Packing for the hospital

by Ashley on June 30, 2011

Now that we’ve entered the eighth month, I suppose it’s time to start packing a bag for the hospital. Having had more than one friend rush off to the hospital with no such bag in sight, I realize that one will survive just fine without any of this–but it seems nice to be prepared (and quite a bit more comfortable). Here’s my packing list, based on recommendations from various baby sites:

  • Photo Id
  • Insurance card
  • Hospital paperwork
  • Cameras with battery chargers
  • Phones and phone chargers
  • List of phone numbers (for ringing the news)
  • Eyeglasses
  • Personal toiletries: toothbrush, toothpaste, lip balm, deodorant, brush/comb, makeup, hairbands, soap, shampoo/conditioner, lotion, face wash, extra pair of contacts, contact lens case/solution
  • Bathrobe
  • Nightgown or pjs (sleeveless or loose sleeves for blood pressure checks)
  • Socks (2-3 pairs–but can get from hospital)
  • Slippers
  • Pillow
  • Light reading (i.e. magazine or two)
  • Snacks
  • Hard candy or throat lozenges (sugar-free ideally)
  • Nursing bras
  • Books on breastfeeding/newborn care
  • Notebook and pen/pencil
  • Change of clothes for me
  • Going home clothes for baby
  • Infant car seat
  • Baby Book (for getting the foot prints when the nurse is doing the paperwork)
  • Bag for Aron: Toiletries, change of clothes, reading/entertainment, extra snacks
    And here are a few other commonly recommended items that I think I can leave off… 

  • Birth Plan
  • Popsicles
  • Birth ball
  • Gifts for other siblings from the new baby
  • Swaddling blanket
  • Vending machine change
  • Hairdryer
  • Water bottles for ice
  • Massage tools (Oils, massage tool, etc.)
  • Wash cloths
  • Focal Point
  • Birth Announcements, stamps, envelopes
  • Bathing suit for partner in case of water birth
  • What do you think? Anything I’m forgetting? It seems like a lot!

    Congratulations to Jessica V–the winner of the Itzbeen timer! Hope everyone has a wonderful holiday weekend: Happy Fourth of July!

    [Photo: Vintage Hartman Carry-on]


Claudia June 30, 2011 at 8:55 am

I would add a pack of big maxi pads (I didn’t know there was that much blood in the days (weeks) after giving birth. Also, maybe reconsider the swaddling blanket. Take care πŸ™‚

Oh, I’m jealous! They don’t do the foot print thing here (Montreal) anymore!

Ana June 30, 2011 at 9:05 am

That is hands-down the cutest hospital bag I’ve ever seen.

Michelle J. June 30, 2011 at 9:52 am

The name and phone number of the pediatrician you have chosen for you little one. At least here in South Florida we had to give the information to the delivery nurse so she could contact them after the birth for the first official check up!

Ashley June 30, 2011 at 9:55 am

You guys are already so helpful! Great suggestions!

Annie June 30, 2011 at 10:14 am

Hey Ashley! So funny to read your post this morning : I got my suitcase out the closet yesterday night and planned to do it today. πŸ™‚

Here are some things I would add to your list (according to the hospital visit we had yesterday night):
– Maxi pads
– Padlock for the closet in the hospital room
– Watch to calculate your contractions
– Your vaccination book from when you were a baby (or child). They told us to bring it to see if you had the rubella shot I think… Otherwise they will give it to you again.
– Diapers for the baby
– Your favorite music (iPod or CDs)
– Some light snacks (granola bars, nuts, etc.) should you or Aaron be hungry when the cafeteria is closed.

I think that’s it. Your list was helpful to me as well. I forgot a few important things so thanks for that!

Exciting times!!!

katie hill June 30, 2011 at 10:22 am

good list! i would also add onesies and extra clothing for baby. i ended up having an unplanned c-section and was in the hospital for longer than expected, so the baby needed more clothing and didn’t end up wearing her planned outfit home:(
i also second music. don’t know if you’ll need the reading material, as you’ll probably be preoccupied, but i guess it wouldn’t hurt to bring it along. and good call on the baby book so that you can get the footprints! wish we would have thought of that… our pages are still empty because we haven’t attempted it at home.

