I’ve been thinking about packing up my hospital bag for baby #2 and thought I’d share what we packed last time (and plan on packing this time).
One thing I kept looking for advice on last time was what to pack for my hospital bag. I saw plenty of blog posts, articles, and even a youtube video about what to pack, but I still wasn’t quite sure what I really needed.
I’m not an expert in packing for a trip to the hospital (we’ve only done this childbirth thing once) but I thought I’d review what we needed (and didn’t need) to bring to the hospital.
- Sleeping mask: A friend recommended this for me, and I’ve made sure to recommend it to every mother-to-be. Both before and after you have the baby, there are going to be times you want to sleep when the hospital room is not going to be dim enough.
- Hairclips/hairties/hairbands: For keeping your hair out of your face before, during, and after labor.
- Tech: pack your various phones/chargers/etc. If your support person isn’t packing the camera/charger, then you pack it, then make sure he/she has it.
- Toiletries: Keeping in mind that you may be restricted to your bed for some time and/or you wont be at the hospital for very long (depending on your situation), you don’t need much when it comes to toiletries. I packed my usual “weekend trip” supplies: toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, body wash/soap, deodorant (all travel size). Because I had a c-section, I was at the hospital recovering for 4 days, so I was actually ready to take a shower after a day or so. But I’m pretty sure I wasn’t doing much on the personal hygiene front for the first day… I’d also check with your doctor if there are medications you take daily on whether you should bring those along or not (in case they don’t want you taking medication at certain parts of labor/delivery/recovery).
- Going home clothes (optional): If you’re planning on taking a photo of yourself leaving the hospital, you might want to pack something nice. But I just went home in the clothes that I went to the hospital in, since they were still relatively clean. But I guess if your water breaks while you’re wearing those clothes on the way in, you wont want to wear them, so pack an extra pair of your comfiest maternity pants. Or a loose maternity dress. Basically dress like you’re still pregnant (because you’ll still have a belly and you will probably be in some pain and not want anything restricting). Underwear-wise you might be leaving in the “special” ones the hospital gives you. Bring a nursing bra if you have one.
- Reading materials (kindle/book/magazine): Depending on your situation, you may want to bring reading materials (if your labor is slow) but I don’t think I ended up packing anything extra. I had my phone, so I could read stuff on there if I needed it.
- Stress balls/tennis balls/other labor “aids”: When we went to a childbirth class, they suggested a few items to bring along to help you deal with your aches and pains in early labor. The tennis ball was meant to rub on your aches, and the stress ball was good to squeeze during contractions (if you didn’t want to break your support person’s hand!)
- Other items to make you feel comfortable: lip balm (if it’s too dry), extra socks (my feet were FREEZING during early labor).
Support person (spouse/partner/parent/friend/etc.)
- Snacks. Yes, I’m a big proponent of snacks at all times, but this will be key. You may or may not be allowed to eat, but your support people will be able to. And depending on when you deliver, the hospital kitchen/cafeteria may or may not be open.
- Clothes: pack what you’d usually bring for a night or two away: PJs, change of clothes, underwear, socks, etc. Also slippers or slipper socks. Pack a few extra pairs of underwear/socks in case you end up having to stay at the hospital longer than expected (and are unable to make it back home)
- Toiletries: Again, pack what you’d usually bring for a brief visit away. Toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, razor, medications, etc.
- Tech: Pack your camera (fully charged), charger, and any other tech you want to bring, keeping in mind you may or may not have time/energy to use your laptop/kindle/iPad. Include your phone charger and phone!
- “Going Home” clothes: while your hospital should provide clothes for your baby to wear while in the hospital, many won’t let you take home the clothes or other linens (blankets, hats, etc.). Plus, you probably want to take some photos in one of the outfits you brought! So you’ll have to provide your own: at least a onesie or two (in various sizes, if possible, so you can accomodate whatever size your baby is) and especially depending on weather, a hat and blanket. Our pediatrician recommended baby wears an extra layer over whatever we’re wearing.
- Car Seat: If you’re driving the baby home, you will have to have a car seat. I’m almost certain they won’t let you leave the hospital without a car seat. Plus they’ll check it for you to make sure your baby’s secure. Our nurse even walked us to the car to help us put the seat in.
One thing I’d recommend is that you get a tour of the hospital you plan on delivering at. It will help you get an idea for what to expect when you show up to deliver, including getting familiar with the various monitoring equipment and other hospital technology you might not know about. Plus you can ask questions about what they will and wont provide. I was glad they had slipper socks to keep my feet warm and keep me from slipping around on the hospital floor. Some hospitals will have toiletries, and they should have all the “post labor” special toiletries that moms will need (i.e. special underwear, pads, breast pads, etc.). They should also provide all the diapers/wipes/ointments your baby might need for those first few days (and don’t be afraid to take whatever items they give you! We left the hospital with at least a package of diapers for the baby and plenty of stuff that I needed, too).
Things I didn’t need, even though it was recommended by various websites:
- Makeup: Just. No. Sure, you might feel like you look like crap after you have the baby. You probably do. I know I did. But I rarely wear makeup as it is, and I wasn’t about to start just to have fancy pictures. We all look like that after giving birth. EMBRACE IT.
- Nice pajamas: Another no. I wore the hospital gowns the entire time. It provides the best access for doctors and nurses, can easily be removed, and can just be replaced by another one if/when your current one gets covered in blood, poop, pee, breastmilk, vomit, spitup, etc. I’ll admit, I did bring a scrubby old robe that I did end up using after a day or two. Like I mentioned, I was in the hospital recovering for 4 days, so I lounged around in the robe for a bit.
An interesting note: Talking to my Canadian friends, hospital amenities are very different. Since you’re getting “free” healthcare, they don’t tend to provide many of the extras. So definitely find out ahead of time what they will (and won’t) provide.
Anything else you found you needed or didn’t need in your hospital bag? Share your advice/experiences in the comments!