When I was pregnant with my first baby, I wanted to be organized.
Prepared for anything.
If the baby came early? I was packed. He had other plans and ended up being born almost a week late, but I was ready either way.
I spent countless hours scouring the internet to make sure I had everything I would need at the hospital packed into as many bags as it took… I had a suitcase and a carry-on suitcase full of stuff. Which didn’t turn out to be enough as I was in hospital for a week but there were also far too many things I didn’t use.
For my second, I was stilled packed early, because as it turns out I love packing and feeling organized. This time however I was much more aware of the things that I, personally, would need and use.
In the end I had 2 bags: a laboring bag for the hours I was in the delivery room, and a suitcase containing things for my stay and the things baby would need.
So, here I have put together my Hospital Bag Must Haves list for you, and likely for me to revisit in the future.
The Labor Bag
I found that having one bag you could bring into the hospital with you, for the undetermined amount of time I would be in labor was a much better way of having the things I needed than bringing all my stuff and having to search for the few things I wanted.
In my labouring bag I included:
My labour bag itself was something more of a duffel bag with a lot of compartments for ease of access. Labelling them may also be a good idea.
I had a bag similar to this Duffel Bag.
In Australia, we are given a blue plastic sleeve in which we keep our hospital paperwork; a booklet that has records of all doctors and hospital appointments for the pregnancy, as well as any prior pregnancy information and your birth plan.
Any Medicare or Insurance Cards/Information
This is especially important if you or a family member are going to have to fill out any of paperwork upon entering the hospital.
Driver’s License (or suitable ID)
This is important as in some cases you are required to produce identification when filling paperwork, or you may just need information from the identification to aptly fill out the form.
Depending on how long you’re at the hospital, it is likely that your phone or your partner’s phone will die before baby arrives. Bringing a charger with you will just assure that you will have your phone to take those cherished pictures, if you didn’t bring a camera and be able to keep family updated.
Camera (and spare battery)
You may not (or you may) want pictures as you’re giving birth, but you definitely won’t want to miss out on that first cuddle, or feed, or just the first family picture. If you have a camera you love, don’t forget to pack it and backup power for if it goes flat.
Because it’s important to at least try to stay hydrated. Hospitals will generally provide water if you ask, but I personally prefer a bottle to a cup.
If you’re allowed to, or even want to eat, having a snack on hand is helpful for keeping energy stores. I didn’t pack them for me, I thought my husband might need them, he did. Some ideas are muesli bars, hard candy, and nuts.
This I was glad to have, with both children I went to the hospital before sunrise and so having something to freshen my breath by midmorning was welcomed.
I brought my multivitamins and iron tablets but if you need more important medications, bring them too.
Change of Clothes (For you and your partner)
A change of clothes (and underwear) is probably the most important thing (next to maternity pads). After giving birth, there is no better way to feel clean than a shower and some fresh clothes. This also ensures that you have something with you on the chance that what you came in wearing may have been soiled. Just make sure to choose something comfortable and loose fitting, also something with easy breast access if you plan to breast feed.
Maternity Hospital Gown
There are gorgeous and can in some cases be worn for C-sections (make sure you check with your hospital first) or just to avoid potential mess on your actual clothes. Plus they make a pretty nice keepsake.
I wished I had one of these each birth, and I have every intention of making sure I have this Maternity Hospital Gown for next time.
Flip Flops or Socks
These don’t have to be fancy or anything that you plan to keep, just something for your feet, basically. I didn’t have an issue with cold feet or hot feet, just walking around bare foot in hospital isn’t my thing. Some non-slip socks are a great idea for comfortable general hospital walking, full plastic flip flops are great for if you decide to sit in the shower for most of the labor like I did.
I spent a lot of my stay in these plastic Flip Flops, especially while showering.
These Non-Slip Socks are a much cuter version of the ones that I wore.
Hair Ties & Bobby Pins
Anything to keep hair out of your face. Never had I wanted to get rid of my hair as much as I did when it kept falling in my face during contractions. Tying it back alleviated that some.
You can never have too many Hair Ties and Bobby Pins, but this little pack is especially good for ease of packing.
I always pack it, used it once or twice, but will continue to pack it. I’ve been too nauseous to drink enough water to prevent dry lips so this is a solution.
This Burt’s Bees lip balm is my personal favourite.
Some hospitals provide them, however they may be limited, so taking your own just ensures that you’ll definitely get one if you need it. Just make sure to have your name written on it clearly.
I use my Microwavable Heat Pack all the time, even now, works great during that time of the month too.
