My Hospital Bag Must-Haves
This post contains all of my hospital bag must-haves from my overnight bag, toiletries, postpartum care, linens, considerations for dad, what to bring for baby, and snacks!
Hello, friends!! We are home with baby and life is so good and so, so sweet. Graysen Joy is now
3-weeks old nearly 5 weeks-old and I've finally woven together enough short spells to finish this post. (Feels like a real #momwin.) Before I get into today's hospital bag must-haves post, I want to let you know that YES I do plan to share Gray's birth story in addition to a 4th Trimester Recap (after it's over), so I won't be going into much of those details in this post. If you want to see more of my pregnancy-related articles, check out my Baby Registry, Baby Announcement, 1st Trimester Recap, 2nd Trimester Recap, and 3rd Trimester Recap.
Today, I want to focus on the topic of the hospital bag. What to pack for the hospital was a pretty big mystery to me! I did a LOT of research and then (admittedly) totally over-packed. I had a clothing bag, a toiletry bag, a linens bag (for towels + blanket), and a snack bag. Although I knew I wouldn't use it all, I wanted to have the option to use it all so that I could report back with the nice-to-haves and the MUST-HAVES. Today's post only includes includes a list of what I really used!
Let's get to it!
- Long (dress-like) Button-Up, *Soft* Pajama Tops – I brought three of these to the hospital with me knowing that we'd likely spend a couple nights there. I brought one to possibly wear instead of a hospital gown while in the delivery room (which I wound up NOT wearing) and two more to wear in our recovery room. I like the dress-length pajama tops because I was in NO MOOD for pants. I wanted to wear my giant recovery undies (I'll go more into that later) and nothing else on my bottom. The dress-length allowed me to get up and shuffle around the room with some modesty while we had visitors. The buttons are a must-have if you plan to nurse your little one. I didn't own many button-up tops before and had to stock up! If you're looking for some comfy PJ options, here you go: Option 1, Option 2, Option 3, Option 4.
- Robe – I absolutely used my robe and I'm so glad I brought it. I wore it on top of my hospital gown while I was in early labor and on top of my pajama dresses while in recovery. I love that it offered a little more modesty and warmth when I was out and on my feet. I LOVE my robe (click HERE to see it).
- Nursing Bra – there are a bunch of options out there and you may have to experiment with what works for you. Here are a few of my favorites: Option 1, Option 2, Option 3 (not a nursing bra, but they work for me – be sure to order a size or two larger).
- Going Home Outfit – Finally two days after giving birth (vaginally), I was ready to hop in a pair of *roomie* soft pants. I brought THESE amazing joggers from Target, a soft button-up top (again to help with nursing), a nursing-friendly bra, an oversized sweater, and my Ugg boots (because my feet were still a little puffy and didn't fit into many other shoes). Before going to the hospital, I'd fantasized about a Kate Middleton hospital exit where I'm wearing a fabulous outfit and holding our new bundle of joy. Real life looked a whole lot more like a really slow walk in almost pajamas. I'm SO GLAD I brought the almost-PJ look vs. anything less comfortable.
- Warm Socks – I found these essential! Our hospital room was on the cool side and having a cozy pair of warm socks made a big difference. Bonus if they've got some traction on the bottom, too.
- Slippers – My husband and I opted to skip the baby's usual first bath provided by the hospital right after delivery so that we could (instead) bathe her ourselves 24 hours later. I'll go more into the details of why in baby's birth story, but having a pair of slippers to easily slip on for our walk down the hall was so nice! I was in no mood to bend down to tie on any more serious shoes and also didn't want to walk around the hospital in my socks.
Before we get to my list of toiletries, you have to know that I wound up *not* showering at the hospital. That being said, in hindsight, I do wish I had. I think that a quick rinse in the shower on my 2nd day in the hospital would have been so refreshing. SO, even though I didn't use all my toiletries listed below, I would still pack them all again!
Also note, all of the products listed below are what I consider SAFER. Switching to safer personal care products was important not only for my health, but for the health of our little one. From the shampoo I use to deodorant, moisturizer, and chapstick, all are safer options for myself and my family.
- Shampoo & Conditioner – This is the *safer* shampoo + conditioner I personally use. I packed these bottles, but you could easily squeeze some of each into a smaller travel bottles.
- Simplified Skincare Routine
- The Charcoal Cleansing Bar is the bar I brought to use on both my face and my body. I find bars to be slightly easier to travel with than my Cleansing Balm (I don't need a wash rag to take it off) and knew that I'd want the especially detoxifying cleansing power of the charcoal bar on my face after the events at the hospital.
- The Primally Pure Everything Spray is my toner. I apply it after washing and before the serum + moisturizer mentioned below!
