Packing your hospital bag is one of those pregnancy rites of passage, like decorating the nursery, that feels amazing to accomplish. Sure, it’s just consciously putting items in a bag for a 2-3 night stay at a hospital, but it’s also knowing that you’re prepared for baby’s upcoming arrival, and ready for your first few days as a mom, which is no small feat at all!
So what do you need to know about how to pack your hospital bag? What’s superfluous? Having packed a hospital bag three unique times, I’ve learned what’s essential, and what’s a waste of space. Hopefully through my own trial and error, you’ll be more prepared as you pack your bag. Nothing can truly prepare you for becoming a mom, but packing the perfect hospital bag is at least a way to start off on the right foot.
Firstly, remember you’re packing for two to three nights away from home. Hospital stays after birth vary depending on style of birth (Caesarean delivery will require a slightly longer recovery and stay) and mom and baby’s health, but it’s ideal to pack enough for two nights. Having an over-packed hospital bag can be hard if you’re heading to the hospital in a panic or alone, so don’t go overboard – additional things can be gathered up by your partner or a friend later on.
As far as bags go, I recommend a backpack and that you leave your diaper bag at home. You want something easy to carry in a hurry, and more storage than a standard diaper bag. You’re packing for three people, keep in mind – Mom’s support person (partner, friend, mom, etc), mom, and baby. Here’s what you’ll need for all three:
Baby will need approximately four sleepers. This is not the time to pack little outfits for baby. With any luck, your baby will sleep her way through the first days and mom will get time to recover, so make sure baby is comfortable in one-piece pyjamas and nothing excessive.
Baby will likely go through approximately 15 newborn size diapers while at the hospital. Even if you’re planning to use cloth diapers, I recommend using disposibles for your first few weeks, while you get a handle on things. If you’re concerned about chemicals, there are lots of natural diaper options that are still disposable.
Before you give birth there can be a lot of waiting around, so don’t forget your phone and charger. I was always much too anxious and excited to read, but you may want reading material to pass the time. You may find yourself walking the halls of the hospital to progress labour, so pack a pair of fresh socks or slippers. Healthy snacks are also a good idea!
The hospital will provide you with a hospital gown for birth, and I suggest you don’t attempt to bring your own. Frankly, birth is a messy affair, and you don’t want to come home with more laundry. One thing I forgot every time I gave birth was a headband and hair elastics! These are crucial is your hair is even remotely long!
Your body has been through a lot and you need adequate time to recover. It’s important that you’re comfortable while doing so, so make sure to only pack really loose-fitting, comfortable clothing or pyjamas for your hospital stay. Include a nursing bra without underwire and at least three pairs of underwear in a size larger than you normally wear. You’ll need to wear extra heavy overnight pads for a few weeks, so bring a package of those.
Hospital beds are the worst! Thankfully you won’t be sleeping in one for long. You can make things more comfortable by bringing your own pillow and nursing pillow.
Whether it’s your partner, your parent, or simply a friend, hopefully you can have a support throughout the birthing process. All hospitals allow for one person to accompany mom over night after labour and delivery. My husband packed a change of clothes, his phone and charger, some reading material, and snacks.
Hospital bags should be packed and ready to go three weeks before your due date and accessible at all times. Of course, I went into labour with my first when we were at a doctor’s appointment, and my husband had to fetch my hospital bag after I gave birth, so there’s only so much you can do on this score!