This is a great list! I think everyone overpacks with their first! I sure did! ? one thing I would definitely recommend adding is some chapstick and hand lotion for while you are laboring. They were life savers for me both times!
What’s in my Hospital Bag? The Key Items that I am Packing! (Updated Post-Birth)
I decided that this post could prove more useful if I updated it to show what I actually used during my hospital stay vs. the items that I didn’t end up using, and the reasons why! There have been a few comments (mostly on Pinterest) and messages to say that this is overpacking and that many of the items aren’t necessary. That wasn’t my experience and I’ll add some comments and updates below. It is important to remember that every woman’s birth and hospital experience is different and, yes, some of the items below are non-essential luxuries but they did make my stay more comfortable and I was in hospital for 5 days. My updates are below in italics!
We’re getting closer to my due date and every week I panic a little more about getting my hospital bag packed! Now that we’ll be delivering in a different hospital further away, it’s even more crucial that we get ready! So, this week I’ve been packing my hospital bag. Want to see what I’ll be bringing with me?
Every hospital stay is going to be different and depends on so many factors. Whether you had a c-section or a vaginal birth? How long your hospital likes to keep you in for? How many supplies your hospital provides? (Be sure to ask this when you go to visit and it will save you bringing duplicates).
What goes into your hospital bag is going to vary according to these different factors. I’m also conscious that as a first time mum, I’m likely to over pack slightly as I’ve not done this before – but better to be prepared!
Regardless there are a few common items that everyone will need in their hospital bag and I’ve listed them all down below. There’s even a handy check list that you can print out or pin for future reference.
The Items I am Packing in My Hospital Bag:
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For Mama: NURSING BRAS | WEEKEND BAG | SEAMLESS UNDERWEAR | CAMERA | MULTI CHARGING CABLE |PJs SET| NURSING CAMIS | HEADPHONES | SLIPPERS | SLIPPER SOCKS| COZY SCARF | ROBE | NURSING NIGHTGOWNS | BLUETOOTH SPEAKER |
For Baby: DIAPER BAG | MUSLIN SWADDLES | GOWN AND HAT SET | PACIFIERS | NURSING PILLOW | SLEEP SUIT | SWADDLE | MITTENS AND SOCKS | BREAST PUMP | TOILETRIES | INFANT CAR SEAT
Extra items: Nipple cream and Breast pads | Sanitary Pads and Disposable Underwear | Dry Shampoo | Lip Balm | Make up Bag | Snacks | Coconut Water and Snacks| Insulated Tumbler | Nurses gift |
Always disposable underwear and Always Pads
You’re going to bleed post-partum, whether you have a vaginal birth or a c-section. Make sure that you pack some suitable pads and bigger cotton underwear. I was also given some Always disposable underwear for the first couple of days. I have also packed some regular pads with wings. I was advised that size 5 are perfect for the early days and then you can reduce the size as needed. (Check with your hospital as to whether they provide pads, and leave your supply at home if so.)
Update: my hospital did not provide sanitary supplies for mum, so I did need to bring my own. My biggest piece of advice is still CHECK WITH YOUR HOSPITAL IN ADVANCE AS TO WHAT THEY WILL PROVIDE so that you don’t bring unnecessary duplicates.
Breast Pads and Nipple Cream –
Soon after birth your milk is going to come in, the first few days you will be producing colostrum and then your milk supply arrives. In order to stay dry and comfortable you will need to be using breast pads or some milk catchers.
Update: I did use disposable breast pads and nipple cream. I never used my milk catchers, they seemed like a good purchase in theory but in the end I didn’t like the idea of having milk warm by my body – or them possibly leaking.
I don’t know how much I am going to be able to move about during labour and afterwards. I will be packing my slippers just in case as I would like to be up and walking as soon as possible.
Update: I didn’t get to walk while labouring as I ended up having a c-section (you can read more about my birth story here) but, because of my surgery, I did have to get up and walk as soon as I could the day after. So I used my slippers a lot as I (very slowly and carefully) walked the halls of the maternity unit. A pair of flip flops would also have worked.
Multi Charging Cable and Extension cord –
This multi charging cable was an amazing Amazon find earlier this year and it has been invaluable! It comes in a pack of two – so I gave one to the husband. I am all Apple (iPhone and iPad) but my Kindle uses a micro-USB charger, as do all my portable battery packs. The husband uses an Android phone which takes USB-C and previously I could never help him out if he was missing his cable.
