I see this question all the time in mom groups- what to pack in a hospital bag? It’s a question you will get a million different answers to.
You’ll get some women saying everything, and some saying barely anything. Really it’s all up to you, but taking some advice from mom’s who have been there before is always a good idea.
My two experiences in the hospital with my babies were vastly different. The first I was fully packed and we went to the hospital with at least 4 different bags.
The second I ended up going into labor at 35 weeks with no bags ready at all. I walked into the hospital with nothing except what I was wearing and my cell phone.
Having been through both scenarios, I feel that I have some wisdom to pass along on what you actually need to bring.
This won’t be a minimalist list. But it will have things I truly think made my time better while staying at the hospital and of course the things that were just annoying and took up space.
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The absolute best thing you can bring to the hospital is the knowledge of what is going to happen during your labor. It will make the experience MUCH less stressful.
My favorite birthing class is SUPER affordable and is available for both moms who want to have epidurals and natural births.
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The best things to pack in your hospital bag:
This was my absolute favorite thing to have at the hospital. It was easy to do skin to skin in and still have part of myself covered up (but let’s be honest you kinda have no modesty left after pushing out a baby in front of 10 random people).
After you have your baby pants won’t be an option for at least the first day or so. Get a comfortable cute nursing gown so you don’t have to wear the hospital’s gowns.
Nursing bra and tank tops
I can say without a doubt that my nursing bra’s and tank tops were a great help to me, especially as a first time nursing mom!
You are already stressing about a lot of things, being self-conscious or stretching out your clothes shouldn’t be one of them.
Massive list of New Parent and Pregnancy Resources
Breastfeeding Essentials: Best and Worst Breastfeeding Accessories
Don’t get the plain fuzzy socks. I’m talking the ones with rubber pieces on the bottom so you don’t slide all over the floor, which is bound to happen at some point without them.
If you don’t do anything else I say on this list do this. Hospitals do not bring food when you are hungry, they bring it on their schedule. Also, their food may or may not be actually edible.
As a new mom, you need to keep yourself fed, especially if you are breastfeeding. You can even try bringing supply boosting snacks to help your milk supply.
You’re going to wash your hands at least a million times a day with a new baby, and your hands are going to be very very dry. Plus it’s best to use unscented things with baby’s sensitive skin.
Like shampoo and body wash. This doesn’t really need an explanation, but this is one of those must haves that the hospital does not provide so definitely pack it. Make it easy on yourself and get a travel size!
If you decide to breastfeed it’s best to go ahead and bring a breastfeeding pillow to the hospital so you can get the hang of feeding your little one with it.
Plus it makes the first few days of breastfeeding so much easier. I had the My Brest Friend pillow and had a great experience with it, but I had several friends who love their Boppy!
I love how versatile a good pair of leggings are. They make you look somewhat put together and can hold things in a bit.
I didn’t purchase a belly binder for after delivery, but my leggings compressed my stomach area and the nurses all thought it was a great alternative. My favorite leggings are the high rise compression crops from Old Navy, they are so comfy and help smooth out your lumpy areas.
Phone charger with a long cord
Obviously you are going to want to charge your phone while you are there. You have MANY pictures and videos to take and share! But let me tell you, hospitals don’t have plugins convenient places. Having an extra long cord saved me.
You’re going to have a ton of visitors in and out, having some hand sanitizer on hand is an easy way to keep the baby as close to germ-free as possible.
You’re going to be getting a lot of different instructions from a lot of different people. I found myself searching for a pen and paper many times during my hospital stays. Do yourself a favor and be prepared!
If you are anything like me you can lose two hair ties in three seconds flat. I would just get a whole new pack and put them in your bag ready to go.
These will be easy to throw on and off as you get in and out of bed and you can use them to shower in as well. I know it’s a hospital, but who knows how clean that bathroom actually is.
A couple of different outfits to wear home
The unfortunate thing about having a baby is that you don’t automatically go back to the same size as you were before baby.
So you are left in this awkward in-between stage of not fitting in your maternity clothes well and not fitting in your pre-pregnancy clothes well either. Take your best guess at what you will feel most comfortable in, I just went with my trusty leggings and a t-shirt.
You can also check out my post on building a maternity capsule wardrobe to see some great suggestions on clothes that can fit before and after pregnancy!
