Pregnancy Hospital Bag Guide
Ready to pack your hospital bag? As parents who have been there, done that and wish we’d remembered to bring shampoo, we’ve compiled a list of non-negotiables you’re going to love having during your hospital stay.
When it comes to preparing for your hospital stay, it’s easy to focus on what you’re going to need for baby. People tend to overload on onesies, newborn diapers and forget that they’re going to need comfortable clothing (and absorbent padding) for themselves too.
Since entering motherhood is hard enough, here’s our list of what to pack for labor in the hospital, for both newborn and mom. From clothing to cushioning, these are hands down non-negotiables in our book. We provide a checklist first, and then provide details for each item below.
Tip – Wondering when to pack your hospital bag? We recommend packing your bag around 35 weeks, and leaving it by the front door. This will ensure you’re prepared if baby decides to make an early appearance. If you’re in doubt about anything on this list, ring your hospital or birth center and ask if they provide it. If they do, check it off.
HOSPITAL BAG CHECKLIST
- Cell phone charger
- Birth plan
- Stress ball
- Insurance info
- Non-slip socks
- Flip flops/sandals
- Oversized Tees
- Nightdress or Sleepshirt
- Comfortable nightwear
- Comfortable, loose pants
- A going home outfit
- Nursing bras
- Old (preferably black) underwear
- Pregnancy pillow/ Feeding pillow
- Non-toxic toiletries
- Healthy snacks
- Breast pads
- Nipple cream
- Non-toxic baby wipes
- Swaddles & wearable blankets
- Newborn outfits
- Infant car seat
DETAILS OF WHAT TO PACK IN YOUR HOSPITAL BAG
CELL PHONE CHARGER:
As well as any other chargers for devices you’re bringing: Kindle, iPad, camera etc.
YOUR BIRTH PLAN:
A birth plan summarizes your ideal birthing experience. It outlines your preferences for care, and provides your medical team with a clear understanding of your wishes. This can be invaluable when important decisions need to be made quickly and under pressure. So, if you have made one, bring it! And don’t forget to Xerox extra copies. If you haven’t written one yet, here are some simple Birth Plan tips to get you started.
After waiting months and months you might get super excited at the first signs of labor but… labor may start slowly and be a lengthy process. Pack some items to keep you calm and focused. A Taiwanese study has shown that the use of music can significantly reduce pain and anxiety in labor so bring an iPod and speaker deck and different mixes of feel-good songs and relaxing music. If you are planning to use specific labor tapes or relaxation methods make sure they are pre-loaded onto your device before you go to the hospital.
Some women recommend taking a stress ball into labor as a distraction aid during contractions – or you can pass it to your partner if they need a distraction!
Even if you are already registered at the hospital or birthing center, at a minimum, you’ll need to bring some ID and your health insurance card.
SLIPPERS OR NON-SLIP SOCKS:
During labor, some mamas feel like moving around by swaying back and forth, side to side or going for gentle walks. So don’t forget your slippers!
Trust us: you’re going to want these Freedom Moses Sandals for the shower or walking to the nursery if necessary.
Like a heating pad, hot water bottle and some organic massage lotion will go a long way to ensure you’re feeling comfortable during this time. And if your pregnancy pillow has been a godsend, bring it – you might be sleeping before labor really kicks in.
You may not feel like eating much, but labor can be a long game and it’s good to keep refuelling with light, healthy and nourishing snacks rather than vending machine food. Granola bars, protein balls and fruit are all good options. Coconut water is refreshing and hydrating. It is wise to ring in advance and ask the hospital what you may be allowed to bring – broth or coconut water for example – so you can get organized.
Your hospital or birthing center will provide the basics, but we recommend using natural and organic personal care products where possible. The last thing you or your baby need is to be exposed to the harsh chemicals often found in commercial toiletries.
We recommend bringing your own:
- Organic body wash
- Organic shampoo & conditioner
- Organic lip balm
- Organic body moisturizer
- Organic deodorant
- Toothpaste & toothbrush
- Hair ties if you have longer hair or headbands
- Organic, fragrance-free massage oil for labor
- Maternity sanitary pads
- A brush/ comb
A lavender spray for your face can also cool and calm you during labor. Also, remember labor is an important and sometimes stressful time for your partner too. Partners can sometimes feel a bit redundant because, as much as they would like to, they can’t actually do the work of labor for you. Having your partner give you a massage, rub your feet or offer any kind of distraction can be a way of reducing the stress for both of you.