- The Countermatch Collection is the skincare regime I use! Though I admittedly skipped the eye cream and night cream for this occasion, I've found the serum and day cream to be ESSENTIAL in keeping my (sensitive, dryness-prone) skin looking moisturized and healthy.
- Primally Pure Deodorant – I wound up bringing a tube of their new unscented deodorant with me! It works for my sensitive skin (no irritation) and helps keep me feeling fresh. Though I LOVE the new charcoal & geranium deodorants in their line, I opted for unscented because I wanted to keep EO (essential oil) exposure to baby at a minimum. Note: I'm not sayin EO's are bad for babies, I just like the idea of keeping her environment as benign and unscented as possible while she's just beginning to take in the world.
- Toothbrush & Toothpaste – bring the ones you like best! If you're looking for a slightly safer toothpaste option, THIS is the one I use. Note that it's not perfect in terms of ingredients. I've tested COUNTLESS options and just like this one best.
- Hair Care – I brought a hairbrush, some clips, hair ties, and one cute bow for my hospital exit (wanted to feel slightly put-together).
- Minimal Makeup – though I brought both my tinted moisturizer AND my mascara, I only wore my mascara.
- Post-Delivery Care – there's a good chance your hospital or recovery facility will provide a version of the items below for you! If that's the case, and you're not too picky about what goes on you (down there), you can leave these items at home. I brought them with me to the hospital because I wanted to have the option to use these safer alternatives for my postpartum recovery. NOTE: I do recommend stocking up on the below to keep at home for after your return! Though I'll discus it more in my 4th Trimester Recap, I used the following products for a solid 2 weeks.
- Sitz Bath Spray – this is pure heaven in a jar. If you deliver vaginally, this spray helps soothe some of the sensitive parts. I sprayed it on at every visit to the bathroom.
- Witch Hazel Pads – MORE HEAVEN. Grab a jar of these and, as your nurse will likely guide you, layer them on the pad before application. It's cooling and soothing.
- Overnight Pads – these organic overnight pads worked really well! They were really large (just like the ones from the hospital) but made with materials I felt good about.
- Panties – I'll never forget my SIL telling me to “buy a couple packs of cheap white, giant undies that you can throw away after.” Such great advice. Though I'm usually a size small, I ordered a large in these undies so that nothing was too tight.
- Nipple Balm – though I didn't really need it for my nipples while in the hospital, I do like this nipple balm because it also doubles as chapstick! It's made without EO's and is incredibly gentile, so I applied it to my lips as needed and kissed my baby without fear.
- Emery Board + Cuticle Clippers – maybe this is just me, but I like to take an emery board + cuticle clippers with me on ANY overnight trip. Nothing bums me out like a painful hangnail, so I like to have a tool available to help relieve the pain immediately. Apparently, during labor, I'd nervously picked at a few of my cuticles (like I do unknowingly when watching a scary movie) and was SO THANKFUL that I packed these tools when I got into my recovery room. Note: the emery board could be great if your little nugget is born with long nails! Gray had some good sized nails and I found the emery board much easier to help buff them down than her infant nail clippers (her nails were just too soft).
Note: all the linens listed below are likely provided for you! I brought an extra set to help our stay feel a little more like home.
- Towels – I brought my big fluffy towels so that I could wrap myself up in something extra soft.
- Blankets – I brought a couple blankets and I'm SO GLAD I did. I loved having THIS crazy soft blanket on my bed and my husband was thrilled that I brought him one for his pull-out bed, too.
- Pillow – though I had plenty of pillows, my husband was happy to have one for his bed!
- Newborn Cap – all hospitals (and I assume birthing centers) will provide baby with a little cap to put on right after their birth in an effort to help keep the little one's head warm. While those cute, I couldn't help myself and ordered a couple other options online. I got THIS ONE with a big bow and THIS ONE that is slightly larger, just in case her head is too big for the other. I also liked that I could pre-wash them with a fragrance-free detergent first.
- Diapers – these will (almost certainly) be provided, but we wanted to use THESE diapers, so we brought our own and asked that the nurses use them instead.
- Wipes – our hospital actually had water wipes on hand (awesome!) but we brought a package of THESE just in case
- Baby Emery Board – just in case your little one is born with long nails, this emery board can come in handy. I've found this infant-special one to work even easier on her little nails than my larger board. To use it, I just waited until she fell asleep and gave them a gentle file.
- Baby Soap – this one was really important to me. First, we opted to perform our own bath at a delay of 24 hours after birth. Because we opted to perform it ourselves, we were able to make sure that we got to use a soap of our choosing. THIS is the soap I chose! I love that the ingredients are especially gentile and free from aggravators. Believe it or not, most commercial baby soaps contain several ingredients that are known (and some suspected) endocrine disruptors.
