I’m 38 weeks pregnant and that means that it’s time to get my hospital bag packed. Actually, I packed it around 36 weeks. I wanted to have it packed and ready well in advance. Babies are on their own schedule. Sometimes they decide to come early and I really didn’t’ want to have to pack or worry about what was packed while dealing with contractions.
Our first baby, Alexie, I felt like I had both over-packed and under-packed. There were things that I never used and just got in my way. There were other things that I really wished that had. Last time we went in with 3 large bags. This time, I’ve got one large but well-packed duffle bag, for all three of us! Inside I have it divided up into 3 sections using much small fabric grocery bags. There’s one bag with dad’s stuff, another with the baby’s and then my stuff is in the main area. This helps keep everything organised and means we’ll be able to find things more easily.
Here’s everything (and I mean everything!) I’ve packed for myself, dad and the new baby!
Comfy Clothes: I wore the hospital gown from the time I arrived until I got dressed to go home. I hadn’t packed clothes to wear while there. I totally recommend comfortable loungewear like leggings and maternity t-shirt. A sweater is also a great idea.
Maxi dress or skirt: This is a must! A) it is the perfect going home outfit and b) it’s a great option regardless of whether you have a vaginal or c-section birth. They hide the post-baby bump (which makes you feel a little better) and if you’ve had a c-section loose, drapey fabric is best over the incision.
Robe: A lightweight robe is a great option. Whether it’s just to cover up or to get to the bathroom for a quick but refreshing shower, having something to wrap yourself with is a must.
Socks: Fluffy, warm socks are a must in every woman’s hospital bag.
Flip Flops: When you can’t see your feet, you want something that slips on and that you don’t mind throwing out at the end. The floors are hospitals are dirty. And a cheap, comfy pair of flip flops are a great option for showering.
Undies: The first time, I knew the hospital would give me underwear so I didn’t bother packing any.Boy, was that a mistake! Most hospitals will give you one pair of underwear. ONE PAIR. Whether they get dirty, wet or stained, it’s the only pair you get. I was lucky that one nurse snuck me an extra pair and it was wonderful. This time, I’ll be bringing 2-3 pairs of my own cheap, dark-colored underwear.
Nursing Bra and/or Nursing Tank Top: Last time I brought 1 nursing bra. That’s it. This time I’m bringing 2 and a nursing tank. I can wear it as a top while resting and recovering and it’ll give me some sense of being dressed and presentable.
Hair Ties/headband/ Bobby Pins: Depending on your hair, you’ll want some hair stuff. During labour, I was so hot and all I wanted to do was get my hair off my neck. Later, a few bobby pins were all it took for me to have a presentable hairstyle.
Towel: Hospital towels are so small and itchy. Bring your own large, soft towel and face cloth. I recommend something white because you’ll be able to bleach out any stains that might happen and I will assure you, there will be stains.
Soap/Body Wash: You will want to shower after having a baby. Last time, I didn’t shower and I felt terrible. Alexie was born on a full moon and the rooms filled up quickly. I got a roommate by morning and I just felt awkward walking by her and her family to shower. I really wished I had showered. This time I’ve got soap all packed, ready to go and I’m going to make a point of showering before we leave.
Dry Shampoo: While you want to shower, you might not want to wash your hair. I’ve got long, curly hair that takes forever to dry so I don’t have any plans on washing it while at the hospital. But I will be using dry shampoo to make myself presentable.
Simple Make-up: You might want to put on some make-up. While this isn’t for everyone, you never know how you’ll feel after delivery. A simple make-up routine is a good idea, just in case you want to feel better. Some BB cream, waterproof mascara and tinted lip balm are what I’m packing in my make-up bag.
Moisturiser: Hospitals use high-tech air purifiers which make the air dry. Having a good moisturiser on hand is a must. Consider one with anti-itch properties, which can be super useful. I had a reaction to the tape they use to hold down the I.V. but really anything is better than nothing.
Tooth Brush and Tooth Paste: Oral hygiene is both important and a really nice after hours of labour. It’s a simple thing, but you’d be surprised how many people forget to pack one. I actually have a travel toothbrush and paste so I don’t have to worry about this last minute.
Pillow: Some people are super picky about their pillows. And hospitals aren’t known for their fluffy pillows. Having your own pillow is a great idea. It’s a little piece of home and if you are staying overnight (or for a few days) it might be the difference between a decent sleep and a terrible, sleepless night.
Music: Many women have a birth playlist on hand to help with labour. I have a playlist on my iPhone all ready to go. I also had some headphones and a small speaker.
Snacks: I had so many snacks packed it was crazy. What was crazy, was that we actually ate most of them. We were a little cheap and refused to buy anything, so my husband pretty much lived off of the snacks for the 36 hours we were at the hospital. This time we didn’t pack quite as much because we both realised that was a little crazy and Hubby needs to get a real meal. But I did still a good variety of snacks because you never know when you’ll be hungry (2 am when the cafeteria is closed) or if you’ll be super hungry after a long labour. This time I packed some trail mix, granola bars, juice boxes, chips for my hubby and a few other little things.
