* This article was originally published on Simply Laura Leigh *
I’m quickly approaching 39 weeks pregnant and honestly, it feels like I’ve been pregnant for twice as long. Pregnancy and I don’t get along very well. I envy those women who get the pregnancy “glow” and seem to effortlessly breeze through pregnancy. I never glow. But, as cliche as it sounds it’s all worth it when you hold your baby for the first time.
With my due date fast approaching I knew I had to finish getting my hospital bag packed. Packing a Hospital bag sounds really easy, but it can quickly get overwhelming. Especially for first-time moms.
There are so many lists out there on what to pack. And so many “must have” items, that you can find yourself packing way too much for a 1-3 night hospital stays.
I made a lot of mistakes the first time, I overpacked, and I packed clothes that were too small for me. I also packed a lot of “just in case” items that I never used and took up way too much space in my bag. This time around it feels a lot more prepared for what to expect and what to pack. I’m going to share with you what I am packing this time around. Don’t forget to scroll all the way to the bottom to get your free printable checklist!
Before you start planning what to pack contact the hospital or birthing clinic. Ask what will be provided for you and your baby during your stay. Each hospital is different and knowing what will be provided will help prevent you from over-packing or wasting money on items you won’t use.
Large Bag – You’ll need a large duffle or weekend bag to fit everything in. I bought a large weekend bag from Target for only $35 and it fits everything I need. My husband’s stuff will fit inside a backpack. Try to limit the amount of bags you bring. Some recovery rooms are rather small and you’ll be having nurses and visitors in and out of your room. You don’t need to crowd an already tight space with extra bags.
Packing Cubes – This is more of a suggestion than a necessity but once you use them you’ll never go back. Not only do these cubes save you space they keep all of your clothes and accessories organized. I packed my clothes into 5 cubes; shower sandals and socks, Pants and nightgown, Shirts, Underwear, and Bras. Now I can ask my husband to get something I need from my bag and he will know exactly where it is and my bag won’t become disorganized in the process. I got my Set of 6 Packing Cubes from Amazon and I LOVE them.
Extra Bag for gifts and goodies – I suggest something along the lines of a fabric grocery bag for all the things the hospital gives you or any gifts people bring. We got extra diapers, pacifiers, tucks wipes, and formula from the hospital to take home. Ask your hospital what they provide for you and the baby.
Optional – A “just in case” bag filled with things you might want but aren’t sure you’ll need which you can leave in your car.
During Labor – keep these items easily accessible
Hair ties – You’ll want to keep your hair out of your face and out of the way.
Chapstick – Most women find that their lips become very dry during labor. I don’t know about you but I HATE having chapped lips so this is a must have for me.
Hard Candy – You won’t be able to eat during labor. While sucking on hard candy can’t replace eating actual food, it does help take the hungry edge off.
Magazines, books, or tablet – If you’re having a natural birth you might not need these items. But if you get an epidural you might find yourself with some time to kill. When I was in labor with my first son I had to wait for my husband to make a 7-hour drive from Georgia to Tennessee. Having my tablet and some magazines to help me pass the time was a lifesaver.
Phone Charger – Friends and family will want to keep in touch before and after you have the baby. This is not the time to worry about battery life.
Camera and Charger – You’ll want to take plenty of pictures to remember those precious moments. Don’t miss out on pictures because of a dead camera battery.
Wallet – Don’t forget your ID card, credit/debit card, and insurance card
Cash/ change for the vending machine – Your husband might need some snacks or something to drink during labor.
Admission paperwork -If your hospital requires that you bring admissions paperwork or insurance paperwork make sure it’s placed somewhere you can quickly access it.
You’ll be staying in the hospital anywhere from 1-3 nights. You will want to pack enough toiletries to last you 3 days just in case. I recommend buying travel-sized toiletries which will help save space in your bag.
Remember to just pack the basics. You’ll need;
Toothbrush and Toothpaste
Loofa or Washcloth
Shampoo and Conditioner
Makeup – I usually don’t wear makeup and I don’t plan on bringing any with me to the hospital. If you decided that you want to bring makeup I would recommend bringing the bare minimum.
Shower shoes – You do not want to go barefoot in a hospital shower.
Bath towel – The ones provided by the hospital will not be larger enough or soft enough.
This is where packing your Hospital Bag can get tricky. When packing for the birth of my first son, I thought that once had him I would magically fit back into my pre-baby clothes. What I wasn’t prepared for was how bloated I would be from all the fluids or how long it actually takes for your baby bump to go away.
Pack clothes that fit you when you were around 6 months pregnant to account for the swelling and the remaining bump.
