As my due date neared and it came time to pack my hospital bag for delivery, I scoured every pregnancy book, found every hospital bag checklist ever made, asked for suggestions from every mom I knew, and wrote the longest list ever written.
As I stared at my hospital packing list, I began to realize most of it probably wasn’t necessary. Instead, it was fueled by misconceptions about what my time in the hospital would be like.
While every mom has a different labor and delivery experience, I want to share the items that made my (final) list to help you decide what’s best for you.
Without further ado, what I brought to the hospital:
Hospital Bag Must-Haves
Most hospitals won’t let you walk around barefoot (and you probably won’t want to). Bring slide-on shoes like non-slip slippers or flip-flops. You may also want non-skid socks to keep your feet warm (much cozier than hospital socks).
Nursing Bras & Breast Pads
As soon as your placenta is delivered, your body’s estrogen and progesterone levels drop, and the level of prolactin—the hormone that causes milk production—rises. While the amount of milk you produce right after delivery may not be high, your breasts may begin to leak colostrum, so nursing pads (and a comfortable nursing bra) are essential.
Cell Phone & Charger
You’ll definitely want to contact relatives and take photos, so don’t forget these essential electronic items. You may also want to list who to contact and their contact information.
While there aren’t hard-and-fast etiquette rules about revealing personal news on social media, nothing can spoil the beauty of your child’s birth more than a loved one being upset by learning the news from Facebook instead of a phone call or text.
Ask your birth partner to set up a text tree to spread the news quickly (and have them bring their own charger)!
Your body has just spent nine months rearranging itself to allow your baby enough room to grow, so you may still look and feel pregnant for a while—and that’s okay!
Since you’ll spend most of your recovery time sitting down or lying in bed, you’ll want comfy clothes like loose pants with an elastic or drawstring waist. If you’re breastfeeding, you’ll need tops with stretchy necklines or easy nursing access.
(These postpartum experiences in the hospital are some of the main reasons I began designing nursing clothes; I wanted to create comfortable clothes that would help new moms look and feel amazing.)
The hospital won’t let you leave without an infant car seat or a convertible car seat. Visit our ultimate guide to car seats to find out more about choosing and installing the best car seat for your child.
Nice to Have in Your Hospital Bag
Sometimes I wonder if I could have made it through my labors without the right soundtrack to guide me. Music was essential during the early stages of labor and helped me surround myself in a calm and peaceful atmosphere.
We played the most beautiful birth track non-stop for our entire hospital stay and through the first few weeks at home with each of our babies. Now, when I hear any of those songs, it brings me right back to those moments when we welcomed our babies to the world.
But I also know moms who prefer (relative) quiet as they labor. I say make a playlist in case you change your mind.
Snacks & Drinks
Since the hospital will provide you with an abundance of food (not to mention the vending machines), from fruit cups and Jell-O to chips and sandwiches, bringing food is not an absolute essential, but it can be nice to have a few favorites packed for your recovery. I was happy to have items like granola bars, oranges, coconut milk, and Gatorade.
You’ll want to rest as much as possible while you have the added support of hospital staff members to help you with your baby. If you have difficulty drifting off to sleep, a few comfort items from home can go a long way. Bring your pillow and a favorite soft blanket, or ask the hospital staff for extra pillows and a heated blanket. A nursing pillow can be super helpful too.
A sleep mask will block light and help you catch some sleep during the day when your baby’s sleeping or enjoying snuggles with visitors. Download an app that plays nature sounds or ambient noise.
I also recommend bringing lip balm, hair ties, a toothbrush, toothpaste, and face wash for a good night's sleep. Your hospital may provide these items, but you'll likely want your own brands!
Delivery or Nursing Gown
Some hospitals require you to wear the delivery gowns they provide. If your hospital doesn’t have a preference, consider getting a special labor and delivery gown (with access for breastfeeding, an IV, an epidural, etc.) to maximize your comfort and confidence (much softer than a hospital gown).
After your baby is born, a nursing nightgown might be a good idea, especially if you have a C-section. This type of sleepwear will allow easy breastfeeding access while keeping potentially constricting waistbands from bothering your incision. We also love a nightgown that doubles as a dress (the perfect going home outfit).
The hospital will give you an ample supply of stretchy, thin, mesh underwear, and I sing their praises for the first few days postpartum. Since I wasn’t moving around much, they kept my postpartum pads and ice packs in place well enough, and since they’re disposable, I never worried about ruining them.
