If you follow me on Instagram, you know I waited until the very last minute to pack my hospital bag. Even after a few surprise trips to the hospital due to high blood pressure, I procrastinated this task. Then after delivery, I ended up with a surprise visit back to the hospital after a blood pressure check with the OB, so Tim had to pack another hospital bag for me while I was in the ER. Needless to say, I’ve pretty much mastered what to pack for your hospital bag with practical items I actually used and found helpful. Below you’ll find a complete list of what I packed for both trips to the hospital, a printable checklist and practical tips for why to bring each item.
There are so many hospital bag packing lists out there. Like anything, if there is something not on this list that you feel like you may need, might as well pack it. We didn’t leave our hospital room much so I mostly stayed in pajamas and my cozy robe, which made it easy for nursing. But I will say, every single thing on this list we used! If we ever decide to have another child, I’ll definitely be referring back to this post for my own reference!
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What To Pack in Your Hospital Bag
What to Pack for Mom
If you plan to breastfeed, pack 2-3 nursing bras. Breastfeeding can be tricky to start and can also be a little messy. The last thing you want is to not have a backup nursing bra in case of a leak. These are my favorite for comfort, and these are a close second.
Frida Mom peri-bottle and briefs
Trust me, these two are must haves. For one the peri–bottle provides a much better angle and you’ll use it for a few weeks after. It’s even great to continue using during that time of month or any other time you want to freshen up. I lived in these briefs for the first 2-3 weeks. Not only were they way more comfortable than the mesh undies provided by the hospital, but they were thick enough to wear on their own. I slept in them most nights because I had pretty bad night sweats, and it was nice to not worry about constant laundry.
Just stick with comfy cozies in the hospital. Pack at least 2 pajama sets, and if you end up staying longer due to complications or c-section you can have someone bring you extras. If you’re planning to nurse, look for nursing friendly pajamas with buttons, like these and these. These pajamas will also come in handy throughout postpartum, and it doesn’t hurt to buy them in a size up for extra room.
I personally loved wearing a robe in the hospital. I wanted to do a lot of skin to skin and it’s very quick and easy to nurse in. If you’re delivering in the summer, pack a lightweight robe (like this or this), and if you’re delivering in the winter go for something more plush (like this or this).
Pillow and blanket
I thought this seemed a little excessive when I saw it on hospital packing lists, but after my first stay in the hospital at 36 weeks I quickly regretted not having one. It makes an uncomfortable hospital bed feel a little more like home, and I’m someone that likes to have my own blanket in my face. I brought my favorite Barefoot dreams blanket for added warmth. If you sleep with a blanket every night, this is a must have!
So I didn’t think I would use this, but I did since we stayed in the hospital 3 days. I packed my Dyson air wrap since it doubles as a hair dryer and curling wand. My hair type doesn’t do well with air drying, but if yours does you probably don’t need it. By the way, I have a full review and tutorial on the airwrap here if you’re interested in hearing more about it.
We had two full grocery bags of snacks. We kept one in the car just in case and nearly went through everything in the one bag during our 5 days in the hospital (2 days of labor and 3 days after due to my high BP). I loved snacking on trail mix and also packed along these nursing cookies my mom made. Trust me, good snacks are a must!
Pack up your daily toiletries like an extra toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, face wash, hairbrush, hair ties/scrunchie, deodorant, your prenatals/vitamins, etc. I would pack little samples or travel sizes so you don’t have to worry about packing these essentials whenever you go into labor.
I brought the Boppy pillow and it was helpful to use in the hospital while she was so little! Getting use to breastfeeding can be challenging and I noticed when I had the extra support of the pillow, it made the process easier for both of us. I don’t use it now for nursing, but I still love it for tummy time and to practice sitting.
You don’t have to buy special shoes just for the hospital, but if you don’t I’d recommend something that you can easily wipe down when you get home. I purchased these and they were so comfy and easy to slide off and on. You can also shower in these, too! I loved this option because I didn’t have to pack a separate shower shoe. A lot of hospital bag packing lists have socks on them, but I don’t wear socks around the house so I knew this was something I wouldn’t need. But if your feet get cold maybe consider throwing in one pair of cozy socks. and you want something that’s easy to slip off and on.
Bring an extra long phone charger and/or a portable phone charger if you have one! You never know where the outlets will be in the room, so it’s nice to have on hand! This was one thing we were so thankful that we brought.
It’s really helpful to pack a night light so you don’t have to turn on the brighter room lights for middle of the night feedings. We used it a ton during our stay and once we got home! We brought this one since it’s rechargeable and can be moved around. If you also want a sound machine to help cut out the noise, we also use and love this one! You can adjust both the sound and the light, all from your phone.
Big cup for water
I always have my yeti cup full of ice water around the house, so of course it’s a must have for the hospital! The plastic cups the nurses bring end up sweating all over the table, so I preferred to just use my own cup, and filling it to the top with ice, of course.
