Your approximate due date is quickly approaching, and you hear you should start packing your hospital bag for the Big Day. Especially for first-time parents, this can be really tricky. Figuring out what to bring to the hospital when you’re having a baby isn’t so easy because you’re preparing for something you’ve never done before, right?
I least that’s how I felt when I was packing my hospital bag the day before getting induced. A day after my due date. My mom would tell you, “she leaves everything until the last minute!!! See? Drives me nuts!” And she’d be right. That is how I do things. Most of the time. Sorry, mom!
Anyway, I was pretty much clueless the first time around, and I’ve ended up bringing waaay too much stuff to the hospital while leaving some of the key items at home. But the second time it was just right.
Here’s what I recommend you bring. (Adjust to your wants/needs, and don’t hesitate to ask questions!)
Hospital birth: What to bring to the hospital when you’re having a baby???
Hospital checklist for MOM:
✔ Insurance info
✔ Cell phone + charger
Because you never know…
✔ Outfit to go home in
That would mean one of the same maternity outfits you’ve been wearing in your third trimester, or any super-sized sweatpants you can find. Forget your pre-pregnancy clothes – you’re not getting a flat stomach overnight after the birth and you deserve to be as comfortable as you possibly can. You could get away with leggings, but do keep in mind that you’ll be going home wearing a pad the size of a yoga mat which needs to fit somewhere.
✔ Camera (plus charger/extra battery)
Unless you’re planning to use your cell phone for the pictures…
✔ Glasses, extra contact lenses/contact lens solution – if you use any
If you wear contacts but have glasses as well, consider bringing glasses along with you to the hospital.
✔ Hairbrush and hair elastics
I actually never used my hairbrush at the hospital, but maybe you’re less of a slob that I am. I did use my hair ties though!
✔ Toiletries: toothbrush, toothpaste, lip balm, nail file, travel-size lotion / shampoo / conditioner / face wash / body wash
The hospital will provide most of the basic necessities, but it’s always best to have your own, right? Also, the smaller the better.
You may not even end up washing your hair at the hospital, but it doesn’t hurt to bring small bottles of shampoo/conditioner with you. Same for body/face wash – you can just use water, but small bottles of each won’t take up too much space in your hospital bag.
Depending on how fancy you want to look in the hospital, you may or may not want to bring makeup with you as well. Some of us do, others don’t. I didn’t. Clearly, I didn’t even care about my hair…
✔ Hospital footwear & socks
Chances are you won’t even leave your room, but if you end up wanting/needing to move around before or after labor, any slip-on shoes or flip flops will be super helpful. Bonus: flip flops can be used in the shower, too.
You’ll also want to pack a pair of socks with you just in case you’re cold. I didn’t use mine, but you never know…
✔ Nursing (sports) bra
Whether you’re planning on nursing or not, you’ll need a comfortable bra. Those boobs that have been growing and growing throughout your pregnancy are literally going to explode overnight sooner or later after you give birth, and they will need to be contained and comfortable. You’ll want to wear a bra with no wires that is large enough and comfortable to sleep in (and to nurse in if you’re going to be breastfeeding).
✔ Snacks and drinks
You (likely) won’t be allowed to eat or drink before/during hospital labor and birth, but you’ll want to bring things for later – crackers, granola bars, nuts, apple sauce, pretty much anything that you think you might like that also doesn’t spoil easily (otherwise, bring a small cooler).
You’ll be provided with meals, snacks, and drinks during your hospital stay – you won’t be starving. I was really hungry both times after I gave birth though – I guess giving birth really IS a marathon! – so I was glad to have extra food with me as well. Also, your hospital food may be OK, or it could be questionable. Both times – two different hospitals – I’ve either been served delicious food or I was in a postpartum state of delusion, I’m not sure. I really liked the food, even though some of it was pretty basic. I still ate most of our snacks though…
✔ Breast pads
Breast pads will be necessary for when your milk comes in. Because I like to be discharged no later than 24 hrs after I give birth and my milk has never come in that fast, I never needed breast pads in the hospital. Had I stayed longer though, they would have been really helpful. I’m not sure if hospitals routinely provide breast pads, but I don’t think I was ever offered any except for a few trial packs upon getting discharged.
