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I remember packing my hospital bag when I was pregnant with my oldest son and having no idea what I would really need. Thankfully when I gave birth the second time around, I had learned many lessons from the first time and had a much better idea of what to pack and what not to pack. If you are a first time mom, hoping to get it right the first time, here are a few bits of advice from this “been-there-done-that” mom.
Don’t Wait Too Long To Pack
I was 32 weeks pregnant when I went into preterm labor with my oldest son. I remember being sent from my OBGYN’s office straight to Labor and Delivery and thinking “I don’t even have my bag packed yet”!!! Thankfully they were able to stop the preterm labor and I was able to give birth at 37 weeks. But when they sent me home at 32 weeks, I was on bedrest for the next 5 weeks. Working with my husband to pack my hospital bag while on bedrest was quite a challenge. I learned from this experience, that next time I would have the majority of my bags packed and ready to go by 30 weeks.
Do Not Overpack
There are so many things you will not need because the hospital will provide them for you. Your insurance is paying big money for these items, so you may as well use what you are paying for.
The hospital will provide:
- disposable diapers for baby
- diaper cream
- white onesies
The hospital will also provide everything you need for your own postpartum care such as:
- numbing spray
- ice packs
- mesh underwear
- hemorrhoid cream
- sitz bath
- squirter bottle
If you run out of any of these supplies, just ask your nurse to bring you more. I stocked up before I left the hospital, so I had enough to get me through my recovery at home.
Our hospital recommended packing a small bag that we would bring into Labor and Delivery and then we would bring the rest of our bags in once we were moved to a maternity suite. You do not need too many items for your L&D bag. In fact you may be able to fit everything you need into a purse. But a few items to remember to bring into L&D include:
Your Birth Plan
This includes your actual birth plan (if you have one) and any items you need for your birth plan (focus object, headphones, etc). Personally I overpacked for this the first time. I brought cards thinking I would be able to play a game and distract myself from the pain – ha! The second time around I had no plan at all. I went in knowing that at the end of the day, the baby would tell me how things were going to go down!
Make sure you pack your ID, insurance card, registration forms, information on your pediatrician, a copy of your will, and any other important paperwork such as cord blood paperwork, etc.
A few personal items you may want to consider bringing include hair ties, chapstick, a camera, cell phone and any electrical chargers.
Post Labor and Delivery Items for Mom
After hours of sweating and being covered in entirely too much blood, I could not wait to take my first postpartum shower. You will want to pack all of your own toiletries such as body soap, shampoo, conditioner, and a wash cloth.
Towel and Flip Flops
I also enjoyed having my own large and cozy towel. You don’t necessarily have to pack your own, but I found the towels that the hospital provided to be small and a little rough. I also packed an old pair of flip-flops to wear inside the shower. It’s a hospital, so I would hope they do a good job cleaning the bathrooms, but I still felt more comfortable wearing my flip-flops.
After getting fresh and clean, the last thing I wanted to do was put on a recycled-for-the-millionth-time hospital gown. I really wanted to wear something new, fresh, clean and somewhat cute since I knew I would be taking a million pictures. However, I also knew that I needed something I could easily breastfeed in, and something that would allow the nurses easy access to my undercarriage. The perfect solution for me, was buying my own labor and delivery gown. This article of clothing was so convenient for nursing and it was so comfortable. They can be pricey but I used mine after both of my boys births. Not just in the hospital, but also for weeks at home. You can shop your own gown here.
You will also want to pack any non-shower toiletries such as makeup, deodorant, hair gel, moisturizer, toothbrush/toothpaste, mouthwash, hair brush, contacts/contact solution/contact case, glasses, etc.
In terms of undergarments, if you plan to nurse, you will need to wear a nursing bra 24/7 for the first few weeks, while your milk comes in. This came as a surprise to me and I hate sleeping in a bra. Thankfully Amazon and other retailers sell these nursing bras designed especially to sleep in.
