The time is almost here and you are thinking it might be a good idea to take your hospital bag with you to all of those weekly appointments, just in case.
But what is necessary to pack and what just gets in the way?
The MOST important thing to bring (in my opinion) is your printed out birth plan and any other pre-admission forms that you may or may not have been given by your provider at one of your last pre-natal appointments. The admission process of birth will go much more quickly and easy if you have those forms filled out beforehand. Some hospitals are even doing them electronically now!
Continue reading below for the most practical and beneficial items to pack for your hospital stay for both Baby and Mom & Dad/Partner. And I will forewarn you that I am a known over-packer (I'm working on it.....).
Let's start with the items you'll need for your brand new baby- since that is, after all, the reason you are going to the hospital to begin with. The reality is, you don't need to bring too much in this area as the hospital will be providing you with essentials like diapers, water wipes, and sometimes even a pacifier (if you are comfortable with that). They have a plethora of swaddle blankets, too.
1. One or two "outfits" (I've found that sleepers or sleep sacks are the most practical) if you would rather have her dressed in her own things other than being wrapped up in the hospital's swaddle blankets. But remember that skin-to-skin is so beneficial to both you and your baby and you don't want to put anything on her that will get in the way of that.
2. A going home outfit- because, pictures! You can also turn this going home outfit into a lovely keepsake item for its sentimental meaning.
3. Socks- but I say that loosely. I have a love-hate relationship with baby and kids socks. They only ever get kicked off and then lost, anyway. At the same time, you certainly don't want her little toes and feet to get too cold.
4. Blanket. It will be nice to drape a blanket over her carseat on the way to the car to keep her warm but also to prevent any unwanted bystanders from thinking it would be ok to lean in and touch her.
5. Car seat and base. In the weeks before your due date, I would highly recommend you going ahead and installing the car seat and base into the vehicle you will likely be taking to the hospital. It is most hospital's policies to not allow you to leave the hospital with your baby until a nurse has checked your vehicle for a legal car seat and that it is installed correctly.
6. Baby book. You'll want to make sure you have purchased a baby book and bring it to the hospital to write down your baby's stats and have a fun place to put her little footprints!
For Mom & Dad
It's important that you remember to pack well for the two of you- especially for your partner as I have found that hospitals are readily available to take care of you, the mom, and typically have all of the items necessary to do so but dads/partners get stuck fending for themselves.
1. Your own pillows! Ok, this may be overkill in a lot of people's minds but I always feel so much more comfortable and at home sleeping on my own pillow. My pillow knows me and I know my pillow. We are perfect for each other and for getting a good night's rest. And chances are Daddy won't have a hopsital-issued-pillow anyway, so you may as well bring his along too.
2. Blanket for Dad. There probably aren't enough extra blankets lying around to pass out to all the partners on the floor. Postpartum moms often feel hot and hospital rooms are typically left cold. Trust me when I say- bring a blanket for him. But one that can be easily packed.
3. Lotion. It's not a necessity, however, it plays into the self-care items that you'll begin to quickly appreciate after birth.
4. Chap Stick. Lip Gloss. Whatever your thing is. For the same reason I listed in #3.
5. Cell phone chargers. You'll be receiving non-stop texts, calls, etc. and you'll taking a million-and-one pictures on your phone and might even be blasting them all over Facebook, so you're going to need your charger. Trust. (Note: you don't have to announce your birth to anyone immediately. You may choose to remain private and have your own first 24 or 48 hours alone as a family. It's quite nice, actually.)
6. Glasses and/or contacts, if you require them. I personally have always found glasses to be much more new-mom-friendly.
7. "Granny panties". I hate calling them that, but it is what it is. The hospital will provide their own Victoria's Secret inspired mesh panties but you will definitely want your own on when you are going home (or at least, I always did). And the only thing that will matter to you is feeling comfortable. You aren't Kate Middleton or Maghan Markle. Ain't nobody got time for that.
8. Appropriate clothing for going home. Make sure you remember to pack your own going-home outfits and keep the season and weather in mind. For mom, some stretchy, loose pants and a soft shirt would be nice, along with slip-on shoes. Even a nice pair of modest nursing pajamas would be acceptable. You can find some pretty cute ones here and here.
