Thursday, May 23, 2013

"The" Hospital Packing List

Ever since I was a young girl, any time I had an upcoming vacation or event that required travel, my bag was packed weeks in advance. Every day I would just rearrange it slightly or add to it. Anticipation overload! 

So you can imagine when it came to having my first child that I had my hospital bags packed from the first Braxton Hicks (which was at 6 months). I added to, I took away, I replaced, I read more lists, I added more... and in the end? I didn't even look in the bag! I couldn't tell you what was in that bag. I made my husband fetch everything and got frustrated when he couldn't find it because I had packed the entire house.

Much like a "birth plan", it's so easy to predict how you think things will go. Try as you may, but once you're admitted I can promise you nothing about the birthing experience is predictable, likely you will go with the flow, and your body, and your pain level.

So what should you really pack in your bag? 

I'm going to list some suggestions. You aren't going to listen to me anyway, but I'm going to try. An (H) next to items means it was provided for me by the hospital. It's a great idea to check what your room will be stocked with while on your Hospital Tour. Some are linked out to ones I personally prefer, it can at least give you an example of what I'm talking about. 

Your Bag:

Pajamas  - 3-4
  • Consider Gowns - You're going to feel vulnerable down there, but pants are only going to be a pain when the nurses want to check your bleeding or incisions. Which is allllll the time.    
  • Breastfeeding? Get a nursing gown or one with buttons. I found a cute button front, stripe number at Target in multiple colors that I love to this day. You'll wear it after if it isn't stained. And to that, don't spend loads of money.
  • If you want to spend money on cutesy birthing gowns, go ahead, but they get nasty and probably thrown away, just use the hospital gown and save the presentable material until after you're cleaned up.
  • You can wear leggings and sweaters, but I was only in for 2 days, so by the time I could think about putting an elastic band around my waist, I was on my way home.
  • If opting for shorter gowns, go for at least a mid-length or longer robe, so you feel covered up when company arrives or when your shuffling to the bathroom. Plus, there are a plethora of cute options out there.
  • Hospitals are COLD, so choose a cozy one. (This is the coziest robe of all time.)
Socks (H)
  • If you're not lucky enough to receive beige, grippy bottom socks by the dozen via your hospital, those very homely, fuzzy chenille socks would be perfect for the occasion. Again, it's cold, you'll be under covers and overly swollen feed hide well under them.
  • Don't get attached, my principle is if it's used in the hospital, it stays in the hospital (trash can).
Granny Panties
  • Buy at least 4 pair of really soft, loose, full bottom undies. The pads they give you after birth are the size of a boat, so they'll need to fit in something. And if you have a c-section, you won't want anything even close to fitted.
  • I was so glad these were comfortable and covered. Again, Target was my best friend here - who cares what they look like, even though they were cute, because they will also get thrown away.
Outfit Home
  • A nursing tank, leggings and wrap sweater make an excellent combo. You look put together but can be a hot mess underneath.

Nursing Supplies
  • If you are nursing, consider the shelf nursing tanks, they are so easy and comfortable and you can skip the nursing bra all together. You guessed it, my favorite one is from Target.
  • If you do pack separates, pack a nursing bra.
  • Nursing bras with underwire are horrid.
  • My favorite nursing pads are the Lansinoh ones, for some reason the Medela brand made me itch and were less absorbent. You can go the organic cotton reusable ones, but you have to be diligent on washing them to make sure bacteria and infection don't form. 
  • Nipple Cream. MotherLove.
I've seen some people suggest bringing your Breast Pump. I was always allowed to nurse baby on demand and I simply didn't need my pump, but instead of lugging it in, maybe have it in your car just in case there are any complications with nursing.

Loose Shoes
  • Sandals, Toms, anything loose. You never know how your swelling will be, so don't bring anything fitted or heeled to head home in.
  • Cheapie flippies are great for the shower, and you can toss them. 
  • The ones at the hospital feel like sand paper and who knows how many times they've been used. Don't want to take a good one? Grab one from Target.
Some people will say bring a Pillow. I, for one, didn't want what I sleep on every night at home to be brought into the hospital. (If you're sensing that I'm becoming an increasingly eccentric germophobe, you might be right.) But I honestly had about 12 pillows on my hospital bed of every different shape and size, so you should be fine. Same goes for your nursing pillow. You will have plenty to choose from to prop you and your baby up, so save your Boppy, Breastfriend or whatever for the comfort (and cleanliness) of your own home.

