Pro Tip: Pack your hospital bag once you start to go into labor. It’ll give you something to do between the contractions, which could last for a couple of days. Just make sure to have a checklist handy so it’s a no brainer!
Here are the things you should pack:
- Phone & charger
- Bluetooth speaker (if you want to listen to music)
- Camera (if you’re a shutterbug who prefers a real camera to your phone)
- Pack a cooler full of whatever your favorite snacks are. Hospital food is awful. Vending machine chocolate is no substitute.
- (1) Hospital paperwork
- (1) Insurance cards
- (2) Copies of birth preferences document
- (2) Yoga pants
- (3) Nursing tanks
- (3) Socks
- (1) Sweatshirt/fleece
- (1) Shorts that won’t show off your sexy postpartum maxi pads (emphasis on maxi)
- (1) Photo op outfit (like a flattering loose tee/blouse)
- (1) Flip flops/slippers
- (2) Zip up footie pajamas, newborn size
- (1) Baby hat
On Baby Clothes in the Hospital: Many newborns hang out in their diaper and swaddle while at the hospital, which makes the 12+ changes/day a lot easier. You don’t actually need to bring any clothes other than the ones baby’s wearing for the car ride home, but if you’d prefer to have baby in clothes at the hospital, opt for outfits that make for easy diaper changes.
On Going Home Outfits: Don’t overthink the “going home outfit” thing. You will still look 4-5 months pregnant yourself, so a clean pair of yoga pants will probably be the most comfortable option. For baby, the going home outfit is mostly just for you anyway and I promise you’ll be much more confident trying to dress your wobbly-headed newborn in something that zips or snaps up the front than trying to shimmy something “adorable” over his/her head. No matter how cute, it likely won’t be worth the effort.
On Baby Hats: The hospital will provide you with a tiny baby beanie, but if you have one that’s super soft and you love, bring it. Baby’s cone head will disappear eventually, but it’s nice to cover it up for photo ops in the meantime. (So vain, but your baby will thank you one day for this one.)
- (1) Pillow from home (in a non-white pillowcase so you remember to take it home again)
- (1) Cozy blanket
- (1) Halo Sleepsack Swaddle, newborn size
On the Swaddle: The hospital will provide you with as many swaddles as you need, but those things are pretty stiff and hard to operate. Bring the zipper/velcro one and make your life infinitely easier in those first few hours with your little nugget. If it’s especially cold, cover up your velcro-swaddled baby with a second regular swaddle blanket from the hospital. Easy peasy.
- (1) Shampoo
- (1) Conditioner
- (1) Body wash
- (1) Face wash
- (1) Toothbrush
- (1) Toothpaste
- (1) Deodorant
- (1) Moisturizer
- (1) Make-up if you’re so inclined
- (1) Hair brush
- (3) Hair ties and/or clips
- (1) Blow dryer/straightener/curling iron if you’re so inclined
- (1) Contacts, glasses, contact solution, etc.
- (1) Prenatal vitamins, probiotics, etc.
- (1) Any other toiletries, prescribed medications, etc.
On Make-Up and Straighteners: Some will tell you these things are ridiculous to bring to the hospital, but personally, I found that taking a hot shower and drying my hair and putting on a tiny bit of make-up made me feel human again. It’s up to you.
- (1) Motherlove nipple cream
- (6) Bamboobies nursing pads
- (1) MomWasher
- (15) Extra heavy/overnight maxi pads
- (1) S’well bottle
On Maxi Pads: The hospital will provide you with lots and lots of maxi pads, but they’re pretty awful. Give your lady bits the love they deserve and bring your own nice ones.
On Hydrating: You are going to be parched for the foreseeable future. Get a nice S’well bottle (or equivalent) and give your man/family/whomever the job of making sure it’s always full.
- (1) Infant car seat & base
On the Car Seat: You will feel like an idiot when you try to put the baby in the car seat. Some pro tips…
- Make sure to install the carseat/base in the car before you go into labor. This is a good task for your partner.
- Read the instructions so you know how to operate the clips and clasps. Every car seat is different, but most have some basic system of a two-piece crotch clip, chest clip, and pully cord to cinch things tight. Also make sure that you have all the extra cushions for tiny babies pre-installed and ready to go. You’ll want a tight fit!
- The chest clip should be fastened at armpit level. Trust but verify by reading your instruction manual.
- Your baby will look ridiculously tiny in the car seat. Take a picture and enjoy. It won’t be for long.
- Buckle baby into the car seat before you leave the hospital and ask the nurses to give your work a once over. Then carry baby out of the hospital in the car seat so you don’t have to worry about a thing… other than how to keep this tiny human alive all by yourself from here on out!
If You Feel So Inclined…
- (1) My Brest Friend Nursing Pillow (lactation consultants seem to swear by it)
- (1) Bag packed for your husband/partner (toothbrush, toothpaste, comb, hair stuff, deodorant, tees, pants, boxers, socks, etc.)
P.S. Here are the things you don’t need in your hospital bag.
- Diapers/Wipes. They’ll give them to you at the hospital and I promise your baby will be fine in Pampers for the first three days, even if you swear you’ll use cloth/7th Generation/Honest Co. exclusively later.
- Underwear. You’ll be wearing some real sexy mesh ones and you’ll be grateful for ’em.
- Robe. Even if you think you want to labor in something prettier than the horrendous hospital gowns– spoiler alert– you’re probably going to end up laboring in the horrendous hospital gowns… or stark naked. If you’re super into your robe at home, it might be worth bringing for the cozy factor, but don’t bring it because you think you’re going to give birth in it.
- Nursing Bras. Nursing tanks do the exact same thing and provide tummy coverage to boot.
- Entertainment. Unless you’re being induced, you’ll have no time for extra entertainment. Don’t bother bringing anything other than your phone.
- Stroller/Carrier/Wrap. You will be doing no strolling or carrying or wrapping, unless you’re having twins. Then you may be doing some strolling on the way out of the hospital. Two kiddos = so. much. stuff.
- Baby Bubble Bath. There’s no need for a real bath until the umbilical stump falls off. The nurses will just do a thorough wipe with warm water.
- Towels. The hospital has plenty of shitty towels for you to use. You’ll likely get blood all over them, so it’s worth it to use theirs, even though they’re tiny and terrible.
- Diaper Bag. Unless you’re planning to go somewhere other than home straight from the hospital (which I wouldn’t recommend), you don’t need a whole bag dedicated to going outside the house with the baby.
- Other Extra Shit. You might think you need the *insert item not listed above here*, but I promise… you won’t. That said, if you do bring it and you don’t use it, it’ll probably make for a ridiculous story. Example: I can’t believe I brought lacy thongs to the hospital when I gave birth.
Go get ’em, girl!