I am known for being overly prepared and I am definitely an over-packer. When I was pregnant, I had my hospital bag planned out and ready to go months before I could even imagine needing it! Being a first time mom, I really wasn’t sure what to expect: what the birth and labour experience would be like for me and what I would actually need in the hospital.
To my surprise, I did pretty well, but I did a little research of what other moms used (and things they packed and didn’t use) while packing my own bag. To make it easier for any first time mamas trying to pack their hospital bags, here is the real story behind my hospital bag:
- Robe- After delivery, I practically lived in my robe and nursing bra (plus mesh undies… more on that later). Post birth, the nurses come in frequently to examine you all over, so this just makes it even easier for all parties involved. Plus you really don’t feel like putting clothes on, and you are learning to breastfeed constantly during the first few hours post delivery so accessibility is key. This is the robe I bought from Pink Blush Maternity and I still wear it all of the time.
- Nursing Bra– I wanted to get a yoga style nursing bra that was comfortable to wear but has the accessibility for breastfeeding. Thyme Maternity carries Bralettes which are lightly lined nursing bras but feel like you are wearing a tank top. I just wore the bralette under my robe in the hospital for the first while so I felt covered with some support while visitors were in and out. It was very comfortable and still provided easy access while I was getting the hang of breastfeeding.
- Nursing PJ’s- We stayed two nights in the hospital, and I had a really comfortable nursing PJ set which had maternity PJ bottoms and a nursing PJ tank (from Thyme Maternity) made from a jersey knit material. I wore these with my robe and it felt like lounge wear (one of the nurses actually mentioned I looked like I was at a spa vacation)! I had a few sets and I lived in them the first few weeks home with the new baby.
- Warm Fuzzy Socks– Pack one pair of fuzzy cozy thick socks just in case you get a little cool in your room or want something cozy to wear (don’t just pack a thin pair of ankle socks- they do nothing). Think comfort!
- Going Home Outfit for Mom– Maternity leggings (the only pants you are going to want to wear for the forseeable future), nursing tank top, and a long flowy cardigan. It’s simple, it’s comfortable and you can even get a cute cardigan that makes you feel put together.
- Phone Charging Cords- No explanation needed. Pack a cord for you and another one for your partner as you both are going to be taking lots of pictures, making phone calls and texts sharing the news of your exciting arrival!
- Baby Sleepers– Pack two sizes: newborn, and 0-3 month as you really don’t know what size your baby is going to be. I think I had two sleepers in each size just in case. I also packed one that was more gender neutral just in case they predicted the wrong gender (they didn’t)! For the first 12 hours our baby was just swaddled in his diaper and a blanket for lots of skin on skin time and for all the examinations we needed to have. My baby was 7lb 11oz and he wore newborn sizes for the first 2 months.
- Baby Going Home Outfit- Planning the perfect going home outfit may seem silly to some, but its an exciting moment for new parents. I have our son’s outfit in his baby keepsake bin so we can look back at it when he grows up and maybe he will even use the outfit for his kids one day. I found a really cute hat and pant set on Etsy, and paired it with a plain white onesie. It was worth every penny!
- Blanket for Baby– I was warned in advance, but you get a TON of baby blankets as gifts. Just pick a snuggly one from the pile, and bring it with you to bundle up your baby on the ride home from the hospital (regardless of season).
- Flip Flops (His and Hers)– From the walks around the hallways while you are in labour, to the trips back and forth to the ice chip machine and even for in the shower, get a cheap but comfortable pair of flip-flops for you and get another pair for your spouse. I bought ours from Old Navy for $5/each. The Old Navy flip flops are cheap, come in cute colours and they actually are comfortable and you will wear them again.
- Baby Hats– I packed two cotton hats (from Walmart/Old Navy) and our little guy loved them (plus newborns really need a hat on to stay warm when they are so new). The first hat, he kept pulling on and he stretched it out until it was too big so I was glad we had a second.
- Diffuser & Essential Oils- We checked with the birthing center first, but I was able to bring my essential oil diffuser and essential oils to use and diffuse during labour. I love the Doterra essential oils, and diffused a blend of Serenity and Balance oil blends while in labour and they really helped me relax and stay calm through all of the contractions and discomfort.
- Cleansing Facial Wipes– Simple. You are exhausted and are not up for washing your face but you are also gross and need to clean yourself up. Make it easy for yourself.
- Deodorant, Mini Shampoo, Toothbrush & Toothpaste- Make sure you pack some for your partner as well.
