. With my first child, I started crying while trying to plan my hospital bag. What is it about this task that makes it so darn overwhelming?
Recently, I put together a packing list for a friend of mine who was expecting – along with some of the toiletry items she would need for her bag. She loved the gift. Several people asked me for the list – so I thought I would share it here, too.
Here is my Hospital Packing Guide. I hope this list can help other expecting mammas out there!
Hospital Packing Guide – For Mom
- Hospital Wear:
Choose comfort over fashion. Consider having 3-4 options. Nightgowns, particularly nursing nightgowns, will work whether you had a vaginal birth or C-Section. It may be most comfortable for you and makes it easier for the nurses to examine you. Some opt for comfortable, roll-over waisted pants. With my first pregnancy, I wanted nothing to do with pants. Frankly, I was so exhausted from 12 hours of labor and then an emergency C-Section that I stayed in a hospital gown. With my twin girls, I actually went for the pants along with a nursing tank and sweater. I felt more put together – but mostly I chose pants because my legs tend to swell post-partum (new moms – it happens!), so I preferred to cover them up!
|You can find nursing gowns like this all-over. Paired with a sweater or robe, it’s perfect for the hospital and you’ll feel more put-together. (Photo: Expressiva)|
- Going Home Outfit: A nursing tank, sweater or cardigan along with leggings or yoga pants are easy and comfortable. Again, I preferred leggings because my legs swelled to (what felt like) double their size! I had no interest in showing them off! Another easy option is to do a simple nursing/maternity dress and sweater. Many of the maternity dresses double as nursing dresses. Be sure to choose a pair of loose-fitting shoes to wear home in case you do have some swelling. You’ll NOT be wanting to squeeze your feet into anything.
|I wore something like this home. And as Duchess Kate reminded the world, you may still have a baby belly after delivery. And that’s okay. (Photo: BodenUSA)|
|Great maternity dress/nursing dress – also great option to wear home. (Photo: PinkBlush Maternity)|
- Underwear: Buy a pack of cheap ones that you can throw away. Go a size or two bigger. I personally opted to use the hospital provided panties. Post-partum, they give you these big huge pads to wear. Since I had a C-Section dressing to hold into place, the hospital pair worked best. They were like the tops of pantyhose. Not attractive, not cute, but SUPER functional.
- Pads : The hospital provided pads, but they can be thick, bulky and cheap. I preferred the Always Dri-Weave, so I brought my own box to use. Plus, they were thinner and more comfortable.
- Socks or Flip Flops: My hospital provided anti-skid socks, but I was not a fan. Decide what makes you comfortable – slippers, socks, flipflops but you definitely do NOT wanting to be walking around barefoot. I opted to keep a pair of flip flops by my bedside (cheap Old Navy brand) that I could put on quickly when I got out of bed. I also wore them in the shower and decided to toss them at the hospital when I left. Additionally, I had a pair of slippers to wear for when my feet were cold.
- Nursing :
- Nursing bra or nursing tank (built in bra inside is great)
- Nipple Cream: (Like Lanisoh) My hospital provided nipple cream, so I actually took advantage of that and saved my own supply.
- Breast Pump: This really depends on your situation. I never pumped in the hospital. It may be the kind of thing that you can leave at home or in your car. Your husband or family member can retrieve if it is needed. Many hospitals have them for rental if the need does arise and you don’t have one.
- Nursing Pillow : I never used mine at the hospital. I had C-Sections, so I couldn’t sit upright to use the pillow properly. Therefore, I used the hospital pillows. You can also think ahead and give it to a family member (like a parent) who will be coming to the hospital anyway – they can then bring it to lighten your load.
- Toiletries :
Body wash, lotion, Antibacterial Hand Gel, Deoderent, Q-Tips, Toothpaste, Lip Balm, Brush/Comb, Wet Wipes, Headbands/Ponytail holders/Bobby Pins, Moisturizer, Facial Wash, Contacts/Glasses, Tylenol, Prenatal Vitamins (keep taking these) and any medications you take regularly. Hair blow dryer – I did see some moms actually doing their hair. Whatever works for you! With my last pregnancy, I had a scheduled C-Section, so I actually had a really great wash/cut and blow out the night before I was scheduled. It lasted the three days I was in the hospital. May be gross to some, but my hair looked great….and admit it, we all rock the hairdresser hair for more days than we care to admit!
I recommend heading to a drugstore or beauty supply store like Harmons that has great travel sized bottles of the above mentioned products. I loved being able to use them up and just toss them at the hospital.
Makeup Bag: Keep it simple! Or not, it’s up to you. I personally put on a bit of eye makeup, light mineral foundation, blush and lip gloss – just made me feel better each day.
- Other Misc Items: License/ID, Health Insurance Card (even though I was preregistered) any forms needed for the hospital, Cash/Change, Debit/Credit Card.