Now that we have the top half covered, let’s talk post partum underwear! Whether you deliver via c-section or vaginal birth – you will experience A LOT of vaginal bleeding. So much that you will basically be wearing an adult diaper the first few days. Hemorrhoid cream, adult diapers- are you getting excited yet?? Hahah! But back to the diaper, you will need extra large underwear (preferably black or dark colored), to hold up yours diaper or pads. The hospital will provide large mesh undies for this purpose, but I preferred wearing my own. This will be your call. I really like these ones.
I enjoyed having a pair of cozy slippersto wear when walking around the room to use the bathroom or pick up the baby. Socks will also do the trick, but if slippers are more your thing, make sure to pack them.
Dirty Clothes Bag
Anytime I travel, I bring an empty trash bag to hold all my dirty clothes. This is especially helpful to have after giving birth so that bloody items aren’t shoved into a suitcase with clean clothes.
After all my visitors left each night, and after nursing my son, it was so nice to have a favorite snack or two to nibble on while watching some tv and relaxing. You just gave birth, you have permission to treat yourself.
Newborn and 0-3 Month Clothes
As mentioned above, the hospital will supply almost everything you need for your baby. However, if you want to dress your little one in cute sleepers or outfits you will need to pack those yourself. I made the mistake of packing almost all 0-3 months clothes for my oldest son. He was a chubby little guy, born at 7lbs 4.5ounces, but he didn’t fit into 0-3 month clothes until he was about one month old. I really regretted not packing, or even having, more newborn size clothing. If you are worried newborn clothes will be too small, then I suggest at least packing a few options in both newborn and 0-3 months just in case.
When both my sons were born they emerged with talons! I could not believe how long and sharp their nails were. Thankfully you can buy adorable baby mittensdesigned to keep your little one from scratching their face. This was a must have item for us.
Burp Cloths, Blankets, Hats and Socks
The hospital will provide burp cloths, a knit hat, and blankets, but if you have something cute and/or special you want to use, bring it. I don’t remember the hospital providing socks for either of my sons, so that would also be something you would want to bring.
Outfit for Mom
I wore my L&D gown the entire time I was in the hospital, both to sleep in and during the day. However you will need at least one “real” outfit to put on for when you leave the hospital. You will most likely be leaving the hospital wearing an adult diaper, so I highly suggest packing an outfit that is comfortable and stretchy. My suggestion would be either black yoga pants or sweatpants with a big t-shirt. If you want to look a little more “put-together”, you could try leggings with a big sweater. Whatever you pack, keep in mind that your uterus doesn’t immediately shrink the second you give birth. So if you want to pack pre-pregnancy jeans, more power to ya! But I personally don’t suggest it. You may also be dealing with swollen feet, so pack shoes that are comfortable and roomy.
Outfit for Baby
Most parents plan a special “going home” outfit to bring their little one home in. There are no rules around what that outfit should look like or be, but just make sure you are keeping in mind the season and weather as you prepare.
The Car Seat
While technically not an item for your “bag”, you will not be allowed to leave the hospital without a car seat. So this is a top priority item to have ready. While purchasing and installing the car seat is a “must-do”, learning how to properly restrain your baby is even more important. Car Seat for Little’s is a wonderful resource for car seat safety as well as a great resource for helping you choose a car seat that fits your needs and budget. Our family loved the Graco Click Connect 35as an infant seat. And now we use and love the Graco 4-Ever.
Non “Bag” Items
I never sleep good when I am not in my own bed, so having my own pillow in the hospital at least helped me sleep a little better.
Let’s Get Packing
These are the main items that I needed while I was in the hospital. Of course everyone’s situation is different, but hopefully this at least serves as a starting point as you prepare your hospital bag. Some of these items you may not be able to pack until the last minute, such as your pillow or toothbrush. My advice is to pack everything you can pack in advance and then write a list labeled “Last Minute Items” and attach it to the top of your packed bags. That way, if you are rushing out the door in a hurry, or if your partner has to rush home to grab your bag, important items will not be forgotten. Best of luck, during this exciting time!
If you have questions or other ideas of items to add, drop a comment below.