Packing Your Hospital Bag: The Essentials

 
There’s one thing we know for sure: no two moms are exactly alike. What works for some mothers, does not work for others. We hope you’ll keep this in mind as you pack your hospital bag and for the years ahead as you are raising your little bundle of joy.
 
But just like some tried and true parenting advice you’ll want to consider (“sleep begets sleep” comes to mind), there are essential items you will not want to forget to pack in your hospital bag. We’ve compiled a list of these must-haves to help you get started. 
 
When to pack?
 
Plan head: you will not want to be throwing things in your bag after your water breaks or while you’re breathing through contractions. Most experts recommend packing your hospital bag around 34 weeks pregnant and earlier if you are having twins or a high risk pregnancy.
 
What to pack?
 

- Photo ID, Insurance card, Completed Hospital Forms, and Birth Plan (If you have written a birth plan, we highly recommend reviewing it with your partner so he or she can be an advocate for you during labor.

 

- Cash and Change: make sure you’re covered for any cravings you (or your partner) might have. You may need to hit a vending machine in the middle of the night when the hospital cafeteria is closed.

 
- Cell phone and Charger (seriously don’t want to forget your charger!)
 
- Sugar-free Hard Candy or Lozenges: to keep your mouth moist during labor (candy with sugar will make you thirsty)
 
- 2-3 pairs of Non-skid Socks: for walking the halls before and after labor
 
- Personal Care Items: hairbrush, toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, face wash, dry shampoo (to help you feel photo-ready for your first pictures with your newborn), shampoo and condition, and body lotion. 
 
- Headband and/or Ponytail Holder: you’ll want to have something with you to keep your hair out of your face during labor
 
- Eyeglasses (if you need them)
 
- Contact Lens Case and Solution (if you wear contacts)
 
- Two Maternity Bras (without underwire) and Nursing Pads: nursing or not, these pads are helpful for support and soaking up leakage postpartum
 
- Maternity Underwear (you don’t mind throwing away): Some women don’t mind the hospital’s disposal pairs and others do. It’s definitely a personal choice. We suggest giving yourself the option by having a pair or two with you that you don’t mind getting ruined. 
 
- Nightgown for Labor: pack one you don’t mind getting ruined unless you prefer a hospital gown.
 
- Nightgown for After Delivery: optional, but definitely a nice-to-have item
 
- Robe: hospitals can be chilly and robes are an easy way to cover up for visitors and still have nursing access for baby
 
- Breastfeeding pillow: if you are planning to nurse, getting familiar with the most comfortable positions while you're in the hospital 
 
- A Homecoming Outfit for You: keep in mind that no one bounces back to her pre-pregnancy body before leaving the hospital. You will most likely still look about 5 months pregnant so pack your favorite maternity dress or jogger pants and t-shirt. And if you’re planning to breastfeeding, make sure that what you pack to wear home is nursing-friendly. 
 
- Slip-on Shoes: flip flops or comfy sandals were your friend at the end of your pregnancy and will continue to be your friend after delivery. 
 
- Baby’s homecoming outfit: The Bump has some good advice on what to pack for your baby. And most importantly, you’ll need to have an infant car seat for baby already installed!
 
- Extra Bag - in addition to the goodies you’ll receive from the hospital (diapers, blankets, creams), you’re likely also have gifts from family and friends to take home.