I love packing my hospital bag, I pack it way too early every time but it gets me so excited for baby to come and makes that big day seem like it’s coming sooner, even if it’s not. I’ve had most of my bag packed for over a month now, but you really don’t need to pack it until you’re 37 weeks, and then you are likely to be safe.
I actually pack two bags for the hospital. One is for the labor and delivery room and one is for the recovery/long stay room. That way we aren’t lugging a big bag in and out of labor and delivery, and I just send my husband to grab the overnight bag out of the car once we’re in our long-term room. I also had to go to the hospital triage a few times for preterm labor/false labor and liked having my things I wanted for delivery on me in case I had baby that day, so I keep the smaller, labor and delivery bag in the car. There’s also a good chance if this is your first baby, you might go to the hospital thinking you are in labor, and not be. You don’t want to lug a suitcase in and then be sent home, that only worsens the sting. Here’s a complete list of what I pack in my bags, I like to have everything I need, but not have loads of bags/junk to carry (and at the end is what I wouldn’t bring):
Labor and Delivery Bag. (Small purse, possibly small enough to fit in my regular purse)
Camera. This is my #1 must have. If I had nothing else, I would want my camera to document everything. Bring extra batteries if you think you’ll need them, or an extra memory card.
Phone Charger. You can be in triage for a looooong time, whether it be the day you deliver or an unexpected trip you have to make, and everyone who loves you is going to want play by play updates. Same goes for if you are admitted and baby is coming. Your family won’t be happy if you drop off the grid in the middle of labor. In fact, my phone charger stays in my purse once I’m in the third trimester because if my family couldn’t get a hold of me, they always assumed something had happened to me or baby. Good to Know: Everyone in triage can hear your conversations, so don’t say anything you don’t want the ladies around you to hear. I heard some sensational stories and some awkward ones that kept me from getting bored, but I’m pretty sure my neighbors wouldn’t have enjoyed knowing I could hear them.
Phone/Laptop/Tablet. There is a LOT of down time in labor and delivery. Even if you show up with three minute apart contractions and you think you won’t be able to focus on anything except the giant change your life is about to have, there is a really good change you will get bored at some point. My first trip to triage(I had preterm labor), I had to wait six hours before they could release me. I had no technology, and as I said before, my phone died. I was bored out of my mind. The day I actually had Sawyer, I spent four or five hours just progressing in labor, and having my laptop there to distract me and update friends was so nice, it made the time pass much faster. Tablets are great because they are so convenient and you can carry it on you all the time in case you go to L&D from somewhere other than home. I hated how bulky my laptop was. I loaded mine up with music too. Don’t forget the charger.
Rubber bands. There’s nothing worse than not having a hairband when you need one.
Lip Balm. I hate when my lips are dry, cannot stand it! I keep an extra Maybelline Baby Lips in clear in my bag in case I don’t have any. Since you may not eat or drink for hours, your lips will thank you for having chapstick.
Cash. I told my husband to eat before he met me at the hospital, but labor took took so long he was starving after a few hours and he didn’t want to leave to get food in case something happened and he missed the birth. Most labor and delivery floors have a vending machine somewhere that’s not far where your hubby can grab snacks easily and come back.
My Bigger, Overnight Bag ( contents pictured)
Robe. I hate wearing the hospital gown any longer than I have to, so as soon as I’m in my recovery room and can function well, I change into my own clothes. I like wearing a nursing tank top, yoga pants or sweats, and a robe that covers well so I look decent for visitors and cute in the hallways. Mine hits right at my hips which is nice since you will most likely get blood on the bed, and this way it doesn’t also stain your robe. I got so many compliments on my robe while I was in the hospital. Here is the link to my robe, but I love this similar one, and this blue one and this crazy fancy one too.
Comfy Pants. Some people hate having anything even relatively fitted on their bottom half after having a baby, but I couldn’t stand having really loose bottoms on. Having fitted, but not tight pants on helped keep the lovely hospital pads and undies in places, leading to less leaking and more comfort for me. Those one size fits all panties they have are not one size fits all. I needed three pairs, you’re bound to bleed out onto at least one.
Nursing Tank Tops. I lived in these for about three weeks after having my first. They are really easy to nurse out of and I didn’t want to waste money on trying tons of different bras until my chest had decided what size to stay. Good to Know: I went through three or four bra sizes between the last month I was pregnant and two months post-partum. You might want to hold off on spending a lot of money on nursing bras until you plateau out a bit. The nursing tanks I have are these ones from Target. Everyone I know who has that same one loves it. They are the best I’ve tried!