Having the three charging options is amazing and it will charge more than one device at a time (albeit more slowly). I did get the longest one that they do, but it is still advisable to bring an extension cord as your plug socket may be a way away from the bed. That was you can plug in all your electronics and it gives you a few extra feet.
Update: Yes – we used the charger a lot and it was useful having the multiple charger heads.
You’re going to be in hospital for a wee while, and likely awake at weird times of the day/night. Bring your iPad or other device so that you can catch up with friends on social media or watch a little Netflix when you get some downtime.
Update: Yes – we used the ipad, I FaceTimed family etc. It wasn’t a necessity – I could have just used my phone. It’s just personal preference. Next time I would probably leave it behind. I spent most of my time just watching the baby 🙂
Bluetooth speakers –
Many hospitals will allow you to use certain tools to make you more comfortable during labour – one of which can be music. There are studies to suggest that music to comfort and relax women during labour and childbirth can be beneficial. We have a number of small bluetooth speakers that are easy to pack and travel with – so I plan to bring one with me and put together a playlist.
Update: This was one of the items that brought a lot of negative comments. If you plan to hypnobirth a speaker could also be useful to play your affirmations. This definitely isn’t a necessity but it was nice to have it with us. I ended up having a c-section so there was no need to play music during my labour but it was nice to have afterwards.
Nursing nightgown (for if you have a catheter in) –
If you end up having a c-section, you will have a catheter in for a day or so. That means that you’re not going to be able to wear your shorts or your pyjama bottoms. These nursing nightgowns were highly recommended by other mum-friends as a post-partum staple for wearing around the house after baby, and the fact that they are open at the bottom may make them ideal for your hospital stay too.
Update: These were probably my FAVOURITE item in my hospital bag, I really hated the hospital robe and changed into one of these as soon as I was able to. They are soft, stretchy, comfortable, really easy to nurse in and they look put together enough for visitors etc. It’s still easy for doctor to check you and there is no pressure on your stomach (or incision in my case). I would give them 5*. They come in a pack of three, you don’t need to bring all three, bring as many as you think you’ll need.
Nursing cami and satin pyjama bottoms (for after catheter is removed)
I’m bringing my comfy silky pajama bottoms for as soon as I can wear them (bonus: they are black!) These have been an absolute staple since day 1 of my pregnancy, they have fit me the whole way through (wearing them low under the bump) and I will likely be wearing them A LOT post-partum too.
Update: I didn’t wear the pyjama bottoms because I just stayed in the nursing robes mentioned above, it was just my personal preference. I did wear the nursing cami when I left the hospital though.
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Pashmina or Blanket Scarf
Hospitals are cold!! It’s something that I noticed at both of the hospital tours that we went on, as well as when I have been to visit new mum friends. I’m bringing a snuggly scarf just as an additional blanket/layer.
Update: I used this – both to keep warm (as I said, hospitals are deliberately kept very cold!) and to cover up while nursing when we had visitors.
I can already tell that I will be living in these for some time. If I’m honest, I already do since they are wireless and so comfortable! I bought this set of three on Amazon and I love them. I might be a couple more, but I’m hoping that having the nursing cami tops and the nursing nightgowns too should mean that I have enough options.
Update: I don’t think that I used the nursing bras at the hospital as I was using the nursing nightgowns above. But it was nice to have the option. I definitely used them A LOT for the first few weeks post partum when I was home. When we were out and about I upgraded to some underwired nursing bras for a little more support. The nursing nightgowns, camis and bras all come in sets of three, for clarification, I’m not suggesting that you pack all of them for the hospital – you should only need a few.
The hospital that we are delivering at has two options for rooms for mamas recovering post-partum, a semi-private room and a private room. We are hoping to pay a little extra for the private room, but you have to consider that there might not be one available. In the event that I end up sharing a room, I will be very grateful for my headphones. (a) so that I can listen to music/Netflix without disturbing my neighbour, and (b) so that if I have a noisy neighbour, I can have a little respite.
If you don’t have a set of head phones, consider just packing some ear plugs. A sleeping mask could be handy for all of the same reasons.
