What to Pack in Your Hospital Bag
So, you’re having a baby! Congrats. It’s one of the most wonderful (and most terrifying) times in your life. I’ve had two of my own little humans, so between that and having photographed a LOT of births in the Baton Rouge area, I’ve learned a thing or two about what moms and babies need in the hospital or birth space.
(Disclaimer: this post contains affiliate links for products I really (actually, in-real-life) believe in. This means I will make a commission at no extra cost to you should you click through and make a purchase. Opinions expressed are entirely my own!)
When you’re having a baby (particularly your FIRST baby), it’s easy to get overwhelmed with all of the “need to know” information that you’re presented with, and figuring out what to pack in your hospital bag seems like just one more (exhausting) thing you have to think about right now. You’re determined to be as prepared as possible, but reading parenting blogs and browsing Pinterest is a quick way to get completely overwhelmed. Where do you start? How do you know what’s useful and what’s not? WHY DO THESE LISTS ALL HAVE DIFFERENT INFORMATION IN THEM?!
Look, parenting is going to have plenty of challenges in store for you – don’t make packing for your hospital bag one of them! I’ve put together this post as a little “Pack This, Not That” guide, full of tips on what will come in handy (that you may not have thought of), as well as things that you may think you need, but will just end up taking up valuable space in your bag for no good reason.
I’ve even put together a handy graphic below for you to download, for easy reference!
Okay – let’s get into it!
1 – Lip balm
I can’t explain this any more than I can explain how predictive text still doesn’t understand me after all these years–but just go with me on this. Your lips will need hydration the way the desert needs water, so just throw some Burt’s Bees in that bag and make sure your partner knows where to find it when you need it.
2 – A (long) charging cable for your phone and/or tablet – and earbuds!
Spoiler alert – everyone loves babies, and your phone will be blowing up with messages, texts and other forms of baby-update demands. Add to that, most of your notes, lists and other important information is probably stored right there in that magical hunk of metal – so it’s going to need juice. Lots of lists out there have charging cables on them, but I AM HERE TO TELL YOU THAT LONGER IS BETTER. Amazon has tons of charges with cables long enough to wrap around the moon, like this one, so get on it. You’re going to need to plug your phone in waaaaay over there, and still be able to use it. The last thing you want to do after having a baby is get out of bed any more than necessary.
Here’s my pick for Android phones, too! CLICK HERE
Earbuds are also a great idea, so that if you or your partner want to watch a movie, the other can get some (much-needed) sleep. THESE are what I keep stashed in my own bag – cheap, completely wireless, and waterproof (cuz you just never know man).
3 – Clothes for you
Most hospital stays are 2-3 days and nights, on average. Prepare for 3, but don’t overthink it. You likely won’t be out of your hospital gown for the first day, so plan on 2 sets of clothes (plus a spare, ‘cuz babies). Roomy is key! Roomy gowns (they’re muumuus, let’s call it like it is), nursing pajamas and bras, and all things stretchy and loose are your friends. Anyone who tells you that they were back in their pre-pregnancy clothes a day or two later is either a liar or abnormal!
Shoes which are easy to slip on and off (bending isn’t going to be a thing for a bit), grippy socks (these looks like ballet flats!), and a robe for greeting visitors are also really handy additions to your bag. DON’T worry too much about underwear – the mesh ones the hospital gives you are the best thing since sliced bread, so you really only need ONE pair (maybe) for going home in. And if you DO pack underwear…make sure they’re old pairs!
4 – Clothes for baby
I mean – obviously, right? But again, here – don’t overthink it! Pack an outfit for cute pictures in the hospital, and another cute outfit to go home in (because, again – #PicturePriorities), but you don’t need much more than that. The hospital will provide diapers, so you’ll only need enough for the trip home, and your baby will be bundled up more securely and tightly than the cutest burrito ever for most of your stay – so don’t spend too much time and money on what’s going to be buried under that blanket. Socks for their feet, a blanket to cover them on the car ride home, and some simple gowns with elastic bottoms for easy diaper changes are pretty much all you’ll need.
5 – Dry Shampoo
Look, this one deserved its own bullet point outside of the general “toiletries” entry, because it’s just that serious.
YOU KNOW, women. You know about the hair struggle, and I promise you that you will not want to wash your hair beyond maybe that first day, in that first shower, just because you feel gross. So, pack some trial size shampoos and conditioners, but after that: dry shampoo has got your back. This stuff is my very favorite.
6 – Basic toiletries
Okay, so you will need a little more than just dry shampoo in your hospital bag. Keep it trial sized if you can, to save space and lessen the trauma of leaving your favorite skin care product behind in the chaos – but having your own products to make you feel sort of human again after a long labor can go a long way towards making you feel good. Don’t pack the entire beauty bag, though – you’re going to have very little energy for primping, so keep it basic. A good way of figuring out what you’ll really need is to put everything you use in your morning (weekend) routine to the side as you use it, and then jot it down. Toothpaste/toothbrush, deodorant, bare-bones beauty routine items, and some baby wipes (for both of you). DONE!
Check out THIS organizing bag that’ll keep all your essentials nice and easy for your partner to find and grab for you!
7 – Yeti, or other insulated cup
This is one of my FAVORITE things to tell moms to pack in their hospital bag. The hospital will definitely give you as much water and beverages as you need, but it won’t stay cold for very long, and asking for more ice in the middle of the night when you’re groggy and sore and faced with a crying tiny human to handle is not ideal. Keep your cup packed with ice and you can top if off with fluids as necessary. How cute is THIS ONE, in an unabashed mom theme?!
8 – Your own pillow, and bedding for your partner
I don’t know about you, but the relationship between me and my pillow is a sacred one. Nothing else is quite as comfortable as the place I’ve laid my head for months now and fluffed to my own specifications, and when I was pregnant it was even WORSE. Bringing your own pillow can make sleeping in an unfamiliar environment a little easier, and a little extra cushion during labor never hurt, either. Your partner will also need basic bedding items to sleep on that exceedingly-uncomfortable-no-matter-what-you-do couch. Make it at least a LITTLE easier on them with a sleeping bag and pillow, or sheets and a blanket from home.
9 – Snacks
You’re. Going. To. Be. Starving. That’s all there is to it! Few things taste as good a that first bite of food after labor. Adrenaline and hormones will drive the thought of food out of your head for a while, but when things settle down, you’re going to need to replenish that energy. The hospital will feed you, sure, but you and your partner both will need snacks for the times the cafeteria is closed, or there’s a long wait time until a tray can be delivered. Ease into heavy foods, and be sure to pack at least some mild snacks like graham crackers or animal crackers in your hospital bag. THIS snack package has a great selection of things to keep you going!
10 – Your birth plan
Your doctor will give you your hospital paperwork to carry around with you in your final weeks of pregnancy. Add to this information a copy of your insurance card, and any pertinent details of your birth plan, so that you can have it handy for your medical staff and there’s no confusion when you come in and are a little overwhelmed with contractions. Make sure that your partner can identify and locate all of this information in a pinch, too!
THIS BOOK has a lot of really useful information on how to best formulate a birth plan that’s right for you.
I hope you’ve found this hospital bag packing list helpful. If you’d like to download a copy of it, CLICK HERE! I’d love to talk with you about your birth plans, so please drop me a line here, and let’s chat!
Bayou Rose Photography photographs births in the Baton Rouge, Gonzales, Prairieville and surrounding areas. Curious about birth photography? Find out more here!
*Obligatory disclaimer: Some links may be affiliate links. But only ‘cuz I believe in them–and because I’ve got your back, fam.