Big, Comfy Undies. Like I said, the hospital “one size fits all” mesh undies you hear so much about are not one size fits all. As soon as I stood up in them, they fell down. They constantly were falling down or sliding around a ton, and when you are bleeding as much as you will be, that is not what you want. I suggest bringing four or five pairs of boring, cheap undies in a few sizes larger than you normally wear and using those instead. You want them big to accommodate all of the lovely pads, ice packs, wipes and other things they will have you wearing down there. No cheeksters or skimpy, lacey things because that’s right, they make special post-baby ice packs for in your underwear, hence the nickname “padcicles.” Be sure to have a nurse show you how to layer all of these items if it’s your first time.
Toiletries. No shower in your life will feel as good as your first post-baby shower. Most hospitals don’t provide toiletries, so make sure you bring shampoo, conditioner, body wash, etc. I liked having my regular toiletries, it made me feel a little more like myself, and less like a bomb had just gone off inside me. I also bring my make-up, as I saw more people and had more pictures taken of me in those first few days than in years of my life, and it felt really good to get prettied up a little. Other things to remember- toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, face wash, hairbrush, more rubber bands.
Nipple Cream. Nursing creams will save you when nursing starts to hurt. Use it right away, trust me. I’m trying out the Honest Companies this time, it is organic and I like the idea of using something natural.
BE Firming Eye Treatment. This amazing little product gets a description all on it’s own. It’s my best friend, my secret weapon. Honestly, I don’t know what I would do without it. Even if you have only had two hours of sleep, if you put this on, your eyes unpuff, and you look amazingly well-rested. I am prone to dark circles under my eyes, and using this every day has made a HUGE difference. I used this every day in the hospital to help my face wake up, and reduce puffiness in my eyes. There are just not enough great things I could say about this product. I only use a small pea-sized amount under my eyes and on my lids, and it last forever. Can be bought here.
Flip Flops. For the shower, for walking around, they’re great to have in case you need them.
Pillow. I didn’t do this with my first one, but will with the second. I hated the hospital pillows. I like a nice firm, thick pillow and the hospital ones were flat as pancakes. I had to ask for extras so I could pile them up behind my head; this time I’ll bring my own. I’m also making sure it’s in a bright pillowcase so they know it’s mine and don’t take it for laundry.
Blanket for Baby. While the nurses love to wrap the babies up in the pink and blue striped blankets, I liked having my own blanket for my baby. It was softer, snugglier, and made the hospital experience a little more personal for me. The hospital photographer also used it as the background for his pictures. (We have these and love them since they are so soft and lightweight)
An Extra Bag. You get so many gifts while in the hospital, you’ll need an extra bag (I just folded up a canvas market tote inside my overnight bag). There’s the free gift from Similac or Enfamil, which is quite bulky, welcome gifts from the hospital (ours included a silver spoon and cookies), plus any gifts your friends or family bring, and then there’s all of the items you take with you when you leave like the diapers/wipes/etc. I’ve heard of some people going overboard and even taking the pillows, but really it’s just the disposable items that you can take. Good to Know: A good rule of thumb is if they opened the package for you, it’s yours to take. I take the diapers, cloth wipes (they make good cleaning rags), the blue pidddle pads they have under baby, and the pink ones they have on your bed. The reason I take the last two is because the blue ones they have under the baby are awesome for putting under your changing table cover in case baby gets it messy; it makes for easy clean up, they also fit great in bassinets. Same for the pink ones. I use them under the pack and play sheet (those pack and play mattresses can be ruined if they get too wet), in the crib under the sheet, or anywhere else I need them. They’re great to have around.
Something to Wear Home. I wore sweats and a hoodie, some like to dress up more, I was happy to be comfortable.
Clothes for Baby. I love finding a cute, tiny little coming home outfit for my newborns. It’s the first time I ever really get them dressed, and they’re first time seeing the world. I love those tiny little clothes! I love these sweet, vintagey prints for girls, and this little number for boys.
The Car Seat. This won’t be in your bag, per se, but you’ve gotta have it to leave. After my pre-term labor scares, we left ours in the car for the last two months I was pregnant, just in case. Always better to be prepared, but if you live close enough to get it easily, just make sure your husband knows how to install it, or have the base already installed.
What I brought the first time that I won’t bring again:
Baby Book. I wanted to get his footprints right in the baby book, but the labor and delivery nurses told me that the staff nurses would do it, and the staff nurses told me they didn’t do it. They did do them in labor and delivery, just on a pretty take home certificate, so I do have them, and I just put that in the book. I didn’t have time/energy to write in anything in it in the hospital, so it ended up being forgotten about and taking up lots of bulky space in my bag. Next time, I’ll just leave it at home.
Nursing Pads. Most people’s milk doesn’t come in in the hospital, and if it does, your Lactation Consultant should have free samples of them, you just have to ask.