Okay mamas. If I had to choose one piece of advice I’ve learned from experience regarding pregnancy to share with you, it would be this: Pack Your Hospital Bag Early!
I had a feeling during my first pregnancy that I was going to deliver my baby early despite everything being normal. Luckily, I was super prepared and had a hospital bag packed and ready to go right after my baby shower.
When I was 35 weeks along, I was rear-ended on my way to work. I went to the hospital for routine monitoring at the recommendation of my OB and discovered I had preeclampsia. They decided to induce me right away.
I was so glad to have my hospital bag already packed!
My second pregnancy was high-risk due to high amniotic fluid levels, low platelets, and my history of preeclampsia (oh, and advanced maternal age). I was again convinced I would deliver early. Instead, I ended up almost making it to my due date. My water broke at home at 39 weeks.
This time I wasn’t as prepared due to life with a toddler. I had a hospital bag only partly packed.
Ladies, it’s NOT easy waddling around with amniotic fluid leaking out of you and trying to get things ready to go to the hospital. In that moment, I really wished I had a hospital bag already prepared.
I had two very different pregnancies and birth experiences but I would have packed the same things in my hospital bag each time.
Here are the must-have items you should pack in your pregnancy hospital bag.
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What To Pack in Your Hospital Bag
After having my baby, I wanted to wear my own clothes to feel halfway human again. I wore the hospital gowns during labor and immediately after but once I was able to take a shower, I started putting on leggings or pajama pants and comfortable shirts.
Some clothing items I’d recommend packing:
- Leggings or loose-fitting pants. I continued wearing my maternity clothes immediately postpartum. They were comfortable and if you have a c-section, you want me make sure you have pants that can be pulled up over your incision. Full panel or over the belly maternity pants are great for this reason.
- Loose-fitting shirts or nursing shirts. If you plan to breastfeed, you want to have easy access to your baby’s food supply. Stretchy maternity shirts work well or shirts geared specifically for nursing moms.
- Nursing bra. Your milk will probably come in about 2-3 days after having your baby. If you’re still in the hospital, it’s helpful to have a supportive bra because your breasts may feel really full and tender at first. In the hospital, I wore sports bras. Since they stretch, it makes it easy to pop out a boob for feeding and then pop it back in. One of my favorite nursing bra for comfort is the BRAVADO Designs Original Full Cup Nursing Bra. However, you may want to wait until AFTER you have your baby before buying your nursing bras. Your bra size may change.
- Flip flops. For the shower.
- Slippers. For walking around the room/hallway. This way you can just kick them off when you climb into bed and not worry about stepping on the hospital floor in your socks. Bonus if you have an old pair of slippers you can just toss out once you leave the hospital!
- Robe or zip up sweatshirt. If you get cold easily or just want to cover up a little while in your hospital gown.
The hospital will provide you with essentials but you’ll probably want to have your own. I used travel containers and filled them with my own shampoo, conditioner, body wash, face wash, lotion and face lotion. I added labels that I got from the Dollar Tree. That way I could have my toiletry bag all packed and ready to go. I also found it more convenient to bring travel-sized items instead of full-sized bottles.
- Body Wash/face Wash
- Razor. I added a disposable razor to my toiletry bag in case I went into labor unexpectedly and hadn’t shaved recently! I ended up using one after having my second baby to shave my legs in the hospital…
- Extra ponytail holders. My ponytail holder snapped while I was fixing my hair the first day in the hospital. I thought I brought extras but when I looked through my bag, I couldn’t find them. I used one of the hospital’s slipper socks to tie my hair up. My next go-to was going to be a rubber glove. Luckily, a friend who worked in the hospital stopped by and gave me one to use. You’ll want these, especially if you have long hair. MAKE SURE YOU BRING EXTRAS.
- Glasses and/or contact solution and contacts
I love food. Plus, as a mom of a toddler, I always have snacks in my bag.
Even if you don’t love food as much as I do, you’ll probably want to have a few of your favorite snacks available for after you deliver and during your hospital stay.
- Food/snacks. Packaged items such as protein bars or granola bars, mini bags of goldfish crackers, cookies, or whatever you think you might be craving are always a good idea.
- Water bottle. The hospital provides pitchers of water but you may want your own to drink from. You’ll want to STAY HYDRATED.
- Gum or mints. For dry mouth and/or if you can’t get up to brush your teeth.
