There are lots of lists out there about what to pack in your hospital bag, but you honestly don't need most of it! These are my thoughts on what you should and shouldn't pack. My suggestion is to have it packed by 35 or 36 weeks.
If you don't get it packed and you happen to go into labor, there is just one thing you should grab on your way out the door: YOUR CAMERA! Someone can always go home and grab you anything else you may need, but you can't go back and get photos of those first precious moments.
But you won't have to worry about that, because your bag will be packed and I'm going to help you with the list right now!
- You're going to be doing a lot of breathing through your mouth, plus hospitals tend to be dry in general, so trust me on this! You will use it more than anything else you bring.
- Hair elastics or headbands
- You're hot, you're sweating and you're in pain. The last thing you want is your hair in your face or sticking to your neck. I put elastics in just about every pocket of my hospital bag so that it would be extremely easy for my hubby to find one when I needed it!
- Loose shoes to leave the hospital in
- Audrey was born during a snow storm, so I wore boots to the hospital. With all the fluids redistributing in my body after I gave birth, I was really swollen and couldn't get the boots on to get home. I had to send my hubby home to get some looser shoes that I could get my feet into.
- Nursing pads
- You don't know exactly when your milk will come in. It may be while you're in the hospital or it may be when you get home. Bring a few with you just in case. It will save you from being a leaking mess!
- Comfortable nursing bra
- Remember that when your milk comes in, "the girls" are going to be a lot bigger!
- 2 Comfortable nightgowns or PJ pants and tank tops that are easy to nurse in
- Remember that there is always the possibility of an emergency c-section too. So if you opt for pants, make sure the waistband is stretchy, loose and low, just in case.
- Some kind of open sweater or robe
- Whether it's winter, or summer with A.C., hospitals can be chilly. You want layers so you're prepared for any temperature.
- Toothbrush and toothpaste (if you want your own)
- They'll have some there for you, but some people are particular.
- Travel bottles of your shampoo, face wash, soap and lotion (if you are particular)
- Again, they'll have some for you, but some people like only certain brands. I brought my own toothbrush, face wash and face lotion, but used their shampoo, soap, body lotion, toothpaste.
- Flip flops for the shower
- Yeah, I said it. I don't care that it's a hospital and the shower should be clean. You don't know what's on that shower floor.
- A comfortable outfit to go home in
- I went home in the same yoga pants, nursing tank and sweater I wore while in the hospital, plus my winter jacket. You don't need to dress to impress, you're just going home. And remember that you won't be back to your pre-pregnancy body just yet, so bring maternity clothes.
- Big, comfortable underwear that you don't care about ruining
- Everyone I've talked to has different feelings about the disposable mesh underwear the hospital gives to you. I thought they were super comfy and took a bunch home with me, including the super pads, ice packs, and squirt bottles they provided too. If you think you'll prefer your own, bring some. If not, you can always send someone to get some for you if you want them.
If you want to stay connected through technology:
- To post baby's first photo to Facebook or email friends and family!
- Cell phone
- To make all those phone calls announcing the birth of your precious new bundle of joy!
- Cell phone charger
- And, of course, your camera and/or video camera! (But you already knew that, right?! Because that's going to be the first thing you grab!)
Don't bother with:
- Breast pump
- If you're planning to breast feed, you should be trying to actually nurse as much as possible. If, for some reason, you need a breast pump, the hospital should have one for you to use. Don't bother bringing yours, it will just take up space.
- Your favorite slippers
- You don't want to walk around the germy hospital floors in your favorite slippers, then take them home to walk all over the floors of your home that your baby will soon be crawling on. Buy a cheap pair that you can just throw away later or wear those slipper-socks that have tread on the bottom. You can buy them, but they should have them in the hospital too. Then you can just wash them or throw them away.
- Your Boppy pillow
- For the same reason as your slippers. You don't want hospital germs all over something baby will be laying on all the time at home. There will be pillows at the hospital to help you nurse while you're there.
- Nipple cream, vitamins, or medications (unless your doctor tells you otherwise)
It's up to you:
- Your nurses at the hospital will provide you with everything you need. In fact, take some of their nipple cream home with you too.
- Your make-up bag
- You're going to be glowing and won't need it, but if it makes you a little more comfortable for all the pictures that will be taken of you and your baby, then I say bring it.
- Your pillow
- They will obviously have pillows at the hospital, but if you have to have your pillow, bring it! Whatever makes you more comfortable! Just be sure to put a dark or crazy colored pillow case on it instead of white, so it doesn't get mixed up with hospital pillows and linens.
- Some people bring their iPod, puzzle books, and even movies to watch on their computer. I walked the halls of the maternity ward almost the entire time I was in labor, so I didn't need any of these things. It is up to you.
- An outfit to go home in
- You might want to bring one newborn sized outfit and one 0-3 months sized outfit, just so you're sure you have something that fits depending on the size of your baby. But you really don't need anything else. The hospital will have diapers, vaseline, bulb syringes, wipes, receiving blankets and little shirts for baby to wear, so don't waste the space bringing any of them. In fact, one of my nurses encouraged me to pack everything left in baby's drawer at the end of our stay and bring it home.
- A blanket (especially for a winter baby)
Dad's bag (Yes, I think Dad should have his own bag. You have enough stuff to put in yours.):
- We had the cutest little fleece one-piece outfit for Audrey to wear over her clothes when we headed home from the hospital. When we went to leave, they made us take it off of her when they checked her car seat. We didn't realize it then, but you aren't supposed to have bulky coats or snowsuits on in a car seat because then you can't pull the straps tight enough. Luckily, they had some hospital volunteers who knit blankets and hats for the newborns, so we had something to put on her head and cover her up with.
- Some kind of pajamas to sleep in, if he's staying overnight with you, including a t-shirt. (The nurses don't want to see you shirtless and in your boxers, guys!)
- Clean set of clothes
- Mom may not be able to eat after a certain point, but Dad might get hungry. And you don't want to be stuck in the cafeteria line when it's time to push!
- List of people and phone numbers to call to announce baby's arrival
You'll also need your insurance card and admission paperwork, if you don't pre-register. Most hospitals will let you pre-register though, and I highly recommend it! Then when you get there, in labor, all you have to do is give them your name and everything else will be taken care of.
Those are my suggestions! I don't think you really don't need much else. For all the moms out there: Is there anything I left out that you had to have in the hospital?