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Let me guess – you have reached the point where it’s becoming a reality that your baby is going to have to come out eventually, you don’t want to forget anything you might need for the hospital, pregnancy brain has taken over, and you are the one that needs to make sure everything is packed and ready to go to the hospital. I’ve been there. I’m the person who would much rather over pack than under pack. I obsessively searched the internet for hospital packing checklists during my third trimester and none of them seemed to cover everything. In the end, I took a lot of stuff but used almost all of it. Below I’ll go through everything that went on my packing list and why I recommend taking it. There is also a downloadable PDF packing list that you can print to check off items.
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Towel and garbage bag for in the car: Good to have just in case your water breaks on the way to the hospital.
Gift for nurses: This is a nice gesture but not required. I prepared a small jar with Hershey’s Kisses and tied on a cute bow. I forgot to pull it out of my bag though, so I had been there a day before I gave it to anyone. I recommend dropping it off at the nurses’ station shortly after arriving. If you are wondering why you would bring a small gift for someone whose job it is to take care of you, check out this story from a labor and delivery nurse where she talks about the training she did and the great and
Copy of birth plan (if you have one): If you spend the time creating this, you want to make sure you take at least one copy, but 2-3 copies may be better. I didn’t make a birth plan because my plan was to go with the flow and it worked out well for me.
Yeti mug (or similar): I have a 32 oz Yeti mug that I kept at home full of ice water which really helped me to drink more. Taking it along was a last-minute thought, but I’m so glad I did. The nurses would bring me ice and water whenever I needed a refill. I then had a mug with a lid that kept the water cold which really increased how much I drank. Pro tip: Bring one along for your partner too. The nurses are happy to provide ice water, but it would have been much better if he had a mug to keep it cold.
Pillow: The hospital will provide pillows, but they aren’t very comfy. Having one from home can make a big difference. Pro tip: Bring one for your partner too. My husband insisted that he didn’t need to take a pillow because the hospital ones would be fine. He was fine because he kept taking my pillow.
Exercise ball and pump: Bring this and leave it in the car until you decide you need it. The hospital had two exercise balls, but someone was already using the bigger one, and the one they brought me was way too small. Had my own definitely prevented a mid-labor meltdown. Don’t forget to bring the pump as well so that you can add more air if you decide it’s too squishy.
Handheld fan: Pushing is hard work, and I was doing it for 3 hours! I’m so glad I had a rechargeable handheld fan that my husband could hold up to my face. This is the one that I’m so glad I had at the hospital.
Music: Some people create a playlist specifically for labor. If this is you, great. If not, still bring some source of music in case you need something to block out the annoying sound of machines (or your husband).
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Robe and fuzzy socks: You will likely want to walk the halls at some point and you don’t want to do it wearing nothing but an open-backed hospital gown. A robe and fuzzy socks are perfect… if you’re cold. However, that’s where it’s also a good idea to bring PJ shorts that you can wear under your hospital gown if it’s too hot for a robe. I wore my robe and fuzzy socks a decent amount after giving birth but was so hot while I was walking the halls that I just wore PJ shorts, a hospital gown and flip flops.
Flip flops: Because no one wants to stand in the gross hospital showers without flip flops. These also work for walking the halls if you’re too hot for the fuzzy socks.
Nightgown/Labor and delivery dress: You can buy a dress designed for labor and delivery which is basically a fancy hospital gown. If you do this, I would save it for after delivery. What I did was purchase a stretchy tank top style nightgown from Target. This was cool in case I got hot, had easier access compared to shorts and was stretchy at the top so I could pull it down for nursing. Everyone thought I was wearing a sundress, but really it was just a nightgown. I ended up going back and buying a second one in a different color after I got home. This one is similar to mine.
Depends: It may require some effort to stoop to buying adult diapers, but these are a wonderful thing to have postpartum. The mesh panties that the hospital provides do fit right and don’t stay put – they are essentially useless. Depends on the other hand are extremely comfortable and can be discretely worn under yoga pants. Get at least one pack and take a bunch to the hospital and have them at home. I wore them for at least a week postpartum.
Perineum Ice Packs: The hospital will provide you with diaper ice packs that work really well (and fit well inside Depends). However, they aren’t that comfortable to move around in. I suggest ordering a package of perineum ice packs that you can activate at the time of use (these can be easily found on Amazon). Take a couple to the hospital and have the rest of the package on hand at home. These are the ones I got, and they worked great.
You will also want a bunch of other self-care items when you get home, but the hospital will supply you with everything else you need while you’re there. To see what to have on hand at home, check out this post.
Going home outfit: You will not automatically fit into your pre-pregnancy jeans. However, you will be smaller than when you arrived, but how much varies from person to person. I recommend leggings or yoga pants and a loose-fitting shirt which is a comfy outfit that can be cute and gives you wiggle room on what size you are when you leave the hospital.
Nursing sleep bra: This may be necessary depending on what you are planning to wear in the hospital. With the nightgown I mentioned above, it has built-in padding and is fitted enough to provide support, so I didn’t wear any other bras until I left. A nursing sleep bra will come in handy when you go home though.