- Laundry bag/dirty clothes bag. Self-explanatory. Although you can also just use one of the plastic hospital bags.
- Towels. If you want them. I didn’t personally feel like this was necessary BUT the hospital towels are really small.
- Boppy or nursing pillow. This was not something I thought to bring during my first delivery and I didn’t pack it for my second since it was during the pandemic and I was trying to pack light. However, it would have been very helpful to have in the hospital especially during those first few breastfeeding session when I had no idea what I was doing!
- Extra long phone charger. So you can plug your phone in and still be able to use it.
- IPad or laptop. I loved having my IPad with me to read on my kindle or watch Netflix and Hulu.
- Books or magazines
- Camera and props (like a letterboard). If you’re planing on taking pictures in the hospital.
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- Going home outfit. We brought my son home in cozy footie pajamas. I also brought some onesies to put him in while we were in the hospital. Babies can’t really wear pajamas or pants in the hospital because they have multiple ID bands on their legs and will probably also have a tracker.
- Pacifier (if you want one). Our hospital doesn’t routinely give babies pacifiers. My son got one because he was circumcised. They gave him one when they gave him the sugar water for the procedure. If you want to use a pacifier while in the hospital, pack one just in case. The AVENT Soothies are our favorites.
- Swaddles or blankets. The hospital will provide plenty of their own baby blankets to keep your little one wrapped and warm. If you want to use a different type of swaddle or a cute printed blanket, bring your own. I love both the HALO Sleepsack and the SwaddleMe Orginal Swaddles. You will also probably want a blanket for your baby on the ride home.
- Car seat. Don’t forget the car seat! I would advise installing this as close to your delivery date as possible. If you set it up too early and something happens to your car — like you get rear-ended at 35 weeks which happened to me, you may need to replace the car seat. For my first pregnancy, we didn’t even have the car seat installed when I went into the hospital since I delivered a month early. My husband had to go home and get the car seat before the baby and I were discharged. For my second pregnancy, we installed it right before leaving for the hospital. Thankfully, my mother in law, who came over to watch my daughter, reminded us. Otherwise, I probably wouldn’t have remembered we needed this until we were being discharged from the hospital. #pregnancybrain
What You Don’t Need
The hospital should provide you with everything you need for your post-delivery care as well as for your baby’s care. You shouldn’t need to bring the following unless you have a strong preference for certain items.
- Medications. The hospital will provide these – if you need something, ask! You shouldn’t be taking outside medications while you are an inpatient. However, have your significant other bring his own prescription medications and any over the counter medications he might need.
- Depends. Some people like to have adult diapers or Depends for postpartum bleeding but I preferred wearing the disposable mesh underwear provided in the hospital. In my opinion, they are way more comfortable. They also pull up high so are good for after a c-section. As an alternative to the bulky diapers, you can try disposable underwear like Always Discreet.
- Pads. The hospital will provide you with plenty of these. Save yours for when you get home.
- Peri bottle
- Heating pack/ice packs
- Nipple cream. The hospital should be able to provide you with lanolin cream.
- Breast pump. You can use one of the hospital’s breast pumps instead of bringing your own supplies if needed. If you haven’t ordered your pump yet, the lactation consultant at the hospital should be able to get you one and bill your insurance.
Tips for Packing Your Hospital Bag
I love Vera Bradley overnight bags mainly because they are WASHABLE. After leaving the hospital, you can just throw the whole bag in the washing machine to make sure there are not crazy hospital germs left on your luggage.
You can pack your baby’s items in your bag or bring a separate diaper bag for your baby if you prefer. I love this diaper bag backpack from RUVALINO. I have the light gray one. It’s spacious without being too bulky. There are plenty of compartments for all your baby items and to help you stay organized.
Start packing a hospital bag early. Not TOO early but I would recommend having something ready to go by 35 weeks JUST IN CASE.
There are some things you won’t be able to pack right away because you still need them.
I kept a list next to my overnight bag with all these items so I wouldn’t forget to grab them before leaving for the hospital.
Most women can be discharged 24-48 hours after an uncomplicated vaginal delivery. If there are any complications or you have a c-section, whether planned or unexpected, you will be in the hospital a few extra days.
I stayed in the hospital more than three days for both of my pregnancies.
I would recommend packing enough for three or four days just in case.
If you’re trying to get more organized during your pregnancy, find out how to make your own prenatal planner.
I hope this list helped as you prepare to pack your hospital bag!