You have the nursery finished, the baby shower is over and your supplies are fully stocked. Your nesting instinct is kicked into high gear, though, and you want to tackle the final thing on your list: The hospital bag checklist. Because even if your birth is fast, the hours in the hospital can feel lonnnngggg. You know a hospital isn’t a hotel and this won’t be a spa vacation, but you also don’t want to be underprepared either.
Remember, you’re not just packing for the baby. You’re packing for yourself and most likely for your partner too—and you two will need a heck of a lot more than your baby does during those first 48 hours.
When it comes to baby stuff, the only thing you need to bring is a going-home outfit and car seat. The hospital will supply everything else you could possibly need for the little one: diapers, wipes, diaper cream, etc. (and they’ll likely tell you to stock up on all the goodies before you go). Also, your baby will likely just be swaddled the whole time in a hospital blanket, so you really only need one outfit.
Don’t worry, mama. We’ve got you covered.
Here’s a hospital bag checklist you can use to guide you through the packing process so you have everything you need.
Consult all of the moms you know about their hospital bags before you start.
What was a must-have for some moms might not have even been a consideration for others. Ask your fellow moms what they packed, what they used, what they didn’t use, and what they wish they’d known to pack in the hospital bag before having their first baby. As a mom of two myself, I can attest to being FAR more prepared the second time around than I was as a rookie. Most doctor’s office lists only carry the basics, so it helps to crowdsource things like this.
Pillows for everyone
It might seem like you’re bringing a lot, but who cares? You’ll be beyond grateful you brought your own pillow (and one for your partner, too) when you see what hospital pillows are really like. It’ll feel like the longest 48 hours of your life if you don’t have at least your own comfy pillow in the already uncomfy bed with you. You will not get good rest while you’re there, it’s pretty much impossible, so you may as well have something from home to soothe you into thinking you can sleep.
The little things
Hair ties and toothpaste and body wash, oh my! Do yourself a favor and peruse the travel toiletries section of your local drug store. Chances are, there will be a little travel kit that has the following: a tiny deodorant, a toothbrush, tiny toothpaste, travel-sized shampoo and conditioner, and body wash—all in one, ready-to-go package. Buy it. That way you don’t have to pack all of your large-sized stuff from home, and you can just toss it all at the hospital before you leave. It’s one less thing you need to worry about. That first shower after birth in the sterile hospital bathroom will feel like the most uncomfortable spa day you’ve ever had, and it helps to have everything in one place.
Also? Hair ties and headbands. All of them. As many as you can toss into your bag. You’re not going to want your hair anywhere near your face for the duration of your hospital stay.
Don’t forget lip balm, either. That hospital ventilation is dry, dry, dry and your lips will thank you for it!
Granola bars, KIND bars, CLIFF bars, cereal bars, trail mix, all of it. I will warn you, though, that some nurses are still pretty old-school and won’t let you eat snacks during labor. Doctors used to believe that having food or acid in the digestive system could be aspirated if a birthing person needed anesthesia. But many studies have come out since then showing that the aspiration risk is very, very small and many hospitals don’t abide by those rules anymore. This is great because I can’t think of a worse thing to do to someone in the middle of the most grueling physical experience of their life—which often lasts hours and hours—than to tell them they can’t have a snack to maintain their strength.
So stock up on those snacks! Because even after labor, you’re going to be absolutely famished, and waiting on hospital food will take an eternity.
We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy.