You’ve been patiently (or not so patiently!) awaiting the day of your baby’s arrival. You’ve either finished or are close to finishing the hardest part of preparation such as assembling that pesky nursery furniture. You’ve stocked up on the best baby gear and other essentials and are almost ready to go. But not yet! Packing your hospital bag is one of the most important items on the third trimester to-do list. It will make your hospital stay that much more comfortable for you, your partner, and your newborn. You don’t want to be stuck at the hospital wishing “I wish I would have brought ______.”
Pack Your Hospital Bag
When should you pack your bags? If you are high risk or expecting twins, have your bag ready by about 35 weeks. For others, have it packed by about 37-38 weeks. But don’t procrastinate! Being ready earlier than rather than later is always preferable. You won’t know exactly when you’ll be heading to the hospital until you’re heading out the door. Once your bag is packed, you’ll want to keep it somewhere readily accessible such as right by the front door or even in the trunk of your car. That way you’re ready whenever your baby is! Here is our list of essentials to pack your hospital bag:
Birth Bag for Mom with Postpartum Necessities Too
- Photo ID, insurance information, any hospital registration papers, and the birth plan (if you have one)
- Both eyeglasses and contacts (if you wear them).
- Cell phone and charger.
- Maternity bras and nursing gowns for each day you’ll be there.
- Toiletries and personal items (travel-sized products, hair ties). Coordinate with your partner so you’re not bringing double the toiletries. Those bathrooms are small!
- Going home outfit.
- Disposable cotton underwear. The hospital usually provides some. However, some moms love them, other find them to be gross.
- Nipple cream.
- Snacks – the hospital food is never satisfying enough!
- Only bring clothes that are comfortable and that you are okay saying goodbye to.
Optional Items for Mom Depending on Desired Comfort
- Entertainment such as light reading or earbuds to listen to music.
- Bath towel. The hospital usually provides one but it will be small and thin.
- Cheap flip flops to use as shower shoes.
- Lotions for massages for your partner or doula to use on you.
- Hair dryer.
- Comfortable pillow.
- Bathrobe, comfortable pajamas.
Must Haves for Baby
- Approved infant car seat with base already installed in your vehicle. Most hospitals won’t let you leave without one of these!
- Coming home outfit.
- Receiving blanket. The hospital will provide a blanket for swaddling, but if you already have a favorite blanket then bring it.
- Season-appropriate dress for discharge. Depending on the weather, you might need warm clothes (such as a jacket). Just make sure you remove these extra layers before buckling your little one into the car seat.
For your Partner / Significant Other
- Cell phone and charger.
- Comfortable shoes for all those ice chips runs!
- Money and spare change for vending machines.
- Clothes and toiletries.
- Entertainment (think Netflix, books, etc.).
- Camera and/or video camera.
- Comfy pillow for the not-so-comfy fold out couch.
- If you can, arrange a place for siblings to stay for a few days. This options must be available on last-minute notice and at all hours. Think Grandma’s house or a family friend that you trust. This will allow your partner to focus more on your and your birth experience instead of worrying about taking care of other children.
- Gift from the baby. Some families find it fun for the newborn to have a “gift” for their siblings.
You’ll want to keep it simple because packing too much will result in an even more over-crowded hospital room. If you want to bring the extra, non-essentials, consider packing them in a separate bag and leaving it in the car. That way you have it if you need it, but it’s not taking up valuable space. Also keep in mind the length of your hospital stay when packing. Vaginal deliveries will keep you in the hospital for 1-2 days, while a c-section will likely be 3-4 days. Even just bringing the basics will help make your hospital stay more comfortable. Keep in mind that the hospital will provide the true essentials such as disposable underwear and pads for mom, as well as newborn diapers. I’m sure if you pack the essentials and follow our guide, your hospital stay will be a walk in the park (besides the pushing a baby out of your vagina part!).