When you’re preparing for a baby, the big questions is always what to pack in your hospital bag! I’m sharing my simple hospital bag checklist with you today.
Oh, the hospital bag.
If you’ve ever had a baby, it’s highly likely that you have all sorts of feelings about those two little words. For some reason, many of us become obsessed with the idea of what to pack in a hospital bag, how to make sure you have everything you need for the hospital, and finding the perfect hospital bag checklist to make sure you don’t forget a thing.
Something about it kind of feels like the final “can you really handle being a parent?” test.
I mean, no pressure or anything.
Last time around, I did a pretty good job of packing my hospital bag and I really didn’t feel like I was missing out on anything. As I’ve gotten more accustomed to this whole parenthood thing, though, I’ve thought of a few things that I probably would have appreciated having and had a slightly different hospital bag checklist this time around.
So, if you’re not a mama (or aren’t planning on becoming one anytime soon), this post may not interest you. But, if you’re expecting or just love reading about all things pregnancy, read on for all of the details on what’s on my hospital bag checklist, when I packed it, and anything else you might ever want to know!
When Should You Pack Your Hospital Bag?
I don’t really think there’s a magical “right” answer here, but with both of my pregnancies, I’ve packed my hospital bag right around 35 weeks. It’s early enough that there’s little chance I’ll go into labor without having my bag packed, but late enough that I never felt like a crazy person for having the bag sitting around ready to go so soon.
With Jackson, there was an added urgency to the hospital bag because I was still working full-time out of the house. I kept the bag in my car after I packed it because I was petrified I’d go into labor at work and not have time to come home. This time around, I work from home so it’s not quite as big of a deal. I have the bag packed and ready to go, but I won’t put it in my car until it’s actually time to head out the door.
One thing I did last time that was hugely helpful (and that I’m doing again this time), is to have a list of last-minute items that I taped right by the door so I can be sure not to forget anything. Things like my body pillow, camera, and iPad are used on a daily basis in my house and I can’t just toss them in a bag 5 weeks before I go into labor. So, I wrote down a list of anything that needed to be grabbed as we were heading to the hospital, and I taped it near the door. That way, we won’t have to search for it in a panic and I don’t have to worry about possibly forgetting something because I’m rushing. Also, it’s great for if you leave in too much of a hurry and can’t grab the things – you can send a friend or family member over to get it for you and they’ll know exactly what you need!
Who Needs a Hospital Bag?
I like to pack one bag for myself, one bag for Corey, and then bring the diaper bag for anything baby-related. I found that we didn’t need much of the baby stuff last time around because the hospital provides pretty much everything, but it was still nice to have. Of course, if you’re short on space you can easily pack everyone’s stuff in one bag – we just typically find it simpler to have our own.
Since we have Jackson, one other thing we did was have him pack a “hospital bag” for himself as well – he’ll be staying at our house while we’re in the hospital, but there’s a chance he’ll end up at a family member’s house for a bit, so we wanted him to feel prepared for that. It has pajamas, a change of clothes, and a few favorite toys, along with a favorite blanket and stuffed animal. He may or may not use it, but I think we’ll be glad to have packed it if we do need it!
The Hospital Bag Checklist
Alright, let’s dive into the actual list of things to bring! I created a little collage of most of the things in my bag, but keep reading for all of the details on why I included the items, as well as a few things that aren’t pictured.
- Comfy pajamas with buttons. I spent the entirety of my hospital stay last time in the cozy flannel pajamas that I bought, and I plan to do the same this time around! It’s hot outside so I got this cute pajama set in two different patterns and I plan to wear them pretty much non-stop for the first few weeks. I recommend finding something comfortable, cute, and with buttons. It makes nursing easier, helps you look more put-together for visitors, and is great for when you come home too!
- Socks (or slippers). I had an epidural and for several hours after giving birth I was extra shaky and cold. I was so grateful to have some cozy socks to pull on! These are also great for if you do any walking around the hospital or the room – hospital floors are cold and dirty!
- Comfy nursing bra. I lived in these nursing bras from the time I gave birth until I had to go back to work – and even then, I slept in one every night until I weaned! You’ll want something easy to use and comfortable while you’re in the hospital!
- Flip flops. This is optional – our hospital shower and bathroom was extremely clean and I didn’t feel the need to wear flip-flops when I was showering, but I’ve heard some horror stories! I tossed a pair in my bag just in case I need them this time!
- Towel. This might be the most important item on the entire list. If you hear nothing else, hear this: BRING YOUR OWN TOWEL! Hospital towels are approximately the size of a postage stamp and after giving birth you’re going to feel gross and want something that makes you feel slightly human. A tiny towel will do no such thing. Bring a towel (or two). You’ll be glad you did.
- Pillow. Just like hospital towels suck, the pillows do too. I brought a pillow for my head as well as a body pillow and it made sleeping in the hospital bed so much more tolerable!
- Makeup. This is a personal preference thing – but I know that I felt so much more like myself in the hospital when I was able to get a good shower and put a little bit of makeup on. I didn’t go crazy, but with visitors coming in and out, it feels nice to feel like yourself. Just some simple BB Cream and mascara is really all you need to downplay the hot mess, “I just gave birth” look.
- Entertainment. I’ll admit, last time around I really didn’t use any of the entertainment stuff that I brought with me – but I’d hate to want it and not have it, so I’m bringing it again. I like to bring my iPad mini with me because I can read books, surf the internet, and do just about anything else from it – I made sure to download a few magazines and books onto it ahead of time so I will be prepped and have anything I might want.
- Comfy “going home” outfit. I had Jackson in the winter, so last time around it was yoga pants and a cozy sweatshirt. This time it’ll be hot outside, so I packed some comfy shorts and a baggy t-shirt (snag a men’s size in this one for a perfect fit – or size up at least 2 sizes in your normal women’s size!). You don’t need to look cute – you just want to be comfortable!
- Nipple butter. You may not need this until later, but I learned pretty quickly with Jackson that this stuff was the very best ever and I won’t use anything else. So, I have some in my bag so I don’t have to use the hospital-provided stuff if I end up needing it.
- Bluetooth speaker. This is something we didn’t bring last time but I think would be great to have. I was too stressed/in pain/excited to focus on television when I had Jackson, but some calming and quiet music in the room would have been so helpful and relaxing. We’re packing a small speaker this time around so we can play some music when things get crazy.
- Snacks. Goes without saying – you’ll be hungry after giving birth, and your husband will be hungry with all the waiting. Have some snacks on hand in case he doesn’t have time to run out and get real food.
- Shampoo + body wash.
- Toothpaste + toothbrush.
- Hairbrush, clips, and rubber bands.
- Phone charger.
- Camera + charger.
Note: Most of the things on this list require no explanation, so I’m just going to drop the list for you. I will make this note though: other than the car seat, none of this is absolutely necessary. The hospital will provide everything you need for the baby while you’re in the hospital, and you really don’t “need” to bring anything of your own. That being said, I really appreciated being able to dress Jackson in our own clothing and wrap him in our swaddles – it made him feel more like “ours” and I had been looking forward to using all of this adorable stuff for so long that it felt impossible to not bring it. But, all of this is totally optional! Except for the car seat – you can’t leave the hospital without that one.
- Towel (see above)
- Pillow (see above)
- Other than that, he should pack as if he’s going on a weekend trip. Because, he is! He won’t really need anything extra and should be just fine with some extra clothes, pajamas, and toiletries.
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What did you pack in your hospital bag? Any huge essentials that I missed?