Updated: Jan 10, 2021
The most important bag you'll pack 30 days before you will need it - your hospital bag that you will bring with you to give birth. One of my biggest tips about this bag, is to not pack it like you are moving into the hospital. Yes, there are some unique things that you'll pack that will be of use - but you don't need to pack your entire house. An airplane carry-on size bag will be perfect.
Now with my first child there were things I wish I brought and things I definitely didn't need. Also, something I didn't even consider was the organization of the bag as I wouldn't be digging for things - my husband would be. So keeping things in specific spots that I could either explain to him where an item is or that it would be as clear as day was super important.
For my airplane carry-on size bag I had a 6 focuses on what would go into 1 bag (you can use this as an index to find the details in each section of my hospital bag):
Hospital items for Mom
This bag can be overwhelming, especially is this is your first birth and you are not sure what to expect. Within my mommy bag I had 2 focuses, Labor and Post-Birth. The Labor items goes at the very top as this is what I will need easy access to for myself or my husband. Let's dive into the mommy bag:
Robe: A light weight robe is great to have, especially if you are walking around in the lovely hospital gown that exposes your backside! My robe was a jersey fabric with pockets. Jersey fabric is so nice as it is loose, light weight, and movable. The pockets were awesome to hold my phone and the wires I had to wear because I was on a heart monitor (this isn't the norm for labors by the way.)
Soft socks with grippers- Hospital floors are gross and if you are able to walk around, you'll want this. But if you can't walk around, then you will be happy to have them as your feet can get cold.
Face wipes - Since I labored through the night, face wipes were nice to feel refreshed to keep on laboring. Also, you'll love having this to easily freshen up after birth.
Entertainment: Earbuds were so important and helpful during those intense contractions. I would pop them in, turn on my favorite music that puts me in my happy place. This brand is pricey, but they block out the outside noise and we’re just amazing to helping me tune out the word and focus on me and the baby as I worked through the contractions.
Snacks: So you don’t want to pack full meals, but pack things that are easy: granola bars, candy, crackers, veggie sticks, I’ve heard some moms pack a PB&j, Gatorade - basically easy to grab snacks. Mom may not want any of this or may not be able to eat anything if you have an epidural, but your spouse maybe in need of some fuel (especially if it’s a long labor.) I know for my spouse, he didn’t really hit up the snack bag, except for the Gummy bears, he couldn’t resist that one, oh and gatorade!
Toiletries: Go for the travel size items or buy the little travel size bottle to fill up with your favorite toiletries. Things I used include Body Soap, Shampoo/Conditioner, Tooth Brush, Tooth Paste, Brush, Hair Gel (I have curly hair and this or I'll have a fro), Deodorant, & Face Wash. After all of that hard work of labor it felt extra good to feel CLEAN after a nice shower!
Nursing shirt or gown: Yall, you cant go wrong with owning these nightgowns. I wore it during my pregnancy, after giving birth and I’m still wearing it 19 months postpartum (still nursing). Stretchy jersey fabric great for preggo belly or postpartum body, built in soft comfy bra, easy to unsnap to nurse (I could do it with one hand). Best item ever!
Nursing Bra: If you plan on nursing, the bra is convenient. Especially if you are having hospital guests visit the baby. It was easy to unsnap the bra strap to nurse instead of feeling uncomfortable around family and friends without a bra on.
Nursing Pillow: I was so on the fence about this one, but I was so glad I brought it. After my first birth I was very weak, so having this to give baby a little more support while we learned how to breastfeed was a huge help.
Slippers: I forgot these for my first birth and man did I regret it. The bottom of my socks were gross... So when I went in to have my 2nd baby, I was sure to have slippers!
Snack bag: So I already mentioned what to pack in this bag up above, but it’s an important bag after baby is born - so pack YOUR favorites. When its your first night after your baby was born and the hospital kitchen is closed for ordering - reach for the snack bag and treat yourself while you do that first 2am nursing session.
Hospital items for Dad
Loose Change & Cash: If you don't have time to circle the parking garage, go for the nearest parking meter. Change is also good for those late night snack cravings mom & dad may have.
Comfy clothes: Extra socks, underwear, and shirts. Yup, you’ll definitely want a clean shirt for holding your newborn. A sweater—layers are always a good idea, especially in hospitals where doors are always opening and closing and sometimes mom will get hot during labor and will want the room to be cool. Extra pants, if you have room.
Swim trunks: If mom is planning a water birth and you - even if dad is not planning to get in, it's good to have a pair on stand by, things can always change last minute.
Comfortable shoes. You may do a lot of walking with your partner in early labour, pacing the corridors and climbing stairs.
Toiletries: The obvious, razor, shaving cream (mom may want you to look freshly shaven for pictures), deodorant, shampoo, toothbrush/toothpaste.
Breath freshening mints or gum: When you are in your partners face helping her through contractions and you snacked on something before, she may not like the smell - so having peppermint gum or mints can be a great help when you’re too tired to move. Also peppermint is a energizing scent and helps with nausea when a mom is in labor.
Meds for spouse: Sorry to break this to the spouses, but no one will pay much attention to your aches and pains, so pack everything you’ll need, especially if you're on medications.
Water or energizing drink are essential: Mom will have a water bottle provided by the hospital, but you will need one too, so bring yours! Tip: For extra points, include your partner’s favorite beverages and something extra special (and healthy).
