What to Pack in Your Hospital Bag in Preparation for Labor and Delivery

What to Pack in Your Hospital Bag in Preparation for Labor and Delivery

My due date is officially 10 days away, so things are about to get real – real fast. (At least I hope so!)

By no means am I an expert on what to pack for the hospital. So I’m hoping today’s post is more of a discussion where you’ll chime in with your own recommendations. After weeks of tweaking this list, I’d like to think I’ve nailed it. But if there’s anything you’d recommend I bring (or leave at home), please let me know in the comments section.

How did I narrow down my list, you ask? I began by reading dozens of guides on the Internet, of course. I’ll be honest – the opinions out there are all over the place. Most people either pack way too much or only the absolute basics.

So I turned to my mama friends who’ve been through this rodeo a time or two. I’d say they were the most helpful. My midwife also shared some insight, as did the nurse who lead our childbirth class a few weeks ago.

Let’s get to it, shall we?

For Baby:

  • DIAPERS: The hospital provides basics like diapers and wipes, but I’m hoping to use as natural products as possible. So, I’m bringing a couple of Babyganics diapers in the newborn size, which fit babies up to 10 pounds.
  • BABY WIPES: At the recommendations of several mom friends, I’ve stocked up on Water Wipes, the world’s purest baby wipes made from 99.9% water and 0.1% fruit extract.
  • A COUPLE ONESIES OR OUTFITS, preferably ones that snap on the sides: H&M has some basic and affordable options, (like long-sleeved bodysuits and basic wrap-over onesies), but you can also purchase side snap shirts at Target and combine them with comfy, footed pants. Side snap, or kimono-style, onesies came highly recommended so that you’re not stressing over constantly pulling clothing over their heads. Also, our little one is measuring in the 97th percentile for weight. So I’m bringing two different size options (newborn and 0-3 months).
  • BOWS: I received so many cute bows at my baby showers; of course, I had to bring a couple for her to wear in her first photos.
  • BABY SOCKS: The socks are in case her cute little toes get chilly, of course. If you’re bringing footed pants or bodysuits, you may not need socks.
  • HAND MITTENS: I hear the nails on newborns are quite something! Some moms recommend using baby socks on their hands, but I just think mittens are too adorable. Plus, it’s not like they take up that much space in the suitcase. I’m bringing basic white ones from Babies R Us.
  • MUSLIN SWADDLES: Aden + Anais swaddles are my favorite and are so versatile; they can be used for swaddling, burp cloth, as props in photos (see above) and as a car seat cover. I’ve packed these two, just in case.
  • BLANKET: I truly doubt we’ll need a blanket, since it’ll be mid-July. But I’m bringing one that my mom wrapped me in when I was born. It’s nothing special but definitely holds immeasurable sentimental value. If nothing else, I hope to capture a couple photos of our baby girl wrapped in it.
  • CAR SEAT, already installed in the car: We chose the CYBEX Cloud Q infant car seat. You can read my review of it here.

For Mom:

