I remember being a brand new mom-to-be back in 2011, anxiously awaiting the great unknown of expecting my first baby. I followed every single parenting book and new baby checklist to the “T” throughout my pregnancy, and as a result, I had a massive, overstuffed hospital bag packed within like 10 weeks gestation, jammed full of everything but our actual kitchen sink. I seriously had so much unnecessary stuff with me in the delivery room that bringing my brand new baby home was greatly overshadowed by the massive amounts of gear that I had to carry out of the hospital with him.
Flash forward to my second baby–I labored so fast and unexpectedly that I barely had a chance to grab a change of clothes before forcing Tom to drive as fast as humanly possible to the hospital, where I birthed our daughter into his hands about thirty minutes later. I was discharged from the hospital within 24 hours, and luckily, I never needed a thing.
But third time really is a charm, y’all, and I’m proud to say I packed a really banging hospital bag during Luna’s delivery, and now that I’m 33.5 weeks (HOLY CRAP), I spent this weekend packing that same bag for Leif and putting it by the door. I figured I would share everything we are taking to the hospital, just in case you are a compulsive over-packer like me and need a little reassurance that you don’t have to bring your entire luggage set to your baby’s birth! I’m actually only packing ONE bag that I’m even using as our diaper bag after he’s born. (You can find my exact bag here on Amazon and use code MBKCBCH20 for twenty-percent off)
So, here it is: my definitive list of everything you actually need in your hospital bag, from a mom who has spent a hilarious amount of time in delivery rooms over the last few years:
- Three or Four Cute Baby Outfits: Don’t overthink or overpack on this one. Pack three or four basic Size Newborn outfits (including socks!!) in your bag. The weird straight jacket onesies they try to put your baby in after birth are pretty terrible, and I made sure the nurses all knew that I’d prefer them to use the outfits that I packed when they bathed our babies for the first time. Make sure everything is pre-washed in a gentle, unscented detergent because your baby’s skin WILL break out from everything and you WILL feel super guilty at first.
- Three Outfits for You: I can only speak for vaginal deliveries, but after birth each time, all I wanted to do was put my own clothes on and get comfortable. I pack three sets of black yoga pants, three nursing tanks, reusable nursing pads, and an oversized cardigan–the more layering, the better you’ll feel. I stick to neutrals so I can mix and match in case of accidents. Remember that everything you pack needs to be nursing friendly, and you are not going to magically fit into your Size 0 jeans right after popping out the baby…nor will you want to wear jeans for weeks afterwards. Also, use the hospital underwear. Trust me. Don’t waste good panties on the downstairs fiasco that is about to take place…
- Toiletries: Yes, you will want to look great in pictures, but you don’t need to pack the entire MAC counter into your bag. Stick to the basics of toothpaste, toothbrush, hairbrush, hair ties, shampoo/conditioner, basic makeup if you want it, and deodorant.
- Robe: I can’t stand those horrible hospital gowns. Itchy, gross, ugly. As soon as humanly possible, usually while the nurse is weighing the baby, I have my husband help me change out of the dirty hospital gown and into my own robe. I bring a Victoria’s Secret silk one each time, and not only does it feel amazing on my skin after enduring labor, it looks great in pictures. Don’t wear it while you’re in labor, though–IT WILL GET RUINED.
- Swaddle Blankets: The hospital baby blankets, in my opinion, are equally itchy, gross, and ugly. At the same time, they hold a weirdly sentimental place in my heart because my children were all handed to me for the first time while wrapped in them, but again, as soon as humanly possible, I switch them out for my own swaddle blankets. I usually pack two in our bag.
- Snacks: Trust me on this. My babies were all born at night, and the kitchen in the hospital was already closed. After not eating all day while in labor, nothing is worse than being told you still can’t eat. Sure, you can send your husband to go get food, but I promise, you will want him by your side for as many of those new moments as possible. I pack trail mix, individually wrapped snacks, etc.
- Nursing Pillow: The first few days of breastfeeding will be crucial for developing a bond and a routine, so make it as seamless as possible by bringing your nursing pillow with you. I use a Boppy, and not only is it great for feedings, I use it as a regular pillow while I’m there, too.
- Car Seat: I install our newborn seat into the car when I hit 35 weeks every time, just so I know I won’t forget it. It’s kind of the most important thing for bringing baby home, right?
- Fully Charged Phone with Full Memory: y’all, this one is a hilariously sore subject between me and Tom. As I was heading into the delivery room to have one of the girls, I asked my darling husband to take a picture of me being pregnant just one last time. As I stood there in front of the hospital, awkwardly posing for this picture for a solid two minutes, I finally asked him what the heck the hold up was–well, he was having trouble taking the pictures because his phone had zero memory and was almost dead. It felt like the end of my millennial world. Make sure your phone has plenty of storage left on it, and bring your charger! You’ll never get a second chance to take pictures of your baby’s first moments, and trust me, those moments are heaven that you will want to relive over and over again…minus the pain, but I promise you forget that after awhile.
Now obviously, there are a few extra amenities I throw into mine because I’m admittedly high maintenance and have to feel comfortable at all times. I bring my own plush pilows and blanket, I force my husband to sneak in a bottle of champagne where I toast what a goddess I am after delivery (zero shame), and I’m packing my letterboard this time for when I take Leif’s newborn pictures. Make your hospital bag your own and add whatever makes YOU comfortable, because the day really is all about YOUR body doing something completely incredible. But remember, you have to carry all that stuff out of the hospital eventually, load it in the car, unload it from the car, and have it sit by your front door for weeks while you adjust to your new chaos. Keep it simple!