Preparing for the delivery, a hospital stay, and baby’s new arrival is daunting, but I am here to help simplify your hospital bag essential checklist from what to pack for you and baby and a bit of what to expect in the hospital. This list of essential items are mama-tested and come highly recommended to help you stay organized and ready.
The last few weeks of my pregnancies were filled with to-do-lists, organization attempts (Hello nesting!), researching new baby products, and reading what seemed like every expecting-mom-blog to ensure I was “ready.” With my first baby, I brought SO much to the hospital that was never used, and I found myself looking or needing other items. As I prepared for the delivery of my second baby, I felt more confident about what to bring.
What to Pack: Hospital Bag Essentials
First, start by thinking of two bags: one for you and your essentials and a bag for baby. For your bag, focus on items that will help you feel calm and comfortable, such as soft, easy loungewear and items that bring you the comforts of home.
Toiletries & Mama-Care Necessities
Pack all your daily toiletries including, toothbrush/toothpaste, contacts/glasses, deodorant, body wash & loofah, shampoo/conditioner, hair ties, dry shampoo, skincare items, and chapstick. (also consider your partner’s things) Remember, there will be photos galore, so consider bringing a small amount of makeup and hairstyling tools to freshen up. Primping may seem silly after you have delivered a baby, but trust me. It felt amazing to put on a bit of concealer after not sleeping for 24+hours and wanting a cute picture with my new baby.
Your team of nurses will have most of the items you need to ease your comfort post-delivery, including DermaPlast (numbing spray), Tucks Pads (hemorrhoid pads), mesh underwear, large maxi pads, a sanitation bottle, and ice packs (lots of ice). Remember to ask for extras of these to take home! The nurses are more than willing to give you items to keep you comfortable at home. Mamas have sworn by also bringing adult diapers for extra comfort over wearing the huge maxi pads. If you plan to nurse, nipple cream is an absolute must to have in the hospital. Other moms have also recommended the FridaBaby MomWasher and EarthMama Perineal Spray.
Feel-at-Home Comfort Items
Soft, comfortable loungewear is all you will want to wear after delivery.
Consider bringing dark-colored pajama sets or a long button-up shirt. Bring a robe to wear over your pajamas to help with warmth or to cover up for visitors. Companies now are making the sweetest mom and baby matching robes, swaddles, or layettes that make for the CUTEST pictures (I love The Beaufort Bonnet Company or Pixie Lily. Cozy socks, sturdy slippers, and simple rubber flip flops for the shower will be helpful, too. If nursing, bring nursing bras ( or my favorite), nursing tank tops, pumping bra, and a button-up pajama set. For coming home, think soft and loose: soft banded pants/shorts or a dress. If you are not in camp-adult-diaper, bring oversized underwear as well.
Most hospitals have thin or small linens, so definitely bring your own. You will want your own pillow (try using a non-white pillowcase, so it is not left behind), a soft blanket, and two of your own dark-colored towels (stains). Also, remember your partner’s bed linens. A nursing pillow like the Boppy will also be very helpful with feedings.
Be sure to pack your camera (or your phone) to capture all the special moments, and an extra-long charging cord to reach while you are in bed. Most hospital TVs are only equipped with basic channels, so consider bringing a tablet or a laptop to stream shows or movies. Labor can be a slow progression, so download movies/shows to your devices ahead of time. My husband and I watched five episodes of The Office while I was laboring in triage, waiting for a room! Plan ahead and download a white noise app on your phone to help soothe baby once they are in the room. Hospitals can be so loud, and this will help drown out the extra noise and beeps.
What to Pack: Baby’s Bag
To my surprise, with my first baby’s delivery- babies do not need much in the hospital. The hospitals provide all of the basic, essential items like diapers, wipes, diaper shirts, swaddles, blankets, and hats. If you prefer to bring your own clothes or blankets, remember to wash the items in Dreft or a free & clear detergent before packing (do this to your items as well). There will be lots of diaper changes and undressing for nurse/doctor exams, so an easy button-up gown converter is ideal for this time. I love the Kissy Kissy converter gowns for this stage. Bring 4-5 outfits to account for any spit ups or diaper accidents. Soft, monogrammed hats are always adorable in photos and help keep baby’s head warm. Storkland, a local baby store, offers monogramming and has all of the Kissy Kissy items and matching hats. Newborns loved to be swaddled, so be sure to bring additional ones. The diaper bag was not essential to bring, but if you are shopping ahead, we had loved this super convenient backpack-style one.
When my second son was born, my oldest was 2.5 and still very much a lover of attention. We decided to get a small gift “from his little brother” when he came to the hospital to meet his new brother. This present doubled as not only a little gift, but also a great distraction while in a somewhat quiet/boring hospital room. We decided on some small dinosaurs (his favorite at the time) and a toolkit. The toolkit kept him busy for and – which in toddler-time is an eternity!
He got busy “fixing” his brother’s crib!
Nurse Appreciation Gift Ideas
The nurses and doctors are a tight-knit team of professionals ready to care for you along the way. Your nurses quickly become your biggest cheerleaders and are typically your hands-on, constant labor, and recovery assistants before and after the doctor delivers the baby. A small gift item for them goes a long way with nurses in showing that you appreciate their endless support. I have polled nurses and found that pens, socks, small lotions, chapsticks, hair ties, coffee, and healthy snacks (granola bars, trail mix, mints, etc.) are some of their favorites.
After nine months of planning and a roller coaster of emotions, I hope that this list can help ease the stress of what-to-expect and how-to-prepare. Good luck, mama, you’ve got this!