Hospital Bag Essentials

Blog post originally written on Therapeutic Miles Blog

Back in 2016, when I was a little more than 36 weeks pregnant with my first son, I packed my hospital bag and had it ready. I know, 4 weeks prior to the due date seems a little premature, however, this boy came zooming into the world at 37 weeks. He was READY, and luckily so was I!

Like most first-time-moms, I read a lot about what to be prepared for with labor/delivery, we took a few birthing courses and a Lamaze class. I researched what to bring and was going to be prepared for whatever I needed. Looking back on my experience, I learned a lot. There’s a LOT that you don’t need that you thought you would at the time. So this is why I’m sharing my preparation for the hospital the FIRST time compared to what I will be doing the SECOND time.

***DISCLAIMER: Keep in mind that my birthing plan included having an epidural. Mamas who plan on laboring naturally without medicine might have a verrrrrry different bag.

First Time Baby Hospital bag:

  • Diaper bag-

    I’m totally serious. I brought an actual diaper bag along with a hospital bag. This included size 1 diapers AND wipes… Completely unnecessary. First off, Chase ended up needing newborn size diapers to begin with and so these size 1’s were useless. Secondly, the hospital provided as many diapers and wipes that we needed during the entire stay (I ended up taking a whole pack home with me). So scratch that one off your list.

  • Pillows-

    I had heard in my classes that it’s a good idea to bring your own pillows and pillowcases to the hospital to make you feel more comfortable. And so I listened to them and did just that. Ok, to each their own on this one. But honestly, while I was struggling to get even 1 hour of sleep with this hungry, screaming little human latched to me in the middle of the night,  I definitely wasn’t thinking “Gosh, I’m glad I brought my own pillowcases”. BTW I forgot to bring said pillows home with me from the hospital anyways.

  • Therapy/Birthing Ball-

    I had labored at home for about 24 hours prior to getting admitted to the hospital. I the first night that I came to the hospital they sent me home, as expected, because I was only dilated 1 cm. So the next day I did lots of squats, walked 2 miles with the dogs, climbed the stairs a few times and sat on my big purple ball. I read that it would open up my hips a little bit and help to move along the labor. I brought it to the hospital with me in case I wanted to continue that. I got an epidural within an hour or so of arriving and was therefore stuck in the bed.  Guess who ended up using it the most? My friend Kayla who I wanted in the delivery room. If you plan to go the natural/non-medicinal route with your labor, the ball might come in handy. If you take the epidural route or c-section, most likely not necessary.

  • Light reading material-

    HA!!! I actually thought I’d be reading prior to giving birth. I was so distracted from the pain and exhausted from lack of sleep, I could barely read more than the time on the wall.  However, since we ended up staying in the hospital for a week due to complications with Chase, I did read a few pages from What to Expect: The First Year. But seriously, not worth adding the extra lbs of paper to the hospital bag.

  • Lavender-scented eye mask-

    I thought I was cute. “Oh I’m going to relax and breathe in some lavender and get some quality shut-eye!” Stupid Carolyn. Totally not worth it. Never even took it out.

  • Massage Roller-

    We had practiced with our birthing partners in class (aka Husbands) how they could ease some of our labor pains and stress with a massage. We even used some massage tools like this rolling ball. And then I got to the hospital…and a massage was the furthest thing from my mind. I didn’t even really want to be touched.

  • Slippers and robe-

    These actually came in handy.  Since I had worked in a hospital, I had been turned off by those slipper socks and gowns that I put on my patients everyday. Instead, I brought my own robe and slippers and felt a little more at home. Also, it made it easier to use the bathroom, nurse and not have to wear pants in bed (which is a huge plus when you’ve got that massive postpartum diaper on). These two piece of clothing are not a necessity, but definitely makes you feel less like a patient.

  • Nursing bra-

    This could have been somewhat handy, since it allows you to just unlatch and feed.  But like most first-timers, I struggled with breastfeeding. Figuring out the nursing bra just added another element of challenge. Not a necessity until you’ve got the breastfeeding basics down well.

  • Underwear

    Another big laugh. (TMI warning) Until you’ve experienced the aftermaths of childbirth, there’s no ways to describe the amount of stuff that comes out of your hoo-ha for the next week or so. The hospital gives you those disposable underwear and ginormous maternity pads (I’m talking longer than a piece of paper). I had a c-section and wore those for almost a week. If you deliver naturally, you’ll be wearing them for longer. Spare your cute undies for now.

  • Newborn outfit

    Your baby will most likely just be in a diaper and swaddled in a blanket for most of their hospital stay, but you definitely want an actual outfit to take your new bundle of joy home. The hospital usually provides a little hat for your baby, but go ahead and break out one of those cozy outfits that you got from your baby shower and put it to good use!

**We also got our car seat base professionally installed at the fire station prior to going to the hospital. The base is what the infant carrier clicks into. Since we had no idea how to install it and didn’t want to screw it up the first time, we had them teach us so we could be sure it was completely safe.

Second Time baby hospital bag:

Let me first say that I learned it’s best to have 2 different bags: one for labor and one for postpartum after delivery. I had a scheduled C-section the second time, so the first bag was not needed. Here is what I brought in for the postpartum days at the hospital:

  • Boppy Nursing pillow-

    I didn’t bring this to the hospital the first time, but I did the second time. Having a firm pillow that wraps perfectly around your waist while you breastfeed makes the task that much more comfortable. The first time I was struggling to use two regular pillows to prop him up in the right position and was failing miserably. I knew I had this boppy pillow waiting for us at home, but it would have been useful to start off with at the hospital. You can always wash the slipcover once you get home to expel all of those hospital germs.

  • Swaddle blanket-

    This isn’t a must, since the hospital gives you a bunch of them. However, they’re on the small side and don’t stretch as well. I brought the extra large muslin one to use as a nursing cover when we had visitors in the room and to swaddle him up like a burrito.

  • Camisole-

    Instead of the nursing bra, I wore a camisole that could pull up and down for easy access to the boob. I threw my robe over that and was comfortable as ever.

  • Newborn going home outfit-for him
  • Comfy going home outfitfor me
  • slippers/robe- (see previous description)

There you have it! Bottom line: bring the essentials, consider the creature comforts that will make you feel more at ease, and leave the rest at home.