The staple items you actually NEED to bring to the hospital with you on D-Day and the items the hospital has for you
Okay, so you’ve had just about nine months to pack your bag for your most anticipated “stay-cation” of all times. I’m sure if you’re anything like me, you want to bring anything and everything you can think of. I’ve always been a heavy packer and that certainly reflected my hospital bag the first time I loaded it full of unnecessary items that weren’t going to be used.
As a super-planner, I packed and unpacked my bag several times before it was actually time to hit the road to the hospital. I thought I needed it all– I packed clothes, too many shoes, books, my laptop, food, waters, and more. After a fairly quick labor and a brief two night stay at the hospital, I realized my duffle bag really could have just been a handbag with a few staple items.
I understand that every hospital is different but, I delivered at Mid-Coast Hospital in Brunswick, ME and they provided EVERYTHING! I literally could have walked in with nothing and I would have survived. I’ll admit it, as a first time mom, I wanted to have all the cute products and staple items that I read about on Pinterest but when I got there, I was not in the mindset to even realize that I had brought that bag full of goodies. Having a baby was literally the most difficult thing I’ve ever done and having my “cutsie” hospital bag was the last thing I was thinking about during labor.
During delivery, you’re focused on getting that baby out and afterwards, well, you’re so overwhelmed with the joy of having a precious baby in your arms that nothing else matters. So, take it or leave it, love it or hate it, everyone is different, I know– this is my list of absolutely necessary items you will need to bring with you along with a list of items the hospital has your back on!
Note: with much effort to try and have a natural birth, I ended up getting an epidural to ease things up that day. Some of my recommendations will be favorable to other moms who wish to go that route.
Hospital Bag Musts [for Mom]…
- Nursing bra: this is super important if you’re planning on nursing. Pack a couple in your hospital bag but more importantly, wear a nursing bra to the hospital when you’re ready to deliver! I made the mistake of not wearing a nursing bra and when it was time for baby to come, it was quite the fiasco getting changed out of my regular bra and into a nursing bra. You get hooked up to a BUNCH of different monitors during labor and likely will have wires and tubes going in every which direction. So make it easy on yourself [and your nurses] and show up with one on because you’ll need it for that first moment once baby is born. I loved the Medela Nursing Bra for sleep while in the hospital– it really met the comfy requirements!
- Comfy clothes: the first couple of days after birth, you’re going to be in recovery mode. Your body just did an amazing thing so rest up and hang out in that hospital bed and get the rest you need before going home. An epidural takes a while to wear off too so if you’re planning on getting one, know you’re going to make that bed your home for a while. Make sure you bring a couple of shirts that are easy to nurse baby with [nursing shirts or button down shirts] because there’s a lot of practice going on during your stay. Pack some comfy yoga pants and/or maternity pants– you’ll probably fit back into stuff that you were wearing around 6 months pregnant so keep that in mind too! And last, bring a nice going home outfit. I’m not talking anything too fancy but something cute and comfortable to wear home for your new full time job!
- Slippers and rubber flip flops: I’m a bit of a germaphobe so keeping my feet off of the hospital floors was a weird priority of mine. To be honest, the hospital floors are probably clean enough to eat off of but I like to take caution. I kept my feet happy and cozy during my stay in my L.L. Bean Slippers and clean in my flip flops during showers.
- Toiletries: you really only need the basics for toiletries. Toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, lotion, Chapstick, hair ties and travel size shampoo, conditioner and soap. I found that hair ties were a must during labor and hand lotion and Chapstick came in very handy too. Hospital rooms get really dry so keeping moist skin was necessary for me. My hospital offered shampoo, conditioner, lotion and soap [typical of hotel quality] but I’m picky with what I put in my hair and on my skin so I opted to pass on their offering. Lastly, I did bring my makeup bag. It was nice to feel “normal” again the day I left the hospital and putting on mascara and a touch of blush made me feel ready for the new adventure ahead.
