I like to be prepared. When I pack for trips, I have a checklist ready of all the things I’ll need for every single day that I would be gone. I pack for my husband and our dog too (surprisingly they each easily fill up a suitcase). Naturally when I was preparing our hospital bag for our delivery, I had to research all the things that I could potentially need to bring with me. There are some pretty comprehensive checklists out there including more than 30 items. You’ll want coins for the vending machine to get snacks, your own music to help you relax, and a change of clothes for leaving the hospital.
I brought a carry-on sized suitcase to the hospital with me along with my own birthing ball and 2 pillows. In that suitcase I had everything listed in the hospital bag checklists you find online. I had a 24 hour birthing experience so you would think that I’d use most of the things in my bag. The fact is I only used a few things and the hospital bag just ended up being in the way most of the time. So here’s my list of things that I think you really need if you like to keep things simple. The hospital had just about everything I needed anyways.
- Comfy Pillows: The hospital only provides two pillows per bed and they are extremely thin. You’ll want your own comfy pillows to use between your legs, your back and to sleep on. Make sure you cover them in non-white cases so the hospital staff doesn’t confuse them as their property. You might consider the Boppy Prenatal Cuddle Pillow for pregnancy and beyond. This is not for the hospital, just something comfy during your last trimester of pregnancy.
- Music: Although I really didn’t play any of my music during labor, I used my iPod after the delivery. It was nice music to relax to as I was recovering. Additionally, I had some hypnotherapy tracks that helped me relax and control my spasms the first hours after delivery. If not for these I would have had so many cramps throughout my body.
- Hair-tie/head-band: Just for your comfort when you are in labor.
- Nursing Pillow: You’re going to learn to breastfeed and the best way to do this is to be comfortable. A nursing pillow is not provided at the hospital but will make a world of difference as you and your baby get to know each other. My Brest Friend Original Pillow is the best because it provides back support while you’re nursing too.
- Nursing Top/Bra: You’ll be nursing almost half the day so having a nursing top will make it easier to do so, especially in front of all the visitors and hospital staff that will be coming in and out of your room.
- Hands free pumping bra: Make sure you get one of these. Your arms will be so tired from pumping milk as you try to get your milk supply going. If it is too expensive or you don’t have time to get one, you can try cutting holes in a sportsbra. This won’t hold the pump as well but it works. If you can get your milk supply going early on without having to pump, then you won’t need this. My baby was in the NICU and I didn’t always get to feed him so I used a pump to get my milk supply going and by double pumping I was able to ensure he mostly got breast milk instead of formula the whole week he was in the NICU.
Everything else that you may need will be provided at the hospital. The hospital has clothes for your baby and newborn diapers are given to you. They have burp clothes and rash creams and may even offer you a free diaper bag (Kaiser Permanente Hospital did!).When my baby was in the NICU they let me use the hospital breast pump and gave me a bunch of brand new baby bottles to use so I didn’t need to bring my own. I didn’t even use the birthing ball (which the hospital provided too). You might want a change of clothes but you could also wear the clothes you came in when you leave the hospital. On top of that, your partner or visitors can stop at home to pick up anything you left behind, especially if your hospital is close by.
Are there any other must-haves that you think should definitely be packed in the hospital bag? List them below!