What I’m Packing in My Hospital Bag

February 2, 2015

Having a Baby - What to pack in your bag | Espresso and Cream

Joe and I have been in full-time baby preparations lately, getting everything ready for our little peanut’s arrival. At 36 weeks pregnant, the car seat bases and car seat have now been installed, the baby clothes are washed and we have plenty of wipes, diapers and all the practical things that a baby needs.

My most recent project has been packing my hospital bag so I’m ready at a moment’s notice. I’m not all the way there yet, but I’m getting closer, aside from a few items that I’m still using day-to-day. I’ll admit, I’m hardly an expert, but I think that I’ve put together a minimal yet comprehensive bag filled with the things I’m really going to need. I’m also pretty thankful that we live close to our hospital so Joe can run home and get things that we forget!

Here’s a look at what is in my bag:

1. Nursing Gown and Robe
I recently bought this combination nursing gown and robe for our stay in the hospital and in the hazy days once our newborn comes home. I wanted something that made me feel put together yet was super comfortable and practical. I also purchased this robe from Target that is super comfortable and looks pretty, so I think I’m taking it along as well.
2. Cell Phone and Charger
My phone and charger aren’t packed just yet, but this is on my mental list of things to add at the last minute so that Joe and I have plenty of juice in our phones to snag photos and Instagram, of course!
3. Toiletries and Make-Up 
This week I’m putting together a little travel kit of my favorite toiletries, many of which I already own from all our travels. (my favorite make-up, hair spray, shampoo/conditioner, face wipes to keep me feeling fresh, face lotion, eye cream, etc.)
4. Clothing Essentials
I’ve heard that comfort is key, so I’m planning on packing some of my favorite black Gap maternity leggings, a swing dress that isn’t maternity but has lasted me throughout my pregnancy, one of Joe’s sweatshirts, nursing bras and camis, granny panties that I recently purchased at Target, etc.
5. Belly Bandit
I posted a question on Facebook the other day about the Belly Bandit or other stomach support to wear post-pregnancy. Lots of you had rave reviews and I’m excited to give it a try myself! The idea behind wearing a Belly Bandit is that it helps accelerate healing, support your stomach post delivery and speed recovery. I’m certainly willing to give it a try! I’m planning on doing a full review post-baby on what I thought and how it worked.
6. Hair Dryer (??)
Can anyone tell me if this is necessary? I never thought to ask on our birth center tour, but I take it most hospitals don’t have hair dryers in every room like hotels do.
7. Slippers or Slipper Socks
I picked up a few new pairs of slipper socks with grippies on the bottom for walking the halls during labor and for keeping my feet warm afterwards. They were cheap enough that I’ll probably just toss them before I head home.
8. A Bag of Hard Candies
I’m not sure this is necessary, but I’ve heard some people recommend it. I figure it’s better safe than sorry. 
9. Paperwork and Insurance Card/ID
10. Camera
Since this is a big occasion, I think I should probably pack my nice (big) camera instead of relying on my cell phone camera. I don’t love the idea of lugging my camera with, but I think it will be worth it in the long run. Also, don’t forget extra batteries or to at least make sure your camera batteries are fully charged.

Items for Hubby and Baby 
1. Going Home Outfit (for baby)
2. Blankets and swaddle
Our hospital provides a swaddle but I’m taking one of our own as well.
3. Baby Mittens 
We washed and packed a few packs of those little baby mittens so our baby doesn’t scratch his/her face.
4. Snacks
We went to Costco last weekend and stocked up on a bunch of snacks for Joe, since we have no idea how long labor is going to be or how it will all go. Joe has Cliff bars, trail mix, fruit snacks and gum packed in his bag.
5. Cash/Change for the vending machine 
6. Car Seat
Make sure your car seat is fully installed and ready to go. We heard a story in our labor and delivery class last weekend about a dad who simply put the car seat, still in the box, in the car thinking that was sufficient. Ha!
7. Change of Clothes for Dad
Joe is taking a change of clothes as well as something comfortable to sleep in, like gym shorts and a long-sleeved casual shirt.
8. Toiletries for Dad
9. Air Mattress
We’ve been debating this one back and forth. Maybe it seems silly, but the hospital we’re going to doesn’t have the best sleeping accommodations for dads, so we’re taking a twin air mattress along and leaving it in the car just in case Joe is incredibly uncomfortable and wants to use it.

Mommas out there, are there things I’m missing from this list? What would you add from your personal experience?

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  • Reply Cobo February 2, 2015 at 4:59 pm

    Also, I preferred nursing with a Boppy pillow. And loved having a big bag (think 31 Large Utility tote) to bring home gifts, samples, etc. without having to make a ton of trips to the car.

