Why read: Don’t know what to pack in your mother’s hospital bag? Check out my list of absolute essentials.
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With my first pregnancy, I terribly overpacked my hospital bag.
When you’re a first-time mom you don’t know what to expect. So you need to be prepared and have all the necessities – and more – with you. Right?
Less is more, in this case, believe me!
I packed my labor bag like I was going for a 3-day vacation in a luxury hotel. I took all imaginable and unimaginable things for me and my baby.
And totally forgot about my husband. Not only wasn’t his bag prepared but also he had to carry all I had packed for myself.
When I ended up using only a handful of things that I brought – constantly going through my full bag and stressing myself and him out – he was not happy!
Luckily I was having his son so he couldn’t stay mad at me for long.
But I wasn’t happy with myself either, to be honest.
In the chaos of labor and postpartum exhaustion, I wish I only had the most useful necessities ready to grab. Lesson learned!
How Many Weeks Pregnant Should You Pack Your Hospital Bag?
Now that I’m preparing for my second labor – I’m due in 5 weeks – my labor hospital bag will look completely different.
Yes! It’s very important to be prepared. And Yes! It’s better to have your bag ready earlier than later.
Babies don’t ask if you have everything ready when they decide to arrive. Some come as early as 30 weeks.
So ideally, you want to have your hospital bag for delivery ready by week 35/36. The earlier the better. The most organized moms start to put everything together after week 30.
But if you’re 35 weeks already and still don’t have anything ready, don’t stress. I don’t either. So let’s get prepared together.
Note: Speaking of getting ready for the big day… check out these amazing pregnancy freebies for expecting moms. From baby registry welcome boxes, free formula samples to other free baby products, you’ll want to grab these first before starting any maternity shopping.
Packing Mother’s Hospital Bag in Times of COVID-19 Pandemic
While many states across America start to re-open and slowly go back to normal life, hospitals still use precautions.
Before you start packing everything, call your hospital to make sure they’re still allowing you to have your and your baby’s hospital bag.
Different hospitals have different policies on this.
Some allow only a bag for the mommy and the partner, no baby stuff.
Others allow anything that can be carried in one trip. Once in the hospital, you or your husband won’t be allowed out.
Some require bringing in the car seat as well, while others insist for the car seat to be left in the car.
So do call your hospital and find out all these details. This is the first most important step you need to take in preparing for your hospital trip…
What to Bring to the Hospital for Baby
Like with my own labor bag, I packed too much for my baby during my first delivery.
Onesies, swaddle blankets, hats, diapers, bottles, a grooming kit – you name it.
Guess what I used out of all those?
Only one thing – the take baby home outfit. And only because you can’t put your baby in the car seat swaddled. So you need to put on clothes on him.
The hospital provides everything needed for the baby.
Hence, forget about all those newborn diapers and formula bottles. You’ll have plenty in the hospital.
If you want to be completely minimalistic, there are 2 things that you’ll need to take to the hospital for your baby – a car seat and a going home outfit.
Everything else is nice-to-have items that you can totally skip.
Here’s what I’m taking for my baby this time around:
This is the most important baby item you’ll need to have ready when you head to the hospital (of course, if you plan to leave the hospital by car, lol).
Make sure you have your infant car seat base installed in your car somewhere between 35-37 weeks. Most hospitals won’t let you take your baby home without a properly installed car seat.
Take this step seriously as it’s been reported that 8 out of 10 car seats are installed incorrectly.
You don’t want to be stressing out how to install the car seat when your labor starts. If you find it too complicated, head to your local fire station, they’ll be glad to help you with the installation.
In case you go into labor before 35 weeks, your baby will spend some time in the NICU so you’ll have time to deal with the car seat installation.
If you need recommendations, this is the infant car seat that we purchased for our boy and will be re-using with our baby girl.