My phone is always running out of battery and space. So we decided to bring our actual camera to the hospital as well.
It’s nice to have a backup. I personally use the Canon Rebel and love it, but I’ve also used the Canon Elph. For its cheap price that camera kills it.
Some milk leakage is an inevitable thing when having a baby. These are a must have for at least the first two months! Lasinoh are my favorites, they are comfy
A Frugal Mom’s Guide to Prepping for Baby (Free eBook!)
I go over the most important aspects of getting ready for
Other things included are getting your finances in order for baby (even if you don’t have a lot of money), getting your home ready, some great classes that helped me a ton, and more!
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Best and worst new baby products
7 tips for DIY Maternity photos
7 easy ways to save money with a newborn
The worst things to pack in your hospital bag:
A cute outfit for the delivery room
Just don’t do this. Don’t spend $30 plus dollars on a cute outfit that will ultimately be covered in all sorts of fluids, blood, and yes even poop.
Use the hospital gown provided until you get to your postpartum room. You will thank me for this information.
These will be provided by the hospital and will just take up valuable space in your bags. Plus who wants to bring home dirty, bloody towels in their bags? Not I.
If you need to pump at the hospital they will get you a medical grade one, and it is much better than the little one you have sitting at home.
I will say, however, do bring it if you have questions for the lactation consultant on how to actually work the thing. They can be supremely helpful there.
The hospital will literally provide everything to take care of your downstairs area, and their stuff is SO much better than what you have. Make sure to take any that are in your hospital room before you leave and be stocked up at home.
You might not like this advice. Rock the mesh underwear. It is so so comfortable and if you do bleed on it you aren’t ruining a pair that you bought.
This is something you will definitely need at home. But another thing that the hospital will give to you as well! Make sure to grab a big tube for home.
I hope this list gives you a little bit of guidance on what to pack for the hospital! When it is all said and done, you’ll have a beautiful baby in your arms and what you’ve packed in your bag won’t seem quite as important. But it doesn’t hurt to be prepared and make yourself as comfortable as possible!
Have something you think should be on the best or worst section of this list? Let me know in the comments below!
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Wednesday 3rd of June 2020
Great post, I wish you had a checklist of it.
Friday 28th of August 2020
Thanks Heather! Hopefully we'll have one up soon!
Monday 23rd of December 2019
I have not yet had the pleasure of the delivery experience (I'm due with my first in March). I feel like I've heard horror stories of the hospital charging for every little thing. Did you find that your hospital bill included things like pads, nipple cream, disposable underwear, etc? I know hospitals are infamous for charging an insane amount for aspirin, etc. Just wondering if that is a reason to bring some of those things from home.
Saturday 28th of December 2019
That is an EXCELLENT question. Yes, in fact, they do charge for every single thing and it is way more expensive than what you'd normally pay. But the thing about the hospital is usually you are going to hit your deductible without those charges added so you don't have to actually pay for them in the end. Your insurance does. Now if you are paying out of pocket for the entire thing this definitely matters and you can bring stuff from home.
Thursday 15th of August 2019
Something to add to the things to consider packing....an extension cord or investing in a longer charging cord. A lot of people I talked to had a outlet to charge the phone but it was in a inconvenient area. Adding an extension cord or longer charging cord to the list will help
Sunday 18th of August 2019
Yes Morgan! I mentioned that one above :) A long cord was a MUST!
Thursday 4th of April 2019
I dont understand why you cant wear pants in the hospital.. I wore leggings/sleep pants/yoga pants the minute they let me take a shower. It was much more comfortable. I hate wearing pads let alone wearing them without pants lol. And my hospital never gave me nipple cream so I was glad I packed the tiny little tube I had. This is my third pregnancy and i still have the same tiny tube I had the first time.
Friday 5th of April 2019
I totally hate wearing a pad without pants too haha! Yeah, I switched to my trusty yoga pants as soon as they gave me the OK. I know they want to do the whole push violently on your stomach thing right after birth and check the pad, which is why my nurse wanted me to wait to change. That downright sucks that they didn't supply nipple cream. I COULD NOT have done without that. I've had to buy massive tubes of it afterward. It was a godsend when I was first learning to nurse. Thanks for sharing, I love hearing everyone's experiences :)