You’re in the third trimester, going to the doctor every week and all of a sudden it happens: Your OB casually mentions that you should have your hospital bag packed and ready just in case this baby decides to come early. Whoa. Things just got real.
The task of packing your hospital bag for the first time can seem daunting — what exactly do you need? What will the hospital provide? We’ve consulted dozens of experienced mothers and rounded up the ultimate hospital bag packing list below. You can even print off this handy one-pager so you can physically check every item off the list!
For mom you want to remember that after you give birth it takes time for your uterus to shrink back to it’s pre-baby size, so you’re most likely going to look 6-7 months pregnant. Keep that it mind as you are packing clothes for yourself — you want to be as comfortable as possible! It’s also wise to pack mostly dark-colored clothing for yourself as things can be messy and you don’t want to stain a bunch of nice light-colored items.
As far as bringing makeup, hair supplies, etc. That is really a personal preference. Some mamas couldn’t care less about putting makeup on in the hospital, others feel more comfortable with it on. If you’re not sure how you’ll feel, you might as well throw it in the bag so you’re not without it if you’re feeling especially ambitious and wanting to put your face on!
The hospital will have all the goods for taking care of things “down there” after birth — but if you think you’ll feel more comfortable bringing your own big (and we mean big) underwear or pads, by all means feel free. If you want to save money you can also bring your own pain reliever and stool softener, but the hospital will provide that to you as well, so don’t sweat it if you don’t remember to throw those in the bag.
Your baby will most likely spend most of his/her time in just a diaper, wrapped in a hospital swaddle blanket. Keeping baby skin-to-skin as much as possible those first few days is incredibly helpful when nursing (if breastfeeding), during bonding time and many other reasons.
Overpacking for baby is probably one of the biggest first-timer mistakes. Pack a side-snap bodysuit (so you don’t need to pull anything over baby’s head, which can feel kind of intimidating at first!), a going home outfit in two sizes (newborn and 0-3 months since you don’t know how big baby will be when born) and definitely some mittens or baby nail clippers — babies are born with claws (seriously), so you’ll either need to muster up the courage to file/clip them or throw on some baby mittens and call it a day (at least until you all get home!). The hospital will have hats and swaddle blankets, but if you want “cuter” versions you’ll need to bring your own!
On top of bringing all the normal overnight stuff (i.e. changes of clothes, pajamas, toiletries), Dad should be in charge of important paperwork / cards / identification / etc. Depending on how nice the sleeping situation is for him, he might want to consider bringing a pillow from home as hospital pillows aren’t the most comfortable. He should also be on point for remembering cameras and chargers!