9. Pajamas/sleep clothes. You will likely spend at least one night in the hospital- sometimes two or more depending on the nature of your birth and how well you and baby are recovering. Plan ahead and make sure you both have comfortable and soft clothing you can lounge and sleep in. Moms, check out the links in #8 for pajamas with easy nursing access.
10. Toiletries. The hospital will likely have on hand extra tooth brushes, tooth paste, soaps, etc. but, you will probably not be very pleased with their selection. You'd be more happy having your own things. And believe me, you'll want to shower- probably more than once! AND DON'T FORGET THE HAIR TIES!
11. Journal- I have always purchased my babies their own individual baby journals (apart from their baby books) because I like to write down their birth story while it is still fresh in my mind as well as other things like the comments I received from visitors or the important doctors and nurses notes that I'd need to remember when getting home. I then continue to write in their journals as the years go by and jot down any funny things they said or little love letters to them that they will (hopefully) enjoy reading over when they get older.
12. Snacks!! Yes, the hospital will probably have a food service on-site that will bring you food but they often have their own, set hours of operation. Your hormones are going to be doing some funky things postpartum and you are more than likely going to feel extra hungry, especially if you are nursing. So make sure to pack some snacks with you that you can munch on when those times do come. Plus, dad's don't typically get food trays delivered to him so it would be very much in his favor to make sure he has some food or snacks on hand. And if you haven't already downloaded and installed a food delivery service app on your phone in the year 2019, do it now. DoorDash, Postmates, and UberEats are just a few to choose from. You'll thank me later!
13. Nursing Bra's and/or sports bras that are larger than what you would normally wear. Your boobs WILL get larger and you'll appreciate that you took this advice.
14. Nursing supplies. Things like nursing pads, lanolin ointment, burp cloths, and maybe even your nursing pillow.
15. Disposable house slippers or flip flops. It's no secret that plenty of germs exist inside of hospitals. I think it's a brilliant idea to invest in some cheap house slippers or flip flops that you don't care about throwing away by the end of your hospital stay. You could do the same with big, thick socks if you'd rather. Walking to and from the hospital bathroom and the bed again will make you wish you had them.
In an effort to not overpack if you don't have to, here are a few other items you may or may not feel necessary to bring depending on your own personal preferences:
1. Sleeping aids. If you have a hard time sleeping anyway, you may feel it necessary to pack essential oils lavender or peace and calming, etc. and your diffuser. Maybe you use a sleeping mask or sound machine at home. Those things may come in handy for you.
2. Beauty products. I don't think I ever put much makeup on, if at all, after my births but some women feel their best when they feel "finished" and can still go about their every day morning routines, which often includes make up, hair tools, etc.
3. Camera and/or video camera (and their chargers!). Now, I'm obviously hoping that you'll consider hiring a professional Birth Photographer to do a lot of that work for you (you'll have enough to worry about already!) but even a Birth Photographer doesn't stick around the entire time you are there. You may very well want to document those postpartum moments on something-perhaps- more quality than your phone.
4. Bluetooth speaker. If you think having some music in your room would good for you then definitely bring it. Just keep in mind that you will have to be considerate of the other new parents on the floor and don't expect to be able to play it loudly.
5. Breast Pump. Maybe this isn't your first baby and nursing comes naturally to you, but you might consider bringing along your breast pump and bottles just in case.
6. Although I mentioned above that the hospital would have water wipes for the baby, many moms do prefer to bring their own. Some might find the hospitals wipes to be inconvenient and/or difficult.
7. Books, magazines, crossword puzzles, etc. Anything that might allow you to feel occupied for those middle of the night feedings . Dad may benefit from these, too.
8. Heating Pad. This is a topic that, for whatever reason, doesn't get discussed very often but with every birth comes stronger postpartum cramping. You may be real glad that you thought to bring a heating pad to help with that.
Keep it simple. The last thing you want to do is overpack. So take from the above lists what you think you would actually use and only pack those things. You can always leave a secondary bag in the car filled with the "maybe" items. With each birth of my own, my bag has gotten less and less full as I learn more about postpartum self.
And ENJOY yourself and your new baby!
Do you have suggestions that I have not mentioned here? I'd love to see them in the comments below!