I packed my hospital bag about three weeks before my son was born, but I started researching what to bring with me a few months before he was due, so I felt very prepared at packing time. A hospital bag (also sometimes known as a hospital go bag) is the bag you take to the hospital or birthing centre with all the essential items you’ll need for both you and your baby during and after delivery. I recommend you get it packed at least a few weeks in advance of your due date and have it ready to go at a moment’s notice just in case baby decides to come early! I pack lightly when I travel, so I tried to be as minimal as possible when packing for the hospital. Here’s what I packed in my hospital bag, and for your easy reference, I’ve included a checklist at the end of this post. I won’t go on in great detail about every item I packed, but there are a few things that I want to draw attention to and elaborate on further.
Instead of using a travel or overnight bag, I actually used my diaper bag as the hospital bag! We received the Skip Hop Greenwich Diaper Backpack as a baby shower gift and it was large enough to hold everything I needed for both me and the baby during our hospital stay.
Bring the essentials like a toothbrush and toothpaste, shampoo, deodorant, etc. but also bring hair elastics, bobby pins and lip balm (you’ll likely be sweaty and want your hair out of your face, and your lips will probably get very dry). My number one toiletry essential is to BRING YOUR OWN TOILET PAPER! And not just any toilet paper, but bring the softest toilet paper you can find (this, in my opinion, is Charmin). This isn’t a 5-star hotel you’re staying at, it’s a government-funded hospital, so you’d better believe they’re not shelling out on good quality TP. When I was doing my research about what to bring, I didn’t see this on anyone’s list, and I’m so glad I thought of it on my own. This is not a time to use the cheap scratchy stuff, mama! I also recommend packing a peri bottle. The hospital will give you one but it’s not the greatest. I bought the FridaBaby Fridet Momwasher for postpartum home use but I wish I had brought it to the hospital with me. Bring “thunderpads” (those giant, thick maxi pads) because hospital supply is limited. You can also make your own “padsicles” for cooling comfort, but cold packs are just as good.
Bring comfortable clothes to labour in. This could be a robe or an oversized t-shirt or a bralette with cozy shorts or pants. You can also just wear the hospital gown they give you, but bring something of your own in case you want it. Also pack a going-home outfit (keep in mind that you’re going to look about 6 months pregnant, so pack a pair of comfortable maternity leggings because I hate to break it to you but you won’t be fitting back into your skinny jeans for quite a while yet). Pack flip flops for the shower and slippers for the room and for walking the hallways. Pack a few pairs of what I call “bumderwear” (underwear that covers your bum, a.k.a. not thongs) because you’ll be wearing a lot of pads and hospitals don’t give you many pairs of that fancy postpartum underwear you hear so much about (or, go one step further and bring leakproof underwear). Pack a sleep mask — great for catching zzz’s during the day while baby sleeps, and helpful at night too because hospital rooms always have a dim light on somewhere in the room.
Bring diapers, wipes and barrier cream. The hospital has these in short supply and though they will put your baby in a diaper to start, they expect you to bring these items yourself. Baby will also need an outfit to wear home (something cute, of course!). I packed 2 short-sleeved onesies, pants with attached feet, a long-sleeved onesie, a hat, and socks. Definitely don’t forget to bring a hat for baby’s time at the hospital/birthing centre — it’s not just to look cute on the way home, new babies get cold fast and you’ll probably have it on your baby most of the time.
This category includes the things you want with you during labour and to make your hospital stay more comfortable. For example, bring a bluetooth speaker that you can connect your birth playlist to, a phone charger, your own pillow, and snacks — lots of snacks. (The food where I delivered was so disgusting that I sent my husband out to buy food for every meal). I suggest packing a massage roller (this Harmony Roller is a dream — I bought it on Amazon after my doula recommended it). Make sure you bring your important documents, such as your birth plan, health card and hospital card. I highly recommend you bring a very large reusable water bottle and keep it within arms reach because breastfeeding makes you THIRSTY.
As you may already know if you read my birth story, I laboured for about 8 hours at home, and by the time I arrived at the hospital I was already 10cm dilated. Baby was delivered about half an hour after we arrived so I didn’t need some of the items that I thought I might need during labour/delivery. But I did make use of a lot of the other items that I packed for my postpartum stay and I feel like I achieved my goal of packing light.
If you’re also packing your hospital bag and and want to keep things to a minimum, here’s my handy checklist: