Inside: As a first time mom you may feel the need to overpack for your delivery, but it’s not necessary! Check out the 11 essentials you’ll need during your stay, plus grab my free hospital bag checklist printable.
Delivery day is probably the most exciting day of pregnancy for a first time mom!
After months of preparing and waiting to meet baby, you’ll finally get to hold your little one in your arms. But if you’ve never delivered a baby before, it can be difficult to know what you even need to take to the hospital to be prepared.
Most new moms will feel the need to overpack and bring everything they’d need for a 7-day vacation to the hospital. But I’m here to let you on a little secret:
You don’t need as much as you think you do!
In fact, there really are only 11 essentials you need to pack in your hospital bag.
Of course, there are a few other items that will make your stay a little more comfortable (and I’ve included those below as well), but the list of actual must-haves for delivery and after is short.
So keep reading to see what’s exactly on that list and grab your free hospital bag checklist printable at the end of the post!
What The Hospital Will Provide
New moms will be surprised to find out that most hospitals provide everything you’ll need during and after delivery, hence why so many first time moms overpack!
Here’s a quick list of what hospitals have provided for me in the past. Check with your labor and delivery department to make sure they offer everything on the list:
- Hospital gown
- Non-skid socks
- Pain relievers
- Stool softeners
- Prenatal vitamins
- Water mug
- Maxi pads
- Mesh underwear
- Peri bottle
- Tucks pads
- Ice packs
- Dermoplast spray
- Nipple cream
- Inflatible donut cushion
- Access to hospital grade pumps
- Diaper bag with samples
- Burp rag
- Baby wash
- Baby scrubber
Looking at that list you may wonder if you need to pack a hospital bag at all! But there are several things you’ll want to bring from home that will make your stay a lot smoother.
Must-Haves For Your Hospital Stay
1. Driver’s license and insurance card: You’ll need these items when you check into labor and delivery. Don’t forget to pre-register at your hospital between 37 and 38 weeks so you can skip that step on delivery day.
2. Toiletries: This includes items like shampoo, conditioner, body wash, a razor, toothbrush, toothpaste, face wash, hairbrush, hair ties, lotion, etc. I’m sure the hospital has some of those items on hand, but I always bring my own so they’re the kind I like.
3. Nursing bra and pads: If you plan to breastfeed, you’ll want to have a nursing bra packed that you can wear under your gown or clothes and also home from the hospital. I also like to have a few washable nursing pads because they’re more sturdy than the disposable ones the hospital can give you.
4. Abdominal binder: As soon as you get the OK from your doctor, you can start wearing an abdominal binder. I like to put mine on as soon as I can get up and walk after the epidural. An abdominal binder will help reduce pain and promotes recovery of your ab muscles.
5. Phone charger: You don’t want to be caught with a dead phone on one of the most important days of your life! Don’t forget your phone charger because it’s likely the hospital won’t have any on hand. You may want to invest in an extra-long cord because outlets in hospital rooms are often behind the bed and hard to access.
6. Camera: Whether you plan to use your phone or a DSLR, you’ll want to capture your baby’s birthday! If you are bringing a separate camera, make sure the battery is fully charged and the SD card is in the slot.
7. Lip balm: The hospital may provide this if you ask (I never have), so plan to bring your own. That way it’s your favorite kind and one you know will work. Your lips can get dry after not eating or drinking anything while you’re pushing, so lip balm will offer some much-needed relief.
8. Medications: Even though the hospital can provide any medications you’re taking (since they’ll have an on-site pharmacy), you’ll want to bring your own. A single prenatal vitamin can cost between $6-$10 at the hospital when you can get an entire bottle for $0 with a prescription at your local pharmacy. $10 may seem like a small cost, but you’ll be happy you saved anywhere you could once you get the final hospital bill!
Note that you won’t be able to get the strong pain killers that the hospital will have, but you can bring your own Tylenol, prenatal vitamin, and stool softeners.
You may also want a more organic approach and the hospital isn’t likely to have those types of vitamins or essential oils on hand, so it’s better to bring your own.
9. Snacks or money for vending machines: It’s true that the hospital will provide you with snacks upon request, but they’re pretty generic. If you want specific snacks or treats, you’ll want to pack them. Either that or cash for the vending machine. And don’t forget about your partner too! They don’t get access to all of the food that you will so pack some snacks for them.
10. Clothes for baby: Even though the hospital will provide clothes for the baby to wear during your stay, they aren’t really suitable for the baby to wear home. I’m sure they have full outfits available for those who need them, but I always pack an outfit for baby to go home in. Just don’t put it on them until you’re ready to buckle them into the car seat or else they may get it messy!