Before you go to the hospital find out whether breast and sanitary pads are provided by the hospital or whether you will need to bring your own. We recommend the Kushies Organic Jersey Nursing Pads (these are washable rather than disposable, and there are six in a pack, but in the early days of breastfeeding with leaking and sometimes excessive supply, you might want to purchase a couple of packs so you can have them on high rotation.)
You might wish to pack a nursing pillow to take the pressure off your back as you come to grips with breastfeeding. We love Nook’s Niche Nursing Pillow’s body-hugging arms ensure the pillow doesn’t shift
Take a journal and pen. You won’t have this time again and even if some details will remain acute forever, some things you will forget. So, if you have time, write down how you are feeling, what you are thinking, your experience. Some time in the future when your Tot is running around the house or off to school or… well, grown up, you will treasure what you wrote about how you felt in those first strange and exciting days as a parent.
What to Pack in Hospital Bag for Mom
It’s important for moms to remember themselves when heading to the hospital for labor and delivery. You want to make the experience as comfortable as possible for both you and your newborn. Here are some ideas of what to wear in the hospital.
The first thing you need to pack is an easy to slip on robe because one second you’re hot, one second you’re cold and other times – you just want to be able to cover up in style. This slouchy long sleeve wrap robe from SKIN is made from lightweight pima cotton and a piece you’ll want to live in.
The Blanqi Lift Up Access Underbust Postpartum and Nursing Support Tank is strategically designed to make breastfeeding easy, while giving your body much-needed support.
As your body enters recovery mode, having support clothing like these Postpartum Leggings that can help hold your muscles together while they repair themselves can make a huge difference. Blanqi, famous for their seamless, moisture wicking leggings and tanks, are specifically designed to help support your aching back, stretched ligaments and weakened muscles.
Your underwear also matters. Depending on how long your hospital stay is, you’re going to want plenty of SKIN’s AJA boyshort panties as well as their Harley Bralette. With adjustable straps, it provides the perfect amount of room and support for when your milk starts to come in.
Having soft, comfortable and stylish pajamas may be just the thing to help sleep come easier. We opt for button down PJs like these from Skin because they make breastfeeding or tending to a c-section wound hassle-free.
A GOING HOME OUTFIT
Having a comfortable and stylish going home outfit will make facing the real world so much easier. Known for their effortlessly chic and oh so cozy maternity clothing, HATCH has all the basics you need for the fourth trimester. And when it comes to flats – Native Shoes know how to make comfortable look cool.
WHAT TO PACK IN HOSPITAL BAG FOR BABY
Hospitals usually supply newborn diapers, wipes and creams for those first few days, but these tend to be really harsh on baby’s sensitive skin. We recommend using more natural products that are free of harmful ingredients and chemicals. We love Erbaviva Baby Oil, Erbaviva Baby Lotion, Made of Baby Wipes and Diapers.
You will want to pack a super cute outfit for the proud moment you take your bundle of joy home – though don’t be surprised to find yourself inundated with gorgeous newborn gifts and spoiled for choice! When you choose your baby’s going home outfit be mindful of the weather and the fact that newborns aren’t very good at regulating their temperature – babies usually need one more layer than adults. We love HART + LAND Baby basics for their buttery soft, hypoallergenic fabric.
Swaddled babies sleep better but newborn babies can be surprisingly defiant about swaddling. Don’t say we didn’t warn you: many moms compare their little newborns to Houdini when it comes to escaping the swaddle! Save yourself the hard graft of re-wrapping your infant over and over throughout the night by investing in a couple of swaddle suits. We swear by this Halo organic cotton sleep sack swaddle. It’s also typical for a mother to bring along a receiving blanket that may have sentimental value.
Cotton swaddles will prove to be invaluable. At first for swaddling your little bundle of joy, then later for using as an impromptu change pad, play mat, or nursing cloth. We love the HART + Land swaddle made from 100% organic cotton muslin.
It may sound strange, but newborns also aren’t aware that their arms and hands belong to them – they move their arms and hands at random and are quite prone to hitting and scratching themselves. Take along a pair of Kyte Baby Scratch Mittens to protect from little fingernail scratches.
The hospital will not let you take your baby home without a car seat with the base safely installed. You can get your car seat inspected free of charge at many fire or police stations. See our guide on Which car seat is right for you.
MORE ON BABIES & BIRTH
Shopping for baby and packing your hospital bag can be a bit overwhelming. See our guide to Baby clothes: what you really need to avoid overbuying.
Do you prefer to give birth in a hospital, in a birthing center or at home? Will a doctor or a midwife deliver your baby? Our Guide to childbirth choices will help you make the right decisions for your family.