Trying to figure out what to pack in your hospital bag for you and your baby? Here’s the list of the essentials I have packed for my 6th baby.
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I have definitely been in the boat of packing WAY too much. With our 5th baby, it was a surprise induction after a non-stress test that didn’t go so well. Having gone to the hospital totally unprepared, I realized that you can keep things relatively simple.
I was in for my third non-stress test with baby #5, overdue, and just knew I wasn’t having the baby anytime soon. I told the baby sitter I would be home in two hours tops, and planned what I would treat myself to for lunch on the way home. This whole plan just has bad idea written all over it! Note to self: when over due and heading in for a non-stress test, bring hospital bag, have a back-up plan for kids, and eat something before!!!
As I sat in my hospital gown waiting for my Doctor to come break my water, I was quickly texting my husband everything I needed. It gets wordy trying to describe not only what you need, but where everything is. I tried to keep the list fairly simple, listing only the essentials. Somehow, I still felt that I overpacked as we were leaving the hospital.
Hospital Bag Essentials:
What You Need:
Outfit to go home in. Bring a newborn size and 0-3 month. We’ve had some babies that drowned in the 0-3 month and some that I couldn’t squeeze into newborn size if I wanted to. I like to stick with a simple sleeper-type outfit that is super easy to put on.
Burp cloth. We mostly use the plain old Gerber cloth diapers. They are super absorbent. Chances are, your baby is going to spit up on the way home. If your baby is anything like mine are, they will probably scream most of the way home. The last thing you will want to do is change them as soon as you walk in the door.
Car seat. Before you leave the hospital, the nurse will make sure you have installed the car seat correctly for a safe drive home.
What You Don’t Need:
Every hospital could be different, but in my experience we have not needed any of these things.
Diapers and wipes. The hospital will provide you with diapers and wipes. Take all the extras home with you. You paid for them, they are yours.
Binky/pacifier. We have always received a binky. You can get similar pacifiers pretty much anywhere now. I love these pacifiers because they are one piece. They are easy to sanitize in the dishwasher or boiling water, and they don’t get junk trapped all around the nipple like other binkies do.
Extra clothing. The hospital will provide a long-sleeved onesie. Although it may not be the most attractive thing, neither is staining your favorite outfit with newborn meconium. Your baby will poop quite a bit and it will possibly not all stay in the diaper. Having them wear only a shirt makes all diaper changing efforts much more simple. You won’t take this home with you, but that’s all we have the baby wear while they are at the hospital.
Formula. If you are not planning on breastfeeding, let the hospital know. They will provide you with some sample cans of formula as well as a basic diaper bag. I have breastfed all my babies, but I still request this so I have formula on hand just in case.
What You Need:
Chapstick. My lips get so chapped during labor! I try to stick with a fairly neutral flavor since I tend to smell EVERYTHING while in labor!
Gum. Back to the smelling everything. This is for my husband. Not me. He needs to eat during the process, but I don’t want to see or smell that food.
Phone and Charger: Some people like to listen to music or motivating prompts while in labor. My husband and I usually walk around and talk until right before transition, so I have never done music in the past. We have used our phones to play games together, and of course, to take those first pictures!
After Baby is Born:
Nipple cream. No matter how many times you have previously breastfed a baby, it hurts like crazy for the first two weeks or more while used to everything. Using nipple cream in between each feeding session keeps your nipples from hurting quite as much and prevents cracking.
Nursing Pads. Even though your milk probably won’t come in while you are in the hospital, wearing nursing pads will keep any clothing from touching your extremely sensitive nipples. Wearing nursing pads will also prevent your clothes from getting stained from the nipple cream. I have used disposable in the past, but bought some washable Bamboobies nursing pads that I am excited to try out this time!
Loose shirt and sports bra/nursing bra. This has been my go-to outfit. I generally wear a sports bra during labor because I just can’t check all my modesty at the door. I bring an extra sports bra that will be super comfortable and clean and a loose shirt to go over. In all honesty, pants are a pain to put on. You are getting up and going to the bathroom so often, no one will judge if you look great on top, and just keep your bottom half covered up. Just keeping it real!
Toiletries. Bring whatever you would normally use on a simple day.
Hand soap. I personally don’t like the sterile soap smells of hospitals, so I bring my own good-smelling hand soap.
What You Don’t Need:
While you may not need these things in your hospital bag, they are great to have on hand for when you get home from the hospital.
Extra underwear. You will bleed a lot. More than you thought possible. The hospital provides disposable mesh underwear. I just wear those babies home right along with all the amazing diaper-like pads.
Pads. The hospital will provide all the pads and other products that you need for the care of your lady parts. Take all of that stuff with you! You paid for it, and you will want all of those supplies rather than stopping by the store on the way home.
Extra clothes. I wore the same clothes out of the hospital that I wore coming in. I just live in the hospital gown and an extra shirt when I am at the hospital. No need to get all fancy. You are going to look pregnant for awhile still, so don’t even bother bringing pre-pregnancy clothes. It’s just depressing.
Socks/slippers. I know some people love to bring all the fixings for a day spa to the hospital, but I just get the free hospital socks while I am there and toss them in the trash on my way out the door.
Pillow: You can always request extra pillows. It is super nice to use a boppy at home to nurse the baby, but at the hospital, I just get extra hospital pillows.
I have been super lucky that my husband has packed his own bag each time. He usually packs things like
Laptop: for games and movies while at the hospital. Card games are also quick and easy to pack. Here are some of my favorite movies!
Snacks: baby #5 was born right after the kitchen had closed. I couldn’t order a full meal, just a cold-cut sandwich and chips. Having snacks on hand was a life saver until he could sneak away to the cafe for a real meal.
Extra Change of Clothes: You never know how messy things are going to get!
Basic Toiletries: Toothbrush and toothpaste, hair gel, etc.
In My Opinion…
My biggest thing is I’m kind of a germaphobe. In my mind, hospitals are crawling with germs even though they smell sanitary. I know what kinds of fluids are happening in my room, and I only stay for around 24 hours…You can get by without bringing extra clothes, slippers, robes, socks, pillows, etc. But that is just my opinion. If it makes you feel more comfortable, by all means, bring it!
Even if you under pack, you will be given SO MUCH stuff at the hospital. You have about a thousand forms to fill out, and then they give you magazines and pamphlets on how to care for you and your baby. Plan accordingly, knowing that you will have to carry all of that, along with your new baby out to the car and into the house when you get home. If you have questions about anything your hospital does or doesn’t supply, feel free to call them!
What are your absolute MUST HAVES in your hospital bag?