Hospital bag must-haves

Hospital Bag Must-Haves

When I packed my hospital bag (obviously a month in advance), I packed with my idea of “labor” in mind.  What happened next was, as you might know from my previous post, an entirely different reality that required a different wardrobe.  (Not that I packed high heels or anything, but I didn’t end up wearing much of anything I packed…much to my hubby’s chagrin after he hauled everything into the hospital on that frigid morning.)  So, when my neighbor asked me to send along some thoughts on hospital bag must-haves (she’s due in a few weeks!), I was so excited to share what I would have done differently…and what I actually used.  With a few more friends due in the coming weeks, and to remind myself whenever Baby #2 comes along, I wanted to get it all written out.

For the list-lovers, here it is in a condensed version.  Below is more of an explanation why I think these are helpful items…so read, digest, modify and decide what’s best for you.

Hospital Bag Must-Haves:

  • Juice, coconut water and/or Vitamin Water*
  • Tylenol and ibuprofen*
  • Stool softeners*
  • MediPlast*
  • Ultra-thin pads*
  • Tuck pads*
  • Coconut oil*
  • Vaseline*
  • Nipple cream*
  • Hydrogel pads*
  • Medical Info (keep a folder ready to go with your insurance, any necessary paperwork, your birthplan if you have one, etc.)
  • 4-5 pairs of comfy pants (again, this is in the event you dirty a bunch!  You might only wear 2 pairs…lucky you!)
  • 4-5 nursing tanks with shelf-bra (if those aren’t comfy for you, pack some nursing bras and cozy, long tanks)
  • 4-5 cozy t-shirts (VS makes a burnout, v-neck cotton T that I’m obsessed with.  That’s what I wore the whole time I was there.  Super soft.  Awesome.)
  • 4+ pairs of roomie undies (you’ll be shoving pads and ice-diapers in there…so space is nice…but the hospital undies are AWESOME.  Mesh boy shorts.  Score.  And I’m NOT being sarcastic here.)
  • 2 sweatshirts/long sleeve shirts (again, layers are KEY – you have no idea what you’re going to be in the mood for!)
  • 1 cotton robe/wrap sweater (I wore a super-soft, short robe the whole time I was there.  Loved it.  Got it at Target.)
  • Socks/slippers/flip flops or all three.
  • Bathing suit (if a water birth is in your birth plan…)
  • Any other clothing articles you love ❤
  • Toiletries: The usual suspects and I especially loved my Dry shampoo, Baby wipes, Face wipes, Gum/Wisps, Chapstick.  I brought my favorite BB cream, a bronzer, brown eyeliner and mascara – think 2 minute application when your 5th visitor is on their way!)
  • Misc. (it’s up to you from here on out…pack cameras, phones, chargers, books, games, iPads, whatever!)

*These are items I’d recommend stocking the medicine cabinet with BEFORE the baby arrives!  No fun having to make a pit-stop on the way home from the hospital.

Get now and keep on hand: Some liquids and medical supplies.  

If your water breaks, the person on call will tell you to drink a glass of juice, lay down on your left side and count the baby’s kicks and movements.  They want you to get 10 kicks in an hour to make sure the baby isn’t in distress due to your water breaking.  We don’t really drink juice at our house so we didn’t have any…thankfully, my grandparents had just sent Florida oranges so my hubby juiced some fresh OJ, made me toast and peanut butter while I relaxed and counted kicks.   Ew.  I was also all about the REVIVE Vitamin Water during and after labor – I cut it with water, so a few big bottles lasted for labor and my post-baby stay at the hospital.  While on the topic of food, mind you, about 1 hour after my nice little morning snack I was puking up orange juice, cinnamon raisin toast and peanut butter all over the hospital floor…so, maybe pick a snack that’s bland but filling – you’ll need energy but no thanks to OJ and PB puke.

You should also stock up on items you’ll want when you finally bring baby home.  We had to stop on the way home from the hospital and that was annoying.  I’ll save you a trip: thin, extra-absorbant pads, mediplast spray, tuck pads, Tylenol/ibuprofen, stool softener, coconut oil, nipple cream and hydrogel pads.  These are all essential vag-care and nip-care items you’ll likely want.  Because, I’ll be honest, you won’t do much other than breastfeed and “sleep” those first two weeks…so not much else is necessary.

When it’s time to go / If your water breaks: Comfy Outfit #1

As soon as my contractions started getting closer together, I dashed upstairs and got into my “it’s go-time” outfit.  I would consider setting aside whatever you’re most comfortable in and layer up…because cutting out any and all annoyances (tags, underwire, funny seams, etc.) is key.  With layers you can strip down or bundle up with ease depending on how you’re feeling at the moment.  Next time, I’ll set aside a nursing tank with a built-in bra (I love the shelf-bra nursing tank from Target), a comfy burnout T-shirt from VS, a long sleeve shirt/sweater/zip up, a pair of sweat pants/comfy pants, a pair of grannie-panties and a major pad (I actually have hospital undies left over from baby W that are AH-mazing so I’ll be wearing those for Baby #2).  I mention the pads because if your water breaks, it gushes a bit with each contraction.  I didn’t really think the pads were for ON THE WAY to the hospital so I didn’t have any here, and needless to say, crawling into the hospital with paper towels stuffed in my undies wasn’t the most comfortable thing…but it did come in handy when I pooped my pants WHILE puking upon arrival.  Awesome.