✔ Something to entertain you
In case you need to be entertained and your husband is asleep on the hospital sofa 3 seconds after complaining about how hard it is to fall asleep in a hospital room… #truestory
It helps to bring a few of your favorite pastimes. There really isn’t a whole lot of private downtime in the hospital because someone is constantly coming into your room and either checking on you (or the baby) or asking questions, so a novel with a changing plot won’t be the most reliable source of entertainment. Instead, opt for things like music and magazines. Bringing a laptop helps as well (your hospital should have WiFi – always check ahead of time).
✔ Your own gown/clothes???
Some moms like to bring their own gowns because the idea of wearing the generously re-used open-back hospital gown is kinda gross. It makes them feel less hospital-y and more at home and comfortable. There is nothing wrong with bringing your own, but I do have to warn you that birthing is no spa treatment. You’ll be bleeding a lot after you give birth and your mobility may not be the best, so if you don’t mind possibly ruining your own gowns and clothes, by all means go for it. (Dark colors will work best.)
FYI: Many hospitals will insist you wear their hospital gown during delivery (check with your hospital if you’re planning on bringing your own gown).
I never bothered to put actual clothes on or my own gown, but like I said, I only stayed 24 hrs after I gave birth so I really didn’t care too much.
Unless you prefer a certain brand, you don’t need any. The hospital will provide sanitary pads. Yes they’ll be huge and bulky, but they do function well enough.
✔ Extra underwear???
I brought a few extra pairs of underwear the first time around, but those super unflattering mesh undies you get at the hospital? Man, they’re so comfortable I wanted to wear them forever. Both times. Ugly. Yes. But awesome. They should be standard if you give birth in the U.S.
Hospitals have towels available, but some moms feel it’s worth bringing their own. If you don’t mind lugging dirty towels back home and possibly ruining them, you can of course bring yours.
Hospital checklist for DAD / BIRTH COMPANION:
- Cell phone/charger
- Glasses/contact lenses/contact lens solution (if using any)
- Spare T-shirt
Hospital checklist for BABY:
✔ Outfit to go home in
You never know what size will fit your newborn best, so it never hurts to bring a set of: newborn size AND size 0-3 m. You can also bring a preemie size (if you have any).
(We used the newborn size for both of our babies that were around 9 – 9.5 lbs. The 0-3 m size was way too large for them at this point.)
You’ll have blankets to use at the hospital (you can use your own as well), but it’s nice to have a blanket ready for the ride home to keep baby warm and cozy.
✔ A car seat for when you go home
Everything your baby needs during the hospital stay will be provided by the hospital.
In the U.S. it includes diapers, wipes, and formula. Unless you want to use specific brands of these products, you don’t need to worry about these items.
You’ll be able to use the hospital’s blankets/burp rags, but you can bring your own as well.
The hospital will provide clothes for the baby. It’s typically a very basic kimono style side-snap shirt with fold-over mittens and a hat. (You’ll bring the hat home with you; some hospitals let you take the shirts/blankets as well.) The hospital baby shirts were a little rough and scratchy so I can understand why some people choose to dress their baby in their own actual clothes. I didn’t though because the shirts provided did serve their purpose. They were easy to put on/take off for the nurses, made diaper changes super easy, didn’t mess with the umbilical cord stump, and I didn’t have to deal with laundry.
If you’re going to have your baby bathed at the hospital, you can either use their Johnson’s baby shampoo or you can bring your own if you prefer to use a more natural product. If you are going to be using your own, do notify the nurses ahead of time.
What about lotion for baby? Your newborn does NOT need lotion. I promise.
☞ Always ask ahead of time what will be provided by the hospital for both you and the baby. And remember, there is no such thing as stupid questions!
☞ I recommend bringing your regular purse you use daily which will have some of the important things like your wallet, your cell phone and insurance information, AND packing TWO separate hospital bags in addition – one for you, one for the baby. It will be easier to locate things and you won’t have to go through everything you brought every time you need something.
☞ You can pack most things ahead of time and put a note by the door with a list of whatever else you need to grab last minute (phone charger or your laptop).
☞ Bring an extra empty bag or two. You never know what you might need them for, and you’ll be given a lot of stuff at the hospital to bring home as well.
☞ Small gifts for the nurses are optional but welcome.
GOOD LUCK!!! 🙂