2. Going-home outfit
As I mentioned earlier the hospital will provide you with baby swaddles and blankets. But you’ll need to have a going home outfit for your baby to be able to put him in the car seat.
3. Cute swaddle blanket (headband for girls) for those cute newborn photos
This is completely optional but I couldn’t resist buying a cute baby swaddle with a matching hat and a headband for my baby girl.
And because visitors are not allowed now in the hospitals, those cute pictures I plan to take will be the only way to announce my girl’s birth to all of our friends and relatives, so I want her to look really pretty.
4. “Hello, world” sign
Another optional item for the photos.
I’m getting this pretty basic “Hello” sign to have some pretty photos of my baby girl. I hope I’ll be able to get some decent ones as amateur a photographer as I am.
You can check out more beautiful options too.
And that’s all that you’ll need for your baby.
If you want your baby’s bag to be separate from yours, you can put everything in the diaper bag.
Having separate bags will keep things more organized for you. But of course, with so few items you can fit everything in your or your husband’s hospital bag as well.
What Mom Needs in Her Hospital Bag
If you surf the Internet you’ll find long hospital bag checklists for expecting moms.
I used one of those when I packed all those totally unnecessary items for my first baby’s delivery.
I don’t want you to go that route to realize in the hospital you didn’t need to bring all that stuff.
Plus, the less you buy and pack for your hospital trip the less clutter you’ll have to deal with when you get home with your baby.
Believe me, going through a gazillion of items in your hospital bag would be the last thing you’d want to do when you come back home with a crying baby exhausted and sleep-deprived after birth.
So let’s be minimalistic and look at the absolute necessities you’ll need in your mother’s hospital bag.
First, don’t worry about packing leak-proof underwear, pads, peri bottles, or other postpartum recovery items. Hospitals provide all of those.
You’ll have enough not only for your hospital stay but also to take with you for your home postpartum care.
You don’t need to bring your breast pump either as hospitals provide those as well.
Here’s what I do recommend packing.
- Comfortable loose clothes. For example, sweatpants, sleeping shorts, dresses or nightgowns, warmer clothes for colder months.
- Robe – I don’t normally wear robes but some moms swear by having a robe to wear in the hospital.
- Slippers o easy shoes to slip on to go to the bathroom. I ordered these flip flops just for my labor day. My big trotter feet don’t fit in any other shoes these days.
- Nursing tops and/or nursing bra – if you plan to wear a bra. I don’t 😄
- Nursing pads – If your breasts haven’t started leaking yet, you probably don’t know that nursing pads will be your best friends over the course of your breastfeeding journey. To protect your bras, nursing tops, gowns, pack some of these with you.
By the way you can get a pack of nursing pads as a freeby from medela when you sign up for their newsletter. Reminder to check out other amazing pregnancy freebies you can snag. Make sure to take advantage of these!
- Nursing Pillow – You can take yours with you just in case. But honestly, I wouldn’t say you’ll need a nursing pillow for the time you stay in the hospital. It’ll just take up a lot of space in your bag.
- Toiletries – If you have dry sensitive skin as I do, pack a small bathroom bag with your own toiletries. Travel size would be ideal as you don’t want these to take too much space – toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo and conditioner, body wash, hand cream, deodorant.
- Makeup bag – Hospital air is very dry so you’d want to have your moisturizer and other skincare essentials with you. Also, do have some face wipes for freshening up.
- Lip balm – An absolute must-have so don’t forget it! Pack extra just in case. You won’t be allowed to drink water. With the dehydration, your mouth and lips will get really dry.
- Hair ties – This is the most needed item I wish I hadn’t forgotten during my first delivery. Make sure you pack a hairbrush and hair ties, you don’t want your hair getting into your face when in labor.
- Your own towels – Hospital does provide towels but for some reason, they are really small.
- Tablet or laptop – As a distraction for those long slowly progressing labor hours you might want to watch your favorite shows on Netflix.