However, when you’re ready to ditch the mesh undies, you’ll want a few pairs of soft and stretchy recovery panties.
What You Don’t Need to Bring to the Hospital
Things to Do
As a mom-to-be, I was worried that all that time in the hospital would bore me. I imagined playing cards with my husband, reading books and magazines, working on a baby book, writing in my journal, doing crossword puzzles, and watching movies to pass the time while waiting for my baby to arrive.
There’s not a lot of downtime in the hospital. You’ll spend plenty of time on your phone updating loved ones, and you’ll have a steady stream of visitors, including health care professionals, friends, and family.
Many moms don’t need to pump while in the hospital. You may have a consultation with an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) who can help you with pumping and bottle feeding if needed, but they’ll have top-of-the-line equipment available if so.
Lots of Baby Clothes
My husband and I spent most of our hospital time skin-to-skin with our babies, and many hospitals won’t allow your baby to wear anything other than hospital-provided clothing until you’re preparing to go home.
Since it can be a bit challenging to get bodysuits and special outfits on newborns, look for a wrap-style outfit you can easily snap around your baby. It doesn’t need to be fancy; no matter what it looks like, you’ll cherish it because it’s what your baby will wear home.
You also won't need receiving blankets, diapers or wipes, which should really cut down on your hospital bag packing.
You may feel naked without your staple jewelry, but your hands may swell during labor, making rings very uncomfortable. I had peace of mind knowing these items were safely stored at home. Your hospital may even tell you to leave valuable personal belongings at home.
Pads & Diapers
You’ll want to have these items for you and your baby at home, but the hospital will cover your needs during your stay. If you ask, they may even send you home with extra supplies. My lactation counselor even gave out hydrogel breast pads and tubes of lanolin that were perfect to fit in the diaper bag (with all the extra diapers the nurses sent me home with).
The hospital or birthing center staff is usually more than accommodating with the essentials (and you can always look up the phone number of the nurses' station so you can ask them for more details before you pack your hospital go bag).
But know yourself and what you need to feel comfortable as you catch up on sleep, absorb information about the road ahead, recover from your delivery, and bask in the beauty of the new life you’ve brought into the world.
Your time staying in the hospital will fly by faster than you think, and before you know it, you’ll be heading home with your newest little family member.
(Note: Our giveaway has ended, but we'd still love to hear your thoughts!)
WIN A LABOR & DELIVERY GOWN FOR YOUR HOSPITAL BAG!
To celebrate the launch of our brand new delivery gown, we’re giving you a chance to be one of SIX LUCKY MOMS who’ll receive the Bravely Labor and Delivery Gown to pack in their hospital bags!
When I started designing nursing and maternity clothes, I knew without a doubt that creating a beautiful, comfortable, and useful labor & delivery gown was a must. So I’m thrilled with the gorgeous gown we’ve just launched. With the comfort of your favorite t-shirt and doctor & doula recommended functionality and accessibility, this is a labor and deliver gown like no other.
The Velcro front opens completely for skin-to-skin contact immediately upon delivery and allows easy access for baby monitoring, ultrasounds, epidurals, and C-section incision inspections.
Snaps along both shoulders provide convenient breastfeeding & IV transition. Our gown also includes two large pockets for any essentials you want readily available.
Since it doesn't have snaps along the back, moms will be comfortable while lying in bed and won't experience “drafts” or unexpected flashing.
Whether for yourself or a friend, these birthing gowns are a must have on your registry, in a hospital bag, or as baby shower gifts.
How to Win:
- Comment on this blog post (What did you bring? What are you planning to bring?)
- LIKE our Facebook Page
- LIKE the Giveaway Announcement on Facebook
On May 26, 2017 we’ll randomly select SIX lucky winners who’ll get to pack the gown in their own hospital bag!
This giveaway is not associated with Facebook. Prize fulfillment will be done by Kindred Bravely. Contest ends at midnight on Thursday, May 25th. Winners are responsible for contacting Kindred Bravely to claim their prize within 48hrs. Open to US residents only.
Congratulations to moms Jerry-Stacie Morton, Sarah Prüfer, Kassandra Marie Martin, Noelle Lynn, Yolanda Aldridge, and Stephanie Robinson!