Warm socks – Hospitals can be cold and warm socks can help keep you warm and cozy.
Nursing bras or sports bras – If you are planning on nursing, bring nursing bras that do not have underwire in them. Underwire will just prove to be incredibly uncomfortable. If you are not planning on nursing bring one or two snug-fitting sports bras.
Underwear – Some hospitals provide mesh granny panties for you. If your hospital does not or you don’t want to wear them, then bring at least 3-4 pairs of granny panties. You’ll be wearing a rather large pad so this is not the time to pack cute little underwear. Think large and comfy
Going home outfit – The most important thing to consider when choosing your going home outfit is, comfort. You don’t know if you will be having a C-section and most people leave the hospital wearing very large pads. The last thing you want to do is be squeezing into something tight that either pushes on your c-section scar or is uncomfortable to wear with a large pad. This time I’m packing a maxi skirt and loose-fitting t-shirt. If it’s chilly when I leave the hospital I’ll throw on the cardigan I packed.
Robe – To help keep your backside covered if you stay in the hospital gown for a long period of time. After the birth of my son, I had severe postpartum hemorrhaging and stayed in the hospital gown for the majority of my stay. I would have loved to have a robe to keep me warm and covered whenever I was up moving around.
Nightgown or sleep shirt – As I mentioned above, last time I had severe postpartum hemorrhaging. Because of that, I was constantly being checked by nurses during recovery. I stayed in the hospital gown because I didn’t want to get my own clothes dirty if I started bleeding again. I also didn’t want to deal with the hassle of taking pants on and off every time a nurse came in. This time I packed an inexpensive nightgown. I highly suggest packing either a nightgown or sleep shirt in case you find yourself in a similar situation. It’s something that will also come in handy if you have a c-section.
Shirts – 2-3 loose-fitting comfortable shirts.
Pajama pants – 2-3 comfortable pants to sleep in, preferably in dark colors.
Cardigan/Sweater – To keep you warm if the room is cold and to go home in if its chilly outside.
After labor snacks – By the time I could finally eat after the birth of my first son, the hospital cafeteria was closed and so were most stores in the area. Luckily I had packed some crackers to eat while my husband drove around looking for food. This time I’m packing drinks and snacks in case I find myself in a similar situation. I’ll be placing these in my “just in case” bag that will be left in my car.
Pillow and Blanket – My husband and I used the pillows and blankets that were provided by the hospital last time. I’m bringing some this time just to be a little more comfortable. This falls into the just in case category.
Our hospital provided all of the things our son needed during his time there. The only thing we needed were the items required to bring home which were;
Car seat – Install this in your car in advance and make sure the straps are set up for an infant. Ours was not set up for an infant and a nurse had to help adjust it before we could leave. Save yourself the hassle and make sure that its all taken care of before you arrive at the hospital.
Going home outfit – I’m bringing three outfits with me. Two onesies in different sizes, one newborn and one 3 months. My son was 9lbs 13oz when he was born and barely fit into newborn outfits. This time I’m prepared for another large baby. I am also bringing a long sleeve onesie in case it’s chilly when we leave the hospital.
Scratch mittens – I didn’t have these last time and my little guy scratched his face all up. I’ll be bringing them this time around
Blanket – To keep him or her warm during the drive home.
Dads really won’t need much during your hospital stay. My husband travels pretty light and he only plans on bringing the following things;
Change of clothes
Something to sleep in
His own Phone charger – So you both aren’t fighting over a single charger.
Things I did not bring
Belly Wrap – I’ll be using a belly wrap again after this pregnancy, I swear by them ( I use this Bell-Horn Postpartum Abdominal Support Wrap ). But it’s not something I will be wearing while I am at the Hospital.
Blow Dryer or Hair Straightener – I didn’t have the time or energy to blow dry or straighten my hair last time. After I took a shower my hair went right up into a ponytail. My blow dryer and straightener just took up space in my bag and weren’t used. If you really want to bring these I would suggest leaving them in your “just in case” bag.
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So that’s everything that I have packed in my Hospital Bag. I hope that you found this information helpful! I would love to hear about what you packed in your bag or any suggestions you have in the comments below. And don’t forget to subscribe to my newsletter for free access to my resource library where I keep my Hospital Bag Checklist printable. If you enjoyed this post check out my list of Newborn Essentials. It’s full of helpful information about what products I love and have been using since the birth of my son!!
- Third Trimester Essentials – 14 Must Have Items that Will Make Your Third Trimester Easier
- The Ultimate Guide To Surviving A Summer Pregnancy
- Newborn Essentials – 16 Must Haves For Your Baby’s First Month
- 11 Things You Need To Know As A First Time Mom
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