When I compare my two pregnancies, they are as different as night and day.
With Mila, I was the classic first-time mom. Every free minute was spent researching, organizing, cleaning and making checklists as if my very existence – nay, the entire universe – depended on it.
This time around is different. I often forget I’m expecting – mercifully so, though I would do well to remember that I should go easier on myself physically. Every few weeks, I am startled to discover just how far along I am!
I’d like to think that maybe motherhood has made me more laid-back; wisdom comes with experience, as they say. But I’m quite certain the sheer exhaustion of navigating the wants, needs and curiosities of a 17-month-old is largely at play, too.
But good news! I finally started packing my hospital bag, and let me tell you: There is no task quite like imagining my hospital stay to help me face the reality of a new human being arriving in just a few short weeks.
Speaking of packing a hospital bag, here’s a statement that will make seasoned moms laugh out loud: I brought an entire suitcase for Mila’s birth – AN ACTUAL SUITCASE, y’all. Ironically, my labor progressed so quickly that it wasn’t until after Mila was born that we remembered the suitcase was still in the car.
Of course, much like everything else, labor this time around may be totally different. But there’s no denying that the extensive list of items I brought last time could easily be streamlined.
So, today I’m sharing what’s in my hospital bag for baby no. 2, along with the many, many suggested items I purposely left out.
- INFANT CAR SEAT: This time we are using the Britax B-Safe Ultra Infant Car Seat, and I’ll be sharing my thorough review of it oh-so-soon. I especially like that the “Nanotex” fabric option (not yet out on the market) came with a car seat cover, since baby girl is due to arrive in February.
- BLANKET: Instead of buying a special infant snowsuit to bring baby home in, I plan to layer a blanket over a warm bodysuit. Combined with the car seat cover, the blanket will more than suffice in keeping her warm while we transport her from the hospital to the car and later from the car to the house. Plus, the blanket may be useful to have at the hospital, too.
- 2 BODYSUITS AND LAYETTE SET: Mila was born at the end of July, while baby no.2 is due mid-February. So, the baby clothes I’m bringing are a bit different this time around. In my bag is 1 long-sleeved side-snap onesie, 1 bodysuit and 1 layette set. I like having a couple options for several reasons: 1) photo opps, 2) in case of diaper accidents, and 3) because I won’t be getting another ultrasound before delivery, so I have no idea how big this little one is measuring. Mila skipped right over the newborn size, so I need to have multiple size options available in case baby sister follows suit.
- BABY HATS: The baby hat provided by the hospital is a bit scratchy (and not very cute, for that matter), so I’m bringing two from home: 1 that matches the bodysuit mentioned above and 1 in basic white cotton, which matches everything.
- PACIFIER AND WOODEN PACIFIER CLIP: Per the strong suggestion of the American Academy of Pediatrics, I waited nearly a month after birth to introduce a pacifier to Mila, and she ended up never taking it. This time, it’s one of the things I plan to do differently, so I’m bringing these natural rubber pacifiers. The wooden pacifier clip is mainly for photos, though, so feel free to leave that at home if you’re opting for a more minimalistic approach.
- GOING HOME OUTFIT: With Mila, I didn’t pack a special going-home outfit. But because it’ll be February, I need to consider cold weather-appropriate attire for baby no.2. So, I’m bringing a warm, knit bodysuit, knit booties and a warm, knit hat as her going-home outfit.
- MITTENS AND 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. I suppose I could eliminate the mittens and simply use socks on her hands too, but it’s not like baby mittens take up that much space in the bag. So, I’m bringing 2 pairs of basic white mittens.
- BOWS: Bows are totally not necessary, and truth be told, I didn’t put a single bow on Mila until weeks after birth because I would just imagine how uncomfortable and foreign it must feel to her. This time, though, I’m bringing one or two from our 20-piece set for photos’ sake.
- MUSLIN SWADDLES: Aden + Anais swaddles are my favorite. I especially like the “Silky Soft” collection; it is truly the softest fabric you’ll ever feel. Swaddles are super versatile; they can obviously be used for swaddling but also for burping, as photo props, car seat covers, and more. I packed two: a pink one and a dove gray one.
- PLUSH MATTRESS SHEET FOR THE INFANT BASSINET BASKET: Call me vain, but the hospital baby bedding is typically so old and worn out; I would much rather bring my own mattress sheet, both for photos’ and comfort’s sake. Side note: maybe you’ve noticed a lot of these baby items focus on aesthetics. That’s because I barely took any photos of Mila in the hospital – something I very much regret. I’m hoping having adorable items will help encourage me to better document those first few days.