Nursing pads: If everything goes smoothly, and you are discharged on schedule, your milk probably won’t have come in yet. However, if you have an extended stay you may end up needing nursing pads. I didn’t need them, but they are small, so I recommend taking a set or two just in case. These bamboo ones are the washable ones I suggest for long term.
Breast pump with all accessories: The hospital will have a hospital-grade breast pump you can use if you need one. However, if you are a first-time mom I recommend taking your personal breast pump and all the related pieces. The lactation consultant can help you figure out how to use it and make sure everything fits appropriately. For me this was a life saver. If you are not new to the world of pumping, then you can probably just use the hospital one if necessary.
Makeup: The thought of putting makeup on right after giving birth may sound crazy to some, but I’m so glad I had it with me. As soon as I was given the okay to shower I did so and followed that by styling my hair and doing my makeup. This took about 20 extra minutes, and I love the pictures of me and Paxton in the hospital.
Hair styling items and ponytail holders: See above for why you want to take hair styling items. If your hair is long enough for a ponytail you will definitely want to utilize this style to get your hair out of your face during labor.
Chapstick: Hospital air is dry, so you will want something for your lips.
Glasses and contacts: If you have both, take both. You may want contacts for labor in case your glasses get fogged up, but you may not want to put contacts in the entire time you’re in the hospital.
Laundry bag: You will generate laundry, so it’s helpful to have a designated place to keep it separate from things that aren’t dirty.
Cell phone and charger, shower items, toothbrush and toothpaste, mouthwash and deodorant: I hope that why you would want these items is pretty self-explanatory.
Insurance card, ID and hospital paper work: I hope these items are pretty self-explanatory too.
Items For Baby and Your Partner (because chances are you are responsible for everyone else. Get used to it.)
Going home outfit for baby: This can be as fancy, as sentimental or as plain as you want. Whatever you decide, just make sure it’s appropriate for a car seat and bring both newborn and 3-month size outfits. My husband and I were both big babies that never fit into newborn clothes, but out son wore newborn clothes for a solid month. You also don’t want to be in the position of having a baby that doesn’t fit into newborn clothes if that’s all you bought. We had friends that had to go to the gift shop and get a bigger outfit for their baby to go home in because he didn’t fit in what they brought.
Car seat: Get this installed in your car ahead of time. You can leave it in the car until you are close to leaving which helps keep the room from getting too cluttered.
Stocked diaper bag: I cover what should go into a diaper bag in a different post. You can view it here. Most likely you won’t need any of these things before you get home, but you will quickly learn that baby and diaper bag go everywhere together. It’s better to be over prepared than under prepared.
Baby blanket: If it’s cold, this can be used to tuck around baby in the car seat. The hospital provides plenty of blankets for use while there, but some people prefer to have their own so consider what you prefer. We used the hospital ones until it was time to go home.
Baby socks and Onsies: Something you may or may not need, but tiny enough they are worth tossing in. The nurses kept our son swaddled unless they were doing something with him, so we didn’t really see a need for baby clothes. However, we eventually realized that he hated being cold and actually was happier dressed.
Pillow for partner: See above (under your pillow) about why you must bring your partner a pillow.
Entertainment: The last thing you want while you are in labor is a bored husband. Make sure to have whatever will keep him entertained when you aren’t keeping him busy.
PJs for partner: Sleeping in jeans is never fun, and you don’t need the whining.
Cash for vending machines and snacks: The cafeteria is likely closed when you want to eat and the meals they deliver never seem to come at convenient times. I was in the hospital for 2 days before I ever had a chance to eat one of the meals they brought me.
Yeti mug (or similar for partner): Nice to have, and the nurses are happy to fill it up with ice water.
Shower items, razor and shaving cream, ball cap, toothbrush, deodorant and cell phone and charger all for partner: Hopefully self-explanatory as to why these are needed.
Card games: During early labor and after I got an epidural and slept for a
Computer and charger: I can’t be the only one who never goes away overnight without taking my laptop. I think I used it for maybe 10 minutes, but I’m sure I would have missed it if I hadn’t taken it. The laptop can also be used for Skyping with family, listening to music or watching movies that you downloaded ahead of time (recommended).
Extension cord: There may not be a plug near where your partner is sleeping so an extension cord can be good for allowing more flexibility with plugging in a cell phone. In my room, the only outlets were behind my bed which wasn’t super convenient for keeping cell phones plugged in.
Gum: Always good to have on hand for dry mouth, nausea and your partner’s bad breath.
Camera: We took all pictures on cell phones, but if you are talented with a camera, don’t forget to take it.
Overall, I am a strong proponent on taking everything that there is a slight chance you might need. I hate being somewhere and wishing I had brought something, so I really don’t want to be in the situation while in labor or learning how to care for a new tiny human. I do suggest packing multiple bags. A bag for you, a bag for your partner, a bag for baby and a bag of stuff to leave in the car until needed. It’s also helpful to have an extra bag to put stuff in as you finish with it. Taking stuff used during labor to the car and bringing in baby stuff after our son was born worked well to keep the room from getting cluttered.
Download PDF packing list here: Ultimate Hospital Packing List
Did I miss anything? What are you glad you had at the hospital? Let me know in the comments.
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Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will receive a commission if you click through and make a purchase.
Mom, wife, veterinary pharmacist, equestrian, ice cream lover and occasional hot mess