Oh, the hospital bag. It’s contents consumed my thoughts for weeks leading up to The Bug’s birth. A minimalist at heart, I didn’t want to bring things I wouldn’t actually need. I read countless lists, ended up overpacking just a little and now know what I’ll actually want to pack next time.
:: Clothes to labor in/wear after the baby is born. I was not interested in wearing a hospital gown, ever. I rotated loose fitting pants or a jersey knit dress, nursing tank tops and a cardigan pretty much my entire stay. That meant easy access for my midwife during labor and a pulled together, but comfortable look for post delivery with easy access to baby’s food.
:: Nursing pads: Depending on your length of stay, your milk may come in. And even if you’re not nursing, you’ll appreciate and most likely need the leak protection.
:: Snacks for labor and post delivery. I packed trail mix, granola bars and candy. All delicious, all easy to quick grab out of a bag and eat with one hand. Just keep in mind, many babies (mine included) sometimes have a hard time with peanuts so if you’re breastfeeding, it may be best to avoid them for awhile.
:: Toiletries – pack your favorite shampoo, conditioner, soap, lotion, etc. – the shower after delivery is most likely going to be the best shower of your life, you’re going to want your most-loved products.
:: Labor aids. My hospital had a birthing ball and a few other labor aids, but I brought a rice sack to heat up (used it quite a bit for my back pain) and a phone full of songs.. Also, download a contractions timer app on your smart phone or bring a watch with a second hand and some paper. You’ll want to know if those puppies are actually getting longer and closer together.
:: A pillow from home with a different colored pillowcase. I loved having my own pillow, just make sure it has a colored pillowcase, so the hospital housekeeping doesn’t take it to the wash or worse, you leave it in a frenzy to get out the door.
:: Vaseline – if you rub a little on baby’s bum before putting on her diaper, it makes cleaning up the sticky, tar-like meconium a breeze.
:: Clothes for the baby in a few different sizes/styles. The Bug didn’t fit into her “going home outfit” until she was about 3-months-old. So, keep that in mind and pack maybe one newborn outfit along with a couple 0-3 months ones just in case your baby is bigger or smaller than you estimate. One piece outfits or the little baby gowns are the easiest.
:: Mittens or a pair of baby nail clippers/file.
:: Carseat – can’t leave without one and I’d say have it in the car beforehand, getting out the door after being discharged is a whirlwind, you don’t want one more thing to do.
For your support person:
:: Extra pillows just in case your hospital doesn’t have a bed for your partner or support person.
:: A change of clothes/pajamas/toiletries for the inevitable overnight stay.
What you don’t need:
:: Diapers/wipes/soap/nose squeeze thing for the baby (seriously, take all of the ones they give you too, you’ll need them)
:: Sanitary napkins/disposable underpants — see above and do the same
:: Water bottle — once you receive your hospital water bottle, you can consider yourself officially checked in and not leaving until you have your baby. It’s a right of passage.
:: Medication — save the Ibuprofen and stool softeners you bought after reading my “Fourth Trimester Essentials” list. The hospital will have anything you need (and probably at a higher dose than you can buy, take it.)