  • BIRTH PLAN: I am hoping for an all-natural, non-medicated birth. The following two websites have been oh-so-helpful for me in creating a succinct, natural-focused birthing plan: Earth Mama and Homemaker Chic.
  • INSURANCE CARD AND ID: Both are typically in my purse, which I have with me at all times. But I don’t want to lug yet another bag to the hospital. So I’ve put them in a pocket of my suitcase, along with some helpful handouts we received at our childbirth. I pre-registered at the hospital, so I don’t need to bring any official paperwork.
  • BOTTOM SPRAY: This item needs no explanation. Earth Mama Angel Baby is one of my favorite natural brands, so I’ll be trying their spray as well.
  • TOILETRIES: I’m bringing toothpaste, toothbrush, shower gel, shampoo, conditioner, ear swabs, makeup wipes, deodorant, dry shampoo, hand sanitizer, hair brush, contacts case, extra pair of contacts and eye solution.
  • LIP BALM: With all the huffing and puffing you’re bound to do during labor, your lips are likely to get very dry. I always keep a minimum of two different lip balms in my purse at all times. My favorite brands are Burt’s Bees and EOS.
  • STRETCH MARKS LOTION: I’ve been using the Earth Mama Angel Baby “Body Butter for Stretching Bellies” since my stomach first started growing, and so far, no stretch marks! Like I said, this brand is one of my favorites!
  • NURSING PILLOW, to keep in car until needed: Many people recommend bringing the Boppy pillow (or whatever brand you end up using) so you can start using it correctly from the start.
  • LAVENDER OIL: Essential oils are all the craze these days, and although I’m not a hardcore fanatic by any means, I do love me some lavender oil. Its calming effect will be perfect for the delivery room. I can either dilute a few drops with lotion for a lower back massage during contractions, or I can sprinkle a few drops on a rice pack to use as a compress.
  • HOT/COLD RICE PACK: Speaking of which, the labor and delivery nurse leading our childbirth class recommended bringing a rice pack. You can either make these yourself or get one at a retailer like Bed Bath & Beyond or AHAlife. The great thing about them is you can either warm them in a microwave for a hot compress or throw them in the freezer for a cold one, depending on what sort of relief you need.
  • SUGARLESS CANDIES, to keep your mouth moist during labor: I love YumEarth Organic Hard Candies and always have a bunch on hand. Although they still contain some sugar, they are one of the best organic options on the market.
  • SWEAT PANTS OR PAJAMA PANTS: I’m not a big fan of nightgowns, so instead, I’m bringing my comfiest sweat pants. They fit me fine during pregnancy, so I don’t have to worry about them fitting postpartum.
  • CAMISOLES THAT ARE NURSING FRIENDLY: I love these oh-so-soft camisoles I snagged at Target. While they’re not specifically for nursing, I bought the L and XL sizes, so they’ll be loose enough that I can just slide the straps off during feedings. They’re lightweight, breathable and super soft with a hint of stretch; and I love the wider straps!
  • SWEATER OR KNIT WRAP: Many packing guides recommend bringing a pretty, cotton robe – not only for photos but to keep warm, if need be. I have no intention of purchasing a robe solely for the hospital, so I’m bringing my favorite knit wrap.
  • HOSPITAL-GRADE BREAST PUMP, to keep in car unless needed.
  • BREAST PADS OR SOOTHIES: After excessive research, I purchased the Lansinoh Disposable Nursing Pads and the Lansinoh Soothies Gel Pads.
  • BREAST OINTMENT: I’ve read so much about which is best and ended up choosing the “Organic Nipple Balm” from Honest.
  • GOING HOME OUTFIT, that fits over postpartum stomach: Let’s be honest, I’ll probably end up wearing sweat pants and a camisole, but if the mood strikes, I’m also bringing an A-line polka dotted dress that I wore all throughout the third trimester. It’s not maternity, per se, but I sized up, so it’s perfect postpartum.
  • NURSING BRA(S): I bought a multipack of three colors – all for a total of $26. Talk about a deal, right?! I love that they come with free bra extenders, since it can be a bit difficult to guess your size post delivery.
  • MAKEUP BAG, with only the basics: I haven’t worn makeup for pretty much the entirety of my pregnancy, so I hardly doubt I’ll be getting glammed up post delivery. At the same time, there’s nothing like a swipe of bronzer and mascara to make me feel somewhat human, so I’d like to have it available in case of visitors or photos.
  • HAIR BANDS OR CLIPS, especially if you have long hair.
  • GATORADE OR COCONUT WATER, to keep hydrated during labor. I love the Zico brand – so much so, in fact, that I couldn’t control myself and drank most of it already, ha!
  • COUPLE PAIRS OF BLACK UNDIES: I’m not sure how I’ll feel about the mesh undies that the hospital typically provides, so I wanted to have a couple alternatives available. Target has lots of great options at $5.00 each or 5 for $20. My favorite fit is the hipster. The Seamless Bonded Micro Bikini from Gilligan & O’Malley are also super comfy.
  • PADS: The hospital typically provides these, but I wanted to have some I was familiar with on hand.
  • HAIR TOOLS, like travel-size hair dryer, straightener, etc. It seems a bit excessive to lug all my hair tools to the hospital, but I have the type of hair that looks insane if you don’t do anything to it. Thankfully, once I curl and set my hair, it can last a couple of days with dry shampoo. I definitely have no intention of styling my hair every day at the hospital.
  • PHONE CHARGER: I don’t plan on bringing my Nikon camera (seems like far too much hassle), so I’m sure I’ll be using my phone quite a bit for taking photos and responding to congratulatory messages and what-not. Several guides on the Internet recommended bringing an extra long cord, as the likelihood of there being an outlet directly near your hospital bed is slim. While Amazon has some great options under $12, I’m okay with my phone not being next to me at all times.
  • FLIP FLOPS: Lots of people recommended bringing flip flops for the shower. Considering that all I’ve been able to fit my swollen feet into lately are flip flops, there’s a high chance I’ll already be wearing them when I arrive at the hospital.
  • BELLY BAND: Before I go investing into one of these contraptions, I’m borrowing one from a friend. I’ve heard mixed reviews, but I’m definitely open to trying it out.

