Toward the end of your pregnancy, you may begin to wonder when and how to pack a hospital bag. Good news: packing for the hospital doesn’t have to be complicated! By week 36 or 37, you’ll want to make sure your bags are packed and ready for baby’s arrival – you never know when he or she will decide to make an appearance! Here’s everything you need to know about what you’ll need to pack for labor and after.
What To Pack For: Mom
- Nursing clothes and/or robe
If you plan on breastfeeding, make sure you pack a few nursing bras or tanks to wear during your hospital stay, unless you prefer to just wear the hospital gown. Some moms enjoy bringing a comfortable robe to wear in the hospital as well – it can give you an added layer of privacy, too!
The hospital will provide you with soap, towels, and toothbrushes, but most women prefer to bring their own toiletries from home. Pack shampoo, conditioner, soap, deodorant, mouthwash, toothpaste, facial cleansing wipes, and a hairbrush. Don’t forget lip balm and lotion. Also, many veteran moms urge women to pack a pair of cheap sandals to wear in the shower!
3. Cell phone and charger
The last thing you want is for your phone battery to die while you’re in labor! You’ll want your phone handy and charged to post updates and pictures of your little one’s arrival. Make sure you pack a charger (or two) in your hospital bag. Labor can be a lengthy, boring process, and chances are, you’ll have plenty of time to scroll through Facebook and Netflix while you’re waiting for your baby to make her grand entrance.
4. Camera and charger
If you plan on using a digital camera, be sure to pack a charger for that as well.
5. Cozy, comfort items
Bring items that make you feel relaxed and at ease. Maybe it’s a pair of fuzzy socks, maybe it’s a squishy pillow, maybe it’s a scented lotion, or maybe it’s a warm sweater. Sometimes having a few comfort items around can make labor a little less nerve- wracking.
You may want to pack some breastfeeding supplies for the hospital. While lactation consultants will be around to help and answer any questions you may have, you might also consider bringing some things with you such as nipple cream, a breastfeeding support pillow, a nipple shield, a nursing cover (such as the KeaBabies Nursing Cover), or a breast pump. Most hospitals can provide you with a breast pump to use while you are there.
7. Copies of your birth plan, if applicable
If you have special requests for your labor and delivery, such as what medical interventions (epidural, pain medication, episiotomy, etc) you are comfortable with, be sure to write them down and bring a copy to the hospital.
8. Items for labor
Some women make a playlist of their favorite music to listen to during labor. Others like to use aromatherapy to stay calm during the labor process. Some women are relaxed by smelling essential oils. Whatever it is that makes you less stressed, be sure to pack it in your bag. The more relaxed your muscles are during labor, the faster and easier the process becomes.
9. Postpartum essentials and a going-home outfit
Your body will need time to heal after delivery, whether you’ve had a vaginal birth or a C-section. You may want to pack things like numbing spray, adult diapers, and large pads. You will also need an outfit to wear when you leave the hospital to go home. Make sure it is very loose-fitting clothing such as a skirt, leggings, or sweatpants and a baggy t- shirt. No matter how much weight you lose immediately after delivery, your body will be very swollen and sore. Pack an outfit that will be comfortable for the ride home.
What To Pack For: Baby
- Car seat
This is an absolute must-have. Hospitals will not release a baby to go home unless there is a properly-installed car seat in the car.
Some hospitals don’t keep pacifiers on hand anymore, so be sure to pack one or two from home if you plan on using one.
The hospital provides you with blankets, but there will be so many great photo opportunities, so you may want to bring a special blanket or two with you.
4. Going-home outfit
Your baby will need an outfit to wear for the ride home. Because you won’t know how big your baby is until he is born, pack outfits in a few different sizes, just to be safe. Also, no matter how warm the weather is when you go home, pack a sweater and socks for your baby, as newborns cannot regulate their body temperature very well.
Pro Tip: Do NOT over pack for baby. You do not need to bring diapers or wipes – the hospital provides these. You do not need to bring multiple changes of clothes for your baby – most hospitals prefer babies to wear only a diaper for the first few days. Hospitals provide receiving blankets and hats for your baby.
What To Pack For: Dad
Even though Mama might not be allowed to eat during labor, Daddy will probably get hungry at some point. Pack things like protein bars, chips or cookies, pretzels, apples, and bananas. Just don’t pack anything that Mama might get jealous of!
2. Books, phone, magazines
Labor is usually a very long process. Make sure to pack a few things to keep Dad entertained during the process. Bring an extra phone or laptop charger as well. Many hospitals have free WiFi access.
3. Pillow and blanket
Dad will get to sleep in the hospital room after delivery, but sometimes it’s not the comfiest couch or chair. Be sure to pack a few extra blankets and pillows for Dad, even though most hospitals can provide these.
4. Change of clothes
This might seem obvious, but there are many dads out there that have had to make last- minute trips home to change, leaving Mom at the hospital by herself! Bring a few changes of clothes to wear at the hospital.
Just like Mom, Dad also needs to bring toiletries from home. Things like razors, toothbrushes, mouthwash, hair gel, and a hairbrush may be helpful to have on hand.
What To Pack For: Siblings
- Toys and books
If older siblings will be accompanying you in the hospital for an extended amount of time, be sure to pack a few toys or books to keep them entertained, as most of your attention will be focused on the new baby.
2. Gifts for older siblings
As a way to ease older siblings into life with a new baby, many parents buy gifts for their children “from the baby.” This may help older siblings adjust to the new baby and avoid jealousy issues.
Kids love snacks and are always hungry at the most inopportune times! It may be hard for someone to leave the room and take a child to grab something to eat, so pack a few snacks like granola bars, fruit snacks, apple sauce pouches, or dry cereal for older siblings to tide them over until they can eat a meal.
What To Pack For: Hospital Staff
- While it isn’t required, some parents like to bring little gifts for the labor and delivery nurses who assist them during their hospital stay. Labor and delivery nurses say they always appreciate grab-and-go snacks to eat during their shifts!
Follow these tips and tricks when packing your hospital bag, and you’ll be ready to go whenever baby is set to arrive!