Preparing for your baby's delivery day can be both exciting and scary. But having a plan can ease some of your stress. This plan includes, of course, your hospital bag. Having a bag of essentials packed and ready to go will make your baby's delivery day go more smoothly — the more prepared, the better!
The unexpected can happen, so it’s recommended that you have your hospital bag packed and ready by month eight of your pregnancy. Like packing for anything, it can be hard to know what to bring. You don’t want to forget something essential, but you don’t have to over-pack either. Thankfully, many moms have been through the process of preparing a hospital bag and have many helpful tips to offer.
WHAT TO PACK FOR MOM
- Important documents including your ID and insurance cards. Hospitals require these documents for admittance, so keep them handy and available.
- Your birth plan if you have one.
- Clean clothes, including socks, underwear and an outfit to go home in. Hospitals can get chilly, so it’s smart to bring extra socks to keep your feet warm. Also, a comfortable pair of underwear will come in handy after delivery.
- Your favorite pillow. Hospital pillows aren’t always the softest, so bringing one from home might make you feel more comfortable.
- Body lotion. Considering how uncomfortable labor can be, a little massage might help you relax as well as keep you moisturized since hospitals tend to have pretty dry air.
- Flip flops. If you shower at the hospital, you’ll want to have shower-friendly shoes handy.
- Lip balm. This might not seem like an essential, but chapped lips happen at the most inconvenient times, and many moms include this on their must-have lists.
- Toiletries. It may seem like a no-brainer to pack your toothbrush and some deodorant, but don’t leave out soap, a hairbrush and hair ties.
- Stuff to do. It’s hard to say how long your stay in the hospital might last after your baby is born. Bring a book or tablet to keep you entertained.
- Phone charger. During the grueling hours before delivery, use your phone to stay in contact with loved ones and keep you occupied.
- An extension cord. Shorter phone chargers won't necessarily reach the electrical outlets. Be prepared with an extension cord.
- If you're not planning on using your cellphone to take pictures during birth, delivery, and those early hospital days, don't forget to bring your camera and accessories for baby's first photographs.
WHAT TO PACK FOR YOUR NEW BABY
- Car seat. This one won’t go in the hospital bag, but you certainly want to make sure baby has something to ride home from the hospital in.
- Clothes. This may include a sleeper for the hospital stay (if your hospital allows it) and an outfit to go home in.
- Blanket. The hospital will have blankets for your newborn, but bringing your own is good for when you breastfeed, and it’s something to cover your baby with once he's in his new car seat.
- Socks and booties. Your baby will also need protection from the chilly hospital air, so don’t forget to bring something to keep her feet warm.
WHAT TO PACK FOR YOUR BIRTH PARTNER
Your partner or spouse will most likely pack things of their own for a hospital stay. Many of the items on their checklist will be similar to yours:
- Phone charger
- Book, computer, tablet
- Pillow and blanket for an overnight stay.
It might not hurt to also pack snacks and drinks (if permitted by your hospital) and a camera and/or video camera to capture special moments during labor and after! And make sure you and your birth partner have clothes that will look good in pictures. Watch out for tee-shirts with big, ugly graphics and logos. Keep the clothing simple so it won't stand out when you take pictures of your baby's birth, delivery, and those first few days after he is born.
NEW MOMS SHARE THEIR MUST-HAVES
“Chapstick! Don’t forget it — and a charger. My lips were so, so dry.” –Ashley Romer
“Honestly, I didn’t need most of what I packed. Lots of people swear by their own nightgown, but I wore the hospital’s as there was still blood and other junk I didn’t want on my clothes. Your own pillow is nice but get a non-white pillowcase so you don’t mistake it for the hospital’s. I packed books and music but ended up not even using those. Snacks are good, and chapstick, phone chargers, lotion. Bring your own shampoo and conditioner because the hospital’s sucks. Basically toiletries are good to pack. You don’t need much for baby — an outfit or two.” –Heather Owens
“Gift cards for the nurses. They deserve medals for all they do. I think I had six gift cards, but I don't think I gave them all away. I did Starbucks and Panera cards for $10 to $25.” –Michele Gray
“Shampoo, conditioner and body wash. I forgot body wash and had to use shampoo. Also, bring clothes for the dad, including comfy clothes for the waiting period. My husband and I referred to it as a very strange hotel stay. We checked in on Monday and left on Friday.” –Kate Stevens
“Aside from the basics, the things I’m so glad I had were comfy robe and nursing-friendly nightgown (Target has some great ones), slippers, my own blanket and pillows, a phone charger with a ten-inch cord (to reach up into the hospital bed), hands-free pumping bra, and an empty bag to take home all the extra stuff in the room (diapers, pumping parts, wipes, formula).” –Becca Janish
“Heating pad! It helps with the back pain from their bed.” –Stephanie Jones
GETTING YOUR NEWBORN HOME FROM THE HOSPITAL
It won't fit in the suitcase, but certainly, remember that you will not be allowed to take your baby home unless he is strapped into a properly installed car seat.
Make sure to take care of this detail well in advance of your baby's due date. That way you'll be ready in case he arrives early. Install your baby's car seat in your car, then take it to be inspected by a certified car seat technician to make sure it's installed securely and correctly. This car seat inspection is a free service. You can visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to find a car seat inspector where you live.
And of course, don't forget to message your photographer and schedule that newborn session before you go into labor! <3