    • Reply Lindsay February 2, 2015 at 5:17 pm

      Great tip on the extra bag for bringing home samples/extras. And don’t be afraid to take those things they offer you – you are paying for them! We brought home a ton of wipes/diapers/etc. And even if you plan to exclusively breastfeed, take that free formula JUST in case – if you don’t ever need/use it, you can always donate it to a local food pantry for a family in need 🙂

    • Reply MadisonMayberry February 2, 2015 at 6:00 pm

      Ahh yes! I totally forgot to include that on my list, but I’m planning on taking our Boppy pillow as well! 🙂

  • Reply Sarah February 2, 2015 at 5:38 pm

    Love those ideas! You already included the thing I wish I had packed – snacks! My hospital provided great food for me, but my husband was left running to the cafeteria. I wish I would’ve thought to bring things for him after the baby was born!

    In terms of items like makeup, hair dryer, and lotions – I brought travel sized things of my “must-have” items, and didn’t use half of them! I wound up using my favorite things to take a shower, but bending over to blow dry my hair was out of the question! 🙂 I’m not sure you will actually use the eye cream, hair spray, and blow dryer.

    Also, if you have a baby book, remember to bring it for footprints!

    Depending on your delivery, stock up on maxi pads, Tuck’s, ibuprofen, and the pain reliever spray at home. Those were lifesavers and my husband had to run out a couple of times for more of those items, ha!

    • Reply MadisonMayberry February 2, 2015 at 6:00 pm

      What a great idea to take the baby book along. We were gifted a baby book, so I’ll add it to the bag. Thanks, Sarah!

  • Reply Julie Johnson February 2, 2015 at 5:52 pm

    I brought some hard candies along and they ended up being a life saver. I was in labor for 24 hours before we realized I was going to need a c-section, so something to put a different taste in my mouth throughout the day was great since you can’t eat until that little one joins the world! We also packed a few movies-that was nice to have to watch during the day when you don’t have company (and for us the day we spent waiting for things to progress).

    A friend of mine brought me some nursing cream with our baby gift. I would not have thought to buy that myself, nor did I even have any at home, but that was an amazing thing to have.

    I did bring my blow dryer, but after having a c-section I couldn’t bend the way I needed to to use it. I just put my hair up, or went for the air-dry look. I sure didn’t look my best while I was there, but at that point all I cared about was healing.

    Wishing you the best!

    • Reply MadisonMayberry February 2, 2015 at 6:01 pm

      Oooh, good idea to bring along the nursing cream, Julie! I bought some a while back (Mother Love) but I should add it to the list to make sure it is packed. Thanks for the reminder!

  • Reply Rachel February 2, 2015 at 5:57 pm

    Ear Plugs – for sleeping, hospitals can be noisy
    Baby finger nail clipper – 2 of our four were born with long scratchy finger nails
    Good smelling shower gel/body wash for the first shower after giving birth…since you can’t have a bubble bath 🙂

  • Reply amywheaton February 2, 2015 at 5:57 pm

    My mom gave me super-thick hand cream and moisturizing lip balm for the hospital and I was grateful for those. Hospital air is super dry and the lip balm especially felt really nice. I didn’t feel much like blowdrying my hair, but I brought some thin elastic headbands and some elastics which were great for doing a quick braid or a bun. I packed hard candies too and was so glad I did!

    Things I brought and didn’t need: magazines, a book and an ipod. For some reason I’d envisioned our hospital stay as being this loooong boring experience where I’d need entertainment to keep me busy. In reality it flew by, and if I wasn’t looking after Eli, I was sleeping (or trying to!)

  • Reply amy February 2, 2015 at 6:17 pm

    Shower flip flops…that you can throw away. Having a baby is messy business. Also a pack of travel lysol wipes. Wipe down anything you might need to in bathroom post partum.

    I also brought an eye mask for sleeping. There’s always lights on. Helps you get some shut eye between all the vital sign checks.

    • Reply Mary February 2, 2015 at 9:18 pm

      The hospital should have hospital grade wipes there. 🙂 Packing lighter is better I think. Most mom’s just wear the hospital gowns, like she said, having a baby is “messy” Some doctors discourage eating during labor, be sure to ask your doctor what their policy is.

  • Reply lauren February 2, 2015 at 7:09 pm

    I packed a hairdryer and a few outfits but ended up staying in the hospital gown and the mesh underwear the hospital gave me after my c-section (and never dried my hair). I wish I swiped some of the mesh undies to bring home because they were super comfy and and the granny panties I bought bothered my incision.
    Chapstick and hand lotion were a must- so much hand washing made my hands SO dry. We also made a list of email addresses of all our friends and family to send out an email once the baby arrived.
    Just be comfy…you are going to want to just snuggle with your baby in those first few days. Best wishes!

