Even though you probably won’t be scrambling sitcom-style to gather your belongings, in all the excitement, you’re bound to forget the one thing that you really wanted to bring to the hospital (that iPod, maybe?). In fact, it makes sense to pack the hospital bag several weeks before your due date in case your baby makes an appearance before schedule. The most important tip: Pack light, bringing along just what you think you’ll need (or like)
Your due date is rapidly approaching, which means your baby could arrive any day now! You’re likely excited and nervous about going into labour. You can reduce that stress by planning ahead and having your bags packed and ready no later than four weeks before your due date.
Not sure what to pack? We’ve created the essential newborn baby hospital bag checklist to help! We’ve even put together two more checklists for supplies mommies-to-be will need — a labour bag and a recovery bag. Before we get to those, let’s focus on the essential items for your baby.
Not only should you pack a hospital bag for you when you’re pregnant, but you should pack a hospital bag for your baby! Here’s what an experienced mom packed the first time, what she didn’t use, and what she packed the second time! A super helpful list of what to pack in your baby’s hospital bag!
It’s never too early to gather together all the essentials you’ll need during labour and birth and for after your baby is born. Even if you’re not planning to have your baby in a hospital or birth centre, you may need to go in unexpectedly, so try to have a bag packed by the time you’re about 36 weeks pregnant.
Hospitals vary in their policies about what you are allowed to bring with you when you have your baby. You may want to take a few items from home, such as your own pillows, to make the environment more personal. But be aware that hospitals can be short on space.
If you want, pack two bags: one for labour and the hours immediately after your baby is born, and another for a stay on the postnatal ward.
If you’re driving to the hospital, you could leave the second bag in the car. If you have a straightforward birth, you may leave hospital on the same day and not need the second bag at all.
Gone are the days when you can pack a day before or even on the morning of your trip. Once you’ve got the bump, consider it the start of a life of organized and planned packing–days or maybe even weeks before you need to leave. So consider your hospital bag the first of many bags you’ll surely have to pack ahead of time. A couple of mommy friends and my OB told me that it’s best to have everything ready as early as 36-37 weeks into your pregnancy, or at least start packing some essentials once you’ve reached your 34th week. Each pregnancy is unique, and for someone who’ll soon give birth to another human being, you deserve to free yourself from worry and stress. So to help guide you, we’ve put together your ultimate hospital bag checklist (not just for you and your baby, but for your hubby as well!) so you won’t leave out any essentials.
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Your Newborn Baby Hospital Bag Checklist
Your baby doesn’t need much at first — just nutrients, warmth, and you. All they’re going to be doing is sleeping and eating. The hospital will provide plenty of blankets to keep your baby warm, but there are some other must-haves that you should pack ahead of time.
Your Birth Plan and Other Important Documents
Although your doctor or midwife will already have your birth plan, bring along extra copies so that every member of the hospital staff, on every shift, can get one. Want to make sure it’s well-received (and read)? Bring each copy in a small gift bag of goodies. Just keep in mind that delivery plans can change and that a birth plan is a guide for the hospital staff, not a rule.
What other paperwork should you pack in the hospital bag?
- Your insurance card
- Any hospital paperwork you had to fill out beforehand
- If you’re saving your baby’s cord blood, you may need to pack the cord-blood kit
A Nightgown, Robe, and Slippers
Yes, the hospital will provide you with gowns during labour and postpartum, but you might feel more comfortable wearing your own nightie or T-shirt. Pack a couple; just don’t bring new ones or your favorites — they’ll get stained (with blood and other effluvia). Bring ones with short sleeves — it’ll be easier to check your blood pressure or hook you up to the IV. If you plan on nursing, pack a nightgown or top that opens in front (or lifts up easily) to make breastfeeding easier. Don’t forget to pack slippers and a robe in your hospital bag — you’ll stroll the halls after your baby is born. And if your feet get cold easily, bring along a couple of pairs of warm socks.
You and your baby won’t be able to go home until you can pass the car seat test. This test ensures that your baby is big enough and fits properly in the car seat for safety reasons.