Hannah June 30, 2011 at 11:29 am

I didn’t end up using much of what was in my hospital bag. But, I’m so glad I brought fruit popsicles. I ate 2 while in active labor (and the rest the days after while still in the hospital) and they really revived me and kept me going.

Melanie June 30, 2011 at 11:50 am

I figure early labor is when I’m packing the bag:) maybe I should rethink…..

Martina June 30, 2011 at 12:50 pm

Hospitals usually provide maxi pads and diapers. Having a birth plan is largely symbolic, but very important for some people. You’ve probably discussed your preferences with your care provider already, but it sends a strong message to the staff you’ll be working with that you’ve given a lot of thought to how you would like labor to go and you’d like to be an active participant in your care. Bringing a box of chocolates/cookies/donuts for the labor and delivery nurses is always a really nice gesture that’s appreciated and sometimes gets you a little VIP treatment. (Some women like to bake to keep busy during early labor, then you’ve got fresh baked cookies to take with you to the hospital!)

Clare June 30, 2011 at 2:20 pm

Sounds like you’re sorted! I don’t know about the babycare/nursing books though as I found the nurses and lactation consultants more useful while in hospital. They will give you hands-on advice that a book can’t. Save the books until you get home, use the space to pack baby clothing or nice blankets so you don’t have to rely on the scratchy hospital ones πŸ™‚

Also, not knowing what clothing you have planned to labour in, but I found the gowns really annoying and hot, always getting wrapped up in them so I wore a short cropped top/sports bra type thing so towards the end of labour (when all my modesty went out of the window), I could take off the gown and had a little cover up on…

Ashley June 30, 2011 at 3:00 pm

Thanks so much for these additions! I’m definitely adding maxi pads (though I do think they are provided along with diapers, my friend says I’ll prefer the ones I bring), and will be considering popsicles as well as treats for the staff. We’ll be delivering at the hospital my husband works at, so I hope he’s being nice to the L&D nurses! πŸ™‚ Thanks!

Whitney June 30, 2011 at 3:35 pm

I second (third) the maxi pads comment. I would also add:

-a nursing tank so you can feel like you are wearing normal clothes
-breastpads in case your milk comes in while you are in the hospital.
-some gowns for the baby (our daughter had a few poop incidents and I was embarrassed to ask for even more of those white shirts)
-baby wipes: the ones our hospital gave us had to be run under water first, which is challenging when you have a crying baby with all that tar-poop!
-video camera: we did not video the birth, but ended up making some funny pre-birth videos and then were a bit obsessed videoing the baby after she was born while she slept, yawned or hiccuped.

She Used To Walk Fast June 30, 2011 at 4:41 pm

I recommend more than one extra outfit for yourself. I ended up staying in the hospital a few days later than I had planned because I ended up having an emergency c-section (apparently my kid was not interested in being born even after I was induced) I totally agree with leaving the books at home. The nurses and lactation people are usually awesome and only a push of a button away. And music music music! My husband, in one of his greatest moves ever, made the best four hour mix of music for my labor. We ended up hearing it about 12 times through (see previous bit about my kid not wanting to be born) but it is such a great mix and I still listen to it.

katie June 30, 2011 at 7:22 pm

I’m surprised you aren’t taking a birth plan. I also used my birthing ball a ton throughout labor.

