Packing Your Hospital Bag

Posted by Carissa Carleton on

“What do I pack in my hospital bag?”

This question comes up a lot. Here are some tips and a handy list, compiled from experience and research.

Take your essentials, and don’t go overboard. You very likely won’t be blow-drying and straightening your hair, so leave those tools at home. You’re definitely not packing for a vacation, so having many clothing and shoe options aren’t necessary.  

Keep in mind that you’ll have to lug this bag from your house and all through the hospital, possibly on your own. The best option is a small suitcase with wheels. That way it won’t be too difficult to pull around, and won’t take up too much space in your room.

There’s a good chance that you will want some form of entertainment at some point, so take a tablet to watch movies. Opt for an e-reader loaded with a good book or two, rather than taking up space and adding weight with paperbacks or hardcovers…and don’t forget your chargers.

 

Hospital Bag Essentials:

 

For Mom

  • A towel – pack a thinner towel, and roll it up to save space in your bag
  • Sandals – As much as the floors get cleaned, there can be a LOT of extra mess after the baby is born. Having shoes like flip-flops that you can slip on and off easily will save you so much effort and pain. Pack a pair that are thin for packing, and that you can wear into the shower and/or easily clean.
  • Tablet and/or e-reader & charger – make sure you’ve pre-loaded any books you want to read or games you want to play. Every birth is different, so you never know if/when you will need some entertainment either before or after the birth. Some like to have a movie to watch to keep their mind off the contractions in the earlier phases, and sometimes you could unexpectedly stay longer in the hospital than you planned, so a little entertainment could go a long way.
  • Phone & charger – make sure your important contacts are saved, such as your family and friends to notify about the birth, or your office to say you won’t be in that day!
  • Birth plan – You can bring a copy of your birth plan, but keep in mind that the birth will happen the way it needs to happen, regardless of our intentions. Most importantly, listen to your healthcare professionals if they advise on alternate procedures or methods. They’re only trying to help, and want you and your baby to be safe and healthy J
  • Underwear – The bigger, the better. Full coverage is a must! These underwear are super comfortable to wear during pregnancy because they stretch easily where you need them too, and don’t dig into your skin. You’ll want a few pairs in black for the hospital, so you don’t have to worry about staining.
  • Perineal Cream – If you plan to have a natural birth, soothe yourself from perineal pain with this Bottom Butter.
  • Comfortable clothesLeggings are a must! You’ll want to be as comfortable as possible. You can opt for high-band or under-bump leggings to suit your comfort and plans for long-term wear. You can read more about the difference between these types of leggings here. It’s also a good idea to pack a couple tank tops and cardigans for layering. Make sure your tops are made for nursing, if you plan to breastfeed.
  • Toothbrush / toothpaste / floss – Feeling minty fresh after the long, hard work, will lift your exhausted spirits.
  • Unscented bar of soap – You don’t want anything that can cause additional irritation. You have enough to recover from already!
  • Hand Lotion
  • Shampoo & conditioner – That first shower is such a relief!
  • Hair elastics and/or clips & brush – Hair can get hot and irritating when you’re putting so much effort into something else. Just tie it up and away from your face from the start.
  • Pillow – Like mom, make sure you have an old pillowcase that stands out from the ones in the hospital. One with colour or patterns is best.
  • Insurance Info – Make sure you know what your plan covers ahead of time (ie. Room type) so you don’t get an unexpected bill for a room type that’s not covered.
  • Hospital Papers
  • ID
  • Money – Make sure you have access to some cash in case you need anything at the hospital.
  • Sanitary pads – The bigger, the better (just like the underwear!)
  • Snacks – Pack some non-perishable snacks for in between meal times. Make sure you get the OK from the healthcare providers before you eat, if you’re in labour!

If breastfeeding…

  • Breast pump – If you plan on breastfeeding, this can help build up your initial supply, and allows you to store milk or even donate it! If you do bring one, bring your pumping bra so you can free your hands to read, eat, brush your hair, or post pics of your new bundle.
  • Bottles – If using a breast pump. The baby won’t be drinking huge volumes of milk at first, so bring small bottles to save space. Make sure to read the packages in advance for instructions, such as sterilizing before use, and for selecting the appropriate nipple for newborns.
  • Nipple cream – Trust us, you’ll want something to ease the irritation. We love this Nipple Butter product, that’s lanolin-free and safe for baby.
  • Nursing cover – Even if you don’t mind being exposed (and chances are good you’ll be too elated with your babe and too tired to mind), you’ll want to keep the chill off you and baby while feeding. Our favourite pick is this Nursing Cover that’s a light, breathable fabric, and can be worn as a scarf or cape when not feeding. It makes feeding your little bundle easy and comfortable, and packs away easy in your suitcase.
  • Nursing bra or tankNursing bras and tanks are great for extra support and ease of access. Make sure that whatever you’re wearing on top of them is also suitable for nursing, so you don’t restrict access.
  • Nipple pads
  • Breastfeeding pillow

If formula feeding…

  • Bottles – The baby won’t be drinking huge volumes of formula at first, so bring small bottles to save space. Make sure to read the packages in advance for instructions, such as sterilizing before use, and for selecting the appropriate nipple for newborns.
  • Formula – It’s best to ask your doctor about which formula they recommend, in case of anticipated special dietary needs or health issues. Whatever kind they suggest, if you have pre-mixed formula it’s even easier. You can use an appropriate nipple right on the bottle.
  • Microwave sterilizing bag – These are so handy for cleaning bottles if your hospital has a microwave you can use.

