When I was pregnant I’ll admit I was a little anxious about what to bring in my hospital bag. I didn’t know how my whole birth experience would be, what I would want with me, and how much to take. I scoured Pinterest to find a bunch of recommendations, and I do feel like I pretty much had what I needed.
I will preface this list with saying that I do think it’s worth taking a look at a few different people’s recommendations. You never know what you might find on someone’s list that will turn out to be a real lifesaver at the hospital.
Keep in the Car:
Ok, so this is a pretty obvious one. If you’re going to drive baby home then you need a car seat. But make sure to install it ahead of time so you don’t have to be messing with it once it’s time to go home.
Honestly, this one is because if labor goes fast you never know what could happen in the car. My husband in particular liked the idea of having some backup in case things got…messy.
This is basically to go along with the purpose of the garbage bag. And if your water breaks in the car it would probably be nice to have a way to clean it up.
Grab Last Minute:
Phone + charger
Probably not something you’ll want to forget so worth keeping it on your radar that you need to grab it last minute.
If you can fit this in your main hospital bag then go for it, but sometimes camera bags can be a bit bulky. This also probably isn’t the sort of thing you want to leave sitting in your car. When not in use you might want to keep this sitting next to your to-go bag.
I personally didn’t bring my pillows, but I really liked having my favorite blanket with me. If you have a special pillow you have trouble sleeping without then you will also want to add that.
You may or may not want this. I don’t recall using mine at all, but then I gave birth during covid so didn’t have any visitors in hospital. This one is totally up to you, but if you are going to bring it I would imagine it would be a last minute addition if you regularly wear makeup.
This again is an everyday item you may not want to pack right away, unless you have more than one brush. You will probably want this with you in the hospital so you can run it through your hair and feel a little more put together.
Unless you wear contacts everyday you’ll want to remember these last minute too. You probably won’t want to mess with contacts during and after giving birth.
Husband’s phone + charger
You may want your husband to be the one to message any appropriate family members or friends so make sure he’s got not only his phone but also the charger!
It’s unlikely you and your husband will be able to share a bed at the hospital so he may want some of his own bedding items.
Ok, I mean, he’ll need this in order to drive anyways, but in the rush to leave it could be easy to forget. It’s also good for getting some snacks from vending machines.
Keep in the Main Hospital Bag:
Honestly you probably don’t need a ton of toiletries, but having some basics will help you feel a little better. In my case I ended up being in the hospital for 5 days following a very rough birth so having some of these around was kind of a lifesaver.
Also, consider getting some of your favorites in travel sizes. That way you can have them already packed (plus they’ll take up less space).
- Micellar water + cotton pads
- (easiest way to wash your face and not even have to get out of bed)
- Dry shampoo
- Toothbrush + toothpaste
- Mini mirror
- Fingernail clippers
- Contacts + solution
Bobby pins/headband and a hair tie
Bobby pins or a headband are particularly good if you have shorter hair/bangs. You will probably want your hair out of your face for labor.
Body lotion (for massages)
I didn’t end up using this, but if you think you might want your husband to give you a massage during labor this might be worth adding to your hospital bag.
Trying to sleep while in a hospital is no joke (seriously don’t get me started). My husband and I got about 8 hours total during a 5 day stay. So bring what you can to make sleeping a little easier.
Trust me on this one. Seriously. I read people saying that they got really hot while giving birth so brought a fan with me, and I was SO glad that I did.
I personally didn’t have much of a temperature problem during birth, but afterwards…oh man. I didn’t know this, but apparently extreme temperature changes are common after giving birth, with all of the hormones.
While in bed I would go from feeling extremely hot and needing the fan on me to then my whole body shaking uncontrollably and needing to put a blanket back on. It kind of freaked me out a little, but the nurses said that it was pretty common.
So in any case, whether you need it during birth or after, you should definitely bring a fan.
