There is so much to figure out in the third trimester of pregnancy. Finalizing a name, making sure all your baby gear is ready, installing a car seat, and being ready for labor whenever that may come. Whether it’s your first baby or your fifth, one very practical thing to do before baby comes is pack that hospital bag.
I recently gave birth to my fourth baby so the “what to pack dilemma” is fresh in my mind. As with most things involved in parenting, some things will work for differently for different people. It can be tempting to want to pack all the things, but I found that each time I packed less stuff. Some things are nice to have, but aren’t really essential. With my first baby I packed a full bag for me, a full bag for baby, and then another for my husband. It was too much stuff! From my experience here are a few categories to consider when packing your hospital bag.
1) Labor relief
What will you need to stay comfortable while laboring? Do you need any specific clothing items (bra, socks, robe)? Comfort items like music, pillow, hot packs/ice packs, etc? Three basic essentials for me while I labor are a headband, chapstick, and a song playlist. While in labor I tend to get hot and sweaty and I always need my hair out of the way! So hair ties & headbands are a must for me. My lips get dried out super easily so having chapstick nearby helps a lot and there is something calming to me about having good music playing, which is easily played on mine or my husband’s phone.
Talk to your partner and walk through your labor and birth plan. Understandably things don’t always go according to plan, but how can you be best prepared? Also, ask your hospital what items they provide and then plan to pack accordingly. Most hospitals are very accommodating providing items like birthing balls, essential oil blends, and other ways to help you in labor. Knowing these things ahead of time can help you plan and pack effectively.
2. Recovery comfort
After having your baby the recovery time begins. Of course recovery will look different for everyone and even each labor recovery can be different for the same mom. Hospitals do a good job at providing a lot of items helpful for your recovery (including pain relief, pads, underwear, and more), but it does help to pack a few of your own items from home to aid in your comfort. So ask yourself what will help you relax and also help you feel human again, and then pack the few things that will be most helpful for you.
For me the things on the list included: a couple comfy nursing bras, relaxed clothes (like leggings & loose tops), lightweight robe (that allowed for easy nursing access), my own personal toiletries (especially shampoo and soap for that first postpartum shower!) a few favorite snacks for late night nursing sessions, and an extra long phone charger cord too. When you are in the hospital it can feel like you are constantly feeding your baby and then having the nurses and others check in, so I kept that in mind for what clothes I packed. I didn’t stress on bringing a lot of things to do or have anything fancy to wear, I just needed to stay comfy and relaxed while adjusting to having a new baby. Everyone’s essentials for comfort will vary, so just pack what you need and keep it simple.
3. For baby
The most exciting part about the labor and delivery process is of course the baby! There is nothing like meeting that little one for the first time. The first day or two with that little baby consists of mainly feeding, changing, and sleeping, with of course lots of snuggles too! Again, hospitals provide you with all those things you need for baby right away, so don’t pack up your entire nursery for your hospital stay. Of course it doesn’t hurt to ask what the hospital does or doesn’t provide, but they tend to be good at making sure you have diapers, a swaddle, soap and lotion, and so on.
Mainly what you need to pack for baby is what you will be bringing them home in, which consists of an outfit and car seat. We never found out the gender of our babies before they were born, so I always packed a neutral outfit or two and then made sure our car seat was installed in the car and ready to go.
Some parents opt to bring their own swaddles, pacifiers, outfits photo props (for birth announcements) and other items with them to the hospital. That’s totally up to you! For me I realized less was best. When I did pack more I never really needed it and it just took up space in my bag and then in our hospital room.
What MUST haves are important to have in your hospital bag? Let me know in the comments! Maybe something you say will be helpful for another mama out there packing her hospital bag.