Hospital Bag Essentials: What Real Moms Pack for Labor

Whether you’re already a mom or your this is your first time, you know there is no shortage of advice for mamas-to-be. On literally everything. From the good, the bad, to the downright crazy, you’ve probably gotten more “helpful” advice in the past 9 months than you have in your entire life. And what to pack for the hospital is no exception. So what are the must-haves for your hospital bag and what are the things it’s ok to leave at home? We’ve got your bag covered.

What to bring for you

In our Wellness Essentials Podcast episode 8, Checkable Medical CEO Patty Post said she brought her pre-pregnancy jeans to the hospital thinking that once she had the baby, boom! She’d be back in her skinny jeans. Yeah, not so much. 

Comfort over everything. Loose and flowy will be your friends. The truth is, you’re going to leave the hospital still looking sorta pregnant. Your uterus still needs to shrink back to its normal size after you give birth and that takes time. Plus, your body will be healing from something pretty major. Especially if you have a c-section. Think soft, comfy, stretchy pants (or maternity pants) or shorts. 

Other essentials for you. If you’re going to breastfeed, you’ll want nursing bras, nursing tanks, and either a robe, a zip-up hoodie or a top that unbuttons to make those 3am feedings easier. 

Other essentials to bring: your phone charger, extra hair ties, your favorite lip balm and some easy snacks like protein bars, or cash for the vending machines in case you’re hungry right after you give birth and the hospital cafeteria is closed.

Things you don’t need to pack. Don’t worry about things like soap, shampoo, a hair dryer, pain medications, pads, or diapers and wipes for the baby. The hospital provides all of that.

Don’t overpack entertainment things like books, magazines, movies, etc. There’s a lot less downtime than you might think, and all those things take up space in your bag.

Your pre-pregnancy underwear can also stay at home. Whether you give birth vaginally or via c-section, you are going to bleed a lot after birth and the hospital will give you some seriously thick pads and mesh underwear (they are ugly, but they are lifesavers).

What to bring for baby

The carseat. Seriously. Do. Not. Forget. This. Most everything else can be figured out on the fly, but the hospital won’t let you leave without your baby securely fastened in a carseat. 

Aside from the carseat, bring a going-home outfit for your new baby. A couple changes of clothes for baby are fine, but resist the urge to bring ALL the things. A receiving blanket and maybe a burp cloth or two are also helpful.

You might want to bring a pacifier if you plan to introduce a pacifier to your baby. Some hospitals offer them, some do not. And some newborns are picky as to which ones they’ll take.

Bring any weather-specific items you might need for the drive home. Winter babies will want a carseat cover or bunting, summer babies might need a sun hat.

Pro tip: take all the baby-care and mama-care items when you leave. Stock up, they’re yours! The pads and mesh underwear, the diapers, wipes…take it all (if there’s something you’re questioning taking, the nurses are great will be able to tell you if it’s ok or not).

What to leave at home. Most baby-care stuff. Save it for when you’re home. The hospital will provide most everything your baby needs while you’re there like diapers, wipes, lotion, baby shampoo, diaper cream, even a breast pump if you need it. 

So when it comes to packing your hospital bag, the most important things to remember are the carseat for baby and comfort for you. If you’ve got those, you’re off to a great start. You’ve got this.