If you are having a baby soon, you will want to get your hospital bag checklist and pack your bag so you don’t forget something important as a soon-to-be breastfeeding mom.
Heading to the hospital or birthing center to bring the newest family addition into the world is often an emotion-filled time. Even if you’re being induced and have a set time of arrival, you can expect a flood of anxiety, excitement, fear, and other emotions when it comes time to head for the hospital, birthing center, or other choice of birth location.
If you plan to wait until your body lets you know when it’s time for delivery, you may add physical pain to those intense emotions. That creates a frantic situation that doesn’t lend itself well to packing a bag. It’s best to do this in advance when you’re clear headed. That ensures you’ll have everything you need, and it will be neatly packed so that you can find what you need quickly after the baby is born.
Not only is a pre-packed hospital bag essential for new mothers, but it helps the new dad and other family members as well. They won’t have to leave the hospital to gather everything you need during your post-delivery hospital stay. They can focus on doing what everyone wants to do: hold the baby, snap pictures, and brag on social media.
When to Pack the Hospital Bag
You should start thinking about what you need to pack and identifying a suitable bag to hold everything in advance. You may need to purchase a bag and/or smaller carry bags for some personal items so that it’s easy to carry and organize. You may also choose to purchase new toothbrushes and other personal items to place in the bag rather than adding yours from home at the last minute.
The seventh or eight months of pregnancy are a good time to start buying the items you need and hunting down that bag. Ziploc bags, makeup bags, and other small storage items are good for organization if you already have them on hand or can find them at prices within your budget.
In general, you should have your hospital bag packed by week 36. If you get anxious and start putting things together early, that’s great. It’s never too early to start preparing for one of the biggest events in your life.
If your pregnancy is high risk or you have other reason to believe you may go into labor early, then you may want to shoot for week 35 just to ensure you’re not stressed by the hospital bag as you prepare mentally and physically for the coming baby.
Your Hospital Bag Checklist
So, what do you pack in your hospital bag? We compiled a comprehensive checklist that will ensure all the necessities are covered.
Start with the following general items of business:
- Copies of your birth plan. You may want to print up to five copies. Ask that they add one to your chart, and you can hand the others to members of your labor and delivery team. Highlighting your most important points and hanging a copy on the door to your room is also a good idea. You may put the new dad or another trusted member of the family in charge of distributing your plan.
- The pediatrician’s name and contact information.
- Insurance card, if not already in a convenient place like with your partner.
- Cord blood banking kit or information, if you’re planning to do that.
- Breastfeeding pillow. These are suitable for positioning the baby for a proper latch and comfort for everyone.
- Any paperwork requested or provided by your hospital or birthing center.
- Massage oil and any other comfort items that may make hard labor less stressful. Make sure to include anything you may need to supply to make the birth plan possible.
- Pen and paper. You never know when you may want to jot something down, including questions to ask the doctor or nurse when they come back around. You may also use a memo app in your phone.
- Long charge cords for cellphones and other electronic devices. You can order these off Amazon in packs of two or three, which ensures you can pack at least one in advance without stealing one already in use at home. A new cord is also less likely to dysfunction at a inconvenient time. You may also choose to bring a power bank.
- Camera, video camera, filters, and other accessories for your cellphone. This is optional, but recording those first moments of a baby’s life is important for many families.
- Entertainment for anyone staying in the room before and after the baby’s arrival. This may include printed books or magazines as well as a small laptop or iPad, handheld video games, puzzles, and cards. These items should be compact and lightweight if possible. Don’t forget the earbuds!
- Ear plugs and/or noise-cancelling headphones. Some new mothers just need peace and quiet after delivery. (optional)
- An extra pillow or two (optional)
- 1-2 full-sized bath towels. Many hospitals have thin, small towels that aren’t comfortable or convenient for mothers recovering from childbirth.
- Portable speaker with Bluetooth capability. You can connect it to your phone and play comforting music during or after delivery. Keep it small and lightweight.
- Infant car seat. This doesn’t go in a bag necessarily, but it is a big item that you must check off before heading off to welcome the new baby.
Add personal care items for the mom-to-be:
You can buy travel-sized products, but keep in mind how much you might use in the two or more days you’re in the hospital, especially if others in your room may use some of your items while showering.
- Dry shampoo and/or regular shampoo and conditioner
- Shower gel or soap
- Eye mask
- Nipple cream – Sore nipples are common for breastfeeding moms.
- Lotion, moisturizer – Whatever you normally use and may want after the birth.
- Hair ties
- Face wipes
- Contacts and fluid
- Glasses – subscription, reading, etc. You may also need wipes to keep them clean.
- Prescription or over-the-counter medication
- Chapstick, light lip gloss, or balm
- Essential makeup items – What might you need to feel presentable and as “back to normal” as possible?