I also brought an old quilt from home. It make my recovery room seem more “homey” and it was something I could lay my girl on to give her a scent of home.

katie June 30, 2011 at 7:23 pm

Oh, and I know I could get slammed for this, but I drank a Guinness/Sprite combo to help my milk come in. Worked wonders!!!

martina July 7, 2011 at 11:01 pm

No slamming, but interesting fact – studies have shown that Guinness doesn’t actually help milk come in. But 9/10 babies hate the taste of alcohol in breastmilk, so they will drink less, making you feel fuller. Milk does come in on its own the more you feed, so you can feel proud of yourself for working wonders!

bbells July 1, 2011 at 2:37 am

I wish i would have brought a little something for the nurses, as a token of my appreciation. like chocolates or some sort of little gift. the nurses are amazing and it would have also been nice of me to send them thank you cards (i didn’t do it because i forgot their names) so if you bring some cards with you you can fill them out there and have it all said and done.

michele July 2, 2011 at 3:02 am

my husband put together “groups” in his phone so he could text news once as it happened to a group of people without having to text a million numbers each time. then he could call later individually as time allowed.

Elizabeth July 2, 2011 at 4:29 am

Hiya, I had my daughter in the UK in Dec so was cared for by our amazing National Health Service. I had a very boring induction so was so pleased that I packed my IPad and bags of snacks. The other type of pads are ESSENTIAL too as there is lots of blood and obviously you need comfy clothes to go home in i.e anything with an elasticated waist! I also wanted to mention that the Fisher Price Rainforest Gym and Jumperoo saved my life in the early months and were worth every penny. They might be plastic fantastic and gaudy on the eye but the baby loved them. Good Luck

blythe July 3, 2011 at 8:31 pm

-leave your maxi pads and take theirs – they’re thicker than what you can buy and you paid for them anyway! also, they’ll probably give you mesh underwear. take all of it you can too, but go buy an eight pack of granny panties now for when you get home.
-laptop/DVDs for distraction/entertainment. reading while either in pain or on drugs is tough.
-colgate wisp thingies – if you’re attached to an IV and can’t get to the bathroom, it’s nice to have clean teeth when hour 12 starts…
-lanolin – maybe you’ll get lucky, but the combo of ravenous baby and never before used nips = pain.
-and, perhaps TMI, but if you’re not taking colace already, start taking it right this minute.
-have aron keep track of all of the nurses names that assist you so you can thank them personally later. if you get good ones (which i’m sure you will) you’ll want to!
-as for hanging out in the hospital, a nursing tank with a cardigan and yoga pants worked well for me. easy access for the babe and didn’t make me feel like an invalid.

it’s gonna be great!

Emma July 5, 2011 at 1:30 pm

Arnica!! It is fantastic for healing even if you have a C-section. I had a ton of stitches but had no brusing or pain and was crossing my legs in 2 days which amazed the midwife. The plus side id being able to sit down without the aid of a blow up doughnut πŸ™‚

PPS Maxi Pads…I agree
Good Luck & try to enjoy it xxx

Emma July 5, 2011 at 1:32 pm

Oh BTW I took a load of healthy snacks and energy tablets which my husband consumed (all of them) lol

La Franglaise July 7, 2011 at 9:20 am

Wow you are so organised – I’m impressed. I couldn’t get myself to pack the hospital bag in advance when I was pregnant. It just needed to save that task for d-day! Not long now and your little bubba will be all snug in his mummy and daddy’s arms πŸ™‚

melissa July 7, 2011 at 10:23 am

i was also going to add granny panties to the list. and i really really recommend a nice swaddling blanket mainly just to take photos. my hospital had a professional photog that went around to take baby pics, and i was really glad we had a nice blanket to wrap him in for the photos.

Erin July 7, 2011 at 2:20 pm

I agree with Blythe, hospital pads are far superior to what you can buy at the store. I was sad when mine ran out once we got home. Also, I loved the disposable underwear, but that’s because mine didn’t feel good on my c-section scar.

One thing that hasn’t been mentioned, but was essential for me was my nursing pillow (I loved the My Brest Friend). You spend a lot of time trying to get breastfeeding down and it’s way better than using a head pillow for support.

And when you go home, don’t be shy about asking the nurses for things you might need. I got teary-eyed (go hormones!) at the thought of having to send Jesse or his mom to the store for pads and the nurse gave me a whole bag full for home. They also were very generous with nursing supplies and consultation — lanolin and soothies for my stay and to take home.