11. Going home outfit: After living in a hospital gown for a few days, you’ll want to have some comfy clothes for yourself to go home in. This can be as simple as what you wore to the hospital before delivery or an entirely different outfit. Just remember that while you may think maternity clothes are in your past, you’ll likely still have a bump and won’t have lost any baby weight yet, so plan to wear something that’s forgiving and stretchy!
Shop my favorite hospital essentials:
Now that I’ve shared some essentials you’ll want to have on your hospital bag checklist, here are a few extras that are nice to have, but definitely not necessary.
1. Birth plan: I remember as a first time mom having a printed birth plan that I took to the hospital, but it wasn’t really necessary since the nurses logged everything into the computer that was on the plan. If you want to take a hard copy of your birth plan to the hospital you can, just know that the nurses will likely have to ask you to provide the same information verbally.
2. Nursing nightgown: If you don’t like the idea of wearing a hospital gown the entire time, there are several nursing nightgown options that can help you feel a little less frumpy. Just know that you’ll still be bleeding the entire time you’re in the hospital so anything nice you wear can get stained, so don’t bring your favorite nightgown!
3. Nursing cami: If you plan to wear pants while you’re in the hospital (I never want to!), it will be helpful to have a nursing cami on hand with a built-in bra. A cami gives easy access to the nursing staff to check your vitals and can easily be covered up if you get too cold.
4. Cozy robe: If you get cold easily, you’ll want to have a robe packed. It can be something that’s more lightweight that you can throw over your nightgown or cami, or something that’s extra fluffy to keep you warm during the night.
5. Nonskid slippers: Even though the hospital will have non-skid socks for you to wear, if you don’t like the idea of wearing socks the entire time, plan to bring some slippers with a hard sole to keep your feet warm.
6. Toilet paper: This may seem a little over the top, but you’ll appreciate some soft toilet paper down there after giving birth. Bring some from home if you don’t want to use the hospital grade kind.
7. Blanket: The hospital will have blankets for you to use, but they’re a little scratchy and very lightweight. If you have a favorite blanket that will help you sleep better, I recommend packing it.
8. Depends: The maxi pads and mesh underwear that the hospital provides will definitely do the job, but if you want something that offers a little more support and keeps the mess contained, pack a few Depend underwear. These will be especially nice when you’re going home.
9. Entertainment: My first labor was 36 hours long and I’m so glad I had my laptop with me! Even if you don’t end up using it, you may want to pack something to pass the time. This can be as simple as a book or tablet or as fancy as a laptop or Amazon Firestick so you can watch all of your favorite shows. Just don’t forget to pack the cords for the items so you can charge them if needed.
10. Pillow: Hospital pillows aren’t the best, so if you have a pillow that helps you sleep better, bring it! I have a memory foam pillow that I cannot sleep without. Just use one of the hospital pillowcases on your pillow from home so that it doesn’t get stained.
11. Towel: Along with the blankets and pillows, the towels at the hospital aren’t very luxurious, so you may want to bring your own.
12. Shower sandals: If the thought of showering at the hospital grosses you out, you should pack a cheap pair of flip flops to wear. Since they’ll likely be a couple of dollars, you won’t have to feel bad about tossing them once you get discharged.
13. Nursing pillow: While you can use a hospital pillow to support your arm during breastfeeding, if you think you’ll need a little more support, bring a nursing pillow with you. Nursing pillows are sturdy and will fit nicely around your waist to help support baby.
Shop my favorite hospital extras:
If you’re a first time mom, start packing your hospital bag around 36 weeks. There’s no way to predict when you’ll go into labor so you’ll want to be ready just in case.
If you’ve already had a baby before, you’ll have a better idea of when you can pack your bag so you don’t put things in that you’ll need to use on a daily or weekly basis.
I usually pack my bag around 38 weeks.
You’ll most likely want to wear a hospital gown during labor. Giving birth is messy and anything you wear will definitely get stained.
If you can’t stand the thought of wearing a hospital gown, this delivery gown has all the same access that a hospital gown does and is black, so it can be washed without showing stains.
Dads should take items to the hospital that they would on an overnight trip. Things like:
-Change of clothes
-Something to pass time (book, tablet, laptop)
The hospital will have all of the bedding needed for you to stay the night.
Free Hospital Bag Checklist Printable
To make packing easy, I’ve created a FREE hospital bag checklist printable for you to use before delivery day.
Just enter your information below to subscribe to my newsletter and you’ll get a link to download the printable!
Were there any other essentials you packed in your hospital bag that I missed? Let me know in the comments!