Also, the nurses that wheel you out to your car won’t allow you to leave unless you have a properly installed car seat in the back seat. Make sure the car seat has plenty of padding and that it can be mounted facing the rear of the car.
Blankets And Swaddles
As mentioned, the hospital will probably have blankets available, but chances are they’re going to get dirty, and they may not be very soft. Pack some of your own to keep your baby swaddled and protected against the cold.
Blankets will also come in handy when leaving the hospital. You can cover up your little one with their blanket in the hospital and use it for the car ride home.
Bring your own swaddle blankets to the hospital since the nurses will teach you how to properly swaddle your little one. Having this guidance fresh on your mind, you’ll leave with confidence in swaddling your little one!
Clothes To Wear Home
Your baby is going to need something to wear home, so plan accordingly. When you’re packing your bag, think ahead to the month in which the baby will be born. What will the temperature be? If it’s going to be cold, don’t forget socks, mittens, and a hat. These items can even be useful in the summer to keep drafts off your baby’s sensitive skin.
This outfit is special, and you’ll remember and cherish it for years. You can even save it as a keepsake. Because remember, you and your little one are going home, and picture taking will be inevitable!
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What should I pack for labour?
- Your birth plan and maternity notes.
- Old nightdress or T-shirt to wear in labour. It will probably get a bit messy, so don’t buy anything, especially to wear in the hospital.
- Dressing gown This will be useful if you end up pacing hospital corridors in early labour. You’ll probably also want one on the postnatal ward. Hospitals can be very warm, so a lightweight one may be better. A dark colour or a busy pattern will help to hide any stains.
- Backless slippers that are easy to get on and off. Flip-flops work well, too.
- Socks, Believe it or not, your feet can get cold during labour.
- Massage oil or lotion if you would like to be massaged during your labour. You might also like to invest in a massage roller or similar aid, so your birth partner can massage you for longer.
- Birth ball. This can help you to find different positions in labour, and may also help you manage the pain of contractions. Check whether the hospital has the right size for you. If not, make your own. Remember to bring a pump so your birth partner can inflate it for you.
- Snacks and drinks for during and after birth. Most women are able to eat and drink during labour, and it can help to keep your energy levels up. The hospital will have food and drink available, but you may prefer to pack a few things that you know you like. Choose carb-packed snacks that give slow-release energy to keep you going. Fruit, unsalted nuts, crisps, cereal bars and popcorn are all good options. You may also want some mints or boiled sweets to freshen your mouth. Also pack a few isotonic sports drinks, which are great for giving you a boost when you need it most.
- Things to help you relax or pass the time, such as books, magazines, or a tablet. You may also want to download some fun and distracting apps on your phone to keep you occupied during early labour.
- Lip balm Your lips can dry out quickly on a warm labour ward, particularly if you’re using gas and air.
- Hairbands or a clip. If you have long hair, you may want it tied up.
- Pillows. The hospital might not have enough to make you really comfortable. A C-shaped pillow can give you extra support when breastfeeding your baby.
- TENS pain relief machine, if you are planning to use one. Some hospitals and birth centres do have them though, so check with yours first.
- Music. Create a playlist of upbeat and/or soothing tracks to distract, calm and inspire you during labour.
Tons of food and drinks
For my first, my bag was a squirrel’s hoard of nuts, granola bars, peanut butter crackers, teas, and Gatorade. “What if they don’t let me eat?” I fretted. Now that I’ve been there and survived it, I can tell you they feed you surprisingly well at the hospital. When you’re pregnant and constantly foraging for snacks, it’s really hard to imagine going three – let alone 12 – hours without eating, but you’ve got a lot of other matters to attend to during labour, and that mound of snacks in your bag is likely to remain there.
I bought a fancy HD video camera for the express purpose of capturing all the precious moments in my new baby’s life. But when I saw my son’s tiny face, I just wanted to be cuddling and visiting with him, not striking a pose with my bedraggled bedhead and tired eyes that would never close as soundly again. Besides, most phones these days take high-quality video, which should suffice unless a cinematic keepsake is a must – like when my parents videotaped my sister’s entire 20-minute C-section back in the nineties. They’ve watched it…more than once.