Danielle (elleinadspir) July 9, 2011 at 2:37 pm

I saw one person say this already, but it is something I think is really helpful so I wanted to mention it again…if you aren’t on colace now, start! Yes, they will give it to you in the hospital, but I think being on it before you start any meds helps. I’d also make sure you have a gel ice pack in the frige for when you get home. Hopefully you won’t tear, but if you do and have stitches…you will want some cold to sit on for a bit each day. And/or an epsom salt bath to sit in.

You guys will do great. Advice is helpful – but you will also figure it all out as you go!

Ashley July 13, 2011 at 10:12 pm

Thank you Danielle! And we really appreciate the vote of confidence! πŸ™‚

Amelia July 11, 2011 at 2:37 pm

I didn’t get too far into my hospital bag (I never wore my slippers! So sad, I love them.) but I do remember thinking that whenever we do this again the main things that I will want are primarily on your list but there are two things that I would add that I found to be completely invaluable. A towel (the towels that the hospital provided were more like hand towels than body towels) and a water bottle. You will never know thirst like you do in those first weeks of nursing, and sparing yourself/sweets 10,000 trips to the water fountain to refill will be appreciated. I especially liked that my water bottle had a straw so that I could sip and nurse etc etc.

Also, a little TMI tip that I will broadcast from mountain tops for all expectant mothers: they will give you ice to sit on (once in recovery) which is awesome, but at least at our hospital, they just put it in a rubber glove and tied it off. One of my nurses took one of the diapers and opened it along the top (creating a pocket) to fill the interior with ice thus creating an absorbent, maxi pad shaped ice pad of love. She just taped the top up after putting the ice in and it lasted so much longer than the glove version. Also, ask for a numbing spray to use when you go to the bathroom. If you ask nicely they will let you take it home with you. (I think the one I had was dermoplast).

My final thought is, don’t be afraid to ask for anything to take home with you! Our nurses were very generous and loaded us up with pads (far superior to the ones sold at the market) and crazy meshy underpants that you will pray for as long as you live that no one will ever see you in, but secretly love, and that amazing numbing spray. You’re going to rock it!!

Ashley July 13, 2011 at 10:11 pm

Thank you for all the tips, Amelia! I really appreciate it!

libby July 13, 2011 at 1:06 pm

A little bottle of olive oil – If you are lucky you will have the chance to apply to baby’s bum before the first meconium poo – it makes clean-up of that really bizarre stuff, a whole lot easier!

Best wishes for a smooth delivery!

Ashley July 13, 2011 at 10:01 pm

Thanks, Libby!

Isabelle July 19, 2011 at 4:12 am

Sounds like everyone has it covered. I agree with the laptop/iphone media being easier to handle than reading (a little more mindless and passive is good sometimes), and music. The hospitals are always happy to give you what you need, so take everyone’s advice about asking for more pads/mesh granny panties, ice packs, such. The nice/hip blanket for the photos… key! We had a cute one and it made the photographs awesome as a background. Lactation advice… get all the free consultations with the nurses and lactation specialists you can. Our friends always joke that there is an entire team there to make sure you have the baby, regardless, but once you are home and trying to breastfeed it’s a different story so take all the coaching you can on breastfeeding while in the hospital. It’s amazing that something so elemental and basic can make intelligent well-read women feel downright stupid and helpless if it doesn’t work out for so many reasons, and the only thing that helps is advice and coaching and support from everyone until it clicks and the soreness passes. I suspect many babies hear a lot of cursing in their first 10 days from their moms!

Sara August 21, 2011 at 9:59 am

congratulations on your (new) baby, all of this is exciting-you make a lovely family. AND what a nice Hartmann suitcase!

Miranda October 2, 2012 at 9:40 am

One mistake I made the first time around was packing too much! I didn’t so much as even look at most of the things I had packed.
Here is the list of things I made for this time (my second):

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