Depending on the hospital at which you will deliver, your insurance company, and the type of birth you will have, the maternity ward will be your new home for two to four days after delivery. Before you throw the kitchen sink into your suitcase, you must consider what items you will absolutely need before and after birth so that you can leave the non-essential ones at home. It is critical to be organized and plan ahead of time so that you do not run into any complications when you are ready to go into labor (that would NOT be fun). Below is my maternity hospital bag checklist, which highlights the most important must-have items to take with you on that special day. This should be done in the latter stages of your third trimester. Don’t wait too long!
What to pack in your Hospital Bag (Full List)
When you arrive at the hospital, you will need your these four things right off the bat:
- One or two forms of your ID.
- Your insurance information.
- Hospital forms if not previously submitted.
- A copy of your birth plan.
It may not be realistic to keep your driver’s license in the bag you’ve had packed for weeks. Instead, try keeping your identification card and insurance information together in your wallet. If your wallet or purse is big enough, keep your hospital forms filled out and ready to go. Tucking a folded copy of your birth plan in your bag and another in your wallet or purse will ensure you have a copy ready to give the nurses on duty.
1. Bathroom Necessities
- Although your hospital will provide soap and shampoo, you may still want to bring your own body wash and conditioner.
- Pack a separate shower bag with your essential toiletries.
- If you want to include a pad or two for the ride from the hospital to your house, you can do so, but keep in mind the hospital will provide you with feminine products.
- If you prefer plush towels that will cuddle your post-pregnancy body, pack a towel from home.
- You may also want to include a washcloth or loofa.
- Also pack of pair of flip flops or shower shoes for your first post-birth shower.
2. Clothing for You(the Mother)
- In the first few days after birth, many of the clothes you choose to wear will become messy or stained. Keeping in mind the sacrifice, you may wish to pack yourself a robe to wear while walking the halls.
- Many new mothers also buy nightgowns specifically for the hospital stay, often choosing ones that don’t leave your bottom bare for all to see.
- Although socks are provided, you may want to include a pair of slippers (that have the chance of being ruined) in your hospital bag. Whether you need to walk the halls to help labor along or walk down to the nursery, a comfortable pair of slippers can make a significant difference. If you choose to bring slippers, your feet will always stay warm and toasty.
- You will need to bring nursing pads whether or not you plan to nurse.
- Most new mothers also prefer nursing bras, which give support without using an under wire.
- When pre-packing your hospital bag, consider the time of the year when your estimated due date falls. You will need a weather-appropriate going home outfit. Your maternity pants or sweat pants may provide the comfort your sore body needs.
- For C-section mothers, consider packing pants that will not rub against your incision.
- If your baby is a summer baby, a sun dress and light jacket may be the most comfortable riding home option.
- When packing, include layers, such as a sweater or jacket. This way, regardless of the temperature outside, you can add and remove layers as necessary.
3. Clothing for the Father
- You share the bed and the house, and now you have to share some space in your hospital bag. Bringing a change of clothes for the dad-to-be is an important must-do. Labor can be long and after holding your hand for hours, dad may need a shower. Having a fresh set of clothes may keep your partner ready for action as your birthing coach.
4. Clothing for the Baby
- For most of your new baby’s hospital stay, she will be swaddled in hospital blankets and white onesies. Make sure to pack a take-home outfit for the baby that is weather appropriate. Just like for the new mommy, layers are important for the new baby.
- To make it easier, pack a blanket for the car ride home. If you plan to have hospital pictures taken, pack an extra outfit or two.
5. Media and Distractions
- If your hospital allows, pack your cell phone and charger. Whether you’re trying to beat the next level of Candy Crush or you want to snap some photos of your new little one, phone and charger are must-packs for the hospital bag.
- If you prefer a digital camera, pack one complete with charger and extra memory card. You don’t want to miss any precious photo opportunities because your device is full.
- If you’re being induced, you’re a first-time mom or you tend to have long labors, bring something to distract yourself. Try a new book, music or tablet. If using a tablet or e-reader, be sure to pack the charger in your hospital bag.
6. Miscellaneous Must-Haves
- Many hospitals limit food and drinks for women who are in active labor. Lip balm or Chap Stick will help keep your lips moist during those trying hours.
- Moms-to-be should include a ponytail holder or headband to keep hair and sweat out of their eyes, both during labor and when holding baby.
- Pack snacks with you. Whether you give birth after the cafeteria closes or your husband has some nervous munchies, having snacks in your hospital bag are a great go-to. Moms and dads-to-be should also stock up on change prior to going into labor. Remember, there is chocolate in the vending machines.
- Hospital pillows leave much to be desired. New moms can bring their pregnancy pillows from home to help increase comfort. If you choose to do so, put your pillow in a colorful or patterned case so nurses can easily tell the difference between your pillow and the hospital’s pillow if it small. If it is the large body pillow, they will pretty much know it is yours.
Take advantage of Hospital Freebies
Before you overfill your limited-space duffle bag, ask your hospital with what they provide their new mommies. Most hospitals give new mothers mesh underwear and heavy-flow pads for the duration of her stay. If you would prefer to wear adult diapers, definitely pack some in your hospital bag. Also expect a squirt bottle, ice packs and toiletries. For the little bundle of joy, mothers can expect diapers, wipes, formula and other items necessary for caring for the baby. Blankets and onesies will also be provided, saving you from packing a dozen baby outfits for your short stay there.
Although every new mom can find something personal to add to this list of hospital bag must-haves, these are the basic items every woman in labor needs to have packed in her bag. Pack your bag weeks prior to your due date and keep it close to the door or in the back of the car. In case your baby comes early, you want to be ready to go to Labor and Delivery. Having your bag packed, even if you are a week overdue when you feel your first contractions, will make the process of getting to the hospital easier.