I brought cloth diapers to the hospital for my first baby. When I held the reusable diapers next to my newborn, it was like trying to dab a flea with a cotton ball. Fortunately, the hospital provided an ample supply of disposable diapers that were surprisingly soft and absorptive – and had an indicator line to let me know when the baby had wet himself.
Does either of you have a penchant for crossword puzzles? Are you inseparable from your laptop (or just want to notify your Facebook friends of your impending delivery)? You may want to pack a few diversions in the hospital bag to keep both of your stress levels down and help pass the time. Games, music or a favourite magazine can keep you from focusing too much on your labour in its early stages or after an epidural. Even if you can’t kick back during labour, entertainment may come in handy for your partner when he or she takes breaks from coaching.
You probably won’t be too focused on dolling yourself up as you deliver (or even primping postpartum), but you’ll want to bring a few essentials to help you freshen up during your stay:
- Toothbrush, toothpaste and mouthwash
- Moisturizer and deodorant
- Hair ties or clips to keep your hair out of your eyes during labour
- Lip balm, since your lips can get particularly chapped during labour
- Your own soap, shampoo and lotion (though the hospital will also have some on hand)
Baby Goods and Baby Outfit
Now for the fun stuff: You’ve waited nine long months to see your little cutie in those teeny tiny clothes. Pack two easy-to-put-on outfits in case your baby soils one with a diaper blowout before you leave the hospital. Bring two undershirts, a sweater or light fleece jacket (in the winter), socks or booties, a receiving blanket, and a hat (even if your baby is born in a warm-weather month, it’s cold outside the womb). Also, don’t forget to pack extra diapers and wipes (the hospital will probably provide you with them, but you can never be too prepared!).
I imagined there would be all this free time at the hospital, that it would feel like sitting in a waiting room at the doctor’s office. I brought magazines and my Kindle, which sat untouched in my bag the entire time. Some people may have an extended stay during which they may feel relaxed enough to do some reading, but that definitely wasn’t the case for me.
There is no substitute for a few good pairs of pyjamas to wear during recovery. You may not want to wear anything else! What’s great about the Davy Nursing Pajamas is that they look nice enough to lounge around in all day. I’ve even worn the Davy top with a pair of jeans, and the general public was none the wiser.
I actually felt – dare I say – sexy in the Angelina Nursing & Maternity Nightgown. I have to admit it felt so, so good to be able to see my (non-swollen) feet again and shave my legs. The dress was really soft, feminine, and flattering – and you can even use it for your going-home outfit (provided that it’s not snowing and 19 degrees outside). I still wear my Angelina!
When your milk comes in, you’ll want breast pads. Some pads can irritate sore nipples and stick to YOU more than to your bra. Since you’ll be wearing them every day and night of your life for a while, why wouldn’t you want to be comfortable? Kindred Bravely’s reusable bamboo nursing pads are soft without being bulky. Some other washable pads dimple and show through shirts – but not these! The carrying case is also a nice touch for organizing your nursing pads.
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A super-comfy nursing bra
The first time around, I was so busy thinking about my baby that I completely neglected to think about my own comfort. The second time, I was better prepared and brought a couple of comfy nursing bras. The French Terry Bra was soft, seamless, and easy to use when I was abruptly snapped out of slumber by the sound of my nurse wheeling my wide-eyed wander into the room for a late-night snack. Even if you normally sleep bra-less, that life will become a thing of the past once your milk comes in.
Another great option is the Simply Sublime Nursing Bra. It allows easy access as you and your baby learn how to breastfeed and provides the support and shape you want throughout the day. The stretchy fabric is very useful since your breast size fluctuates in the early days.
When packing your bags, keep in mind that, barring long labour, you may only be in the hospital for one or two nights. Though that may seem like a long time, you’re going to be busy recovering from delivery and feeding and changing your baby.
Neither you nor your baby has any use for the five designer outfits or the box of stuffed animals that your family already bought. But what you will need is a small, convenient bag of baby skincare items that’s perfect for travel. With that on hand, along with the other essentials on this list, you and your baby will have a happy delivery and a smooth trip home.