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Packing your hospital bag, like your baby shower or building a crib, is a milestone in your pregnancy. It is a crucial step in preparing for your baby’s arrival. Two years ago, as a first-time mom, I was so nervous I’d forget something while packing. This time, I understand how much the hospital does for women in labor and delivery. They don’t send you a giant hospital bill for nothing, so here is my second-time mom’s hospital bag checklist. In this blog, I’ll go over the best time to pack your bag, what the hospital typically offers, and what to pack for mom, baby, and significant other, essential and otherwise.
Click the links below to shop and download my Hospital Bag Checklist!
When to pack
I know we have all experienced Mom-brain. This is why it’s so important to pack your bag somewhere between 32-36 weeks. That is a larger window than most women suggest, but the earlier you pack, the safer you are. Admittedly, I’m 36 weeks and packed this week.
On average, first-time mothers go into labor at 41 weeks and 1 day. Second-time mothers, or mothers who’ve experienced childbirth, go into labor at 40 weeks and 3 days. But, then, there are those rare occasions when a woman will go into labor much sooner. I suggest having your bags packed by 36 weeks.
What do most hospitals provide?
As most women do with their first labor, I packed like I was going on a weekend trip with my baby because I wasn’t aware how much the hospital provided. Thankfully, the hospital provides everything babies need in their first few days of life. An entire changing station is set up for you in your recovery room, so no need to open your diaper bag!
Here is a list of items the hospital will most likely provide:
- Formula (If you choose not to breastfeed)
- Bulb Syringe
- Baby’s first bath
Also, the nurses restock your changing table often, so take advantage and bring home anything on your changing table. Of course, if you like to be over-prepared or have a preference (like me), you can always bring a few of these items with you from home.
What you really need to bring for your newborn
- Diaper bag – no way around this one *wink
- Carseat – make sure you are familiar with it, i.e., taking it in and out of the car and how the buckles and straps work.
- Carseat cover – these often double as a breastfeeding cover, but quite honestly, modesty goes out the window during labor and delivery. A car seat cover is still good to have, considering we’re still in the middle of a pandemic and the middle of winter.
- Baby blanket – Newborns can’t regulate their body temperature like we do and need to be kept warm. It’s good to have something a little thicker than the hospital swaddle they give you.
- Going home outfit and 2-3 onesies – although most hospitals provide cute white onesies, it’s better to be safe than sorry with a newborn.
- Photo outfit
What to pack for mama
Everyone has a preference on what makes them feel most comfortable, but I’ll start with the basics, and then give you a list of luxury items that made my time at the hospital more comfortable. Here are the basics:
Make sure to bring your wallet, ID, Birth plan, and any documents your hospital requires. When you are rushing and getting ready to leave, it’s easy to forget essential items so make sure to have these packed and ready to go.
Depending on your birth plan, you will be in the hospital somewhere between 2-5 days. Pack for 3 because as much as we all want to stick to our birth plan, it’s good to plan for the unexpected, and your partner can run home if need be. Bring something high waist to support your belly too!
At the very least, you will spend one day in recovery, but let’s be honest, I wear my pj’s more than once before I wash them, so you really only need one pair. Hospitals are always on the chilly side, so it’s probably a good idea to bring something semi-warm.
Socks and/or Slippers
While we’re on the subject of chilly hospitals, make sure to bring socks. The hospital usually provides them, but it’s still on my list of “must-haves.” Slippers are also nice and great for walks around the halls.
Imagine a Netflix and chill rainy day at home. A pair of leggings or lounge pants will be perfect, along with a couple of tops. If you decide to nurse, make sure to pack 1-2 nursing tanks/nursing bras.
Going Home outfit
Remember, you just birthed a tiny human, be kind to yourself, and pack something comfy; leggings are always a winner.
Imagine spending the night at a hotel that only offers toilet paper. You’re going to want to bring:
- Shampoo and conditioner
- Lip balm
- Hair ties
- Shower sandals
- Hair hot tools and makeup
- Menstrual pads – the hospital provides these for you, but they are enormous and puffy and not at all what you would typically wear. Bring a few for during recovery, if you don’t want to wear the monsters, they give you.
- Breast pads – even if you decide not to breastfeed, your breasts will still leak a bit. Better safe than sorry with this one. Leaky boobs are not the best look.