Notebook and Pen: During and after labour your mind is going a million miles a minute. You’re in pain, your body feels all weird and you’ve got a new human being to care for. A notebook and pen can be a brain-saver. It’s a great place to write down any questions you might have to ask the nurse or doctor. And the answer. I can’t remember how many times the doctor said something, and about 2 seconds later, I have no recollection of it.
Tumbler Cup: My biggest advice, bring your own cup. During labour, you might be limited to ice chips and I was so thirsty after giving birth. But the hospital cups are tiny. Super tiny. If I hadn’t brought my own, my husband would have spent most of his time getting water and ice.
Keepsake Book and Pen: We did this for Alexie and it was a such a wonderful keepsake. You can read about our keepsake storybook here and know that we’ve chosen a new book for the new baby.
File Folder: You will be given so many documents when you leave. From health card forms to birth certificates and hospital release documents, it’s a little overwhelming. A file folder is great since it keeps all these important papers together and organised.
Gift for Alexie: Obviously the first time we didn’t have a gift because we didn’t have a kid waiting at home. This time I thought it would be nice for Alexie to get a little gift from the baby. I kept it simple and quiet. I got her a pair of puppy PJs (she loves puppy PJs; including these, she has 4 different pairs), a special treat (Doritos), a toddler necklace and 2 books I found in the clearance section of my local bookstore. Remember to keep the gift quiet. Your older kid will probably want to play with the present, as the last thing you need is a noisy, battery operated gadget going off just as the baby is falling asleep!
A little Thank-You for the Nurses: The nurses are the real grunt worker in the labour and delivery ward. You see them the most and they help you with pretty much everything, other than actually catching the baby. So I got a little box of chocolates and a little thank you card for them. It can be left in their nursing station or break room and is just a little something to say thanks!
2-3 Pjs and Sleep Gowns: Being born is stressful. Babies need to be cuddled and comforted and PJs are the best bet while at the hospital. I love sleep gowns. They are amazing. They are great at night when you’re barely awake and very comfortable on their umbilical cord clamp. Another bonus: They are usually sized 0-6 months which is great since there’s really no way of knowing how big your baby is going to be. If you plan to bring regular PJs make sure to have a few newborn and 0-3 month sizes.
Take Home Outfit: Keep comfort in mind when selecting a take home outfit. I also recommend having a few layers since babies get cold fast.
Soother: This is a controversial topic. Some experts recommend that you hold off on the soother but we are big fans of the soother and it’s comforting abilities. So we packed one.
1-2 Receiving Blankets: A few lightweight receiving blankets are great to have on hand. The hospital will have blankets but you’ll probably need one when you head home.
Burp Cloths: Babies spit up. Having a few on hand makes clean up easier than looking for something in the hospital room.
Mittens: Many babies are born with long nails. And while you can cut or bite them off, they are quite sharp. Especially if you are breastfeeding. My daughter actually drew blood a few times, scratching while feeding. A little pair of mittens are not only cute, they can be a necessity. Some newborn sleepers come with the little fabric that flips over (which is amazing) but if your’s don’t have that, you’ll definitely want to get some.
Car Seat: This one might seem obvious but you’d hate to forget it. Make sure you know how to use it too. I practised with a stuffed animal a few times before Alexie arrived. Just to be sure.
I’m going to be super honest here. I actually just threw this stuff in a small bag in my duffle. Dad’s don’t really need as much and are usually quite happy to make do until they get home. It’s also less if you’re good with sharing. We shared toothpaste, soap, a power charger and snacks.
Change of Clothes: Obviously dad is going want to change at some point. A pair of jeans underwear and a t-shirt are really all they need.
Basic Toiletries: We’ve got a toothbrush! That’s pretty much all I packed. Although I did buy a new toothbrush so that it’s already packed when we have to fly out the door.
Swim Shorts: This tip came from a friend of mine and it’s BRILLIANT! During labour, you might want to use a shower or bath to deal with the contractions. Or you might need help in the shower after giving birth. If dad has a pair of swim shorts, he can help out, and not worry about walking around in wet jeans.
PJs or sweatpants: Basically dad will need something to sleep in. Whatever he feels comfortable in is great.
Camera or Phone with a good camera: You will want to take pictures! This is your new baby! We brought our large Canon last time, but I don’t think we will this time. Our iPones take great photos and the fewer chargers, cords and gadgets we have, the better.
Pillow and Blanket: Depending on your hospital, there might not be many options for dad. Ours doesn’t have a space for fathers so my hubby slept on the floor beside my bed. Yep, the floor! So, we kept a sleeping bag and pillow in our car. That night he went and grabbed it, slept and returned it in the morning so it wasn’t taking up too much space in the room!