These are things I didn’t pack or didn’t use in my hospital bag, but you may want to consider them for yourself depending on your preferences:
- Towels – I saw this on a lot of packing lists but I didn’t think it was necessary. I could get by with the hospital towels for such a short visit. However, if you prefer plush towels, I would pack these.
- Makeup – didn’t use and I was surprised by this! But it’s nice to have on hand in case you feel like getting yourself together for a phone or visitors. I also packed my makeup mirror which is a must if you plan to do your makeup while sitting in your hospital bed.
- A Pump – I didn’t bring my pump, but a lot of people do. The lactation specialist will show you how to use it. Some also recommend starting pumping early to help bring in your milk faster.
- Sheets + Mattress Pad- I didn’t bring or use this. Although, I will say this may have been nice for Tim and the beds for the dads are not the most comfortable.
- Nurses Gifts- this can be a sweet gesture for your nursing staff. Usually people just do a few bags or baskets full of snacks and a little thank you note!
- Pain relief – I packed a little bag with a tens unit, heating pad, fan, and essential oils to help with contractions and relaxation. I didn’t bring a diffuser because I typically just open the bottom and inhale them on the go. I never pulled out the TENS unit but I did use the fan and lavender essential oil a bit during labor.
What To Pack for Baby
It’s true the hospital has everything you will need for baby, other than an outfit to go home in and a car seat, everything else is for your own comfort and preference. They will provide everything from diapers to wipes, and more! I also recommend packing an empty bag or leaving room in your own bag so that you can take some of these items home. They will restock the room and cart once you leave anyways so if you opened a pack of diapers and wipes, you might as well take them. After all, you did pay for them!
This is something I wish we packed the first time. I didn’t realize how frustrating it would be trying to learn how to double swaddle her at 3AM in the hospital. The hospital will provide a traditional blanket that they use to swaddle. However, if you’re not a pro at the traditional swaddle, I recommend bringing your own. Plus, both Tim and I constantly checked on her because she could easily break out of it, too. After a lot of trial and error with swaddles, I highly recommend this one.
I kept her in a diaper most of the hospital stay because I wanted to do a lot of skin to skin after feedings. But you do need an outfit to go home in. If you decide to do a knotted gown, just note you will have to unknot it for the trip home and basically make it a dress for carseat safety reasons. If you want to take newborn photos in the hospital don’t forget an outfit, name tag, or any other photo props you want to use like hair bows, too!
If you’re wanting to introduce a pacifier early on, you may want to bring a few in case your hospital doesn’t provide them. Some do, and some don’t if you’re breastfeeding. This is completely personal preference. We don’t use them a ton but when we do, we love this one.
This may be the most important of them all! You’ll want to make sure you’ve practiced taking it in and out of your car prior to arriving at the hospital. Once you are in the hospital they will offer a carseat safety check with baby in the carseat. If you’ve practiced taking it in and out, your discharge will be much less stressful.
Most of what you’ll need for baby will be provided, but there are a few other things you could possibly bring simply for comfort. Some people prefer to bring a few different outfits for baby in varying sizes depending on when they are delivering. You may need preemie sizes if you are delivering early. Other moms suggested bring your own burp cloths and carseat cover for when you are leaving the hospital. These are not necessarily must haves but could be nice to pack. I packed her baby book because I wanted to put her footprints inside of it, however my hospiitls puts them on stickers so this wasn’t necessary! Another thing some moms suggested was to bring a small cooler in case your milk comes in, you have a place to store it on the way home.
What to Pack for Dad
The dads don’t seem to need quiet as much as mom and baby, but there are a few essentials that will help to make their stay comfortable too! The biggest things for them are to make sure they have all their essentials, the same way they would pack for an overnight trip.
Change of clothes
If anyone is leaving the hospital to go grab coffee or food, it’s likely going to be dad. That’s why it’s important to make sure they have a change of clothes. I recommend something comfortable like shorts and a tee or joggers and tee, depending on the time of year.
You’ll have visitors in and out of your room including nurses and doctors all throughout the night. He will likely feel more comfortable if he’s in pajamas as opposed to sleeping in his boxers and a tee.
pillow + blanket
Unfortunately the men get the short stick when it comes to sleeping arrangements. The “bed” for the men is more like a tin piece of plastic. I would highly recommend he take his own pillow and blanket to help make his stay a little more comfortable.
water bottle + snacks
Just like you, water and snacks are essential for dad too! The hospital food isn’t the best so having something healthy your can much on will be a lifesaver for both of you!
When it comes to packing your hospital bag, I suggest making a list of what you use every single day. Then with the extra room in your bag consider the list above based on what you feel you need! You can print the hospital bag checklist, above, as well as save the image below to Pinterest so that you can easily find it later. Feel free to forward this to an expecting mama friend too!
What did you pack in your hospital bag?