  • Pads (H), for after vaginal birth. You'll want to use the ones provided while you are in the hospital because they work and they're going to charge you for them anyway. I also had plenty to take home.
  • Once the bleeding slows and you want less bulk, I highly recommend Always Overnight Extra Heavy Flow with Wings, in Extra Long if you can find them - to say they are absorbent is an understatement. It wouldn't hurt to throw a box in your bag.
  • Tucks (H). These medicated hemmoroidal pads are useful and comforting. You may think you won't need them, but after that amount of pushing... just grab some, they will offer relief and minimize the length of recovery in that region. If you want TMI, my nurses recommended I leave it "tucked" in my crack for added relief. Yes, I did.
  • Dermoplast (H). It's an antiseptic, hospital strength, pain relieving, numbing spray. Anything to ease what happens during childbirth I'm in favor of, especially if you have any tears or an episiotomy. It keeps it clean and less painful. It's also nice to have at home if you don't want to be hopped up on pain killers all the time.
  • Body wash. Nothing too fragrant for a precious little nose.
  • Lotion. Never have I ever wanted moisturizer so bad, especially as much as I was washing my hands.
  • Deodorant. Same here. It's all such a gross process, sorry, it's nice to feel and smell clean.
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Lip Balm. I actually chose a tinted balm, it covered the lip gloss and hydration aspect without looking like I was trying. Not that I could have tried. But you'll be so parched after the experience, choose one that lasts. (Kari Gran Lip Whip, cannot live without!)
  • Hair Brush
  • Hair Ties/Clips. Unless you're super woman and you feel like getting up and blow drying, curling, straightening your hair or get a blow out before going in and don't break a sweat or have a breeze of a labor, find a cute way to put your hair up. It'll be out of yours and the baby's way, yet you still look put together.
  • Hair Dryer. Standing in the bathroom while trying to dry your hair with that terrible hospital wall-mounted hair dryer is like running a triathalon after birth, bring your own and have your Mom/Friend/Hubs help you.
  • Face Lotion. Something gentle yet intense, your skin is about to enter a freak out zone, so head off any extra dryness while you can.
  • Contact Case, Solution, Glasses - if you wear them.
  • Makeup Bag. Everyone wants to look like they didn't just give birth... but you did, and you'll feel like it. I packed my whole kit and laughed out loud when I looked at it. Contouring? Eye Shadow? Hey, if you're up for it sister. But tinted moisturizer, a little bronzer/blush and eyeliner/mascara. Whatever you  need to look presentable and feel good about yourself, but with minimal effort.

  • Health Insurance Card
  • ID
  • Registration Forms
  • Tylenol. Hospitals ration pain killers like it's in short supply. I'm sure they'll offer you the strong stuff, but once you feel like downgrading, don't rely on them for enough OTC pain killer.
  • Medications you may be taking and a few days worth of prenatal vitamins.
  • Cash/Change. Some hospital cafeterias don't take debit/credit, and you just never know when you think you might just die without a Frozen Caramel Mochaccino.
  • Phone Charger. Ipad Charger. Kindle Charger.
  • Camera & Camera Charger. Nothing like your camera dying during the most momentous occasion!
  • Magazines, books, etc. I had enough company and things going on that I couldn't focus on anything else, but if you have downtime, which you may, you won't necessarily want to concentrate on pain - bring an escape.
  • Gifts for your birthing staff. Nail polish, chocolates, lip balm. Pack a few little bags of favorites just to say "thank you". You have no idea how much these women help until you're trying to get out of bed or sit on the toilet and you can't without a team.
  • If you have other kids, I'd say hand them over to the grandparents or the sitter, but if you must have them there with you, bring plenty to occupy their attention.
  • Snacks. I never knew when I was going to get food and when I did it sure didn't look appetizing. Bring some snack bars, fruit, small nibbles to tie you over until you can get someone to bring you the good stuff.
  • Extra bag (not like a luggage bag, but those handy, reusable shopping bags that fold so nicely) because you'll get some gifts and loads of stuff from the hospital.

Baby's Bag

  • Cozy Blanket. You'll have a million hospital provided blankets, but it's nice to have something warmer and cozy.
  • Swaddle Blanket. Learning to swaddle takes practice, and oddly enough, baby doesn't swaddle like one of his cute stuffed animals waiting for him at home.
  • Sleeping Gowns. These little numbers are great and it makes it easy to change diapers, most have cute little mitten fold-overs so they don't scratch, too.
  • Jammies. I say "jammies" but I mean those little footie pajamas that my child basically wears every day. They are perfectly warm if you don't want to use sleeping gowns or the little hospital issued shirt and diaper. You can sub this for one of the million cute outfits you have for them, just remember, baby just arrived to this big ol' world and longs for comfort, and they'll be checking on baby often so easy access is nice.
  • Outfit Home
  • Socks
  • Mittens
  • Cap
  • Pacifiers (if you're allowing)
  • Diapers. The hospital has plenty, but it never hurts to have a few on hand, especially if you want a different kind.
  • Bottles (H). CHOMP gave us so many Medela bottles to match our pump, but bring a few in case, especially if you are formula feeding.

Best moment of my life!

You have to remember, the hospital is in the business of birthing so they have just about anything you can think of. This isn't their first rodeo, most likely it's yours, so keep it simple. It's an overwhelming experience all together, so you don't want keep track of anything you don't really need. It goes by SO fast, and hopefully you'll be in the comforts of your own home before you know it. If you don't want it ruined, germy or heaven forbid stolen - leave it at home.


  1. Getting ready to pack my hospital bag. This list is wonderful. Thank you!!

  2. Thanks for sharing this. It really helps. I'm 3 weeks from my guess date!


  3. I just came across your blog. I wanted to introduce you to the newest must have for the hospital. It's called the Mommy Brobe. nursing bra+robe combination. Made from luxurious modal cotton and bodes a flattering fit for all body types. Check it out at If you ever do giveaways let me know:)- Allison Schickel

  4. I'm about to have my 5th baby and I have to say your list is the best, most realistic one I've seen.... You might add a warning to have mommies keep their mouth closed when spraying Dermoplast.... that stuff numbs the tongue just as well as it does the pain! :)

    1. Sheena - thank you for that wonderful compliment, you're a seasoned vet so you know! And also for making me laugh out loud, I'm sorry you found that out the hard way!

  5. I just got started buying stuff at Target today and had your page open the whole trip. It means a lot to have advice from someone who has been through it, especially when the anxiety kicks in during the last couple months. Thank you!

  6. We are currently trying to start a family and your list is so helpful. I'm almost 38 and this will be our first, so i'm scared, nervous, and excited and lucky there is so much info these days. thank you for your time in making this list as i'm sure it will not only help me, if we are blessed to get pregnant, but others as well.

  7. Thank you so much for this list! This is my first time and your list is like my second bible :) I really appreciate you sharing!

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