Postpartum (Maternity) Pads/Underwear
You’re going to need at least one of these straight after giving birth so if you’re hospital doesn’t provide any or you have a preference, having some in your laboring bag is a must. I personally prefer to use pads and men’s underwear over the postpartum underwear but that’s just me.
I’m brand partial to U by Kotex because that’s what I use every month and they have yet to fail me.
If you would prefer to give Postpartum Underwear a try, or you’ve used them before and want to grab some more.
Hospital Stay Bag
Comfortable, loose fitting clothing
No one wants to wear skinny jeans after giving birth, this is especially true if you’ve had to have a C-section. Going by the assumption that you’d be spending 1-2 nights in hospital you’ll need 2-3 loose fitting shirts (maternity or button-down work best for feeding), 2 loose pants (maternity pants or yoga pants are great) and 1-2 dresses if you’re a dress person (if not add 1 to your shirt and pants totals).
Non-slip Hospital socks
Another pair or two for the actual stay, cause we unfortunately can’t avoid getting out of bed completely, but going for a walk helps from feeling too stir crazy.
A Going Home Outfit
I didn’t have a going home outfit, mainly because I didn’t know when I would be going home, but I do wish that I hadn’t left the hospital in pajama shorts and a semi-passable singlet.
Notebook and pen, sudoku or an iPad. Something to enjoy between guests, and sleeping that you can use to keep yourself awake while with baby or pass them time if you can’t sleep.
More Postpartum (Maternity) Pads/Underwear
You’re going to need a lot of these, because you’ll be using them for a while, even if your hospital does supply them, a small stockpile for when you get home is important.
This is another important one, whether you plan to breast feed or not. Chances are, for most women, your milk will come in and you’ll be glad you had these. I personally woke up with rock hard boobs and a wet shirt. I still use these with breastfeeding my 1-year-old.
I have a mix of both Reusable Nursing Pads and Disposable Nursing Pads, generally opting for disposable when the milk first comes in and is pretty uncontrollable, I swap out for reusable around the time I stop soaking my shirts every time I feed.
These are amazing. I started wearing them during pregnancy when my boobs were just too sore to take the damn underwire, but it was also too painful to not wear a bra at all.
I have at least 6 Maternity Bras because I wear them pretty much 24/7.
If you are going the Maternity pad route, I suggest pairing them with men’s underwear, they leave far more room for the giant pad and don’t tend to push against the wounded area as much as wearing most female underwear tended to do.
You pretty much need anything you would take on vacation, if you’re staying longer than a few hours and want to keep any semblance of hygiene. I packed a hairbrush, a toobrush, toothpaste, mouthwash, a low/no scent deodorant, face wash, shampoo & conditioner, an eye mask, and ear plugs. It’s also an idea to bring a spare toothbrush and deodorant for your partner.
I picked out all the mini toiletries by hand but wish I had found something like this Pre-Packed Postpartum Toiletry Bag.
This one is a little odd and depends on preference. With my first I wished I had something like this, I was instead trying to use a pump water bottle which wasn’t the easiest feat but was achievable. Something like the Fridet (by the same company that makes the Nose Frida) is exactly what I needed because sometimes toilet paper is too painful.
Car seat (fitted in car)
Before you even go to the hospital this one is pretty important, a lot of hospitals will require proof of a properly installed infant safe car seat. So, if you want to get baby home, make sure you have a safe way to do so ready!
2 dozen (24 newborn nappies)
I know that a lot of hospitals do supply nappies for bub, but mine didn’t, so make sure you check beforehand! However, the hospital did supply nappies while Baby M was in the special care unit.
Again, your hospital may supply these, but mine didn’t.
6 newborn singlets
When packing for a newborn expect to pack more than you think you’ll need. 6 singlets was a recommendation from my hospital and I used 5 of them in the 3 days, 2 nights I was there with Baby C.
6 jumpsuits or warm outfits
Baby C was born in Summer, so I naively assumed it would be fine to pack some Summer attire. I was wrong, hospitals are cold, I only used the warm outfits and I did use all of them, he was a very vomit-happy baby.
6-8 warm cotton blankets
This may seem like a lot, it kind of is. I packed 2 fleece warm blankets, 3 cotton blankets I could use to swaddle, and a couple of Aden and Anais muslin wraps that I could use to swaddle or clean up puke. Pack however many you are comfortable with, you may not use them all, just always make sure you have a plan B because babies manage to get their messes everywhere you don’t want them too if you aren’t prepared.
Going home outfit
Both of my boys went home in themed outfits. Baby M wore all Cookie Monster and Baby C wore a cute Sesame Street onesie. I am completely biased, but they were extremely cute.
For a free checklist version of the Hospital Bag Must Haves click here!
If there is any must-haves that you packed that I didn’t include on my list, please comment down below!
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