- Going Home Outfit – this was so fun to shop for! Though she only wore the outfit for about 2 full hours, getting her dressed before going out into the world was such a sweet, special moment. Because babies umbilical cords need some breathing room until they fall off (between 1 and 2 weeks), classic body suits or other newborn wear aren't great options for early clothing. Instead, we opted for a long open-toed dress-like outfit (like this one) instead. We just hiked it up a bit so that we could fasten her carseat.
- Swaddle x2 – I just like to have two of these on hand at all times! We use them to swaddle her or as a light cover while she's riding in her carseat.
- Blanket – we brought a baby blanket to lay over baby on our way out just in case it was chilly!
- Carseat – you'll need a carseat to safely get baby home. THIS is the carseat we opted for and you can see the rest of our baby gear choices on my Baby Registry Post. Remember to install the base before you visit the hospital (if possible) and visit someone who can help demonstrate how to use it safely. Local stores, baby groups, or even the fire department can all aid in this.
- Carseat Shield – this one was IMPORTANT to me because hospitals are a hornet's nest for the ill, so I wanted to make sure our brand new daughter was as protected as possible as she went from the nursery floor to our car. We carried her out in her carseat and I made sure that she was thoroughly covered as we walked her out into the halls and atrium, just in case we passed anyone ill on the way While you can absolutely use a swaddle draped over the carseat, I liked having a separate special carseat shield.
- Phone Chargers – don't forget these! Though, if you do, it's not the end of the world. A friend or family member can always bring a replacement. I drained my battery several times answering texts from friends and family. Pro tip: bring an extra long cord (like this one) so that your plugged-in-phone can reach your bed in the recovery room.
- Gift for Nurses – totally optional, but really thoughtful. I do recommend checking with the hospital first, though. I had planned on gifting all of our labor/delivery + nursery nurses a hand cream, but after inquiring, learned that gifts of that sort were frowned upon. Instead, they suggested something edible! A sweet treat (donuts, cupcakes, cookies, etc.) are a nice way to thank these precious people for their loving care. I almost get weepy-eyed thinking of how much our team of mama + baby nurses helped us in those first few days as parents. THEY'RE AMAZING.
- Book, iPad, or Computer – I found some kind of entertainment helpful in the delivery room! I'll share more (again) in Gray's birth story post, but I was in labor when we got to the hospital but my pain levels were really manageable. In that early-ish labor phase, I was happy to have some kind of entertainment to help pass the time. THEN, when they broke my water and labor pains really began and my focus turned to working through the contractions. A book is nice or, if your significant other is there with you, you could also pull up a TV show (or movie) on an iPad or computer so that the two of you can snuggle up together.
- Cup with a Lid + Straw – though the hospital provides this, I liked having one, too. This is the cup I own, here's the lid + straw, and here's the handle! After the delivery room, I was THIRSTY and sent my hubs to refill this cup a LOT.
- A BAG – this is the overnight bag I used to store my goodies! It's a GREAT price and fantastic quality. If you travel by air quite a bit, know that this bag is also a good size for under the seat or overhead compartment. I love it!
A snack bag was a MUST! After delivery, I was (first) THIRSTY and (second) really hungry. Most hospital kitchens close after a certain hour and, if you're in postpartum during the middle of the night, most restaurants are closed, too. Having a snack bag within reach full of my favorite foods made a big difference for myself and my husband.
- Coconut Water – I brought 4 big jugs of this potassium-rich beverage and made it a point to drink at least one full one each day. We kept these in a cooler bag so that they were chilled.
- Gluten-Free Graham Crackers – most hospitals will bring you graham crackers, but they don't always have a gluten-free option. I liked the idea of a tasty, easy-to-eat carb, so I brought a box of THESE.
- Dried Fruit – tart cherries were my choice!
- Protein Bars – for a quick meal replacement! I like THESE and THESE.
- Prenatal Vitamins – though not a snack, remember to toss those in! THESE are the ones I chose. If you have questions about what prenatals are right for you, ask your team of baby professionals.
- Peanut (or Almond) Butter – to put on the dates
- Chips – in case I wanted something salty to snack on.
- Green Pears – pears are actually known to help loosen stools a bit, which you'll be thankful for after a vaginal delivery. I ate one a day!
- Cooked Meal(s) – though I brought this, I didn't eat it. I brought it in case I wanted a meal and everything was closed. Luckily, my family was able to deliver us food after Gray's birth. We kept our prepared meals in the cooler bag, too.
I hope you found this helpful!! While you could get away with an abbreviated list of what I've got here, the items included are what I think helped make my experience so smooth and comfortable.