Even the savviest packer can feel intimidated by the task of packing a hospital bag.
The good news is that hospitals have got all your baby’s needs pretty much covered: they’ll provide you with diapers, swaddles, wipes, newborn hats, and bottles if you need them. But with a handy checklist of what you need, you can feel confident in making your stay as comfortable as possible—before and after giving birth. You will likely feel dehydrated by labor, so taking care of your skin and lips is a must. And depending on how many visitors you receive at the hospital, having a few pieces of clothing you feel good in will instantly make you feel more like yourself.
- Bag: Start with a good sturdy but flexible overnight bag. You won’t know the layout of your room until you get into it. Having a bag that can easily fold into a closet or hide in a corner will help keep your room feeling neat.
- Lip balm: Bring a few with you! Hospitals tend to be dry and cold inside, and with labor breathing, your lips will get chapped quickly without some TLC. Tip: Have your partner or doula keep one on hand for you during labor to stay comfortable.
- Hair Bands: Being able to pull your hair out of your face during labor is totally key. And for the hours and days afterwards, doing your hair is probably the last thing you want to worry about!
- Belly Oil: This is a multi-use product for your stay. Use it as a massage oil for back rubs during labor—and after the fact, keep your belly hydrated as your skin adjusts to its new shape. (Bonus: the 100% plant-derived aromatherapeutic scent is gentle and calming).
- Belly Butter: You’ll find yourself with dry skin all over, especially with the early days of constant hand washing. Pamper yourself with a luxurious body butter that will feel like a treat going on and keep you hydrated.
- Face Wash & Moisturizer: Taking a shower may feel too daunting in the hospital, but washing your face will feel refreshing. A good moisturizer will help keep you feeling soft, especially with the hospital pillows.
- Toiletries: Don’t forget the basics you’d bring on any overnight stay: your toothbrush, toothpaste, contacts if you wear them, shampoo and conditioner if you do feel like showering, and dry shampoo (a.k.a. the secret weapon of all new moms).
- Baby Wipes: Babies spit up, poop, pee and generally start all their bodily functions once they’re born. And you’ll want to treat their new skin with the utmost care, so bringing your own wipes instead of using what the hospital provides will put your mind at ease. Pipette’s are water-based, extra-pure, and infused with good-for-skin moisturizing ingredients. And here’s a clever mom hack: those baby wipes are great for your own skin too when you need a super-fast refresher.
- Extra-Long Phone Charging Cord: You’ll want to be able to text, call, FaceTime, and post on social media with impunity during your stay, but you’ll want to do it from the comfort of your bed. A long charging cable means you’re always juiced up without having to move.
- Laptop or Tablet: While you definitely won’t want to check your work email, being able to watch the movie or tv show of your choice will be helpful. Download a few in advance so you’re not dependent on hospital WiFi.
- Slippers or Warm Socks: You won’t want to walk around the hospital barefoot, and you’ll find your feet can get chilly just lying in bed. While they may provide you with socks at the hospital, your own are guaranteed to fit better and feel cozier. Flip flops are also handy for showering.
- Towel: If you do end up showering, your towels from home will probably be bigger and softer than the hospital options. Make it as luxurious for yourself as possible with your own towel from home.
- Eye Mask: Hospital rooms are filled with machines with blinking lights, and there’s no guarantee you’ll have blackout shades. In between staff coming in to check on you, get the maximum sleep by covering up your eyes with a soft eye mask.
- Snacks: There’s a good reason hospital food has a reputation for making airline food look delicious. Bringing a few non-perishable, easy-to-digest food options will help for snacks and meal replacements, and it will mean your partner spends less of his or her time hunting for the cafeteria.
- Nursing Bra: If you’re considering breastfeeding, the hospital is the place to start getting used to your nursing bra. If you have the option for a lactation consultation or class in the hospital, you can ask questions about fit or the best way to use it.
- PJs: Some women are totally fine in the provided hospital gowns, and others can’t wait to change out of them. If you aren’t sure which one you’ll be, bring a nightshirt or pajamas that are button-front or very loose. If you’re someone who likes wearing robes, bring one too—it’ll also be helpful for breastfeeding or just general warmth.
- Outfit to Wear Home: Oh right, you have to leave eventually! It’s a momentous occasion when you bring your little one home, and you’ll want to capture photos to remember it. While you don’t have to employ Kate Middleton levels of glam for your hospital departure, having something clean to wear out will enhance your photo opp.
- Baby's Wardrobe: Yes, you will get hats and blankets from the hospital, but as you snap photos of your little one, you'll want some of your own hand-picked outfits. Choose bodysuits or PJs that snap or tie on the side, rather than ones that pull over their heads, to keep them as fuss-free as possible. If you aren't sure how big your baby will be, you might consider bringing a few options in Newborn and 0-3 months sizes. Keep it simple with soft, organic cotton pieces that will be gentle to their delicate skin.
If you forget something, there’s nothing you can’t survive without—and you can always ask if a friend can do a quick drop-off. Just like everything else about delivery, it’s important to relax and not put too much pressure on yourself. You got this, mama!
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