Suggested Items I Purposely Left Out:

  • BABY HAT: The hospital typically provides a hat, and I’m fine with that. Besides, I’ve heard that keeping the baby’s head exposed actually helps with milk production. Apparently the smell of the baby’s head triggers a certain chemical in your body that helps milk come in quicker.
  • PACIFIER: Because I plan to breastfeed exclusively, introducing a pacifier so early in the baby’s life can confuse them. It’s recommended to establish a good latching grip first before introducing any artificial nipples – whether from pacifiers or bottles.
  • GOING HOME OUTFIT FOR BABY: I can’t wrap my mind around why you’d need a special outfit for the baby to go home in. Just make sure it’s something that’s accommodating to an infant car seat; in other words, you can’t just swaddle them up.
  • SNACKS: Our hospital doesn’t allow eating during labor, so the only person benefiting from snacks would be the husband. Yet we live less than 10 minutes away from the hospital, so I’m sure at any point that he’s hungry, one of our many relatives or friends can bring a quick bite.
  • ITEMS FOR DAD: Same theory applies to anything else Vadim might need. Most of our family is a 10-minute drive away, so we don’t see the need for packing him his own bag.
  • PILLOW: Some people recommend bringing a pillow from home in case the hospital pillows aren’t up to your liking. I think the last thing I’ll be thinking about during labor is whether my pillow is comfortable or not, so we’re leaving this one out too.
  • ROBE: I mentioned this earlier, but as far as I understand, the only reason to bring a robe is because you want to look pretty in photos. That, honestly, is not high on the list of priorities for me, so my cozy knit wrap will do just fine.
  • SWIMSUIT, if you plan to labor in the water: While I did buy a bikini specifically for pregnancy, I have no intention of bringing it with me. I’m perfectly fine wearing a hospital gown during labor.
  • LAPTOP: Some people recommended bringing a laptop to help pass the time during labor. While I considered this idea for a minute, I don’t plan on having a medicated birth… So I hardly doubt I’ll be in the mood to sit and watch movies. Besides, I want to be as mobile as possible to help speed up the process.
  • PERFUME: I want our little girl to get used to my natural smell. So not only am I leaving perfume at home, but any lotions I am bringing are very mild.
  • SPEAKERS OR HEADPHONES: Do people really play music during labor? I can’t wrap my mind around this idea, so I’m leaving these two items at home.
  • SOCKS: I do plan to walk around as much as allowed during labor, so socks would come in handy. However, I am more than okay with the socks the hospital provides and see no reason to purchase something special.

Okay, so what am I missing? And is there anything I’m bringing that you’d suggest leaving at home?

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3 Comments

  1. I didn’t see it on your list, but I assume you’re going to have a camera – or a professional photographer present. Those first photos are priceless. Unmedicated birth is beautiful and empowering – probably my favorite days of my life were the birth of my four sons (all unmedicated). Three of them were water births, two in the hospital, two at home. Our fifth son is due in November. I have never before experienced the power of the cross of Christ like I did through my labors. All for his glory! Blessings on your upcoming birth!

  2. Water wipes are the best! They’re made in Ireland, so I’m biased but they really are awesome. You can use them on hands and face (and as makeup remover if you run out!) and not have to worry about nasty chemicals.

    I use Babyganics diapers too, but I also use cloth diapers. It saves a fortune, and if you’re really being conscious about chemicals, it’s a great option!

    The hospital will have a pump for you to use and will give you a whole bag of supplies (more than likely), so use theirs and get all the free extras. Also, ask for a tummy binder – the hospital one works well while you’re there, but I suggest the Bellefit one for when you come home (I own this one and swear by it). I used mine religiously after both my kids, and not only does it support all that lose skin but will flatten your tummy really quickly!!

    My hospital sent me home with a bag of goodies, but if they don’t just ask for extras. Get a few bottles of the numbing spray. TRUST ME. It’s a life saver. LOL

    • Oh my word, that Bellefit tummy band looks like a torture device, haha! I am hoping I have the patience for those things…

      As for the pump, I’m all about freebies, but I think I’d rather start using mine from the start – if nothing else, the lactation consultant can help me make sure I’m doing it correctly.

      Thanks so much for all your tips, Jenna! Always helpful to learn from someone who’s done this a time or two. :)

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