    • Reply lauren February 2, 2015 at 7:41 pm

      Oh and if you are planning on nursing bring some (and have them waiting at home) Lansinoh nursing pads. They are much more comfortable than the nursing pads the hospital might have (my milk came in pretty quick and I was not prepared!)

  • Reply Beth February 2, 2015 at 7:10 pm

    Sounds like a good list along with the things people have added. As far as the air mattress, speaking from a L&D nurse’s perspective and just general hospital policy having an air mattress in the room in addition to the hospital bed will most likely be against fire code and pose a safety hazard to patient and staff…most likely, the staff will have to say no. That being said, you can certainly ask permission from staff…the best person to ask is the charge nurse as they are *usually* the most educated on fire and safety code.

  • Reply christine February 2, 2015 at 7:14 pm

    Snacks, snacks, snacks! Not just for hubby, but for you. I know some people feel sick and can’t eat during labor, but I was the opposite and my doula encouraged me to eat to keep up my strength. (good thing, since labor went on for 32 hours)

    I second (third?) the recommendation of things to hold back your hair as well as a hair dryer (yes, I cared). Additionally, you may want to consider some looser-fitting pants. My cute yoga pants would not fit (without looking like I had a diaper on, LOL) over the post-partum underwear. Rookie mistake. 😉

    Finally, some lovely smelling lotion/cream. I got super-itchy during labor and had my hubby and doula massaging my arms/legs with lotion.

  • Reply Rachel {the avid appetite} February 2, 2015 at 8:29 pm

    a boppy pillow! whether you nurse or not, it’s a great spot to rest the baby for playtime, or just to gaze admiringly at him/her for hours 🙂

  • Reply Sarah Crosby February 2, 2015 at 8:56 pm

    Your own pillow. My hospital actually told me to bring my own when I did my tour. Hospital pillows are so scratchy and papery. It helped me sleep so much better.

    While your own panties are great, they give you these awesome mesh granny panties that are the you won’t want to ruin your own – save those for at home once things… umm… slow down?!? lol Also, totally outing myself but when I was a first time mom, I brought a thongs as my panties of choice to go home in! hahaha it was literally the first thing I laughed about once my babe was here. Can I use being 21 and completely naive as an excuse?!?!

    Lastly, be careful if you have your carseat in your car. My friend put hers in her car and had a car accident and ended up having to throw away a brand new carseat – once they are in an accident you aren’t supposed to use them. Wasn’t the end of the world but a waste of $300. We just kept ours by our back door with our bags that were packed.

    You have a great and very practical list! Cannot wait to hear about baby H’s arrival!!! You’re gonna be a GREAT momma!!!

  • Reply Kristen February 2, 2015 at 9:03 pm

    Bring a blanket and pillow for Joe!

  • Reply April February 3, 2015 at 1:50 am

    I highly recommend the hair dryer, going to sleep or laying on wet pillows was the worst!!

  • Reply Cara February 3, 2015 at 3:39 am

    Our hospital had hairdryers but they were not that great so I think you’re right in packing your own! Also, I found yoga pants and leggings to be a too tight on the girly parts and was really uncomfortable when I was going home the first time. Second time around I got those pants that are looser in the crotch but get tighter down the leg and I felt much better! And final thought, black, black, black everything. Think being on your period times 10!! You just never know when there might be a leak…gross I know, but I was so glad someone told me that! The whole experience is messy and wonderful all at the same time. Enjoy every moment!!

  • Reply Cara February 3, 2015 at 3:42 am

    Oh and one more thought, throw in your nipple cream or coconut oil or whatever you plan to use on the nips! You’ll definitely want that on hand.

  • Reply Holly Messner February 3, 2015 at 11:49 am

    Flip flops! My room was hot so I was happy to have them over big thick socks. Plus they were perfect for the bathroom when the floor was a little wet from the shower 🙂

  • Reply Abby February 3, 2015 at 2:07 pm

    One thing I was told to bring and I’m so glad I did was a large bath towel. The towels the hospital had provided reminded me of bad hotel towels – thin, tiny and threadbare. I purchased a dark colored bath sheet (extra large towel) just for the hospital. I plan on using it for any other babies we have as well. Since it is winter, this may not be as big of a deal, but make sure Joe has some warm clothes along. I got super hot while in labor so had the air in our room cranked to 60 degrees. Unfortunately for my husband, it was summer, so he was in shorts, flip flops and a t-shirt. Thankfully my sister could run to our house and grab him some warmer clothes. And I know someone below commented to bring the baby book for foot prints – a good idea is to bookmark the page for the footprints so that the nurses can find it quickly. Enjoy these last few weeks before baby! Your life is about to change in an amazing way!