- BASIC TOILETRIES:
- toothpaste, toothbrush, floss,
- body wash,
- face wash (I use Dermalogica Microfoliant and Precleanser),
- face moisturizer,
- Burt’s Bees lip balm,
- shampoo and conditioner,
- ear swabs,
- makeup wipes,
- mild lotion,
- dry shampoo,
- hand sanitizer,
- hair brush,
- contacts case, extra pair of contacts and eye solution.
- A COUPLE COMFORTABLE OUTFIT OPTIONS THAT CAN DOUBLE AS SLEEPWEAR: I’m most comfortable in leggings and a soft camisole, so that’ll be my postpartum uniform for a while. I’m definitely opting for maternity leggings in the beginning. As far as tops, I stocked up on these oh-so-soft camisoles last time, and they have been my most-worn clothing item in the last 17 months! They’re lightweight, breathable and super soft with a hint of stretch; and I love the wider straps! Although not technically designed for breastfeeding, I have found that all this “nursing-friendly” nonsense is a bit overrated, because I can just as easily slide off the straps during feedings. I also ordered this set in black from Amazon – very similar design and fabric and an even lower price! Size up for a loose, comfortable fit. I may possibly pack a somewhat nicer (but still very loose and comfortable) dress or robe for visitors photos. But knowing myself, it’s less likely to happen.
- BREAST PADS AND SOOTHIES: I prefer the Lansinoh Disposable Nursing Pads. Last time I also tried the Lansinoh Soothies Gel Pads for sore nipples but did not like the messy experience. This time, I’ll be trying Dr. Brown’s Rachel’s Remedy Natural Breast Relief Packs.
- MAKEUP BAG, with only the basics: I stopped wearing most makeup when I first got pregnant with Mila, 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 refreshed, so I’d like to have it available in case of visitors or photos.
- HAIR BANDS: You’ll desperately want these during labor, especially if you have long hair. My favorite are the basic black ones from Goody.
- UNDERGARMENTS, including nursing bras and several black undies. The mesh undies provided by the hospital are fine for maybe the first day. After that, I preferred something a bit more snug around my bottom. 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. As for nursing bras, I bought this multipack last time, and although they were comfy, I found myself drawn more towards pullover bras, like this 4-pack set. Again, while technically not designed as nursing bras, they are just as easy to maneuver. I can just as easily slide off a strap as I can unhook the clasp of a maternity bra. I also bought this pullover bralette in black lace, so I can have at least one pretty option.
- PADS: The hospital typically provides plenty of these, but I prefer Always Ultra Thin Extra Heavy Overnight Pads. They also come in a “maxi” version, but I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the ultra thin ones sufficed last time.
- HAIR TOOLS, like travel-size hair dryer, straightener, curling iron, etc. It seems a bit excessive to lug all my hair tools to the hospital, but I have the type of hair that looks absolutely insane if I don’t do anything to it. Thankfully, once it’s curled, it can last a couple of days with dry shampoo. I definitely have no intention of styling my hair every single day at the hospital.
- RUBBER FLIP FLOPS: Many people recommend wearing socks to walk around during labor, but I generally dislike wearing socks. Plus, flip flops are useful for the shower, especially if you plan to labor in the water (which I do). I’m bringing a basic black pair from Old Navy.
- POSTPARTUM BELLY BAND: With Mila, I was a bit hesitant to use a belly band so soon after labor but quickly discovered that it is really quite helpful! Not only does it help with internal postpartum recovery, but it’s also such a relief to have that support around the stomach, back and pelvis. I recommend the TiRain 3-in-1 Postpartum Support – a total steal compared to other options!
- BIRTH PLAN: I am hoping for an all-natural, non-medicated birthing experience just like Mila’s (you can read her birth story here). If that is also your preference, I highly recommend the following two websites to help you create a natural-focused birth plan: Earth Mama and Homemaker Chic.
- INSURANCE CARD AND ID: I recently upgraded my iPhone and bought a wallet phone case, so both cards are now conveniently always with me.
