When it comes to labor and delivery, there’s not much you need besides, well, you. It’s only after baby has arrive that you’ll love having your gear bedside (hello, favorite pillow!). Remember, there’s no way to tell how long you’ll be checked in, so our ultimate hospital bag checklist for expecting moms has a little something for everyone. From important paperwork to your coziest pajamas, keep reading for our guide to the things new moms should consider packing in a hospital bag.
1. Hospital paperwork, ID and insurance info and your birth plan (if you have one). This might seem like a no-brainer, but it’s a good idea to have all your important documents organized and together for easy access, especially if you’re already in labor and don’t feel like searching through your bags.
2. Robe, cheap slippers and wool socks: Walking around and squatting truly eases the pain of contractions, so make sure you have something warm and full coverage to wear. Even in summer months, the hospital might be chilly.
3. Comfy sleep gear: Hospital gowns, with their open fronts, work beautifully for the baby-pushing situation, but having your own sleep gear helps you feel more at home after Baby arrives. Choose one that opens in the front, pack nursing bras if you plan on nursing, and don’t worry about bottoms.
4. Snacks: Even if the thought of eating during labor seems silly to you, your partner might not feel the same way. There’s no telling what type of vending machine options your hospital offers, so be sure to pack a bunch of your favorite snack foods. Don’t rule out fresh veggies or prune juice, either, because once you have your appetite back, you’ll want to up your fiber intake to get your body moving at a normal pace.
5. Lots of liquids: Labor is hard work, and you’ll want to stay hydrated. If plain H2O doesn’t sound appealing, consider an electrolyte supplement or pack sports drinks like Gatorade.
7. Camera, smartphone and chargers: You will absolutely cherish these images and videos when you come back from the sleep-deprived zombie world of early parenthood, so make sure you don't run out of battery power.
8. Relaxing music or noise-canceling headphones: Staying relaxed really does make labor easier, so bring these helpful items knowing you might not have the chance to use them. If you can, turn off the lights in your room. Low lighting also helps you relax.
9. Toiletries and makeup: Keep it simple, but definitely bring toothbrushes and toothpaste, moisturizer, deodorant, shampoo, your brush and hair ties. Also, it’s totally ok to want to look good in your baby's first pics, so go ahead and bring that eyelash curler and lip gloss.
10. Pre-made email/phone number list: All those people who’ve been your support system (and sounding board about backaches and swollen ankles) for the last nine months? Thank them by including them on your first birth announcement sent from your (or your partner’s) phone. They’re waiting to hear the good news, and they can't wait to see that first picture of you holding your new baby.
11. Granny panties: These work to hold ice packs and huge maxi pads in place—the hospital will provide disposable ones, but after a day or so, you'll want the real thing. Something else to consider is bringing your own maxi pads (choose the heavy flow kind), as the hospital-provided version comes in a triple-extra large size.
13. Your own baby blankets: You'll want photos of your newborn in the hospital's blankets, of course—there's something so charming about seeing all babies wrapped in the same swaddle—but for a prettier and more professional looking picture, bring a cute swaddle that makes other parents say, "Why didn't I think of that?"
14. Your own pillow: You're going to want to try to get sleep in the hospital while you can, and having your own pillow can make a big difference in the hospital bed's comfort level.
15. Prenatal pills: Doctors advise to continue taking them after delivery. Also helpful, if you’re into it, is Fenugreek for milk production.
17. Clothes to wear home: Don't panic! You will be smaller than when you arrived at the hospital, but that doesn’t mean you’re going to feel like wearing your skinny jeans. It takes time for your belly to return to its previous size and shape. Maternity leggings and a comfy top are the best bet.
18. A car seat: The majority of hospitals will not allow you to leave without a proper car seat for your newborn. Be prepared, and have it installed in advance.
19. "Going Home" outfit: Dress baby to impress for his ride home, but make sure it’s comfy enough for that first car seat attempt.
20. An extra bag: Use it to carry home the gifts and freebies you’ll receive while you’re in the hospital. If you can’t carry home your bouquets, give them to the nurses as a thank you.
21. A mini bottle of champagne: You just brought a baby into this world! Take a moment to celebrate the accomplishment with your partner.
—Anna Knoebel and Gabby Cullen
Feature photo: Unsplash