Update: I didn’t need to use my headphones for very long but I did use them. When I was first admitted I was in a shared room and I wasn’t in labour, I was under observation. The other lady in my room was labouring and she was very uncomfortable and in quite a lot of pain and distress. I used my headphones the first night to get some sleep and also give her a little more privacy. Once I had my surgery the following day, I was then moved into a private room for the reminder of my hospital stay. I definitely don’t regret bringing them as they were VERY useful the first night. But again, I am not suggesting that they are a necessity. They are just something that might make your stay more comfortable and help you get some sleep.
Wash kit, Unscented Deodorant and Dry Shampoo –
If you have a c-section you may be unable to shower for the first few days (could be three to seven days depending on your doctor’s recommendation and type of stitches used). Dry shampoo will be a lifesaver for your hair and consider some wet wipes for refreshing the rest of you. Ensure that you have your other basics on hand, your toothbrush, deodorant and hair brush.
When it comes to your deodorant, I’ve read that strong scents can confuse baby when starting to breast feed and that’s important for them to smell you and the milk. So I will be leaving the perfume behind and switching to unscented deodorant, at least at the beginning.
Update: I was able to shower the next day because my incision was glued and taped, but I still used the dry shampoo because it’s painful to get up and down and sometimes it’s just easier. I would add lip balm/chapstick and maybe a little moisturizer to your toiletries bag as they a/c in the hospital was very drying to my skin and lips.
Hand Sanitizer –
For yourselves, for visitors etc., have some hand sanitizer on hand since baby’s immune system is so brand new at the beginning.
Update: I didn’t use this as I didn’t let anyone hold the baby while we were in hospital. However, now that we are in COVID-19 times I feel that everywhere/everyone has sanitizer anyway 🙂
Breast pump –
There is some disagreement as to whether or not you should bring your own breast pump to the hospital. This is partly because hospitals have their own. The reason that I am bringing mine is that I would like some assistance in using it the first couple of times. So that they can help me get to grips with how my Spectra works. (Check with your hospital to make sure that this is something that they can help you with!)
Update: This was probably the item that caused the most disagreements as to whether or not it was necessary, and I understand why. This was really the one item that I brought but didn’t even think about using – we were too busy getting to grips with breastfeeding to even contemplate using the pump. But I still don’t regret bringing it/suggesting it and this is why: 1. the hospital advised us to bring it so that they could show us how to use it. 2. My son was nearly a month early – if he had needed NICU time, I would have needed to pump so that they could feed him/so that my milk would come in. The hospital can provide pumps for you to do this, but it would have been nice to have my own. In the end we were fortunate and he didn’t need any NICU time so we were able to breastfeed straight away. Whether you want to bring a bulky breast pump is entirely down to you. Next time, if I was delivering early I would bring it again, if I was delivering closer to my due date I would leave it at home.
Comfortable underwear –
You will need comfortable, cotton, full coverage underwear for your post-partum recovery. Buy some bigger pants that you won’t mind getting dirty and messy.
Update: I didn’t actually end up using any underwear at the hospital because I only used the Always Discrete disposable underwear. I still don’t regret bringing a few pairs of pants though – it feels very odd to pack and not pack clean underwear! 🙂
Insulated tumbler –
Try to stay hydrated, especially post-partum if you are trying to breastfeed.
Update: Yes – I used this a lot. I was very thirsty – it was nice to have my own bottle.
File folder for paperwork and insurance documents –
Keep all your important medical paperwork in one place – make sure that you have your insurance card and ID. Also good for keeping hold of your discharge paperwork and receipts if you have to claim back medical expenses.
Update: I actually forgot to bring my folder but I wish that I hadn’t! They give you so much paperwork and all of it is important. I asked the hospital and they were able to give me a large envelope that I kept everything in, but it was pretty battered by the end of my stay.
Extra blanket –
Some mum-friends have suggested bringing an extra blanket from home, either for mum or for dad to use in the hospital, to have a little home comfort. You can also bring one of your own pillows and a towel, if you are concerned about the quality of the ones that the hospital provides. For me, this is something that I will consider, if we have the space!
Update: I didn’t end up bringing one but I really wish I had – although I did have the scarf that I listed above. Hospitals are really cold, we ended up having to buy two blankets from the hospital for myself and my husband. We still have them. It would have been better just to have brought our own, but since we were delivering in another country, we just didn’t have the space.
