What you’ll need to pack for labor and after – and what you don’t need in your hospital bag
As a labor nurse, I’ve seen many different variations in what people bring to the hospital. Personally, I recommend keeping it simple – KISS.
I recommend bringing one bag of essentials. Anymore than that can be difficult to haul. Plus most rooms aren’t that big, so extra and unnecessary items just cause clutter and take up space.
As a rule of thumb – try to have your hospital bag ready to go by 36 weeks or 37 weeks, just in case you go into labor before your due date.
I’ve put together a hospital bag checklist from my experience as an L&D nurse and a mom, what you really need to pack in your hospital bag.
What to pack in your hospital bag
Hair Ties: If you have long hair, don’t forget to pack a few hair ties.
Extra long phone charger: Extra long phone chargers are a must, because most times the outlets are far away. Obviously you’ll be needing to keep your phone charged to keep everyone updated on you and your baby.
AirPods: Bring your AirPods in case you want to watch Netflix, listen to music or have your hands free when you’re on the phone.
Nursing Bra: Nursing Bras are a must if you’re planning on breastfeeding. They make nursing so much easier and provide support.
Flip-Flops: Hospital floors are pretty gross. I personally don’t let my feet touch the floor at all when I’m in the hospital. Flip Flops are perfect to throw on to walk around your room or wear in the shower.
Comfortable Pants: If you choose to wear your own clothes instead of the hospital gown, bring some baggy, comfy pants. Nothing is worse than having tight leggings on after delivery. You need some room for a diaper pad and an ice pack. Also if you have a C-Section you want pants that don’t hit right at the incision site.
Clothes/Pajamas: Some mamas feel more comfortable in the hospital gown, some feel more comfortable in their own clothes or pajamas. Pack only what you think you’ll wear.
Socks: If you get cold easily, pack a couple pair of socks to wear to keep your toes warm. Non-skid socks with cute sayings on the bottom are fun and handy to have.
Boppy: Boppy pillows are super helpful while learning how to breastfeed. They give you extra support to hold your baby in the right position to nurse.
Snacks: The hospital provides food for you, but if you’re a snacker like I am then you’ll likely be hungry in between meals. It’s nice to have a few options with to grab if you need a little something to hold you over.
Favorite pillow: I’m not a fan of hospital pillows, they are flat and uncomfortable.
Chapstick: Hospitals are dry places and pushing is hard work! Your lips will likely get dry during your stay, don’t forget the Chapstick .
Going Home Outfit for Baby: It’s easiest to keep your baby in a hospital gown throughout your stay. Also, it’s less laundry to do once you get home. All you really need is a going home outfit. If you’d prefer you can bring some sleepers to use instead of the hospital gown. I recommend gowns or sleepers that zip rather than the button up ones which can be difficult to maneuver in the middle of the night when you’re half asleep.
Car Seat: You’ll need a car seat to go home, so make sure you have it ready to go. You can wait and have someone bring it up to the unit after baby arrives, but at least have it in the car. The day you think you’re going to go home, put the baby in the car seat and adjust the straps to fit. That way it’s all ready to go when you get the go ahead to leave and you’re not trying to figure it out last minute.
ID and Insurance Card: You’ll probably be asked to provide these when you check in so make sure you have them.
Toiletries: Sure, the hospital may have shampoo there, but it won’t be as good as your stuff! Don’t forget the shampoo, conditioner, and body wash.
Deodorant: Have I mentioned pushing is hard work? You’ll want to bring some deodorant to help curb the sweat.
Make-up: If you are a make-up kind of gal, don’t forget your make-up bag.
Blow-dryer and Straightener: If you feel like you’ll have the energy to do your hair, bring them!
What not to pack in your hospital bag
Underwear: The hospitals usually provide you with lovely mesh underwear. Birthing babies is a messy business, I’d recommend wearing theirs so yours don’t get ruined. If you choose to bring your own, make sure you bring some you don’t mind getting ruined.
Formula: If you’re choosing to bottle feed, the hospital should provide you with formula while you’re there. Save your formula for when you get home.
Pads: Unless you’re super picky about the pads you use, the hospital should supply those as well.
Lanolin (nipple cream): This is usually given to breastfeeding moms at the hospital. It’s only a small tube, but it should last until you go home and can use your Lanolin .
Money: I’d leave your purse/wallet at home. You really shouldn’t need large amounts of money. If anything, bring a few dollars for the vending machine and have your debit card packed away in a hidden spot in your bag.
Breast Pump: Unless you plan on pumping exclusively, I would leave the pump at home. If for some reason you need to pump, the hospital should have one for you to use.
Although I tend to be a minimalist when it comes to packing for the hospital, feel free to bring whatever you think you’ll use. If you don’t think you’ll use it, don’t bring it.
Is there anything you brought that didn’t make my list that you feel is a must? Comment below and let other mamas know!