In labor: Comfy Outfit #2  

Again, you never know if you’re going to puke, pee, poop or bleed all over the first pair of undies, pants and shirt.  I did.  However, I just took my pants and undies off when I got there and went the rest of labor with no pants 🙂  While sitting on the toilet…puking, pooping and bleeding…”discussing” pain management options with the nurse (to which I vehemently growled that I wanted an epidural), she then asked if I wanted to labor in a hospital johnny.  I’m not even sure I replied.  I just got off the toilet, leaving my underwear and pants behind me.  I managed to waddle over to the bed wearing only my tank, t-shirt and headband, got on my hands and knees, buried my face in a pillow, and didn’t emerge but to mouth “ice” to my doting husband and to roll over when the doctor presented me with little baby W.  So, you never know what you might want to wear or not wear.  Pants are totally optional, though 🙂  Also, if you’re thinking a water birth or the tub is a possibility, bring a bathing suit top if that’s your thing.

After the baby is born: Comfy Outfit #3 and #4, plus a belly band

My stomach felt strangely hollow and jelly-like after the baby, so I really liked having something tight around it.  I wore one of those stretchy bands that I wore during pregnancy (you know, the kind that hold your pants up well past the point you should be wearing regular pants.)  It worked pretty well, and I think they even make postpartum ones that I’ll probably get for Baby #2.  I also kept on the same shirt and tank top on that I’d come to the hospital in and labored in for that day.  I slept in it, too, I think…But, having another nursing tank, t-shirt, undies and pants/shorts will be a good idea.  Now you’ll start having visitors, too, and your boobs/nipples might be REALLY sore so I just hung out in a cotton robe with nothing underneath.  I could cover up, loosely, if I wanted to.  But at that point, I just kept my boobs out and visitors had to deal with it.  My nipples hurt too much and needed to air dry to heal!

Going home: Comfy Outfit #5 and an outfit for baby 

Again, a pair of comfy pants, underwear, top/sweater/sweatshirt.  I say pack one specific for going home just so you know you have something clean to wear.  Also, bring something seasonally appropriate for the baby on the ride home.  Remember, though, that you can’t put bulky sweaters underneath the car seat straps, so pack a hat and a blanket to put over the baby if it’s cold out.  Also, since skin-to-skin time was so important, we didn’t really dress W in much other than a blanket and what the hospital had for him.  So, feel free to pack clothes for the baby or not many at all!

Toiletries, duh.

Really just pack what you would for any other overnight trip.  The only caveat is, try to bring along items that aren’t heavily scented or, even better, are unscented and natural.  The first hours and days with your babe are key to their ability to “imprint” and that requires their natural scent and yours!  I like to think that’s another reason why I didn’t shower for three days.  Toothpaste, toothbrush, mouthwash, gum, body lotion (coconut oil would be a super healthy option here, and it even doubles as nipple cream if you want!), face wash (though I’d have gone with face wipes and Jojoba oil if I had to do it again), wash cloth and unscented baby wipes for your body (I didn’t shower the whole time I was there because the thought of getting my stitched vagina wet wasn’t happening, so I “showered” at the sink), shampoo (again, dry shampoo was my saving grace – didn’t shower the whole time I was there…this was pretty scented, though, so for Baby #2 I’m going to try to find a more natural one or make my own dry shampoo), HAIR THINGS – elastics, headbands – whatever you might want for during and after the baby is born.  Nothing more annoying than not being able to find a hair thing when all you want is that god damn hair out of your face.  Ugh.

Stuff for your feet.

A pair of slippers, a few socks…whatever you like on your feet.  Remember you could be in your room or roaming the halls.

Sleep stuff.

Your own pillow, eye mask, sound machine, etc. –  it was really nice to have these things 🙂  I was trying to catch a few winks wherever and however I could, so the comforts of my own pillow, a mask to block out the light if need be and some white noise was GREAT.  The hubby should bring a few pillows, too, cause that hospital pull out bed aint too comfy…


I’ll leave this up to you!  You’ll probably want your phone, camera, video camera, chargers, etc.  I didn’t have time for reading or games, etc., pre-baby…and I sure wasn’t interested in that post-baby!  But, as long as you’re not dragging 3 suitcases to the hospital…better to have more than less 🙂

Happy labor, mamas!  All the mothers of the world are there with you in spirit 🙂

Yours truly,


If you found something else super-helpful during your labor and delivery, please comment!  The more experiences the better.