Something you can sleep in so that you don’t feel like you have to change. The one I linked to is very comfortable, and I wear it whenever I’m just staying home. It isn’t lined, though, so don’t expect any kind of shaping or, you know, protection for if you’re cold…
This hospital gown was so comfortable. And I was so glad I had this instead of having to wear one of the gowns provided by the hospital. It is long enough to be comfortable without getting in the way, snaps in great places for easy access, and is soft.
Last minute I actually decided to buy a second one to add to my hospital bag, don’t ask me why (maybe I thought I would want one for during and after labor?), but I was so thankful I did. This was basically all I wore in the hospital and, as I mentioned above, I was there for 5 days. So it was nice to be able to change at least once.
Similar reason to wanting a fan. You might get really cold and want to bundle up a bit. Just make sure they are fairly stretchy because you may get pretty swollen, if you aren’t already.
I was swollen before giving birth, but I didn’t know that if you have a c-section you tend to get even more swollen because all of a sudden there is a bunch of liquid that has to disperse in your body. So I ballooned up pretty big, particularly in my legs and feet.
This is for if you want to play music during or after birth. I would imagine something calming like instrumental piano would be nice.
Maybe everyone wouldn’t need these, but in my case I sleep with white noise through an app on my phone. But even if you don’t sleep with earphones you may want to focus and listen to something by yourself to take your mind off things.
You can get pretty hungry after giving birth. Yes, the hospital will have food available, but I found it nice to have some of my own food with me. Some things I brought that my husband and I liked having were Clif bars, peanut butter, graham crackers, and Oreos.
Breastfeeding can be hard, so if you have a particular cream you want to use it might be worth taking. Otherwise the hospital will likely provide some if you need it.
This is another thing the hospital should provide (try to take some home with you to stock up), but if you are very particular about this sort of thing you might prefer your own.
I had a couple of packs that I used once I ran out of the hospital ones. They were really nice to have particularly because they were so stretchy and comfortable on my incision area.
This depends on how comfortable you feel breastfeeding in front of nurses. I think I mostly didn’t use this, but the handful of times a male nurse or doctor came in I did prefer to cover up.
For if you feel up to changing out of what you were wearing during the day. I wasn’t, but my birth was also not an ideal circumstance.
Going home clothes
Whatever you decide to leave the hospital in, you will probably want it to be very loose fitting, whether that is a gown or some loose sweatpants and a loose top.
Flip flops or slip-on shoes
Again, you will want these to be the sort of shoes that will still fit ok if you are very swollen. That’s one reason flip flops are pretty ideal. Or if you have a pair of slip-ons that stretch those would work well.
Before we went to the hospital I think I imagined we would use these more while there, but honestly we didn’t. Baby boy pretty much stayed in only his diaper the whole time and was wrapped in swaddles. We actually didn’t put any clothes on him until it was time to leave.
So you really don’t need that many outfits, even if you end up staying longer than anticipated. I would recommend one or two in your hospital bag, potentially a newborn size and a 0-3 month size.
They have blankets while you’re there, but it’s nice to have a cute blanket of your own to bundle baby up in while you head out to the car.
A couple diapers
These you actually won’t likely need while you’re at the hospital, but they still are good to have with you just in case. If you have a long drive home or for some reason stop somewhere on the way then it’s possible you will need to change a diaper.
Pretty self-explanatory, but just make sure he’s got a couple changes of clothes in the hospital bag and some items he can sleep in.
My husband doesn’t use nearly as many toiletries as I do, but it was nice for him to have a few things, like deodorant and a toothbrush.
Don’t stress about what to pack in your hospital bag. Just make a list of the things you think you will want, including things to keep in the car, what to pack last minute, stuff for your main bag, and some items for baby and daddy, and read recommendations for different people.
And just know that if you forget anything, it won’t be the end of the world. The hospital provides a lot, and the important thing is getting to meet your precious new baby!
For more information on how to prepare for having a baby head over to my post How To Prepare Your Life For a Baby.
What do you plan to bring to the hospital?
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