Hospital Bag Checklist

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To pack or not to pack…when you’re eight or so months prego, that is ONE of the questions.  New moms-to-be have all been there.  Your baby app tells you it’s time to get your hospital bag packed and ready, and your fingers automatically jump over to google, “What do I need to pack in my hospital bag?”  Hey, maybe that’s how you landed here!  Last year, I went through the same thing, and I stumbled upon lists and lists in my search…THIS is the must list…no, THIS is the must list…no, THIS one is it.  As if you don’t have enough conflicting information to sift through right now, am I right?

Sure, this could just be another list to add to the ten others you’ve already read, and yes, everyone’s different, but if you’re like me and want to make this as simple as possible, keep reading.

My personal take is “less is more” when it comes to packing your hospital bag.

Unless you live in an area where your hospital is extremely far away, keep in mind that someone can always go home and get you anything else you may “need” for the usually 2-4 days you’re in the hospital.  For me, I was 100% okay with my husband making the twenty minute drive home to take a shower and a short nap (his last for a while) before returning with anything I was missing (which wasn’t much).  I was lucky to have family and friends visiting to keep baby and me company in the meantime.

Even if you don’t have someone who can run home or to the store for you, I would still recommend only a lightly packed bag.  Here are my must-pack and maybe-pack hospital bag suggestions:

MUST pack:

  • Any toiletry you can’t be without.  I had to have my favorite lip balm and hand lotion.  Bring a toothbrush and toothpaste too.  The hospital will provide soaps, so no need to pack those unless you can’t live without them.
  • Two sets of itty bitty outfits for baby.
  • Hair ties for you.
  • Disposable underwear.  You need these!  Look, the hours after labor aren’t pretty.  Luckily, you’re distracted with this precious new baby in your arms, so you don’t want to have to think much about what’s going on down there.  Disposable underwear kills two birds with one stone because they take the place of both your regular underwear and those bulky, 1970’s-type hospital pads you’ll need after labor.  Depends makes thin, disposable underwear called Fit-Flex, and Always has a similar line called Discreet.  Believe me, GET SOME.  (They don’t even pay me to say that!)
  • Going home outfit.  I would suggest a tunic or other longer top to cover up your bottom half (see previous bullet point).  If it’s warm outside, try a loose, casual dress.  Whatever you wear, make sure it 1) is loose around the middle, and 2) makes you feel great!
  • Cell phone charger.
  • Eyeglasses (if applicable).
  • Paperwork – your insurance card, ID, etc.
  • Any medication you’re already taking.  I had really bad heartburn throughout my pregnancy, but I didn’t have any antacids on me when that heartburn kicked in during the waiting around part of my labor.  The hospital gave me a dose, but not before scanning the barcode to my file (read: billing me for some pretty expensive Tums).

MAYBE pack:

  • Makeup.  I really only used it the morning we were being discharged, for our family photo as we left.  Just keep it light so you look natural – no need for all your brushes and palettes.
  • Hairbrush.

Commonly suggested items I would NOT bother packing:

  • Pajamas.  I know some people suggest this to help you feel more like yourself after labor, but guess what – you’re not the same after labor!  No matter how baby exited your warm belly, you’re going to have a nurse checking on that, um, exit door often, so you may as well keep it easily accessible.  Just rock that hospital gown.
  • Socks for mom.  The hospital will probably charge you for the pair they give you anyway.
  • Swaddle blankets.  Yes, you got the great muslin ones at your shower, but leave them at home to use later.  The hospital has great ones to tightly wrap your little bugger.  Ours had cute ducks printed all over them, and after we got home, that duck blanket was still one of our favorite swaddle blankets.
  • Baby cap.  Let baby enjoy that new pink and blue striped hat seen in every “The baby is here!” text message you’ve ever received – it may be the only cap that fits baby anyway.
  • Breastpump or any breastfeeding accessory.  The hospital has a pump IF you need it – I briefly used it because baby was in NICU for a night.  The hospital may provide a sample of lanolin – if they don’t, a drop of breastmilk works well instead.  Nursing bra?  None needed if you’re rocking that hospital gown.  Boppy?  Don’t lug that big nursing pillow to the hospital with you – squish up a stack of hospital pillows instead.
  • Hairdryer or hot styling tools.  Let your natural mommy glow shine – no need to be too coiffed.  If anything, those hair ties (above) can be your backup plan.
  • Magazines or reading material.  If the tv, cell phone, and parade of guests and healthcare providers coming in and out of your room aren’t enough to distract you before baby arrives, someone can just run down to the gift shop or pharmacy to grab you this week’s Us Weekly.
  • Snacks for your partner.  You’re probably on an ice chip or liquid diet.  There may be a lot of waiting around during labor, so let running down the hall for a snack be your partner’s brief getaway moment.  These days, there’s also probably a food delivery service app on your phone.
  • Baby diapers and wipes.  The hospital will provide these and may even send you home with some.

With gifts, hospital samples, pamphlets & discharge forms, and – oh yea! – a new baby, keep in mind that you leave the hospital with your hands pretty full.  My take:  go in carrying as little as possible.

All you moms and dads out there, what about you?  Any musts, maybes, or don’t packs on your list?  Everyone’s different and every pregnancy is different, so I’d love to hear from you via comments below.

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