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As a postpartum RN, I have seen people bring A LOT of different things to the hospital for their stay.
Sometimes it looks like my patients are packing to stay for a week!
Most of the time they overpack or pack the wrong things. Many wish they knew beforehand what the hospital would provide or didn’t.
If you tour the hospital before your birth be sure to ask about what your hospital will provide you and baby and what they don’t.
I had a c section with my first child 12 years ago and don’t think I even had a bag packed! My next baby was a homebirth so no need for a bag at all! This time we will deliver in the hospital I work at so I’m very familiar with what I need/don’t need.
So let’s get to it. Here are the must-have items to bring with you for your hospital stay!
Labor and Delivery:
- Chapstick- Usually while you work through contractions you are breathing heavily. This can lead to a dry mouth and dry lips.
- A Fan= Many moms have hot flashes during delivery as a result in extreme hormonal changes. Most hospitals have fans but getting them to you will probably take longer than you would like.
- Hair clip or ties- This goes along with being HOT! The last thing you want is your hair sticking to the back of your neck or face.
- Birth plan/ID/Insurance card- Make sure if you have a birth plan to give a copy to your L and D nurse so your team can know what your preferences are. Pre-register for the hospital if you can so you can sign the bulk of the admittance forms up front but you will still want to have your ID and Insurance card just in case.
- Labor pain relief items- You may want to utilize essential oils during delivery, have your partner provide counter pressure using a tennis ball, set the room up with flameless candles so you can dim the lights, have a playlist ready for your comfort. Make sure you bring anything to make your birthing space your own. (all previously mentioned items are usually ok but check with your facility first) Most hospitals are providing birthing balls and peanut balls to be utilized during labor, but be sure to ask if you need to bring your own.
- Cell phone/charger- If you get confined to the bed you are going to want an extra long phone charger to plug into the wall so it can reach you in the hospital bed.
What the hospital usually provides for mom: mesh panties, super duper huge peripads, a topical cream for numbing your swollen lady bits, hemorrhoid cream, lanolin, their own gowns that are open in the back, linens such a towels and washcloths, sheets, blankets and pillows.
That being said there are a few items from those lists I would prefer to bring for myself as well as our must have items.
- A robe or gown– After you have a baby a nurse will be coming in at least once during her shift to check you out and assess you. That means if you have had a laceration that was repaired during delivery or an episiotomy, she needs to see it. If you had a c section she needs to look at your incision. So the easiest thing to wear is a comfortable gown for “easy access” so to speak. Also a robe for being able to cover up while nursing if that is important to you or for when you have visitors in the hospital.
- Slippers or flip flops- Hospitals are nasty. Especially our floors. With the amount of people coming in and out of your room on a daily basis tracking in God knows what from God knows where you DO NOT want to walk on the floors barefoot. Plus to us everyone is at risk for falling so if you don’t want to wear a pair of sexy treaded socks, bring your own footwear.
- Belly Bandit or abdominal wrap-(If you have had a c section check with your doctor, they may not want you to wear an abdominal binder after surgery.) After the birth of my last son (vaginal birth), I found this to be SO comforting! It kind of felt like my insides were hanging out for a few weeks postpartum so when I wore my abdominal binder it helped keep everything where it felt like it should be!
- Toiletries- BRING YOUR OWN! Many patients ask for tooth paste, deodorant, shampoo and conditioner when they get to the hospital only to find the “quality” of those items lacking in the extreme! Make sure to bring your own soap or body wash, shampoo and conditioner, deodorant, tooth brush and toothpaste, lotion, brush, hairdryer, contact solution, face wipes, make up. Whatever the essentials are that make you feel good, bring them. *Don’t forget to pack Dad’s stuff as well*
- Disposable Underwear- Yes, the hospital will provide the long super wide boat type pads however many patient’s report liking to wear the support underwear more. Sometimes the pad can tend to slip around in the underwear causing leaks on your clothes and mamas are having to frequently adjust them.
- Dermoplast- This is a product that you can spray directly on the lady bits to help with pain. It will numb the area temporarily and is very easy to use vs. a messy cream. Sometimes hospitals have this and sometimes they don’t so make sure to grab some before you come just in case!(Do not but the red Dermoplast, it contains alcohol and will BURN!)
- Nursing bra- Your breasts need good support after giving birth because they will be going through ALOT of changes! If you are planning on nursing your nipples will be sensitive so you may not want fabric to rub across them causing discomfort. Also when your milk starts to come in your breasts may start to leak. In this case you need something to hold breast pads in place. (Make sure to bring a few breast pads just in case!) Lanolin for sore/cracked nipples is something the hospital usually provides but it comes in small tubes, if you want to bring a larger tube you can but not necessary.
- Boppy/Breast Friend Pillow- If you are planning on nursing this will be essential in helping you get baby in the correct position to latch!
- Your own blanket and pillow- Yes the hospital has these but usually they are super thin and uncomfortable. The blankets also tend to be pretty thin so if you or hubs is prone to being cold bring a nice thick one!
- Snacks/drinks- The hospital is usually pretty limited on what they stock on the floor. Bring a small cooler with drinks and some snacks to have on hand. Hospital cafeteria hours can vary and food options are not always available. Also download food delivery apps like Waitr, Door Dash or Grub Hub to have your favorite foods delivered to you!
- Going home outfit for you- Something with stretchy yoga pants and a loose shirt or a loose jersey dress.
- Dad’s bag- Don’t forget Dad! He will need a changes of clothes, his own toiletries, pillow or blanket to make him comfortable, snacks that he might prefer and entertainment!
For the baby:
What the hospital usually provides for baby: white onesies or shirts (with sleeves that fold down over the hands to protect babies from scratching themselves), blankets to swaddle with, hats, diapers, wipes, baby wash, a comb and brush, Vitamin A and D ointment or Vaseline, a thermometer, suction bulb.
Make sure to bring the diaper bag so you can take the left over supplies home with you: diapers, wipes, formula if you are not breastfeeding and any other items you can take with you after the stay.
Make sure you bring the car seat . . .installed. So many parents are ready to take their new baby home only to realize they forgot to familiarize themselves with the car seat and have NO IDEA how to put the baby in it or it in the car!
Do bring a blanket to take the baby home in. The hospital will usually let you take home all of the leftover supplies but want to keep their own linens.
Optional items to bring:
- Cute outfits and swaddles (especially if you are having pictures done.)
- Baby lotion ( It is not really recommended to be used in the first dew days and weeks, however this is an item many parents ask for)
- Mittens/Fingernail Clippers/Fingernail file– Many babies are born with long fingernails and frequently scratch themselves leaving marks.
- Pacifiers– If you think you may want your baby to have a pacifier, you should bring your own. Many hospitals are trending towards being breastfeeding and baby friendly. Being that pacifiers can hinder the breastfeeding process many parents are surprised to find out they do not supply them.
- Going home outfit!
- Letterboard or door hanger for birth announcement.
I hope this gives you an idea of the things that are TRULY essential for your stay. No matter if you leave something at home or forget to pack an essential item the MOST important thing will be in your arms!
You will finally get to meet the sweet baby you have been patiently (or impatiently) waiting on!