My recent stint in hospital was a great reminder of what you really need when heading to the hospital to bring your little baby into the world. This being my third pregnancy, and having each baby at a different hospital kind of makes me an expert. Just kidding – but I do feel like I have got the packing list waxed. Everyone has different needs, and every hospital is different as well – find out what your hospital will be providing, what their policies are and what facilities they have available beforehand.
I have always had our bags ready at 32 weeks, you just never know what might happen and I suppose being a mom of a preemie makes me extra paranoid. There is very little that you can control when it comes to child birth and parenting, having your bags packed and ready will help you feel some sense of control and help you feel like you have your ducks in a row! It is one less thing to worry about, so rather get it out of the way sooner than later.
There are so many hospital bag packing lists available on the internet, some bare bones and some with more than what is actually necessary. So, after having two babies of my own and quite a few pregnancy related hospital stays I decided to compile my own happy medium. I don’t have any experience with a natural birth, all my babies were brought into this world via emergency c-section. This list reflects what you would need for a longer hospital stay and for extra comfort after experiencing a c-section. I have included some photo’s and will briefly motivate why I packed each item, but I have also included an easy checklist that you can right click and save to your computer and print for easy reference.
Here is my personal hospital bag checklist, for mom and baby. Feel free to add your own must-have items in the comment section below!
Clothing & Sleeping
- Soft blanket – I find the bedding in hospitals to be very hard and clinical. I like taking my own soft blanket that reminds me of home and ads a little extra comfort.
- Sleep mask – Hospitals are busy, noisy places. If you do not have a room to yourself a sleep mask will help you get some extra sleep and not be disturbed when lights are turned on etc.
- Own pillow – having your own pillow will help you get better sleep and make you a tad more comfortable.
- Pajamas – make sure the pajamas you take with are breastfeeding friendly. Button front sleep shirts (Woolworths have quite a few) are great options, otherwise opt for comfortable maternity pajamas or slinky dresses (like the sleep therapy range from Cotton On) with adjustable straps. If your pajamas include pants, make sure it is high wasted or that it has a soft band – should you have to have a c-section (these things are not always planned), you do not want anything pressing down on that scar!
- Gown – you are going to want to move around a bit. I have always had really easy recoveries from my c-sections, and that is because I got up and walked around a bit the moment it was safe to do so. You are going to be too tired and tender to get dressed for visiting hours every time, so a gown will juts make life a bit easier.
- Slippers – your feet are going to swell a lot after giving birth, so make sure your slippers are extra comfortable and not too tight!
- Pack comfortable panties – high wasted is best, it offers support after a natural birth, but also does not press against a c-section scar. Mama Noo maternity and Woolworths both have great options. Opt for dark colours as you will b bleeding quite a bit and you know how that goes.
- Comfortable feeding bras
- You might get a little tired towards the end of your stay from sitting in your pajamas all day, so take a nice breastfeeding cami and some yoga/ballerina pants as an option. I found some excellent options at Cherry Melon Clothing
- Going home outfit – once again, comfort is key.
Bath & Toiletries
- A big, soft, dark towel – I like using my own towels. I also feel like everything is so sore and sensitive all over that I much prefer using my own large and soft bath sheets than the tiny hard ones the hospital provides. Once again, you will be bleeding a bit so opt for dark colours.
- 2x dark, soft face cloths. This will be necessary for washing, but it will also be a saving grace for a number of other reasons. You might get engorged, which is quite painful. Placing a warm face cloth over your breasts will help relieve the pain a bit. It is also nice to have a wet face cloth next to your bed to freshen up with.
- Body wash or shower gel – choose one of your favourite scents. Something as insignificant as a familiar or favourite smell can make your hospital stay so much better and help you feel a bit more at ease.
- I don’t know about you, but if my hair is a mess, I am a mess. I prefer to wash my hair every two to three days so I got some travel sized shampoo and conditioner from Clicks. You can always opt for the dry shampoo life – I just prefer fresh, clean hair to help me feel better.
- Hair brush – keep a hair brush in the drawer next to your bed to tame the mane.
- Hair ties & hair clips – nothing frustrates me more than when my hair is getting in my face or when I want to tie my hair up and I have nothing on me to do it with!
- Hair dryer – hospitals are usually air conditioned, you don’t want to walk around with wet hair.
- Face moisturizer – your skin might feel a bit dry from the air conditioning and hormonal changes. Pack a good face moisturizer!