Snuggly socks –
I’m not typically someone that suffers from cold feet – but the hospitals are so cold, I’m slipping these in – just in case.
Update: As above, hospitals are cold, I used these!
I’d like to get baby used to being swaddled right from the beginning. Not being confident in my skills to use a blanket to swaddle from the beginning – I will be bringing one of the easy velcro swaddles to wrap the baby in.
Update: I hated the velcro swaddles, we used either a muslin swaddle that we brought with us (see below) or one of the blankets that the hospital provides for the baby.
Muslins/burp cloths –
Muslins to use as blankets if the hospital is too cold, to use as swaddles, burp cloths, cover-ups. I’ll be packing a couple as they are so versatile.
Plain newborn onesies and 0-3 month onesies –
We have no idea how big baby is going to be when it arrives, so I’m packing a couple of different sizes of onesie. Just in case the newborn don’t fit! I’m packing both onesies and sleep suits (with feet) so that I can adjust depending on the temperature in the hospital.
Update: I brought 0-3 month onesies/sleepsuits because all the way through my pregnancy he was measuring large. He was 7lbs 5oz despite being born at 36 weeks, but these were still WAY TOO BIG. 🙂 I had to quickly buy some newborn once we got out of hospital. He still wore the too big sleepsuits under his swaddle, it wasn’t the end of the world.
Nursing Pillow –
A nursing pillow like the Boppy pillow can be really helpful when trying to master positioning when first starting out breastfeeding. Especially if you have had a c-section and you require the extra support.
Update: I hated my nursing pillow. I don’t know why – I just never got on with it. I know that many women find them really useful. I ended up just using it as an extra pillow and to prop me up in bed, so it did get some use, just not in the way that it was intended.
Coming home outfit –
I have a sweet little coming home outfit that I bought for some of baby’s first pictures. Is it a little unnecessary and extra? Almost certainly… But it made me happy. Now I just have to hope that it fits!
We haven’t decided one way or the other if we will be using pacifiers, or even if the baby will be interested in one. There are benefits and risks. There is some research to suggest that use of pacifiers can reduce the risk of SIDS which would be a fairly powerful incentive to try.
Update: We didn’t use these at the hospital – we waited until he was around 2 weeks old to introduce one while we established breastfeeding.
Towel (that you don’t mind getting dirty) –
The bath towel that you take with you to the hospital could get really dirty, especially if it gets meconium on it (that stuff will not wash out). Take an older scruffy towel and keep all your lovely nice, new ones for when you get home.
Update: Glad that we had a towel, the hospital didn’t provide any.
Mittens and Socks –
Some of the newborn outfits have built-in mittens in the onesies, but just in case yours don’t – pack some mittens so that baby doesn’t scratch their face. As with the mittens – many of the sleep suits that I am packing have feet on them, but just in case I am packing a couple of pairs of socks.
Update: We tried to keep him swaddled and in his sleepsuits for the most part. He would always somehow get his socks and mittens off. I would now actually recommend getting the sleepsuits that have the cuffs that fold over their hands, rather than separate mittens/socks.
Infant Car Seat –
Possibly the most important item on your list – your hospital physically won’t let you leave without one. So please don’t forget it in your hurry to get to the there. Maybe think about installing it in your car in advance, so that it is ready to go!
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The private rooms at our hospital also contain a fridge. Here are some of the things that I am thinking of bringing in the snack bag (husband take note!)
- Cut fruit (Melon, pineapple and all those good things)
- Coconut water (full of electrolytes – I much prefer coconut water to Gatorade or other sports drinks)
- Mini cheeses
- Triscuit or crackers
- Nuts (Wasabi and Soy Almonds are my favourite!)
- Cereal bars
- Snacks and gifts for the nurses/staff
My Hospital Bag Checklist (Pin for Reference)
So that’s everything that I will be throwing into my hospital bag – anything that you think I have forgotten? I know that there will be items which go unused, I should probably do a follow up post after delivery!
Now that I have updated this post to include my post-birth comments, I really hope that you find this honest hospital packing list helpful! Yes, it’s a lot but I was in hospital for a full five days. That isn’t the case for everyone. Remember that very few of these things are ‘necessary’ they are just intended to make your hospital stay more comfortable. If you don’t think that you would get any use out of your breast pump (for example) you can just leave it at home. Above all, I wish you a safe and healthy delivery.
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