Tips from a two time mama
Wondering what to pack in your hospital bag and not sure where to start? I’ve got you covered! As a first time mama, I was so overwhelmed and didn’t want to forget anything so I made a checklist. I have included a free printable version in this blog. Take advantage of the nesting phase when it happens to start on your bag. Make sure you check your hospital guidelines as they are constantly changing during COVID restrictions.
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When should I start packing?
Most women have their hospital bag packed by 36 weeks just in case they go into labor before their due date. I hate procrastinating so I had mine done by the 3rd trimester (27 weeks.) It’s okay to save a few last minute items to throw in, but overall you don’t want to be packing your entire bag while in labor.
What type of bag should I pack?
This is up to you and the facility at which you will be giving birth. I packed a rolling suitcase because we were at a large hospital and it was easier for my husband to lug in. Other mamas may only pack a small duffel bag.
While not as important, make sure your partner has their bag ready to go as well. They can use your bag or a small weekender. You will also want a small diaper bag packed with a few baby items too. Speaking of baby…
Does baby need their own bag?
Yes and no. The hospital will supply you with everything needed to care for baby during your stay. This includes clothes, hats, blankets, wipes, diapers, formula, soap, sponges, and more. You may choose to bring a few of your own items though, but a diaper bag would be sufficient. I’ll cover more on baby’s bag a little later.
Here is everything I recommend packing that you may want or need.
Let’s start with your bag first
Cash/Check Book- We paid the hospital to order baby’s Birth Certificate
Birth Plan- If you have one, don’t forget it. I recommend bringing a few copies just in case. While birth plans are great, I suggest being flexible. I had one, but everything changed in an instant and I had to do what was best for me and baby by switching to an emergency c-section. You can get some tips for writing a birth plan here.
Comfy Clothes: They are a must during the postpartum period. You won’t want to be wearing anything form fitting after birth. Especially if you have a C-section. Kindred Bravely carries a wide variety of maternity, nursing, and postpartum clothing.
Postpartum Leggings - Kindred Bravely Martina Ultra High Waist Postpartum Leggings
Highwaisted Underwear - I used these Mama Cotton Over The Bump Full Coverage Underwear during pregnancy and they were perfect postpartum. The hospital may supply you with some of the disposable mesh type, but they aren’t the most comfortable or supportive.
Robe and non-slip socks - Hospitals are notoriously chilly. The robe will make nursing much easier.
If you plan to breastfeed, these were a few of my favorites:
Toiletries: The hospital may supply some of these products, but you’re likely to want your own. Some mamas are only there for 24 hours- I was not so lucky. With my first, I was in the hospital for 6 days. My second, I was there for 4 days. I personally bought travel size toiletries so I could go ahead and pack them.
Shampoo/Conditioner and/or dry shampoo
Body wash - don’t bring anything too harsh
Toothbrush and toothpaste
Makeup - don’t go overboard here- you just had a baby!
Chapstick – Trust me
Face wash and face wipes (in case you don’t get a chance to shower right away)
Contacts, solution, and/or glasses if you need them
An Extra-long Charger Cord: Our hospital had a plug right on the side of the bedrail, but most don’t. I brought this one and it came with a carrying case. Hospital beds are normally far from any available outlets and you won’t want to keep getting in and out of bed if your phone dies. How else will you be able to announce your new bundle and update your family and friends?
Snacks and Drinks: This is a big one especially with the COVID restrictions. When we had our first, there was a common room that was stocked with drinks, sandwiches, and snacks that you could go grab whenever you wanted. With our second that was no longer available due to COVID. You’ll want a few favorites anyway. Think high protein: Nuts, granola, pretzels, various bars, dried fruit, etc. If you like a particular water brand or drink, make sure you pack some of that too.
Your Pillow- Rest is so important during labor and postpartum. What better way to ensure your comfort than your own pillow. Plus, extra pillows may be hard to come by in the hospital. I recommend a pillow case that isn’t white though. When things get crazy, you don’t want your pillow to end up missing.
Throw Blanket and Bath Towel- Hospital blankets and towels are thin and scratchy, I suggest bringing those from home as well. You’ll be glad you did.
Postpartum Care Items: Your hospital may supply most of these for you; however, if you don’t want to use theirs you can bring your own. A few suggestions would be:
A fan - They may or may not have them available at the hospital. I use a fan at home as white noise to help me sleep and would get hot flashes so it was a must have for me.
Bluetooth Speaker - Music is known to help during labor
Your pump if you plan to breastfeed - Check with your hospital if they will have one available should you need it. Our hospital normally has them, but they recommended I bring mine from home since they were in short supply at the moment.
Once you’re finished with your bag, you can move onto the baby essentials. As I mentioned earlier, you don’t need much because the hospital will supply you with everything needed to care for baby during your stay.
Car seat: They won’t let you leave without one. Make sure it is already properly installed. Some hospitals will make sure it is before letting you go. Our hospital required us to bring the infant carrier in and put him inside the seat before we could even be discharged. If you have never experienced putting a fragile newborn into a car seat, I suggest practicing with a stuffed animal at home. We used the Chicco Keyfit 30 for both boys and LOVE it!
Pacifiers: The hospital will supply one, but we decided to bring our own.
Boppy: You can always use the hospital pillows, but having my Boppy was amazing!
Clothes: Your new babe will more than likely spend most of their time wrapped in a warm blanket. Skin to skin is so important during those first few days and nurses and doctors will be constantly checking on them. But if you do decide to pack a few I suggest:
Zipper PJs - These make diaper changes and check-ups easy. Make sure you pack newborn and 0-3 mos sizing though. You never know how big or small baby is going to be until they’re here. Not to mention your baby will feel so fragile - putting their tiny head through a shirt gave me some serious anxiety.
Going Home Outfit and Hospital Pictures - Caden Lane has adorable options! We picked the knotted gown and a personalized swaddle blanket. The knotted gown was a good choice because I didn’t have to worry about the sizing. Plus, the swaddle was so much softer and snug than the hospital supplied receiving blankets.
Your pediatrician’s information: They will ask for this information a few times. Make sure you have selected one before you go into the hospital. We delivered in a different area than we live so their on-staff doctors checked on our littles and they just sent the information to our ped after discharge.
An extra bag: (you can use the diaper bag) If I’m being honest, I stashed away as much stuff as I could. They will probably send you home with a lot of freebies as well.
Your support person will want to bring a few items as well.
Pillow and throw blanket: They need sleep too!
Snacks: Trust me. They are no good hungry. You don’t want them passing out on the floor during delivery - It has happened
Toiletries: Toothbrush, deodorant, wash, shampoo/conditioner, face wash
PJs and change of clothes
Socks and Underwear: My husband ran out of what he packed with our first so grab an extra pair
Download your free printable checklist below!
I hope this was helpful. Let me know in the comments your hospital bag must have!