- Phone & phone charger: these are probably pretty obvious– you’ve got to have your phone to make the call to your loved ones after delivery! It’s only the best news ever, so don’t hold out on letting your loved ones know! If you’ve got a nicer camera to capture the first moments together with baby, bring that too! Capture that time in a photo because before you know it, you’ll be looking back at it saying, “I can’t believe she was ever that small.”
- Wallet: you never know when you’re going to need it! We ordered take-out on our second night at the hospital because, let’s admit it, hospital food isn’t anything to write home about. Make sure you’ve got your insurance card in there too just in case… you should defiantly pre-register with your hospital in advance but I know babies can come early so we can’t all get that stuff finished on time!
Hospital Bag Musts [for Baby]…
- Car seat: you’re going to need to get baby home somehow! Make sure you have your car seat installed a couple of weeks before your due date, you never know when that little one is going to be ready to come and meet the world. And honestly, the last thing you are going to want to deal with on day one is figuring out how to get your car seat properly installed. If it’s available near you, do a car seat check too! Better to be safe than sorry.
- Blanket: coming from Maine, we kept our baby snuggled in a cozy blanket in her car seat the first couple of months! Depending on the time of year and/or the climate, it might not be entirely necessary but keep that baby comfy! Whether it’s it nice thick blanket or a muslin receiving blanket, that baby likes to be in tucked in!
- Going home outfit: all we needed was a onesie and a hat for our little one to go home in. Only pack newborn sized things too. A baby up to about 10 lbs will fit into any newborn sized clothing. The entire time we were in the hospital, our baby was simply swaddled in a receiving blanket in only her diaper so we found that one outfit to go home in was good enough.
- Pacifiers: your in-hospital pediatrician will probably recommend that you don’t use a pacifier but I don’t know what we would have done without one. If you’re planning on using them, use it! We loved the Nuk pacifiers [and so did she]!
- Boppy pillow: I actually didn’t end up brining my Boppy nursing pillow to the hospital because I thought it would be a bit excessive but wish I had! Our lactation specialist spent a lot of time in the room with us on the first day adjusting the different pillows on the bed for trying out different nursing positions but it would have been so much more helpful to have what I was planning on using at home. If it’s too bulky for your bag, leave it in the car and have your husband bring it in after baby is born.
Hospital Provided [for Mom and Baby]:
- Nipple cream: my baby was tongue tied when she was born so this was something the hospital provided to me in all different shapes and forms. Without a proper latch from day one, I went through a lot of pain and agony with scabbing. The lactation consultant gave me two different kinds of nipple creams to use and it was way better than anything you can buy on the shelf.
- Pads/cleansing fluids: the hospital bathroom is s-e-t-u-p for you mama! The Labor & Delivery Department rooms in the hospital are ready for anything and everything and they’re setup with what you need after that baby comes. Pads [they even have iced pads], squirt bottle, witch hazel, creams, you name it. And they send all of the goodies home with you too. Like I said earlier, the hospital has your back on this stuff.
- Water/snacks: our hospital had a kitchenette full of snacks for us and they provided a great water bottle that they kept full- all of the time! Again, the Labor & Delivery Department knows that you’re in there sometimes longer than expected so they’ve got some munchies if needed. Also, most hospitals have a cafeteria if needed.
- Diapers/wipes: I didn’t even think to bring these so I was so happy that the hospital provided them. Newborn size diapers and wipes are provided and if you get a good nurse, she’ll even show hubby how to change the diaper!
- Swaddle/hat: all hospitals provide a the swaddle that they wrap your baby up in for the first time. Yes- it’s usually the pink and green one with the little footprints on it! Our hospital also provided a hat to keep our baby’s head warm– after being cuddled up inside your belly for so long, they like to be warm still from head to toe. Our hospital in particular had a great volunteer department that knitted a bunch of newborn hats too that we were able to take home.