Some women consider this a necessity, while others say it’s optional. Story time, I opted out of using a nursing pillow. I didn’t think it was a necessity, and boy was I was wrong. I wish I would have put it on my registry, or caved and purchased one after the fact. I did, however, put it on my registry this time around and thank God someone bought it for us! I’m bringing that bad boy; it’s a necessity.
Breastfeeding can be challenging for some mothers. For me, I had a difficult time getting the latch down, and my nipples paid the price. Like with the nursing pillow, I never invested in a nipple balm, but I highly suggest you do. Your nipples will thank you!
Luxury items to help make your stay more comfortable
I packed a robe with my first son and never brought it out. Loungewear was enough for me, but as I mentioned previously, it is cold, so a robe can help make your stay more enjoyable. It’s also nice to have a robe if you want to cover up when nurses come in and out of the room. Visitors would be allowed if not for covid, and a robe would come in handy. Unfortunately, times are a bit different but you got this, mama!
I wanted to look cute for photos so I purchased a labor gown with my first son. All the nurses laughed at me, and teased, “labor is messy, baby, and you’re not going to care when you’re in pain!” I then became insecure and didn’t bring it out. Still, that hospital gown was awfully uncomfortable and hideous, and guess what? Eventually, I cared!
12 hours into my labor, I changed into the gown I purchased on Amazon. Yes, this is a luxury item you don’t need, but I loved mine, and it was a hundred percent worth it!
If you decide to bring your own gown, it should open from the back and around the chest in front. That’s doctor’s orders, so make sure your gown is hospital approved.
Aerobics ball/birthing ball
It’s unnecessary, but I really enjoyed the extra mobility and different birthing positions it offered. It also helps relieve pressure and position your baby for birth.
Essential oil defuser
I know this sounds boujee but stay with me. I practice Hypnobirthing, and a big part of that is staying relaxed. I purchased a little diffuser on Amazon and some relaxing oils and brought it with me to the hospital. Everyone who walked into my room said, “WOW, your room is so relaxing and smells amazing!” It really helped me during my 46-hour labor. Yup, I was in labor for 46 hours! So again, boujee? Maybe. Worth it? Definitely!
Hospital pillows are awfully uncomfortable, but they are provided. If comfort matters to you, bring your own pillow with a non-white pillowcase, so nurses don’t mistake it for the hospital’s and take it. Remember the gown I purchased on Amazon? Well, it conveniently comes with a matching pillowcase.
A Gift for your nurses
A gift for your nurses isn’t necessary but it is very sweet! Try showing your appreciation for them with some chocolates, healthy snacks, pens or anything else you think they might enjoy.
What to pack for your significant other
- Change of clothes
- Slippers or sandals if they want to get a little comfy
- Toiletry bag
- Wallet with ID
The hospital doesn’t actually start to feed you until you’re in recovery. Typically, all they have in the maternity wings are vending machines. Bring some healthy snacks to help get you and your partner through the day.
- Books or magazines
- Electronics – iPads, laptops, phones, cameras, and CHARGERS!
Birthing, a tiny human, puts a lot of strain on your lady parts! This is why an after-birth caddy should be readily available when you arrive home. I kept a basket of these items in my restroom right on top of the toilet. I didn’t even try to hide it; no shame in my game.
- Peri bottle – the hospital will give this to you, but multiple peri bottles for multiple restrooms is even better.
- Perineal Spray – Earth Mama makes an amazing one! It’s excellent for hemorrhoids as well. Yes, hemorrhoids are a real possibility.
- Aloe Vera Gel
- Witch Hazel
- Menstrual pads
I’m sure you may be wondering how to apply all these products. It’s a lot easier than you may think. First, fill the peri bottle with warm water and rinse yourself off. Next, get a pad, open it up, and place it on your undies. Then, grab your aloe vera and witch hazel and pour a little onto the pad. Lastly, spray your lady parts and booty. Do this little ritual every time you use the restroom, and it will help speed up your recovery!
Good Luck and Happy Packing!
OK, mama, we covered just about everything. I hope this blog was helpful. If you wish to Download my Second-time-mom’s hospital bag checklist CLICK HERE! I wish you the best of luck during your labor and delivery and a speedy recovery!
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