Hospital Bag Essentials: What I Did and Didn’t Use

Hospital bag essentials seems to be a much debated topic. I read at least a half dozen lists before packing (and re-packing) my own, narrowing it down to my personal essentials. In retrospect, I did a good job choosing what worked for me but there were a few items I wished I had included.

Hospital Bag Essentials


For Mom
  1. One pair of flip flops – A lot of posts recommended a pair of slippers but I felt that having shoes I could easily wear into the bathroom and shower to be a lot more useful than a pair of slippers.
  2. Two pairs of fuzzy socks – You obviously won’t want to wear slippers or shoes in the hospital bed, so these were really great to have with me as a means of keeping warm without needing shoes. I wore one pair during labor/delivery and one pair to go home.
  3. Toiletries – I recommend packing a few of your own items for that first [glorious] shower after delivery. I picked up travel-sized versions of shampoo, conditioner, dry shampoo, toothpaste, and a toothbrush. I also packed small amounts of my favorite eye cream and tinted moisturizer into travel containers. I forgot to pack a hair brush, and ended up having someone bring me one, so I recommend having that with you also.
  4. Portable phone charger – You’re going to get plenty of calls/texts from loved ones with well wishes, and you’ll likely also want to have your phone with you during labor since it can be a while. I took this external charger with me (which I am completely obsessed with), but others also recommend an extra long charging cord.
  5. Two pairs of nursing friendly pajamas & robe – I actually purchased this set from Amazon to have for the hospital, but since our little girl came two weeks early, it didn’t arrive in time for me to take it. I ended up packing a set of button-up pajamas and a terry robe instead. Since I’ve been home with the baby, I’ve been wearing this nursing nightgown and robe on repeat. It’s much easier to quickly nurse without any buttons, and I prefer the lighter weight robe for lounging around without all that bulkiness.
  6. Nursing bras – Depending on when your milk comes in (which may not be until you arrive home), it’s nice to have nursing bras at the ready. I purchased this set in black and nude, and have been wearing them every day. The spandex material is much more comfortable than any underwire version, and these also come with removable padding for additional support and racerback clips, if necessary.
  7. Post-partum recovery band – I wore this for some stretches during the stay at the hospital to facilitate recovery. Just know that it will have to be removed when doctors come in to check the status of your uterus. Since coming home, I try to wear it as often as I can–at least for a few hours a day.
  8. Going home outfit – Because of all the padding you’ll be wearing, I recommend a loose fitting pair of comfortable pants (I wore these lightweight lounge pants and they were great) and a nursing friendly top (I wore this button-up thermal with a nursing bra underneath), in case you have to nurse while waiting to be discharged.
  9. Extra travel bag for hospital freebies – the hospital will send you home with lots of supplies, including ice packs, mesh underwear, pads, numbing spray, and peri bottles. It helps to have a bag to throw them into for easily transporting to the car. We used this Vera Bradley weekender, which worked out great because it could be easily slipped over my suitcase handle to move from room-to-room and to the car.
For Baby

To be honest, the hospital will provide you with everything that you need for baby during your stay. From diapers and wipes, to burp cloths, swaddle blankets and clothing, there’s really nothing you’ll need to bring for your little one.

Note that your baby won’t get his or her first bath for 12 hours. During our newborn basics class, it was recommended to us to wait until at least the first bath to put on any new clothes.

I had packed a few different blankets for our baby, but didn’t end up using any of them. The stuff at the hospital is absolutely fine to get you through, and they’ll also wash any soiled linens (double win!). You’re better off taking advantage of not having to do extra laundry until you get home! Trust me, there will be plenty!

What I packed and didn’t use:

  • Underwear for myself – you’ll only want to wear the mesh underwear that the hospital provides.
  • Swaddle blankets, hats, and clothes for baby – again, I only recommend bringing a car seat friendly option to wear home. I recommend taking two sizes depending on how big your baby is expected to be.

Other mamas, what do you recommend including in your hospital bag?

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