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The big day is getting close! When you can’t see your toes anymore – or by your 36th/37th week – it’s time to pack your hospital bag. There’s no telling exactly how long you’ll be at the hospital, but between labor and recovery time, it’s best to plan for at least 3 days. Your partner will likely be in charge of hauling the whole family’s luggage to and from the car and between your L&D room and Mother/Baby room, so pack wisely for easy transport. One rolling suitcase and a backpack are the perfect combination. Read on for more tips on what to pack for a new mom, partner, and baby for a smooth and comfortable hospital stay after delivery. Here’s our ultimate hospital bag checklist for mom and baby.
What to Pack in Your Hospital Bag for Mom
The hospital will supply basic necessities, like maternity pads and hospital gowns. However, you’ll probably be more comfortable with some of your own items:
Robe: A nice comfy robe will be your go-to attire for the first several days (weeks?) postpartum. Perfect for nursing and skin-to-skin time. The hospital can be chilly, so opt for a warmer material.
Slippers: The hospital may provide those double-sided grippy socks, but your warm slippers will be much more comfortable. Definitely go with non-slip soles.
Comfortable clothes: You very well may spend all of your time at the hospital in just your robe, but you’ll need a few more items for labor and your ride home. You can pack your own labor & delivery gown if you prefer to skip the hospital johnny. Sleep nursing bras or maternity sports bras are great for labor, if you want more coverage. If you plan to labor in water, pack a couple dark-colored bras or a bathing suit top. For after baby is born, opt for loose-fitting, comfortable clothing like sweatpants and nursing tanks, if you plan to breastfeed. Your belly will be about the size of your 5-month bump in the days after birth, and may be tender, especially if you have a C-Section. You’ll be wearing maternity clothes for at least the first few weeks postpartum. Don’t forget extra masks!
Toiletries: Toothbrush and toothpaste, shampoo and conditioner, body wash, lotion, hair brush, and deodorant. Lip balm will be super appreciated after all that deep breathing during labor. That first shower after giving birth is heavenly, so treat yourself with lovely soap and lotion.
Hair accessories: Hair brush, hair ties, comfy headbands, etc. There’s nothing more distracting than stray hair in your face when you’re trying to breathe through contractions or get a newborn to latch.
Water bottle: Birth and breastfeeding will require you to hydrate unlike anything else. Pack a water bottle with a straw so you can sip easily from any angle, and remind your birth team that it’s their job to offer it to you in between contractions. Keep it within reach at all times after baby is born. Consider packing electrolytes, a sports drink or coconut water, too.
Snacks: Protein bars, trail mix, muffins, jerky, etc. will definitely come in handy during labor and afterward. The hospital will provide meals for you (and usually for your partner, too – call to check beforehand), but you may want to make a list of your favorite take-out restaurants nearby, too.
Nipple cream: If you plan to breastfeed or pump, a good nipple cream is a godsend in the early days. This nipple balm by MotherLove is our favorite.
Your favorite pillow: The hospital will provide pillows, but you’ll be grateful that you packed your favorite from home. Don’t use a white pillowcase to avoid losing it in the mix. You may also want to bring a nursing pillow if you plan to breastfeed.
Maternity pads or adult diapers: The hospital will provide plenty of maternity pads and mesh underwear, but consider bringing your own if you want something beyond the basics. These soothing herbal pads from Honeypot are amazing.
Phone charger: Outlets are limited, so bring an extra-long charging cable for your phone. Don’t forget chargers for anything else you opt to bring, like a Bluetooth speaker, tablet, or headphones.
Extra bag: The hospital will send you home with lots of extra baby diapers, maternity pads, and product samples. Slip an extra reusable shopping bag in your suitcase to make transporting it all home easier.
Birth plan: No hospital bag checklist for mom and baby would be complete without your birth plan. Print a few copies of your birth plan for your labor nurses, your chart, and one to tape up in your room. Make your preferences known clearly and concisely, so staff can quickly see your wishes.
What to Pack in Your Hospital Bag for Baby
There’s not much you truly need to pack for your baby – the hospital will provide baby basics like diapers and formula if needed. Here’s what you do need:
Car seat: An absolute must, you cannot drive home from the hospital without a car seat. It needs to be properly installed ahead of time. If you choose an infant seat (as opposed to a convertible seat), don’t worry about bringing it into the hospital during labor. Your partner or a family member can retrieve it for you after the baby is born.
Going-home outfit: Your baby will spend most of her time at the hospital in a diaper and swaddle blanket, to soak up that skin-to-skin time and allow her umbilical cord stump to dry out. Choose a simple, comfortable, and easy to put on outfit for your ride home. It’s best to pack an outfit in newborn size and another in size 0-3, just in case your little one is on the bigger side. Don’t forget socks, hats, and mittens during colder months.
Bottles: If you plan to bottle feed from the get-go, you may want to bring the brand of bottles and/or formula you will be using at home. However, the hospital will provide bottles and/or ready-made formula if needed.
Swaddle blankets: Another nice-to have item, since the hospital will provide basic baby blankets. However, they’re not very soft or easy to swaddle with. Consider bringing your own to use regularly or just one or two for photos.
Coconut oil or diaper balm: Those first newborn poops, called meconium, are incredibly sticky! A thin coat of coconut oil or diaper balm is a lifesaver and makes subsequent diaper changes go smoothly. (Speaking of diapers, you definitely do not need to pack any unless you prefer a specific brand – the hospital will send you home with lots of conventional diapers and wipes).
What to Pack in Your Hospital Bag for Partners
If you have a partner, your hospital bag checklist for mom and baby needs to include them, too!
Clothes: A few changes of comfortable clothes, especially if you live far away or your partner isn’t planning to run home to restock during your postpartum stay. Most moms stay at the hospital for 24-72 hours after the birth, depending on how everything goes, so plan accordingly.
Phone charger: Ditto on the long cord mentioned above, though this is slightly less important for partners who won’t be staying close to the bed 24/7 after the birth.
Entertainment: Labor can sometimes be a hurry-up-and-wait kind of event. Put your partner in charge of entertainment for the two of you, like downloading a few favorite shows or movies onto a tablet, packing an e-reader or magazines. A Bluetooth speaker and/or headphones are a good call, too, for music, white noise, or movies. You’ll probably want to curate your labor playlist yourself, though!
Pillow and blanket: Hospital pillows and blankets will be provided for partners, but they can be thin and scratchy. Consider packing your lightweight favorites from home (and again, don’t use white pillowcases lest your favorite pillow will be lost with the hospital linens).