What’s left to do? Pack for that hospital stay! So what do you bring with you for this monumental journey? Here’s a list of all the essential things you should pack in your hospital bag—and some items best left at home.
In this article:
What Do You Really Need to Pack in Your Hospital Bag?
If you’re stressed about what to pack in your hospital bag to have a baby, allow me to assure you: you truly don’t “need” to bring anything with you other than a support person and maybe your insurance information.
If you’re planning a hospital birth, the hospital has everything you need. I learned that the hard way after showing up to labor and delivery looking like I was ready to move in. (Oops)
But by the time my fifth child was ready to be born, I had perfected my hospital bag list. Here is my advice on what you need to pack in your hospital bag for both you and your baby.
A Hospital Bag Checklist for Mom
OK, moms, listen up: here’s a quick checklist of everything that you will want to bring to the hospital for you.
Yes, the baby is important, but you’re a patient too, so here’s what you’ll want to consider bringing:
- Information folder. This will include important paperwork like your insurance information, OB information, pediatrician’s information, birth plan, disability information (if it applies). Chances are you will be getting more information during your stay, so you will have someplace to put it.
- An extra-long charging cord. Those hospital outlets can be far from your bed!
- Nursing-friendly pajamas/nightgown. Otherwise, you’ll be stuck wearing the hospital gown. Also, pro tip: you may want to pack an extra pair because leaks happen.
- Waterproof flip-flops. Hello, hospital shower floor.
- Your favorite toiletries. I recommend travel-sized so you don’t have to pack/repack.
- Lip balm/moisturizer. Hospital air = dry skin.
- Your going home outfit. Think: something comfortable and easy to get on and off, as well as nursing-friendly if that’s your plan.
- Comfort items. If you want, it might be helpful to pack an item or two that reminds you of home that can provide you with comfort, such as an actual photo you can look at during labor, drawings from your other kids, birth affirmation cards, etc.
- Snacks. I can’t stress this one enough. Your favorite snacks are a must-have.
- Nursing pillow. If you plan on breastfeeding your baby, a nursing pillow can make a huge difference in making feedings easier, especially in the beginning.
- Cord blood banking supplies. If you plan on banking or donating your baby’s cord blood, you’ll need to be sure to bring all of the cord blood banking supplies with you. Check with your hospital first, but typically, you’ll get a kit from the cord blood bank that you take to the hospital with you.
A Hospital Bag Checklist for Baby
Next up? It’s all about the baby. But I promise you that you need way less for your baby than you think. Here’s what I recommend packing:
- A name. I’m serious! This is more common than you’d think, but in case you didn’t know, most hospitals won’t let you leave without one. If you’re having trouble deciding, be sure to visit Truly Mama’s baby name directory–we have all the baby names you could want!
- New car seat. Again, this is required for you to have in order to leave the hospital. If you need help acquiring a car seat, the hospital should be able to refer you to some resources to help you find one, or check with your local women’s shelter or pregnancy center.
- Going home outfit. Of course, pack two if you can’t decide. Options are important.
- Photo props. This could include a blanket, new pacifier, or a special hair accessory.
- Blanket or hat for the car seat. Babies can’t regulate their own temperatures just yet, so you’ll want them snug and cozy. Just be sure to always supervise them on the way home and anytime they’re around a blanket or have a hat on!
And that’s it! I promise you that the hospital will provide everything else you could possibly need for your baby, from diapers to wipes to even extra bottles of formula.
What NOT to Pack in Your Hospital Bag for Your Baby
Did you notice the list for Baby is much shorter than the list for Mama? That’s because your hospital will have everything you need for baby to get through the first few days.
You don’t have to pack a bunch of diapers, wipes, formula, and blankets in your hospital bag, I promise!
Furthermore, most nurses will encourage you to take the leftover diapers, wipes, and whatever consumable items that are already in your room as they won’t be able to reuse them anyway. That includes any mesh undies and ice packs for down there. (Trust me, take them!)
If you are dead set on having your own pillow, exercise ball, diaper brand, pair of socks on hand, then by all means, bring them if it will make you feel more comfortable. But otherwise, stick to the basics.
More Hospital Bag Packing Tips
- Keep the car seat in the car. Depending on your hospital or gestational age of your baby, you may need to complete a car seat test before you go home. But there’s no reason to have the car seat in the room when you’re in labor.
- Treat yourself with toiletries. After my first baby, I made a tradition of scouting the beauty aisle of Target and buying luxury travel sized bath products. After you give birth, that first shower is such a relief.
- Pouches are your friend. They keep things contained, organized, and separated.
- Don’t overpack. The last thing you want to do when you come home is put away a bunch of stuff you didn’t use.
- Keep outfits simple. Don’t make the going home outfit too complicated, for both of you. Easy in, easy out is what you want.
Frequently Asked Questions
What week should you pack your hospital bag?
The answer here is: whenever you want. If you have been having an uneventful pregnancy, Week 37 is the sweet spot.
What should I pack in my hospital bag for labor?
The hospital will cover everything you need for your baby, so other than a going-home outfit, focus on stuff for you. Practical items include: phone charger, Chapstick, moisturizer, and snacks. (Always snacks.)
What should I pack in my hospital bag for a 3 day stay?
For a longer stay, pack a couple changes of clothes for yourself. The birth recovery process can get messy and having a fresh pair of pajamas can make a world of difference. For longer stays, you may want to include your own favorite snacks in case you get sick of hospital fare.
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The best baby nursery is one that’s most comfortable for both of you.