Phone and Charger: Of course this won’t be forgotten, but there are still a few things to remember. Load it up with distractions, like movies and tunes, and keep enough free space for new pictures. Download helpful apps, like a contraction timer, moms favorite music playlist, white noise generator.
Hospital items for baby
Swaddling/ receiving blanket: This isn't necessary, unless you want to get some cute pictures of your newborn in a specific blanket. I brought a muslin blanket with little blue crabs on it, it reminded my of life in the south, so I thought it would be sweet for my newborn to be swaddle in the blanket for pictures.
Newborn outfits: No need to overpack clothes. Throw a onesie in the bag, baby sleeper pj's and a going home outfit. If you baby is measuring on the smaller end, bring a premie outfit. I forgot this for my first baby who was 5lbs 10oz when we went home. She was full term, but just a little petite thing.
Baby soap: The hospital has this item, but for me my first baby had sensitive skin, so I brought a specific soap that is gentle and has clean ingredients in it. I just packed a travel size bottle.
Carseat: Make sure this is already installed a few weeks before the due date. Some hospitals require you to have it installed and some hospitals require you to bring the seat in so they can ensure the seat hasn't expired and it is safe to carry a baby.
Last Minute Hospital Bag Items
Toiletries: Lesson learned from my first birth - just pack a bag with new stuff (tooth brush, travel size tooth paste, deodorant, hair products) you will use it again when you are home and its one less thing to pack when labor kicks in.
Pony tail, headband, bobby pins - My advice is put your hair up even before you get to the hospital or put a headband on if you have short hair, one last thing to worry about while in labor.
Make-up: Some mommas don't bother with make-up. But it makes me feel like me again after labor. The weeks leading up to my due date, I just started to keep my makeup in a travel bag. So when labor kicked in, it was a grab and go effort.
Pillow: I had a comfort pillow that I brought with me. I used it throughout my pregnancy and it had a pattern that made me think of home.
Medications: If there are things that you take daily, go ahead and bring those so you don't miss a dose.
Long phone charger: I used my phone for music in the room. A long charger will make it easier to keep your phone charged and near so you can control it.
Important papers and documents: Download or save your birth plan (print a few copies to give to the nurses). Be sure to have all health info on hand, that includes moms full health history. Have the health insurance information. Hospital registration forms. Even if you've already registered at the hospital, some will need to confirm your records before admission. Hard copies of tips for labour. Any printouts from your prenatal classes to help with breathing or positions to help ease the pain.
Insurance card: Make sure this is in mom & dads wallets.
Contact list: With my first labor it was super long and I knew there were specific people I wanted to let know that the baby was born. But unfortunately with a long labor, your brain turns into mush and I forgot some people. So I made a Google Keeps list and shared it with my husband.
Paper and pen: Sometimes notes of what the doctors and nurses are saying needs to be jotted down. So keeping paper + pen in my purse made it easy to grab and write things down.
Chap stick: For some reason your lips get dry easily during labor. Pack your favorite chapstick or maybe two just in case one gets lost in the bag.
Things you think you need, but really don't
Birthing gown: It's cute to wear a stylish birth gown, but really I had no desire to think about grabbing the gown I brought - so I just wore the hospital one and it worked just fine. Plus I didn't have to worry about cleaning it after the birth.
Breast pads: I thought I needed this, but my milk really didn't start coming in a full power until I was home with my baby. Also, if you do end up needing them the hospital already has them for you - just ask.
Nipple Cream: I can’t speak for those who do not nurse, however, I nursed my son and within 24 hours of him being born my nipples were badly damaged. I brought nipple cream I purchased and was told by a Lactation Nurse she didn’t recommend I using it just yet. And to use the nipple ice packs to start off with. She did bring me a cream packet they do recommend.
Flip flops: I brought them in case the shower was disgusting (I’ve heard horror stories!) but I’m not terribly squeamish and ours was perfectly fine it looked as clean as a hotel shower. I didn’t even touch these.
Water bottle: The hospital gives you a great easy to refill water bottle, no need to bring the one you’ve been lugging around for 9 months, but your spouse may want to bring one for himself!
Hair ties and pins: I don't know why I brought enough to last me month, but really I ended up just wearing what I walked into the hospital with. If you walk in with your hair down, my advice would be to have at least 1 or 2 hair ties with you, but you really don't need an entire hair salon in your bag.
Items for the lady parts: No need to worry or stress about what to bring, the hospital supplies this for you! This includes pads, Dermoplast spray, Tucks Medicated Cooling Pads, ice packs, Peri bottles, mesh underwear - some people say they are the worse, but I loved them and the fact that I could just throw them away if they got stuff on it was so easy. My BIGGEST ADVICE on this, is that when it comes time for you to pack up and leave, pack up every single postpartum item they will give you. One less thing to think about when you are home.
Breast pump: Double check with your insurance on this one. My insurance worked with the hospital and had someone bring me a breast pump at the hospital. I have heard that some insurance will mail it to your home. But if you are planning to nurse when the baby is born, leave your pump at home.
Time to zip up you’re bag, because you should be all packed now!
So I know this all looks like a lot, but once you have it all packed, its really not a lot. Just remember to organize it so your partner can easily access the item you may request while you are laboring.