You’re at 37 weeks pregnant and have been nesting like crazy. The nursery is ready and your partner has spent a whole weekend assembling the crib and the rocking chair. You’ve folded the clothes and hung everything in the closet. All you need is your baby to arrive.
In all that excitement, you shouldn’t forget that you need to pack your “go” bag for the hospital. This is your bag, with all your essential items, that you leave near your door so that when you’re ready to go to the hospital, you can grab it. It’s recommended that you pack this bag several weeks before your due date — just in case your baby makes an appearance early!
What should be on your essential item list for your hospital bag? We’re going to share the 20 items you definitely need (and will definitely want) when it’s go time!
This is probably the most important thing you can remember and something that people rarely talk about. Make sure you have the proper paperwork in your bag. This includes several items:
Take your insurance cards and all of your important insurance documentation. When you are admitted to the hospital, they’re going to ask for the information, so you should have it on hand.
Pediatrician’s Contact Information
Another piece of information you’re going to be asked when admitted is for information on your pediatrician. Have their contact information because as soon as your baby is here, your pediatrician will be notified. Within 24 hours, your pediatrician will give your baby a routine check-up. Don’t let your tired pregnancy brain keep you from remembering this important information.
Hopefully, you’ve taken some time to create a birth plan to document your desires for your labor and delivery. You may have brought this to your last appointment and shared it previously with your doctor, but it would be a good idea to bring a copy with you. Your doctor may not be on call or available for your delivery. Having a copy of your birth plan will make sure that everything about your labor and delivery is in line with your wishes.
Yes, your baby needs to have a few things you for your baby. You’re going to get several things for free from the hospital — like diapers and wipes. Talk with your doctor before your delivery to make sure that there isn’t something you might need. Here are a few good ideas to bring along:
2. Receiving Blanket
This is one of the most common gifts for new parents. Receiving blankets, also known as swaddlers, are thin blankets made from soft fabrics like cotton or flannel. The name comes from an old custom where a new baby would be wrapped in a blanket right after birth before giving the new baby to mom to “receive.” These blankets become useful after birth to keep them warm or give them a play area and more.
3. Socks or Booties
Newborns don’t move around at all and that can cause their feet to get cold. While you may not think about it, your baby’s feet will be really sensitive to cold temperatures and can get frostbite easily. Keeping socks or booties nearby for when it gets cold is something you want to consider. They don’t take up too much space in your bag and your baby will appreciate warm feet.
4. Going Home Outfit
If all goes well, you’ll be heading home with your new baby 24 to 48 hours after you’ve delivered your baby. You want to make sure that you have a sweet little outfit for your new baby to wear on the ride home. Most people forget this essential item and then are scrambling to find something.
Bring a baby gown with you that you can knot at the bottom so you don’t have to worry or fumble with zippers or buttons. Just knot the bottom of the gown to keep their feet in and they’re going to be cozy.
5. Car seat
Yes, a car seat. You’re going to have to transport baby home somehow! Don’t forget to have the base all strapped in and ready to take baby home. Make sure that prior to your trip to the hospital that you’ve gone through and made sure that it’s properly installed. One of the most common reasons for a delay in taking baby home is the improper installation of the car seat. So double and triple check, and have your partner read the instructions while installing.
Do I Need Diapers or Wipes for the Hospital?
No! Lucky for you, the hospital has plenty of diapers and wipes for use during your stay. Many hospitals also gift parents with a whole supply of diapers and wipes for the first few days. Don’t worry about bringing your own — leave those at home.
6. Extra Bag for All the Freebies
Since you’ll be getting gifts from the hospital or from visitors, you will want to pack a bag or two to help you carry all of the items out to the car in as few trips as possible. Make sure it’s a large, sturdy bag that can handle several items.
Now you have been spending a lot of time preparing the bag for your baby and making sure that he or she has everything needed to make their first couple of days in the world pleasant. But don’t forget these items that you’ll need to pack in your bag. You’ll be in the hospital as well, so you’ll want to make sure that you have these items to make yourself comfortable.