- Hair Ties– Because you don’t care what your hair looks like as long as it is up and out of your face.
- Hair Brush
- Nipple Butter/Cream (If Breastfeeding)– I didn’t realize how much I would need this right away. When you and baby are learning how to breastfeed and baby is learning how to latch, it can be very painful at first especially if they aren’t latching properly. Using a nipple cream or butter really makes a big difference (even in a very short period of time). The hospital did give us some samples of medicated nipple cream but I also brought my own (Earth Mama Nipple Butter). When we were discharged from the hospital I also got a prescription of Dr. Newmans nipple cream to help get through a few rough days. It was amazing.
- Nursing Pillow– You don’t need to have this with you, but using it definitely helps with baby positioning when learning the ins and outs of breastfeeding.
- Cash– It’s good to have some cash on hand for vending machines, breakfast runs to Tim Hortons or post labour food cravings. Also, if you have a boy and choose to circumcise many times the doctor will do the circumcision before you are discharged from the hospital. This is a cash procedure. Your delivery center will tell you in advance how much they charge for circumcision. Have the cash tucked away somewhere so you don’t have to go run out for cash in the midst of everything else going on.
A few other things that I needed but forgot or didn’t know to pack:
- Lip Balm– Even though I was drinking tons of water and eating bowls of ice chips, I didn’t realize how dehydrated my skin and lips would be. I of course didn’t have any lip balm on me but a family member ended up coming to the rescue and brought lots! Don’t make the same mistake.
- Face Moisturizer or Hydrating Spray– Same as the point above. My skin was so unbelievably dry and dehydrated. Probably a mix of being in the dry hospital and all the sweating and exhaustion my body had gone through. I didn’t think of packing my face moisturizer, but as soon as I got home I had a hot shower and lathered on the face cream. A thermal spring water would also work wonders.
- Eye/Sleep Mask– As exhausted as I was, I really had a hard time sleeping in the hospital. I really wish I would have packed an eye mask to drown out some of the lights and help myself sleep.
- Diapers- I did a little research in advance and assumed all the diapers we would need in our short hospital stay would be provided by the hospital. We were provided with one a partial small package of newborn diapers, but if we needed more (which we did), you had to provide your own. We didn’t bring any with us, but my husband was able to run and get another package to tide us over.
The hospital did provide thicker swaddle blankets to swaddle baby while admitted, epsom salts for soaking, peri bottle, baby bath products for the first bath, baby wipes (they actually just use face cloths) and a few newborn diapers. I also took home a few extra pairs of the mesh underwear, the peri bottle and the mega pads for the first couple days at home until things “down there” calmed down a little.
In the packing process, I made sure to put a few things in the bag for my hubby (in addition to the toiletries and flip-flops mentioned previously):
- Pyjama Pants
- One change of clothes
- A couple pairs of underwear
- Snacks– You really have no idea how long labor will last, and it can be a really long day. I knew I wouldn’t be able to eat anything after I was admitted until the baby was born. I suggest packing some snacks that are easily accessible for the person who is going to put up with your crazy all day and night (and who also likely will not want to go too far from your bedside). I packed Beef Jerky, Granola Bars, Trail Mix, a sweet treat (chocolate or candies) and a small can of Pringles.
I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t pack a few things that I never used (a.k.a the don’t bother list):
- Comfortable Loose Fitting underwear Never ended up wearing them at the hospital as I just wore the mesh underwear the whole time.
- Nursing pads It truly takes a few days for your milk to come in (and even then the baby is just eating very small amounts for a few days) so you really don’t need those in the hospital.
- Breast Pump- I was told to bring it with me in case I needed it, but we just left it in the car and were fine without it.
- eReader- I thought it would be something to keep me occupied while in labour (in case it was going to be awhile), but there was no way I was focusing on reading a book during those contractions!
- Extra nursing tops/tanks- I never wore as I stayed in my nursing bra and robe mostly until we left to go home.
Lastly, if you can, bring a little care package for the nurses. They work so incredibly hard and are with you through the thick and thin of labour, delivery and your first real experience at parenthood. They deal with all of the medical stuff they are trained for but they also help you with so much more! I am so thankful for the nurses who helped us during the birth of our son and I was so glad that I had taken the time a few weeks before our due date to prepare a little basket of goodies to leave behind when we left the hospital.
I hope my packing experiences might clarify any questions you may have or serve as a checklist for any of you soon to be mamas who are getting their bags packed. Each person’s experiences are going to be a little different, but hopefully you can get a little inspiration from my “do’s” and “don’ts”.