 

For Partner

  • Snacks & water bottle – Make sure to stay energized and hydrated. Mama needs you for support! Keep it handy so you don’t have to leave mom by herself…Just don’t let her see you eating and drinking if she isn’t allowed to!
  • Comfortable shoes – You could be standing beside the hospital bed for a long time!
  • Something to read – Just like mom, you may have some down time when you’ll need something to do to pass the time.
  • Towel – Pack a thin towel, rolled into the hospital bag.
  • Sandals – Keep your feet clean and off the floor with a pair of sandals you can wear into the shower.
  • Pain medication – You might end up with a headache or very sore hand from mom’s squeezing, but it’s probably not a good idea to mention it ;). Just keep your preferred pain killers handy so nothing gets in your way on this magical day.
  • Phone & charger – Make sure you can reach important family members and friends, and also snap some pictures or use it to surf the web if there’s down time. Download a contraction timer app well in advance of the due date, so you can help mom time contractions when the time comes.
  • Change of clothes – Remember that you’ll need to freshen up too! Don’t forget that you may also be spending the night (or a few) so make sure you have something comfortable to sleep in.
  • Toothbrush / toothpaste / floss – If you need to wake up a bit, make sure you have a nice, minty toothpaste.
  • Pillow – Like mom, make sure you have an old pillowcase that stands out from the ones in the hospital. One with colour or patterns is best.
  • Money – Make sure to have your wallet in case you or mom need anything, and to pay for parking.

 

For Baby

  • Diapers – It’s a good idea to bring a couple different sizes (ie. Newborn & size 1) because you won’t know what will fit ahead of time.
  • Rash Cream
  • Wipes
  • Diaper Bag – This is the easiest way to have everything arranged before the birth, and have it still in order and usable long afterwards. Long-term style and awesome organization can be found in this amazing diaper bag.
  • Car seat – Many hospitals won’t let you leave until you’ve demonstrated that you have a car seat and you can buckle the child in properly. Check on your hospital’s policy ahead of time, and make sure you have the car seat installed in advance, and know how it works.
  • Baby soap – Bring a very small container of baby wash. A little goes a long way on those tiny bodies.
  • Sleepers – Anticipate a few leaks! Just like diapers, bring a couple different sizes.
  • Swaddles
  • Pacifier – If you plan to use one. Even if you don’t, it might end up being handier than you thought.

 

Of course, everyone has different individual needs. If there are certain things that are extra important to you that aren’t covered on this list, add them on.

As for when to start packing, that’s up to you. Some women prefer to get the bag ready months ahead of time so it’s one less thing to think about, and easier to do when the baby isn’t large and taking your breath away. Some throw some things together when they feel labour is near. A general recommendation seems that you should pack your bag by around 34 weeks. Do what works best for you. Most of all, relax! If you forget something, it’s okay. You can find most of what you need at the hospital, or someone can run out to pick it up for you. You will have your baby soon, so nothing else will matter anyway ;)

 

Think we missed something? Have some other helpful tips? Comment below!

 

Print the list below and use it to help to pack your bag! :)

 

Hospital Bag Checklist

www.SwanMaternity.com

For Mom

       Towel

       Sandals

       Tablet/e-reader & charger

       Phone & charger

       Toothbrush, toothpaste, floss

       Birth plan

       Underwear

       Perineal Cream

       Clothes

       Toothbrush, toothpaste, floss

       Unscented bar soap

       Hand lotion

       Shampoo, conditioner

       Hair clips, elastics, brush

       Pillow

       Insurance info

       Hospital papers

       ID

       Money

       Sanitary pads

       Snacks

If breastfeeding…

       Breast pump

       Pumping bra

       Bottles

       Nipple cream

       Nursing cover

       Nursing bras and/or tanks

       Nipple pads

       Breastfeeding pillow

If formula-feeding…

       Bottles

       Formula

       Sterilizer bags

 

       Other:________________________

       Other:________________________

       Other:________________________

       Other:________________________

       Other:________________________

       Other:________________________

       Other:________________________

       Other:________________________

For Partner

       Snacks, water bottle

       Comfortable shoes

       Entertainment (book, e-reader, etc.)

       Towel

       Sandals

       Pain medication

       Phone & charger

       Clothes

       Toothbrush, toothpaste, floss

       Pillow

       Money

       Other:________________________

For Baby

       Diapers

       Rash cream

       Wipes

       Diaper bag

       Car seat

       Soap

       Sleepers

       Swaddles

       Pacifier

       Other:________________________

       Other:________________________

       Other:________________________

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