February 3, 2013

What to Pack for the Hospital: A Packing List for Labor, Delivery, & Beyond

Hey, you!

Yes, you!

The one with the uterus the size of a honeydew (which, according to The Bump would make you about 36 weeks pregnant or so...).

Have you packed your hospital bag yet?

If not, what are you waiting for, friend?

I'm a planner. I make lists. I realize that I can't control everything, but making lists helps me pretend I have at least a little bit of control. So I go with it.

I made the following list for the hospital just as I finished my first trimester of pregnancy. You may be thinking that's a little early. And yeah, it was. I did it anyway. I knew I wouldn't be packing a bag for the hospital for months, but I wanted to know I'd be prepared when delivery day came along (2.5 weeks sooner than anticipated - further incentive for you to pack today!).

Since I've taken the time to compile a list, and since several girlfriends have asked me to share that list at one time or another, I figured it would be great to share it. All moms-to-be need a helpful list to maximize the precious real estate of "the" hospital bag.

So here's what I've got.

We'll start with a top five list, compiled by responses from some of my favorite mommy friends. Whether you consider yourself high or low maintenance, whether you go in for a vaginal birth or cesarean delivery, these are the essential items for your hospital bag(s):
  1. Comfy outfit - nursing tanks or nightgowns with comfy shorts or sweats and...granny panties!
  2. Nursing pillow - Boppy or My Brest Friend (Highly recommend both!)
  3. Your own comforts - pillow and/or blanket, slippers, robe or sweater if it gets chilly
  4. Travel size toiletries - toothbrush, toothpaste, shower stuff, beauty essentials
  5. Camera - with batteries, charger, and plenty of memory!
If you pack nothing else, these will items will get you through.

If you're like me and want to feel a liiiittle more prepared, however, (you will be in and taking LOTS Of pictures for your family's historical records, after all) here's the comprehensive list.

Let's get to it.

I recommend two bags: one for labor and delivery time, and one that can be fetched from the car later for what will most likely be a one- to three-night stay at the hospital after your little bundle arrives.

Labor and Delivery Hospital Packing List

  • Birth plan copies (Confession: I never took mine out of the bag, but I knew my options and what to ask - whether delivery was vaginal or via c-section!)
  • Call list - top family and friends who should be called, texted first once baby arrives. (They don't want to find out with the rest of the world via Facebook. It's also a good idea to make your birth announcement policy clear before you go into labor. If you don't want anyone posting about baby before YOU do, now is the time to make that clear to the inner circle.)
  • Pillow
  • Tennis balls in a sock for back rub (Had a c-section. Didn't use. But sounded nice?)
  • Lip gloss (Yes, I did use that!)
  • Socks (hospital will have some for you)
Entertainment and Communication
  • iPod and/or iPad with carefully crafted playlists (Can't recommend this enough! Here's why.)
  • Battery-operated iPod speaker (like this one)
  • Candy bag/basket for nurses (Why not make it a party?)
  • Journal and pen (to keep track of notable milestones, memories for future reference)
  • Camera
  • Charged batteries, extra batteries, battery charger
  • Plenty of memory on each memory card!
  • DVD or two (a girl can dream...it could be a looooonnnng night/day)
  • Book
  • iPhones and chargers
  • Cash/change for vending
  • Jolly Ranchers - snacks for the support team
  • Deck of cards (More for your support team if you've got a long labor. If you somehow find yourself bored during this experience, REST.)
Post-Natal Hospital Packing List

  • Two nightgowns that allow for easy breastfeeding
  • One pair of throwaway granny panties (Do not bring any undies you're emotionally attached to.)
  • Nursing bra
  • Nursing Pads (Get ready to leak, friend.)
  • Shoes (flip-flops for the shower if you'd like) 
  • Comfy and cute maternity dress to wear home (I preferred breezy dresses since I had a c-section incision to deal with, but packed comfy sweats which worked great too.)
  • Your own towel (Again - don't bring your favorite, beautifully monogrammed wedding gift towel. This first shower is a doozie.)
  • Makeup
  • Travel size shampoo and conditioner
  • Other hair products (Hair ties or clips, headband, dry shampoo, mousse, whatever you'll need to look photo-ready if/when you care to look photo-ready!)
  • Hair dryer and/or flat iron
  • Toothbrush, toothpaste, floss (Now is NOT the time to get gingivitis, missy.)
  • Deodorant
  • Eye makeup remover + cotton balls
  • Moisturizer and SPF
For You and Dad
  • Snacks! (Unless you want to be at the mercy of hospital food...)
  • A power strip - the more outlets you have for your various chargers, the better!
  • See "Entertainment" section above if you can't sleep, otherwise any spare time should be spent sleeping. Trust.
For Baby
  • One carefully selected going home/photo outfit
  • Burp cloth
  • Socks
  • Blanket
  • Hat
*diapers and such are provided by the hospital - I'll get to a typical diaper bag list in another post!

Take Home Extras (Like a goodie bag from baby's actual day-of-birth party.)
  • Diapers
  • Potty pads (For lack of a better term - this is what you can lay under yourself to protect your sheets for a few more days. Glamorous, right?!)
  • Ice packs (Those who have pushed babies out of their hoo-hahs tell me these are a must.)
  • Lansinoh lanolin for sore niblets
And there you have it, Mama. You are officially out of excuses to procrastinate, so scoot your cutie booty over to your closet and start packing!

There are just a few items on this list that can't be packed in advance. The rest is just ready and waiting to be toted along for the most amazing day of your life.

What do you think, moms? Did I miss anything? Which of these items were the most critical to making your time in the hospital more enjoyable?

P.S.  This post is not related to my business, which is about helping bright entrepreneurs attract their dream clients, one brilliant message at a time. HOWEV - if you like my writing and want help with your own, sign up for free tips at www.nikkielledgebrown.com!


  1. What a great list! Don't think you forgot anything! I am going to send this link to a few PG friends!!!!

    1. Thanks, Bunny! Absolutely - please feel free to share! My hope for this list is that fewer new moms will be stuck at the hospital wishing they'd just remembered to pack ______.

  2. Ah, my sweet party planner! Excellent suggestions as expected, but since you asked for more . . . weren't you the one wishing for a little fan to help with those pesky hot flashes especially since the room temp is kept warmer for that new little one in the room with you :) The battery operated ones are fine, but if you bring a plug-in fan, be sure to bring my favorite travel item, a power strip for all those extra chargers too! Love You, Little Mama XOXO Your Proud MAMA ;)

    1. Power strip has been officially added - and yes, a fan could be useful too! You're a pro, Nana :)

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