- Micellar water or facial wipes for an easy skincare cleaning routine and to remove make up if you choose to wear any. I prefer micellar water as it gets rid of all make-up and dirt. Remember to pack cotton pads as well!
- Body & hand lotion – keep this next to your bed. There will be times where you feel gross, and smell like sour milk. Applying some hand and body lotion is a quick pick-me-up!
- Deodorant – this is an important one. Rather leave the perfume at home, perfume is a bit strong for newborn babies to deal with.
- Make-up – everyone is different and has different preferences. I like to put on a little bit of makeup to not feel like a total troll when visitors come. We also like taking photos so I always pack a few essential makeup items. A good BB cream, eyeliner, waterproof mascara, neutral eyeshadow, blush and a tinted lip balm works wonders.
- Disposable panties – you will be bleeding a lot after birth, these make sure you don’t mess up your underwear and that you are comfortable. Two should be enough. Your nurse will put these on you after your c-section so have them close by.
- Maternity pads – I have only ever used the Carriwell brand, but I found these lil-lets ones that are much thinner and more comfortable. I am packing both just in case they don’t work as well. Two packs of maternity pads should be enough, but it differs for everyone.
Some hospitals are pro-breastfeeding hospitals and won’t allow any bottle feeding, formula and even pacifiers. You need to make sure that you are aware of their policies and where your maternity ward stands on the matter.
- 1x box breast pads – everyone is different in terms of when their milk comes in, how much comes in, etc etc. Better be safe than sorry and take a box of breast pads with you!
- Nipple cream – PureLan from Medela is the best!
- Breast pump, breast milk storage containers and sterilizing equipment – with both my babies I became so engorged in the middle of the night, having my breastpump with me was a lifesaver. Most hospitals have ones you can rent or borrow, but I prefer to have my own. Knox was born prematurely and needed to be tube fed – so the breastpump was a necessity with him. Medela has these nifty little microwave sterilizing bags which are perfect to use to clean your breast pump and containers while in hospital. It takes up very little space in your bag and are convenient and easy to use.
- Burp cloths – I just use terry cloth nappies. They are cheap and super handy to keep around for any spills and for burping.
- Feeding pillow – this is really great for comfortable feeding, especially if you had a c-section.
Bedside table essentials…
- Lip balm – keep this in the drawer next to your bed. Most hospitals are air conditioned and your lips will get really dry.
- Healthy snacks – giving birth and breastfeeding is hard work! Keep a stash of healthy snacks in your drawer, trust me – you will thank me for this at 3am in the morning. Mrs. Milk lactation bars are an excellent option as it also helps with milk production. I also usually take some energy bars and mixed nuts.
- A little bit of cash – just in case
- Cellphone charger
- Double adapter
- Earphones to watch TV, you might actually get bored
- A good book – you might actually get a chance to read it
- A carrier bag for dirty clothes
- Admin goodies – medical aid card, black pen and your ID
- I am taking three receiving blankets, a muslin blanket and a warm blanket. You never know how hot or cold it is going to be, but all babies love being swaddled. I prefer to be prepared.
- A comfort toy – this is obviously optional. Both Mikayla and Knox still sleep with their comfort plush toys that I gave them on the day they were born!
- Sleepsuits with closed feet. This just makes more sense to me in terms of saving space while packing. No need for extra socks etc.
- Three beanies to keep those tiny little heads warm
- Going home outfit
- Pacifier and chain – your baby might not like pacifiers, but if they do it is a great way to help them self-sooth, practise suckling etc.
- Presents for the siblings. When Knox was born, we gave Mikayla a present that was “from the baby” – it was such a hit and really helped her feel included and special as well. Definitely doing it again this time around.
- Newborn / Size 0 nappies – you can work on about 10-12 per day for breastfed babies
- Surgical spirits to clean the umbilical cord area with
- Cotton wool – this is to clean the umbilical cord as well as their faces with.
- Cleansing water / baby wash, shampoo and body lotion – some people prefer not to bath their babies at the hospital. I quite like it, because the nurse takes you through everything again and gives you a little crash course. It always gives me peace of mind.
- Nail clippers – those tiny little nails grow at the speed of light and are sharp AF.
- Car seat – this is probably the most important one. Not only will they not allow you to leave without your baby being safely strapped into their car seat… it is also against the law for your baby to travel without one. Having a good car seat is not optional, you are responsible for your child’s safety.