With all the posts I’ve written about baby essentials and staying organized, I’ve never drafted a packing list for the hospital. In fact, we put off packing until just last Thursday, and I’m 39 weeks, which is probably toeing the line a bit. I think the baby websites probably suggest something like 34 weeks, and for some mamas-to-be you should pack early!
I dragged my feet for two reasons: First, it feels like I’m getting my hopes up that the baby is actually coming soon, but my first two pregnancies went all the way to 40+ weeks and I had scheduled inductions. So, I haven’t experienced the drama of grabbing the hospital bag and being whisked off to the hospital. Second, I’m down to a very limited supply of clothes that fit – maybe 10 pieces, so packing 2 whole outfits makes a pretty big dent on my current choices.
All that being said, Zach helped me pack last Thursday, and the list was fairly easy to pull together since I’ve been through the hospital routine before. The list is a little simpler than with our first pregnancy, when we packed magazines, books, snacks, massagers, and a going home outfit that just barely fit my postpartum body (eep!). Our hospital stay provides all the basics, so I don’t overpack. However, you may want to check ahead to see what is included with your hospital room price (diapers? kleenex? nursing gel pads? lanolin? etc…). There’s also very little I buy new for the hospital, since I know that generally clothes can get ruined and your body can wind up pretty destroyed from the delivery and nursing, and comfort and familiarity are key. So, here is my tried + true packing list (with a few notes along the way + what I’m NOT packing):
FOR THE MAMA
- Purse and Wallet. Keep IDs and insurance card handy. If possible, fill out pre-registration paperwork for the hospital, so you can go right to your room when you check in.
- Clothes. Once you take a shower it feels so good to wear your own clothes instead of a hospital gown. Keep in mind that these clothes can get ruined, so it’s not really the time for a beautiful new silk robe. I’m packing 3 comfortable outfits with layers since it is December. For example: A cardigan over a nursing tank with black jogger pants (sort of like this). Remember, you will lose about 12 pounds at the hospital, but will most likely still have a 5 month bump and need clothes that will fit! No pre-baby jeans allowed.
- Socks + Undies. I like to pack a couple of pairs of cozy socks because the hospital can be cold and a few pairs of dark underwear that can get tossed. The hospital will give you weird mesh underwear, but once you start getting out of bed and moving around they feel like they might fall off.
- Robe. This is a great layer to bring for over your backless hospital gown or if you want to wear a pajama set one of the days at the hospital.
- Nursing Bras + Camisoles. Nursing sleep bras are best for the first month of breastfeeding, day and night. Bras that are too constricting or have underwire can cause clogged milk ducts, which really hurt and can get infected. The tanks are nice because you can wear a sweater or hoodie over them and keep your stomach covered while you nurse.
- Boppy Pillow. I love the extra support for my arms since the baby needs fed every two hours. It’s also really helpful for people who visit and aren’t used to cradling a newborn.
- Nursing Cover. I honestly can’t believe I didn’t have one of these at my first hospital stay three years ago. I really like the extra privacy and modesty while you and baby figure things out, plus it means you don’t have to ask visitors to leave when you are feeding the baby every hour or so.
- Maxi Pads. The hospital will provide these, but they are HUGE. My hospital nurses even make these “ice diapers” which are literally baby diapers filled with ice. They feel so good after giving birth, but bringing 4-5 skinny maxi pads along, means you don’t have to waddle around in a diaper when your in-laws are visiting or when you are ready to go home.
- Nursing Pads. If you’re a first-time mom, it’s nice to have 10 of these packed in case you start to leak milk. It probably won’t happen since usually your milk comes in about 4-5 days after giving birth, but just in case.
- Toilet Paper. The toilet paper at hospitals can be really rough, so I like to bring a roll of ours from home.
- Toiletries. Toothbrush + paste, lip balm, deodorant, brush, curling iron, makeup, hairbands, travel size soaps + shampoo, lotion, face wash, contacts + glasses. Taking a shower for the first time after the delivery is really exhausting, but it always makes me feel 1000 times better. I love having familiar soap and lotion and doing my hair.
FOR THE PAPA
- Clothes. Pack 2-3 comfortable outfits.
- Camera + Charger. Some of the best advice we ever got was to have Zach take lots of pictures of the baby right after the birth. Those pictures are priceless because while I was being taken care of and stitched up by my OB on the hospital bed, he captured all the moments of our babies being weighed, measured, tested, and cleaned. I would never have been able to see any of that if he hadn’t been ready with the camera.
- Laptop + Charger.
- Phones + Charger.
FOR THE BABY
- Clothes. Two newborn outfits complete with the softest tiny cotton hat.
- Baby Blanket. The hospital will keep your baby dressed and swaddled in those classic hospital blankets while you stay, but we like to have a thicker blanket for photos and to drape on the car seat for the ride home.
- Stuffed Animal. Our older kids are going to bring the baby a stuffed animal as a gift when they come to visit the hospital. Evelyn has it packed in her backpack along with one of their favorite board books, Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?, to read to the baby.
- Infant Car Seat. Make sure to correctly install it in the car. If you need help, check to see if your local fire department will help with installation.
- Pediatrician information. The pediatrician will come to check on your baby during your hospital stay, so it is great if you already have one chosen ahead of time. We asked our friends for recommendations, but you could also get a referral from your OB. You’ll set up an appointment within the first week or so after the baby is born.
OPTIONAL (aka what we AREN’T packing)
- Sound Machine. To drown out hospital sounds. We love using ours at home, but aren’t packing it.
- Slippers. I just didn’t want mine to get ruined. Socks instead.
- Diaper Bag. Our hospital has us covered, but definitely bring it if you have a long drive home. Here’s my post about keeping our diaper bag minimal and streamlined.
- Pillows. We’ve brought pillows before (make sure not to use a white pillow case so you don’t lose yours) but I think we’re simplifying this time.
- Heating Pad. Our hospital has these.
- Lanolin. You’ll get some sample sizes at the hospital, which has always been enough for me. Apply it before and after breastfeeding. Even better than lanolin, I really like these, which you can pop in the fridge between uses.
- Breast Pump. I don’t start pumping until about 2 or 3 weeks after the baby comes. If something happened and I really needed one, the hospital has ones you can use. Same with bottles, I don’t pack any for the hospital, but once you get home try to give a bottle to your baby within the first month so they can get used to both bottles and breastfeeding.
- Music Play List. Music is really distracting to me during labor and delivery, and I mostly just want to get quiet and focus.
- Movies + Magazines + Books. Also too hard to focus on this stuff during labor, and once the baby comes we sort of just hang out and soak in the quiet. We will probably bring Home Alone, just in case. When Evelyn was born during March Madness we watched a couple IU basketball games together as a little family and I have super fond memories of that. So, I guess bring it if you’re not sure.
- Parenting Books. Try to have these read beforehand if that’s important to you, but don’t bring them to the hospital. This is the time to start listening to your instincts. If you were going to pack one book, I would highly recommend The Nursing Mother’s Companion, since that will be your main job at the hospital, and I found it to be a very comforting and helpful guide for the hospital and beyond. And if you’re struggling with calming your newborn, try this quick read.
- Congratulations on your pregnancy, and I wish you all the best at the hospital and once you get home!