I scoured the internet for advice and asked the women in my life for their words of wisdom about what I should pack but then, wouldn’t you know, Chase decided to make his debut two weeks early and I had NOTHING packed the night I went into labor. My hospital bag was empty and my mind went blank as I threw clothes, toiletries and snacks into a duffle back in the middle of the night in between contractions.
I’m hoping to be a little more prepared this time around but, honestly, I was quite surprised at how little I actually needed to have with me at the hospital both before and after Chase’s birth.
Our hospital was more than equipped to handle everything I may have needed, especially all of the essentials (thick pads, mesh underwear, etc.) that so many online articles said I “needed” to bring. I’m not sure if this is standard (I think so and I hope so!) but this time around, I am planning to keep my hospital bag limited to things I truly believe I’ll use that our hospital won’t have, whether they be essentials or some comforts from home I wish I would’ve packed the first time around.
So when it comes to what to pack in your hospital bag, I’d focus on the things your hospital does not supply.
(Note: My hospital provided all of the self care items I needed but it might be worth checking with your hospital to see if they do ahead of time. You can see everything I felt like I needed for postpartum care in the first bullet in this post: What I Wish I Knew Before My Baby Was Born.)
What to Pack in Your Hospital Bag
Here is what I decided to pack in my bag when I was getting closer to giving birth:
I didn’t get the My Brest Friend Nursing Pillow until after I gave birth to Chase and had an appointment with a lactation consultant but it quickly became my absolute favorite nursing pillow. The Boppy is great, too, but My Brest Friend offers more support and closes up the hole between mom and baby to make it easier to support a little one as they nurse. I know I’m going to want this in the hospital as I attempt to nurse our little one for the first time.
When I gave birth to Chase, I didn’t bring any pajamas with me and only packed my “going home” outfit. I basically lived in the hospital gown during the two days we were in the hospital. I had no problem with this at all and thought the hospital gown was comfy and nursing-friendly but by the second day one thing began to bother me… the arm pits!
First and foremost, I’ve never been much of an arm pit sweater (my face, on the other hand…) and think I’ve smelled my arm pits less than 10 times in my entire life. That being said, I think that the combination of my warm pits coupled with all of the arm pits before me activated a bit of a stench in the gown and I wanted that gown OFF. I was so happy for my clean nursing-friendly pajamas when I got home! I’m also planning to pack one of my Gilligan & O’Malley nursing-friendly tank tops since I lived in those things after Chase was born.
I went braless at the hospital after Chase was born but know I’ll want a nursing bra with me this time around both for my personal comfort and to have something that will help hold nursing pads in place since I know my breasts will likely be leaky while I’m trying to navigate nursing. I love the Bravado Nursing Bra both for comfort and functionality.
A robe isn’t necessary but since I get cold easily, having a lightweight robe I can throw on and comfortably wear in bed is something I’m planning to include in my bag. Honeydew Intimates’ robes have super-soft fabrics that are breezy and so comfortable. (Note: Ryan highly encourages any partners or caregivers to pack a sweatshirt for themselves. I was obviously hot and sweaty when I was contracting during labor but Ryan was freezing and he’s not the type that usually gets too cold.)
- Slipper Socks
The hospital provided me with a pair of sticky socks when I had Chase but I’m kind of weird about wanting my feet to feel clean and after a day in the same socks, I wished I would’ve packed a fresh pair or two of sticky slipper socks that were a little fluffier and thicker than the ones provided by the hospital.
- Going Home Outfit
Since Chase was a late summer baby, I packed a flowy black maxi dress as my going home outfit and it was perfect. No tight waistband to worry about and no tight pants to reveal the fact that I was sporting a pad that was basically the size of a diaper in my underwear. I’m planning to pack something similar this time around – either a maxi dress or a maternity maxi skirt with a nursing tank or tee.
Opening and closing a water bottle may not sound like a big pain, but I really appreciated having water handy that I could slurp down with a straw since I was often holding a nursing newborn in one arm when I felt the insane need for water kick in. A straw is key and my Yeti and Hydro Flask cups and water bottles are my favorites for keeping water cold since I’m not a big room-temp water fan.
I still remember Ryan and I laughing purely out of frustration and exhaustion when we tried to swaddle Chase in the skilled and incredibly fast way the nurses did using the hospital’s baby blankets. Ain’t nobody got time for that… especially a new mother or father! Once we realized they make super easy adjustable swaddles specifically for babies, our lives became much easier and Chase became much happier and less fussy when we tried to settle him down. You better believe I will be packing one of these handy little swaddles for our new baby to use in the hospital so we aren’t trying to flag down a nurse to help us as our little one flails about waiting to be wrapped up tightly in their cozy little blanket.
- Toiletries + Personal Hygiene Favorites
I was happy I packed my favorite toiletries with me when I gave birth to Chase and I am planning to do the same this time around. Along with the obvious necessities (toothbrush, toothpaste, face wash and deodorant) I’m planning to pack some facial cleansing cloths, rose hip seed oil, mascara (hey… there will be pictures!), lip balm and dry shampoo (I’m addicted). My go-tos! Side note: I remember being crazy thirsty after I gave birth and my lips felt SO dry, so lip balm is a major MUST.
- Newborn Outfit for Baby
Chase was so teeny tiny when he was born that the 0-3 month outfit I packed for him swallowed him right up! Thank goodness I had some hand-me-down newborn clothes from my friend Caitlin at home that my mom rounded up for me and brought to the hospital so Chase could have a “real” outfit to wear as we left the hospital. For our second child, I’m planning to bring one blue and one pink newborn footie onesie with me because I want to have one clear “I’m a boy!” or “I’m a girl!” cozy outfit for our little one to wear since we’re going to be surprised by the sex. I’ll also probably throw in a 0-3 month onesie just in case this baby comes out bigger than anticipated since ya never know!
- Hospital Gift for Chase
I had a few of my girlfriends recommend getting a little something for Chase “from the baby” for him to open when he meets his brother or sister for the first time. Many of them said their first-born child was rather underwhelmed by the newest addition and reactions varied from mild curiosity to jealousy to indifference.
While I’d love for Chase and his younger sibling to have an instant bond, realistically I know that won’t happen and having a little something to help him know we are all still thinking of him seems like a good idea to me. I ordered a doctor’s kit on Amazon for him that I think will be a fun hospital gift he can play with both in the hospital and back at home to help us “check on the baby” and all that jazz!
- Gift for Chase to Give to Baby
This was another idea I received from one of my girlfriends to help with Chase’s adjustment when his brother or sister is born. I think he will LOVE having a “task” and something “important” to do/give to the baby when he meets our little one for the first time. I’m planning to wrap up something simple (likely a onesie or newborn-friendly toy) for Chase to give to the baby when he visits us at the hospital. He’s in a phase where he loves to help and feel needed, so I think wrapping up a present for him to give to his brother or sister will make him feel like he has a special role as big brother and something important to contribute, too!
- Important Electronics
This is probably a given, but I’m adding it to the list because sometimes it’s easy to forget your camera, phone, charger, etc. in situations like this!
- Healthy Snacks
There’s no shortage of vending machine options at a hospital but if you want something healthy in between the meals the hospital provides (or in between meals people pick up for you), packing healthy snacks is a great idea. Some of my personal favorites: Single-serving packets of nut butter, trail mix, jerky, RXBars, larabars, nuts, bananas and apples.
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Questions of the Day
What is something you felt like you used or really needed at the hospital after birth? Am I forgetting anything?
Is there anything you packed that you felt like you didn’t need at all?