7. Nightgown and Robe
After you give birth, you’ll want to sleep. You can stick with the hospital gown, but you’ll probably be more comfortable wearing a nightgown. If you plan to start breastfeeding your baby, make sure to select one that opens in the front to accommodate. A robe is also a great option to bring to cover up when you have visitors or when you have to walk to your bathroom.
Hospital tile floors can be cold. Have some slippers or sandals that you can easily slip on before walking to the bathroom. This will keep you comfortable without the surprise of icy tile floor waking you up!
9. Back Massager or Tennis Ball
Contractions and delivery may cause you back pain. If you want something to help you ease those back pains or the tension you feel, pack a back massager or a tennis ball. Use them as needed when you feel like you need it. You may even want to keep it nearby once you return home!
10. Pillow and Bath Towel
Maybe you’re particular about your pillow. That’s okay. Having something familiar to rest your head on can make you more comfortable. Pack your favorite pillow. Make sure to use a bright colored pillowcase to help you remember to take it with you once you leave. Hospital towels tend to be small and rough — they go through a lot of laundry. Consider packing a big soft towel for you to use once you can shower after the birth. You can wrap yourself in that towel and feel so much more yourself.
11. Toothbrush and Toothpaste
You’re going to be in the hospital for a couple of days. Clean teeth make all the difference when someone wants to freshen up. Make sure to pack your toothbrush and some toothpaste so that you can continue to enjoy good hygiene. Plus, you’ll want to at least have good breath for any visitors who come to visit you.
12. Chapstick or Lip Balm
You’re going to get chapped lips during labor. It’s not a sign of labor, but rather a result of labor. You will be breathing out of your mouth during labor so your lips get chapped. Make sure pack your favorite chapstick or lip balm to help remedy this. Your lips will thank you, especially when you start eating ice chips.
13. Moisturizer or Lotion
Especially in the winter, your hands will get cold and dry. Having your own familiar moisturizer or lotion on hand gives you a familiar scent to make you feel at home. Keep the lotion by your bed for easy access.
14. Books, Music, Magazines or Movies
Delivery can be long and boring. Make sure you’ve got plenty of entertainment to keep your mind off your delivery. Whether you love books or movies or magazines, make sure you have plenty of those options on hand. Load up your iPad or other device with your favorite movies or TV shows. Download any videos from your favorite streaming software. You don’t know how reliable the wi-fi would be and having a copy on your device eliminates any buffering delays.
In one of your last visits before your due date, check with your doctor to find out if there are any restrictions on what you can eat or drink during labor. Consider lollipops as a way to keep moisture in your mouth. Also, hospital food is notoriously underwhelming. It may be comforting to have some familiar (and favorite) foods to eat. You will also want some snacks for your partner to help fuel them through the process as well.
Depending on how long labor lasts, you may need an energy boost or something postpartum to help you stay awake. Instead of scrambling to find something that you want, make sure that you pack a couple of drinks that you particularly enjoy. You may consider adding a sports drink with electrolytes to keep you hydrated.
17. Cell Phone and Charger
You’ll want to capture those perfect moments after your baby has arrived. Most phones have fantastic cameras so instead of bringing a large camera, just bring your cell phone and a charger. You can then make sure to update family when your baby has arrived and you’re ready to share the good news.
18. Deodorant, Shampoo, Conditioner and Soap
You will want to shower after delivery, especially if you’re expecting family and friends to visit you at the hospital. Make sure you pack your favorite shampoo, conditioner, and soap to help yourself feel more like yourself. Don’t forget to pack your deodorant as well.
19. Heavy-Duty Maternity Pads
Let’s talk about after your delivery. It’s normal to experience lots of bleeding after birthday. Maternity pads are made especially for those who have had a baby. They’re extra long and thicker than regular pads. While the hospital may have some of these, you want to bring some of your own. You will need to change pads regularly to begin with — every couple of hours — until the flow decreases. Make sure you have several pairs of underwear that can accomodate these pads in your bag too.
20. Going Home Outfit
Your baby needs a going home outfit, but you do as well! Make sure that you pack a clean set of maternity clothes because you still won’t be able to fit into your pre-pregnancy clothing. You may want to wait to buy a nursing bra until after the baby comes and your milk comes in so you can measure for your cup size.
That list should supply you with everything that you and your baby will need for your stay in the hospital.