  • Reply Candace February 3, 2015 at 2:15 pm

    1-Nipple cream. Lanolin is heavy duty stuff, and Mother-Love is much gentler. I think a combo is nice.
    2- Nursing pads…. when your milk comes in, it can be quite a shock at first!
    3- Chapstick/lip balm… hospitals are super dry.
    4- Just my opinion, take it or leave it… I’m anti- baby mittens. Babies have their hands and fingers accessible to them to suck on & play with in your womb, so I believe it is healthy and comforting for them to be able to continue to have them. (My son came out with a suck blister on his wrist actually!) I believe its part of their learning and comfort to be able to have their hands up by their faces. If long nails and worrying scratching, the easiest way to cut them the first weeks/months is to bite them with your teeth. Sounds strange, but they are so friable and soft, so difficult to cut. You can feel with your mouth/teeth exactly where to bit.

    You are already a a great mom! Blessings on your labor, birth, and beginning of parenthood! Sending love and good thoughts!

  • Reply Rebecca February 4, 2015 at 7:53 pm

    Ear plugs! I constantly had people coming in and out of the room (day and night) and a snoring husband. It was so noisy and hard to get any rest. Also, an electric heating pad, if you have one. It significantly helped ease those “uterus shrinking back down” cramps!

  • Reply Brandy P February 4, 2015 at 10:41 pm

    Rather than an air mattress as it was said might be a No Go, look in to a memory foam camping mat! That way he can roll it up when needed and it is super compact and will only take up the room he would really take up 🙂 That’s unfortunate the hospital doesn’t provide a lay out chair! Ours has a chair that lays all the way back and also a window couch type futon thing so daddy and daughter could sleep over.
    Ear Plugs I would be against if you have your baby sleep in room with you as I did. Might keep you from hearing baby wake up…some how daddy slept through every wake up like he was more tired than mommy 😀 haha

  • Reply Megan February 6, 2015 at 12:05 am

    Your own pillows for sure!! And a laptop or iPad for watching something when you don’t have visitors and don’t feel like napping. Since you aren’t able to be up and moving much it’s nice to have something to watch together when baby is sleeping and you aren’t!

  • Reply Vikkie Payne February 13, 2015 at 9:51 pm

    What about some nappies and wipes ?

    • Reply Jenna February 18, 2015 at 3:26 pm

      Hospitals provide them 🙂

  • Reply Jenna February 18, 2015 at 3:30 pm

    1, definitely hair dryer

    2. I actually packed a few outfits for baby. I found they kept him warmer than the giant shirts the hospital puts on them.

    3. We ended up not even using the mittens. He liked sucking his fingers.

    4. Breast pads!!

  • Reply jennifer prod February 19, 2015 at 11:49 pm

    we’re 33 weeks now, and the hospital bag is on my to-do list – thanks for these great tips – i never would have thought of mittens 🙂

  • Reply Lauren @ Sassy Molassy March 26, 2015 at 10:42 pm

    Now that you’ve had the birth and been in the hospital, I’m curious what you thought was or wasn’t necessary for your diaper bag. I’m guessing there are things you took, but didn’t use? I’m currently starting to think about packing my hospital bag.

    • Reply MadisonMayberry March 28, 2015 at 4:35 pm

      Hi Lauren! Okay, I was just thinking I need to do a recap post on what I would recommend taking now that I’ve actually had a baby, but I’ll do a little rundown for you now:
      -I was glad I brought a hair dryer and all my toiletries! Taking a shower, washing my hair and putting on makeup made me feel like a real person again! And I liked looking presentable for our visitors.
      -I would recommend taking plenty of cute night gowns, robes, comfy clothes (that aren’t tight around the stomach/crotch since you’ll have those huge mesh undies on with huge pads, etc.) I wish I would have brought a few more items like this that were super comfortable but looked put together and cute when people were visiting and coming in the room all the time.
      -I didn’t eat the hard candies – my labor and delivery nurse wouldn’t allow me to eat anything and all I could drink was water and clear liquid.
      -Bring a blanket and pillow for your hubby! My husband loved having a comfy pillow of his own and a nice blanket for napping and sleeping.
      -I didn’t end up bringing my big camera. That’s probably more of a personal preference thing, but to me it seemed like a huge hassle.
      -We also didn’t bring an air mattress in the end.
      -I would recommend bringing a bunch of yummy/healthy snacks that you will want to eat post-delivery and that your hubby/significant other will want to eat. My mom ended up running to Target for us for snacks, but it would have been nice to have picked some out on our own as well. The hospital food wasn’t the best, so snacks were big for us!

      I think that’s it! Otherwise, we were pretty well-prepared with the list above! 🙂 Let me know if you have any other questions!


      • Reply Lauren @ Sassy Molassy March 30, 2015 at 12:04 am

        Thanks, Madison! This is really helpful. It’s really nice (and helpful) of you to respond with all of that. Hope you guys are doing well!

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