The amount of times I googled "what to pack in my hospital bag" when I was pregnant with my first is hard to quantify. As a first-time mom I had no idea what I would need or want, especially when it all also depended on the type of birth I would end up with. At around 36 weeks, I kind of packed a bag—it had maybe three items in it, all which I can't remember now because they were probably nothing I actually needed. The day I gave birth to my son, I didn't even have the bag with me, so all that time spent searching for answers was for nothing. When it came down to it, all I had was the hospital robe and socks.
This time around, I'm pregnant with twins and, as a second-time mom, way more prepared.
I've already packed my bag because I know anything can happen at any point and it will be staying in the car so we can have it with us at all of my appointments. I've also focused on including items I really love and ones that make me comfortable rather than products I can get at the hospital once I'm admitted. And if you are having a home birth, mama, you can still use this list to get everything together for the big day.
Here's what is in my hospital bag:
A bag for everything
First thing's first, I need a bag to carry all my stuff. I chose this Llama Momma Company bag because it's big, has a wide opening and allows me to fit all my essentials, plus some more. The inscription on the side will also make it obvious to anyone helping you during your birth that those are the things you need with you.
Yes, you can get a gown at the hospital (and if you have a C-section, you will probably have to wear the one they give you during surgery) but they are pretty rough on sore nipples and your back is always totally exposed. This gown has buttons down the back for easy access, but also so your body can be covered after birth. The buttons on the shoulders are perfect for breastfeeding and skin-to-skin access. Most importantly, it's soft and comfortable on your skin. I've worn it a couple of times to sleep while pregnant to test it out and I have no complaints.
I feel naked without my wedding rings, but when I was postpartum with my son, my fingers swelled so much my husband almost had to cut them off of my hands. Not repeating that experience again. This silicone ring is comfortable and expands easily for your fingers to swell a little without making it uncomfortable.
Organic nipple cream
This is one of those items I didn't know I needed and then assumed the hospital would provide. I was wrong on both fronts and my nipples really suffered during those three days of learning how to breastfeed a tiny newborn. Eventually, I learned that I couldn't live without a nipple balm. This one is baby and mom safe.
A phone charger
You have no idea how long your birth is going to take. Or, you might want access to your music so you can play your birth playlist. And, you will definitely want to snap some cute first photos so you'll need a charged phone for all that. I recommend getting a really long length in a really obvious color so no one trips on it if you have to plug it on the other side of the room. It'll come handy once you are home and trapped under a napping baby for 23 out of the 24 hours of the day.
Even though we'll probably take most photos with our phones out of convenience, I'm also packing this instant camera to have some printed photos of the babies for us to keep in their journal/photo book.
The air in the hospital will likely make your skin dry and if you are doing a lot of heavy breathing, your lips are going to be the first affected by the dryness. I super-duper love this lip balm—it's the only thing that keeps my lips moist and refreshed during the winter. This is one of the three items I did have on my first hospital bag.
You know what else swells postpartum? Your feet. My feet were waaaaay bigger after giving birth than they were at 37 weeks pregnant. Compression socks help with the swelling and also alleviate some of the pain that comes with it. These are ideal to have on while you are resting in bed or even to wear out of the hospital.
A water bottle with a straw
This is one of the other items I had in my hospital bag with my first. My doula told me so many times to bring a water bottle because staying hydrated was going to be key. The straw makes it easier to for me to chug some water while lying down. This will also be great if you plan to breastfeed so you can easily stay hydrated during feeding sessions.
It's easy to forget these in the chaos of labor and birth, so I added them first to my bag after learning from my mistakes. Remember to add one for your birthing partner since they probably won't be thinking about details like these.
If you are planning to have visitors come meet the baby, you might want to pack a soft comfy robe to wrap yourself in while they are there. This one looks beautiful in photos, too.
Hear me out, I know Crocs are not the most stylish shoes. However, they are waterproof and have a great grip so you'll be able to wear them in the shower and around the hospital while you recover. Also, they are pretty wide which will help accommodate your swelling feet. I was skeptical and now I'm a convert.
Pack a million of them just in case since they tend to go missing. For me personally, there's nothing more annoying that having hair in my face when trying to push a baby out.
I brought one bra to the hospital—the one I was wearing when I walked in—which needed to be cut off me for a C-section, leaving me with zero bras to wear for the rest of my stay. I'm bringing this one because it's incredibly soft and I'd like to attempt breastfeeding again (we stopped the first time around). This one has easy clips to access your boobs and is so comfortable I'll likely wear it on my way out.
This is not yet in my bag as I'm currently wearing it to sleep almost every night. It's so comfortable and roomy that I'll make sure to grab it on my way out of the house when it's time to go. Sleeping in a hospital is not the easiest so I'll bring this in an attempt to make my stay a little bit more like home. It has a slit for easy access to your breasts in case you want to breastfeed in the middle of the night.
Clothes for baby while at the hospital
We didn't have any baby clothes the first time around and our son spent his first four days of life in a hospital kimono and blanket. Sure, he seemed comfortable and will never remember it, but I was a little sad that I hadn't brought him anything to wear. This newborn set has a gown, cap, bib and blanket to swaddle your baby. And if your baby poops or pees through it, you can always use the hospital clothes as backup!
A car seat
Okay, this technically doesn't go inside my hospital bag, but I will need it to leave the hospital so I added just remind everyone not to forget theirs. I went with the Doona Dusk limited edition because I'm expecting to have a repeat C-section and carrying a car seat is not in my plans after having major surgery. I can push baby around in this one and then have my husband load it into the car easily. Plus, I love the concept of Doona's two-in-one use of their car seat.
Going home outfit for baby
Going home outfits are very special and it's up to you whether you choose an outfit that has been handed down throughout your family or something brand you you've picked for your baby. I chose to go with these onesies that have magnetic closures to make life a little easier in the chaos of packing to leave.
Mom needs a going home outfit as well, and I opt for comfort above everything. These Glowe leggings are so soft and really adapt to your body. I know my belly will still look a bit pregnant when I leave so I like knowing these will hold my mushy bump comfortably in place.
A T-shirt with a message
I like T-shirts with messages on them, so of course I'm packing this one to make my exit from the hospital. A reminder to myself and those around me of what we should be doing.
Perfect to wear inside the hospital if you are cold or need more coverage and also ideal for wearing as you go home. The material is one of the softest materials I own and it has enough space for a postpartum bump.
Depending on how much you bleed postpartum, you'll be able to wear these to go home. I wore these the first time around and was more comfortable in the car sitting than I was with the thick hospital pads (but if you need those, wear them!). Once I got home, I changed into adult diapers with zero shame. These undies make going out more comfortable and are absolutely leakproof.
To keep everything organized inside my bag and not lose track of any of my belongings. I started using these while I was traveling a lot for work and come to realize they are the best invention for when dealing with tiny baby clothes.
Or if you find packing overwhelming you can get a service to do it for you
If you are super busy with work or chasing other little humans, don't think you'll be able to remember everything you need or just like for someone else to deal with the logistics of your hospital bag, you are in luck. Companies like Baby Boldy curate bags for moms-to-be so they have one less thing to stress about. You can choose from three different tiers -basic to fully prepared- which come in different prices ranges. They all have the basics you'll need at the hospital, plus you can always add on your personal stuff to their bags to be super ready to go.
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