- PHONE AND CHARGER: While I do plan to take far more photos of those first few days, I don’t intend on bringing my professional Nikon camera. Like I mentioned, I recently upgraded my iPhone to XS and have no doubt it’ll more than suffice in taking great photos. Several guides on the Internet recommend bringing an extra long charger, 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 totally okay with my phone not being within arm’s reach at all times.
Recommended Items I Purposely Left Out:
- DELIVERY GOWN: Why anyone would want to spend money on a special delivery gown that’ll be ruined is beyond me. The hospital gowns are fine by me, so I have no intention to bring anything extra.
- NURSING PILLOW: Many people recommend bringing the Boppy pillow (or whatever brand you prefer) to start using it correctly from the start. I realize I may be in the minority, but I found the nursing pillow so uncomfortable during feedings that I ended up not using it at all – not in the hospital and not in the 17 months following Mila’s birth. I may give it a second go but definitely not bringing it to the hospital with me.
- DIAPERS: The hospital provides baby necessities like diapers and wipes. With Mila, I brought a bag of Babyganics (our preferred brand), but this time around I fully plan to utilize all the hospital freebies I possibly can.
- BABY WIPES: We love Water Wipes, which are considered the purest baby wipes, made from 99.9% water and 0.1% fruit extract. They are also not cheap, so I’ll take hospital wipes while I can! But seriously, lugging a package of wipes with me when the hospital has perfectly good ones seems totally unnecessary.
- STRETCH MARKS LOTION: With Mila, I used the Earth Mama Angel Baby “Body Butter for Stretching Bellies.” This brand is totally natural and one of my favorites. However, I gained 50+ pounds during my first pregnancy and still ended up with stretch marks. With this pregnancy, I’ve not been using any lotions – and yet I have no stretch marks so far. Basically, that’s a long-winded way of saying that stretch marks-preventative lotion may be a bit overrated, because your body will do whatever it pleases regardless of whether you use lotion or not.
- SNACKS: Our hospital doesn’t allow food during labor, so I’ll just have to make sure to eat something before heading to the hospital, like I did last time. I’m really hoping that this labor will be as quick as Mila’s.
- ITEMS FOR DAD: Vadim is the most low-maintenance person on earth. I didn’t pack a single item for him last time (except a toothbrush). I plan to do the same this time, too. Besides, unlike last time, I imagine he’ll periodically head home to be with Mila, so he can easily grab whatever he needs.
- PILLOW: Some people recommend bringing a pillow from home in case the hospital pillows aren’t up to your liking. I found the hospital pillows just fine, so I’m leaving this one out too.
- SWIMSUIT: Many people recommend bringing a swimsuit if you plan to labor in the tub or shower. Last time I spent quite some time laboring in a tub, and it was seriously such a relief. A swimsuit, however, was not part of that scenario. I really can’t imagine being very comfortable wearing a swimsuit during labor, anyway.
- LAPTOP: Some people recommend bringing a laptop to help pass the time during labor. As I’ve already mentioned, Mila’s labor lasted for about four hours, and I truly hope round 2 is just as quick. Regardless, I don’t plan on having a medicated birth, so I hardly doubt I’ll be in the mood for entertainment. Besides, I hope to be as mobile as possible to help speed up the laboring process.
- PERFUME: Chemicals aside, I want my daughter to get used to the natural smell of my skin. Not only am I leaving perfume at home, but the travel-size lotion I’m bringing is very, very mild.
- PORTABLE SPEAKER OR HEADPHONES: I have seen these two items on people’s hospital packing list so, so many times, but I just can’t wrap my mind around the idea that anyone would want to listen to music during labor. I personally found any unnecessary noise so aggravating while in labor. Needless to say, I’m leaving these two items at home.
- SOCKS: I generally despise wearing socks, so although I do plan to walk around as much as allowed during labor, I’m perfectly fine wearing flip flops. If anything, the hospital can provide socks with those special anti-slip pads, so I see no reason to bring something special.
- ESSENTIAL OILS: Another item I brought last time but ended up not using, essential oils can have a calming effect during labor. For example, you can dilute a few drops with lotion for a lower back massage during contractions or sprinkle a few drops on a rice pack to use as a back compress. While I do occasionally use essential oils at home, I completely forgot about their very existence during my labor with Mila and don’t anticipate that being any different this time.
- HOT/COLD RICE PACK: As with the essential oils, the rice pack is a good idea in theory. In reality, it’s less likely I’ll actually remember to use it in the heat of the moment.
- SUGARLESS CANDIES: This item was recommended to help keep the mouth moist during labor. Although I brought a pack of these last time, I, once again, forgot about their very existence when labor pains really picked up. That’s the case with most natural suggestions for helping ease labor – in my experience, they simply don’t apply in the event of unmedicated labor because the energy required to use them far outweighs any brief relief they may bring. I’d rather spend the energy on my breathing to help ease the pain.
- PORTABLE SOUND MACHINE: I didn’t bring ours last time, thinking it was a bit high-maintenance and excessive. Yet on several occasions we ended up turning on white noise on our phones to help Mila sleep better. If needed, I plan to do the same this time.
- HOSPITAL-GRADE BREAST PUMP: Last time, many suggested bringing the breast pump and keeping it in the car, just in case. I did, but it was not needed (although I highly recommend the Medela Pump, if you’re curious). I can’t imagine any sort of scenario where you’d actually need to use a breast pump while still at the hospital, seeing how milk doesn’t actually come in until a couple days after delivery.
- GOING HOME OUTFIT FOR MOM: I don’t see the need for anything special to go home in. My leggings and tank uniform will work just fine. Since it’ll be the middle of February, I’ll also wear whatever jacket, sweater and boots I arrived in.
- GATORADE OR COCONUT WATER, to keep hydrated during labor. I love coconut water (I prefer the Zico brand, if you’re curious). While it was definitely nice to have some last time, it’s not a necessity by any means and takes up quite a bit of space in the hospital bag.
- BREAST OINTMENT: Last time I brought the “Organic Nipple Balm” from Honest (along with the breast soothies I mentioned earlier) and did use it a couple times but found the experience too messy. This time, in the event of nipple pain or engorgement, I’ll have Dr. Brown’s Rachel’s Remedy Natural Breast Relief Packs for relief. Because I weaned Mila only a few weeks ago, I imagine my body will be more equipped to simply bounce back into breastfeeding mode without issues. At least I hope that is the case.
- SWEATER OR KNIT WRAP: Many packing guides recommend bringing a robe, sweater or wrap – both, for photos and warmth. I brought a shawl last time but with my postpartum hormones out of control, I ended up not using it. If anything, I’m sure I’ll have some sort of sweater on when I arrive at the hospital. So, if I really need an extra layer of clothing, I’ll just use that. Besides, I can always request more blankets from the hospital staff.
- BOTTOM SPRAY: As I already mentioned, Earth Mama Angel Baby is one of my favorite natural brands, and their bottom spray is a total must-have for the fourth trimester. The hospital does, however, provide lots of great relief options, so I see no point in bringing extras from home.
- CAMERA: As mentioned, I plan to be more intentional in documenting those first few days but plan to use my iPhone XS.
- GIFTS FOR THE BIG SISTER: I debated on this one and haven’t made up my mind just yet. But I’m leaning more towards not doing the whole “Your baby sister got you a special gift” routine with Mila. She is likely far too young to understand. But even if she does, I don’t think I want to take the manipulation-by-way-of-gifts approach on this one. I want her to be excited to simply meet her baby sister – not because baby sister equates to special gifts. Please do share your own experience, though – especially if you have a strong case for the opposing view.
- EXTRA BAG(S) TO BRING HOME THINGS FROM THE HOSPITAL: This item is totally unnecessary; the staff gives you with a bag for your “freebies” before you are discharged from the hospital.
- WATER BOTTLE: I liked the hospital-grade water bottle last time and plan to use the same this time, too.
- BABY NAIL FILE OR CLIPPERS: Another totally unnecessary item seen on many packing guides is the nail file or clippers. If you’re bringing baby mittens, leave the nail file and clippers at home; you’ll have plenty of time to stress over cutting your infant’s nails once you’re home. If you’re curious, I recommend the Fridababy Nail Care Set.
- FRIDABABY FRIDET MOMWASHER: Essentially just a really fancy peribottle, the MomWasher seems unnecessary, because the hospital provides one that does the job just fine.
- DIAPER CREAM: Again, the hospital provides so many essentials for the baby. There’s really no reason to bring much from home unless you prefer a particular brand.
Phew, what an extensive list of items NOT to bring, ha! My list of must-haves is definitely shorter and much more streamlined than last time.
If you’re a first-time mom (or simply looking for a second opinion), I do hope you found this post useful. If you have any questions or suggestions, do let me know in the comments section, below.