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Pregnancy

What to Pack in Your Hospital Bag: A Checklist

Although I had been surprisingly good at staying on track when it came to getting ready for the baby, packing my hospital bag was the one thing I procrastinated.

You can spend almost nine months preparing for the arrival of the baby, but when it comes to taking maybe a few hours to pack my hospital bag and prepare for the actual event of giving birth? Nope, too much to ask!

However, I eventually started. I think part of it was the fact that when I mentioned to people that I had not started around 35 weeks, some people started freaking out. I feel like that’s a good time to start, you still have practically a month if all goes well! I think anytime between 35 and 38 weeks is good, and as long as you’re having a healthy pregnancy you really have some flexibility.

I know people who packed while they were in labour! I mean, usually, especially for your first, you probably have some time, but I personally don’t want to be that person.

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The main thing people struggle with when packing their hospital bag is what exactly to pack. You can have a plan in place for how you want baby to arrive into this world, but you can’t know for sure how things are going to go. It’s hard to prepare, because there are some things to take into consideration.

For example, are you having a cesarean birth? If so, you may be in the hospital for a little longer. Your postpartum care may also look a little different.

Either way, there are a few essentials that you will need to bring with you to make your stay comfortable and to start your postpartum care the best way! I’ve put together a list based on what my hospital told me I’ll need, what we have learned from our prenatal classes, and what friends have told me I won’t be able to do without.

I also added a few extra things that I know I’m going to want to make my hospital stay comfortable for me, no matter how long or short it is.

HOSPITAL BAG FOR MOM

IDENTIFICATION AND PAPERWORK

  • Health card
  • Insurance card
  • Registration paperwork

Some hospitals let you come in and do some registration paperwork before you even go into labour, so you don’t have to do it during labour. Take advantage of this if you can!

PERSONAL CARE SUPPLIES

  • Toothbrush/toothpaste
  • Hair brush
  • Elastics/bobby pins
  • Cosmetics
  • Lip balm
  • Deodorant
  • Body soap
  • Shampoo
  • Your own towel

I have had so many people tell me to make sure I bring lip balm because you get so thirsty and your lips get so dry! So, don’t forget that. It may be a good idea to get travel sizes of everything to make packing easier and lighter. Bring the things that make you feel like you!

Also, judge me all you want, but you better believe I brought makeup for family pictures. I knew I’d just feel that little bit better about myself after having just given birth, and every little bit helps.

COMFORT ITEMS

  • Warm socks or slippers
  • A sweater or robe
  • Pajamas (these ones are button up for nursing)
  • Your own comforter and pillow
  • Clothes for 1-3 days
  • Eye mask/ear plugs

Hospital floors are cold! You’re going to want slippers or warm socks to keep your feet warm. Make sure any clothes you bring are comfortable and good for nursing, if you plan on breastfeeding.

Also, if you are having a cesarean you may want clothes for more than 2 or 3 days, or you may want to be prepared to send your partner back home to get you more clothes.

I also know having an eye mask and/or ear plugs is a good idea. Not only will it help you sleep better, but it’s been shown that we women, just like animals, do labour better in the dark. However, if you need to have lights on for a nurse to check anything or for any other reason, having an eye mask can keep you in the head space you were in when the lights were out or dimmed.

NURSING

  • Nursing bras
  • Breast pads
  • Nipple cream (this kind was a lifesaver)

Nursing bras are a must if you plan on nursing because they provide support and comfort without the underwire. Bras with underwire can interfere and clog milk ducts. Even if you’re not breastfeeding, you may just want them for comfort!

Breast pads may not be necessary for you right away, as it usually takes your milk a few days to come in. But, you could still be leaking colostrum (the first ‘milk’ your breasts make for baby), and if you have been leaking before birth, they may be helpful. These ones are reusable and organic, and these ones are disposable.

POSTPARTUM

  • Maternity pads/adult diapers
  • Granny panties (to hold the giant pads you’re going to need)
  • Other postpartum care items like witch hazel pads, Advil, stool softener

Postpartum is not something I like to think about, but it’s a reality of giving birth. You are going to be bleeding. A lot. Even if you don’t give birth vaginally you’ll be bleeding, because where your placenta disconnected from your uterus is an open wound that now bleeds and needs to heal.

So, you’ll need giant pads and undies to keep them in place. Your hospital will most likely give you Advil and stool softener, but you may want to bring some just in case.

EXTRA COMFORT MEASURES

  • Any tools you plan on using to help you get through labour
  • LED tea light candles
  • Music
  • Books
  • Massage tools

I planned on bringing lots of labor and massage tools to help me get through active labor and transition. I had horrible back labor so my husband rolled something like this on my lower back during every contraction.

My hospital had labor balls I could use, but I would have brought my own if not!

DON’T FORGET

  • Lots of snacks/favourite drinks
  • Mints or gum
  • Money for incidentals/vending machines
  • Phone charger
  • Any medications you are taking
  • Glasses, if needed

You are going to be so hungry! Your hospital will feed you, but you may want your own snacks that you enjoy! It’s also always a good idea to have extra food. They probably won’t feed your support person so make sure he/she has snacks too.

HOSPITAL BAG FOR DAD/PARTNER

PERSONAL CARE SUPPLIES

  • Toothbrush/tooth paste
  • Shaver
  • Deodorant
  • Body wash/shampoo (incase they want to shower too)

Your support person is there while you are, so they will need all this stuff too.

COMFORT ITEMS

  • Warm socks or slippers
  • Clothes for 1-3 days
  • Swimsuit
  • Their own comforter and pillow

Your support person is going to be right there along with you, sleeping (only when you’re sleeping too!) and helping you through labour or surgery. They will want to be comfortable too. If you plan on labouring in a shower or bath tub, they will need a swimsuit to get in there with you, if they want to or you want them to. Having their own blanket and pillow will also make them feel more at home.

OTHER ITEMS

  • Snacks/drinks
  • Camera
  • Phone charger
  • Books
  • Any medications they are taking
  • Glasses (if needed)
  • Money for incidentals

Dad/your support person is going to be tired too. They didn’t go through labor like you did, but they were there every step of the way. They need to make sure they have everything they need as well as making sure you have everything you need. If they don’t take care of themselves, they won’t do a great job of taking care of you!

HOSPITAL BAG FOR BABY

Honestly babies don’t need much while they are at the hospital. Most of the time you just want them to be in a diaper laying on you or your partner, probably with a blanket over both of you, to get some skin to skin bonding in. You’ll want an extra blanket if it’s cold out to put over them in the car seat as well. The hospital will put a hat on them but you may want an extra or two.

This is a pretty extensive list, but there are most likely some of your things you’ll want to add to make it your own as well. I honestly brought a few outfits for the baby because I needed choices!

You’ll be going through a lot mama, so bring everything and anything you will want while you’re away from home. Even if you don’t use it all, at least you know it was there!

Please let me know in the comments what you’ll be adding to the list and share this list on Pinterest and with all your pregnant mama friends! 

what to pack in your hospital bag/hospital bag checklist for new moms
what to pack in your hospital bag/a hospital bag checklist for new moms

I am a military wife, a university graduate, and a new mama living in Nova Scotia! I hope to use my own learning on the job as well as my education to help other moms. Follow me on this journey to learn about pregnancy, motherhood, staying healthy, and taking care of you and your family!

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