- Phone charger – Don’t forget to grab your phone charger on the way out. You’ll need your phone a lot to keep you distracted during labor, to contact friends and family, and to take all those cute newborn pictures.
Optional Items for Mother’s Hospital Bag
- Camera – If you plan to take better quality photos of your cutie pie. Just make sure it is fully charged and has enough space.
- Bluetooth speaker or iPod – You might want to create a relaxing environment with your favorite music while in labor. Spend some time on putting together a playlist of your most favorite relaxing tunes.
- Extra items for comfort – I felt absolutely fine in the hospital bed using their pillows and blankets. But many moms swear by taking their own pillows and blankets. Apparently, this helps feel more like home. I’m not that sentimental so I was fine. If you feel your own cozy blanket might bring you more comfort and be soothing, by all means, take it with you.
- Going home outfit – Honestly, you’ll still be most comfortable in your maternity clothes. It’ll be months before your belly shrinks to its normal size. So pack something loose and comfy to go home in.
What to Pack in Dad’s Hospital Bag
Remember how I forgot about my husband’s bag during my first delivery?
Well, he ended up grabbing some change of clothes, his laptop, and phone. And guess, what? That was all he needed.
- 1 or 2 changes of clothes and toiletries. Your husband can shower in your room as well.
- Entertainment of choice. It probably will be his phone and/or laptop. Just make sure he doesn’t forget the charger last minute. I know you don’t want to be responsible for this too but if he does forget his charger, he might end up using your phone😉
Other Essentials to Pack
Don’t forget your paperwork and wallet – if you have all your cards and cash in it. These can go in any of the bags, just make sure it’s on top and easy to grab.
- Insurance card and ID or driver’s license – I assume you pre-registered for your birth so that your hospital expects you on or around your due date. You or your husband will still need to fill out some paperwork when you’re in the hospital so do have your insurance card and driver’s license handy.
- Pre-registration papers – If you received pre-registration papers from your hospital, don’t forget those with you.
- Birth Plan – Make sure you have your birth plan with you if you haven’t already submitted it to your ob/gyn or hospital.
- Pen – You’ll have a lot of documents and forms to fill out and sign.
- Cash – You might not need cash, but it’s good to have some with you just in case.
Taking snacks for both yourself and your husband is a good idea especially now, in times of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Once in the delivery room, neither you nor your partner would be allowed to wander the halls or go out – that’s the new COVID-19 policy by most of the hospitals in the States.
So forget about using the vending machine, going to the hospital cafeteria or having your husband run to the nearest store for some snacks in the middle of the night.
Bring enough for both before and after delivery.
If you get an epidural you won’t be allowed to eat or drink, but your husband will certainly want to have something to snack on.
Most hospitals stop serving food around 6 p.m. Call your hospital to check if your room has a mini-fridge for all of your cold stuff. If not, then just stick with snacks that won’t go bad.
Here are my suggestions for some light but filling snacks:
- Fruit roll-ups
- Oatmeal cookies
- Breakfast bars
- Your favorite chips
- Your favorite chocolate
- Beef Jerky
- Your favorite dry fruits – prunes, apricots, cherries, dates, etc.
- Fresh fruit – if your room has a fridge.
One Last Thing
With all the labor and giving birth chaos, you’ll want your maternity bag to be well organized and minimalistic.
Ideally, you’d take 3 bags with you. One for yourself, one for your husband and baby stuff (yes! combine those) and one for snacks.
Don’t overpack as you want extra space for all the baby and postpartum care stuff the hospital will give you!
And here’s an important piece of advice. If you have your husband fill out the birth certificate information – which is a good idea one might think after all the labor pain, being drugged, etc. – still make sure you check it.
I made a mistake of trusting this to my husband and what do you think, he made a mistake in his own year of birth (sigh!).
Of course, he was so exhausted from snoring on the couch, lol.
Now our son’s birth certificate has a typo in his father’s information…
And good luck! You can do it!