- Adult diapers, postpartum underwear, or other comfortable underwear. Recovering from a vaginal birth requires adequate protection from bleeding. Many new mothers find diapers more comfortable and protective than the pads provided by the hospital. If you wear your own undies, you may not ever want to wear them again.
- Comfort and warmth are equally important. Pick something that you can easily open to breasted as needed.
- Change of clothing. Look for soft items that don’t dig into the skin like postpartum leggings, pajama pants, and button -up shirts that leave the breasts accessible. Pajama sets in dark colors are a good way to boost your spirits while ensuring comfort. Make sure you have at least a few options so that you can change as needed in the aftermath of giving birth.
- Socks or light, warm slippers. Socks with grips on the bottom or a pair of flip flops may be needed as you start moving around your room and preparing to head home.
- Nursing bras – Even if you don’t intend to wear one in the hospital or birthing center, you may want one to wear home.
- Nursing pads. You may leak some as your milk comes in and your body adjusts to the demand for milk and your little one’s feeding schedule.
- Bathing suit top or sports bra (if you’re planning a water delivery)
- Tank tops and other comfortable tops that easily open to the front for breastfeeding in comfort
- Shoes – Go for something easy to slip on and off without bending. Keep in mind, everything may be swollen after having a baby, so you want something that will still fit comfortably.
Add personal care items for the new baby:
- Onesies, bodysuits, or other hospital-approved attire
- Baby caps or hats. Many hospitals will give you a warm cap for your newborn, but you may have something cuter or more specialized that you want to bring.
- Booties or socks
- Warm blanket. Even if your little one is well protected in the hospital, a blanket is often useful on the ride home.
- The “announcement” outfit. Many new parents bring adorable hats, swaddle blankets, or a special outfit for a good “welcome to the world” picture, which they can share online for everyone waiting to see the newest addition from afar.
- The “going home” outfit. Many new parents have fun with this one, but you can never ensure what size you might need. Go or one in newborn and one in 0-3 months, unless you know your baby is too large for the newborn size. Make sure to include something that covers those little adorable toes.
Note that diapers and baby wipes are not on this list. Most hospitals and birthing centers are generous with those, so you probably don’t need to pack them.
Add nutritional items adequate for both new parents:
- Refillable water bottle(s) – Look for lightweight bottles. They don’t need to be really big because you should have easy access to water and other drinks while at the hospital or birthing center.
- Sports drink like Gatorade, coconut water, or other drinks with electrolytes (optional)
- Healthy snacks like nuts, dried fruit, protein bars, crackers, or granola bars (optional) – You may have access to snacks for yourself while checked into a hospital or birthing center, but they don’t always offer those items for partners, visiting family members, and older children.
- Sugar-free candy or suckers. These are good for keeping your mouth moist, and the provide a pop of flavor and a distraction from pain if needed.
- Any special treats or snacks that mom enjoys but which aren’t necessarily nutritious. You may need to clear these with her medical team before she enjoys, but sometimes it’s nice to have something comforting after the hard work of delivering a baby.
Packing a Bag for the New Dad
The new dad may have the luxury of leaving the hospital, but that doesn’t mean he will want to. You may want to add a few personal items into the maternity bag to ensure he can freshen up without driving home and leaving his new family.
Don’t assume he will remember to get his personal items when it’s time to go to the hospital, especially if this is his first baby. New dads are often overcome with adrenaline, excitement, fear, and other emotions when it comes to getting to the hospital. Even if it isn’t a mad rush in the middle of the night without warning, allow him to focus on caring for his partner without worrying about how he’ll brush his teeth at the hospital.
Personal items for dad include:
- Prescription or over-the-counter medication
- Lightweight blanket or throw. Light sleeping bags are often suggested.
- Contacts and/or glasses
- Specific personal care items he needs/likes to have on hand
Is there a chance the new dad will have to rush to the hospital directly from work? If so, consider packing a separate bag containing a pair of comfort shoes and a change of clothing. Keep this in the trunk of his car so that he can carry it in and get out of his office attire and dress shoes. It could save him from feeling uncomfortable or delaying his arrival because he needs to run home to change first.
Zipping Up the Hospital Bag
After you pack these items, you may think of personal items that you want to bring as well. You can continue adding to your bag as new ideas surface, but keep in mind that a heavy, over-packed bag is difficult to carry into the hospital.
Packing items “just in case” may also mean that you have extra clutter in the room after giving birth. Some hospital and birthing center rooms have limited space, so don’t pack items that aren’t important in those first days of your baby’s life. You don’t want to weigh yourself or your partner down unnecessarily.
- How to Prepare for Breastfeeding While Still Pregnant
- How to Breastfeeding Successfully from the Start
- How the Type of Delivery Affects Breastfeeding