- Small Gifts: The nurses and aides do so much for you. I bought a few cute notepads and boxes of chocolate from HomeGoods/TJMaxx and stuffed them in my bag to have to give out with a quick thank you on my last day.
- Chargers & Electronics – phone chargers, laptop, laptop chargers, kindle, etc. Camera & camera accessories.
- Snacks: My hospital provides a REALLY nice maternity floor menu. Almost like room service. Want a club sandwich and fries? Done. (Seriously… and my husband wondered why I was not upset about staying an extra night.) However, if you’re not so lucky or if you get hungry between a meal, having a few small snacks on hand is nice. I tossed in a couple of KIND Bars for both my husband and I. Gum, breathmints or hard candy are great to have as well.
- Drinking Water : I put a couple of gallons of bottled water in our car and had my husband get them as needed. I am one of those people that does not like the taste of tap water. So I definitely wasn’t drinking hospital tap water. Yes, I watched the nurse’s aide fill it up in my bathroom sink. Blech. For me, the bottled water was nice to have on hand.
- Water bottle: I threw my workout water bottle in my bag. I wasn’t interested in the hospital plastic cups or drinking from a small styrofoam cup. Bottom line, I guess I’m a bit of a snob about my water!
- Extra Bag or Bags: I brought a few reusable grocery bags – small enough to fold up in my bag, but great for the extra stuff you always end up taking home.
- Binding Band: The Belly Bandit is great or if you know you are having a CSection, the Abdomend is fantastic! The Abdomend is a LIFESAVER and will help strengthen that tender region! They also help you shrink your post-baby belly.
|Abdomend – for C-Section Recovery|
Now, on to Baby:
- Swaddle Blankets : Your hospital will probably provide you with nice, big receiving blankets, so it’s up to you if you want to use your own. Remember, they do get soiled, and the hospital supply is unlimited.
- Clothing for Baby : Our hospital provided side-snap t-shirts. The babies just wore that and a swaddle. Find out what your hospital does to determine if you need to provide clothing for the baby. Keep in mind, your baby will changed/examined and have a ‘belly button stub’. You’ll want to be careful that the clothing doesn’t rub that area. Plus, the less clothing to remove, the easier with a newborn. Newborns naturally curl up into the fetal and keep their arms and legs tight – they are impossible to change! If you do bring your own clothing, think uncomplicated, like sleeping gowns. Sticking with the hospital side snap t-shirts and blankets also ensured that I didn’t have to bring home soiled items (because they will get soiled and you’ll go through a ton).
- Baby’s Going Home Outfit: Again, keep it simple. Yes, I know, you want baby to be cute, handsome, pretty, dolled up. But it’s possible to do that in a simple way. Be sure to keep the season in mind! Babies do want to be kept warm — but keeping a baby ‘warm’ in 90 degree weather is different than keeping baby warm in the middle of the winter.
|Easy – dressy sleeper gown!|
- “Mittens” for baby’s hands – so they don’t scratch themselves
- Pacifiers: If you choose to use. My hospital provided the soothie type pacifier and these were fine with me.
- Diapers/Wipes : Our hospital provided all the diapers & Wipes we needed, so I just had a few on hand just in case.
- Diaper Ointment/Vaseline : Our hospital also provided these; I had a small size with me of my own. However, if the hospital provided it, I used it. Just makes things easier.
- Bottles – If you’re bottle feeding/using formula.
- Baby nail files: Those little nails are super sharp – so instead of trying to clip those little fingernails, I used a baby nail file to tame some of the sharper ones.
Don’t Forget Dad!
I packed an extra shirt/t-shirt/boxers/t-shirt for my husband in my bag. He appreciated being able to change after the birth – since he had been in the same stuff for a long while. He did pack a bag of his own, with contact lense case, glasses, his gadgets/chargers, toothbrush, etc. Find out, too, if they provide blanket & pillow for Dad if he is staying over.
We had a gift for my older son from his twin sisters all ready-to-go. This was something my mother brought with her to the hospital once the babies were born. I also packed a bag for him with a change of clothes, some simple toys, games, crayons, books, etc, that he could have on hand in case he got a little bored while visiting. I also gave him a baggie with money – he absolutely was thrilled by the idea of the vending machines. Each time he visited, he got to pick something. He was 3. It’s the small things.
Other Reminders & Things to Keep in Mind:
- If you are scheduled C-Section or do end up having a C-Section (never say never)…remember that you will be in the hospital an extra night or two. Plan for that.
- Ask people who will surely be coming to the hospital to bring some things or take some gifts home. We ended up getting a ton of gifts from family in the hospital. I asked my mother to take these items home for us.
- As mentioned above, go on a tour of your hospital and find out exactly what the hospital provides and has available. Some hospitals even give you a list of what they recommend you to bring vs. what they have on hand for both you and baby.
Goodluck & Happy Planning!
If I forgot something – or you have any other tips, please feel free to comment below!