What to Pack in the Hospital Bag

I am closing in on 35 weeks of pregnancy with our third and last baby. It is hard to believe the finish line is so near! I’d love to say that I am leaning in and cherishing these last maternity moments, but I’m feeling pretty ready for the next stage more than anything. 

This past week, I have been funneling my focus into nesting and preparing for our upcoming birth experience. One of my very favorite planning tasks is gathering the items to pack in our overnight bag for when we go to the hospital. I will admit that while we keep a fairly minimalist lifestyle, I am a chronic overpacker. I would much rather have more than what I need, and have the comforts of home in the sort of sterile hospital environment.

This being our third, I have learned from a few of my past mistakes - for example, with my first baby, I packed only newborn sized clothing, and wouldn’t you know, he needed 0-3 month sized clothing right away! And, because I don’t learn lessons the first time, I only packed size 0-3 month clothing for my second. Guess what? Needed newborn size! So this time, packing both sizes was at the top of my list. Want to know what else makes my list? Read on, friends!

Postpartum Essentials:

I have a few essentials that I like to bring for comfort during and immediately after birth. It is true what you may have heard, that often hospitals will provide necessary care items, like disposable pads and mesh underwear for new moms, and disposable diapers and a flannel receiving blanket for baby. Whether you decide to use these items and not pack your own, or to use a little of both, or forgo using what is supplied for you completely, is entirely up to you and your preferences.

I have grown to love every single product in the Earth Mama Angel Baby line, and leaned heavily on products like their Nipple Butter and Mama Bottom Balm for comfort and relief after Otto was born. These products are definitely making their way into my hospital bag again, along with the Angel Baby Shampoo and Body Wash (for that first little sink bath in the hospital) and the Stretch Oil, for comforting massages during contractions.  (The Postpartum Bath Herbs will stay home at the ready, since my hospital does not have tubs for recoving mamas to utilize.)

Other must-haves for mama include reusable nursing pads (whether you are nursing or bottle feeding, your milk may take its time coming in, or it may rush in just as you're getting ready to head home from the hospital. You and your clothing will be thankful for the absorbent layers of nursing pads!). Reusable "mama cloth," or menstrual pads, may also be something that you'd like to bring. I will be fully transparent in saying that I use the disposables provided by our hospital until I am back in the comforts of my home, but if you expect a short stay or are commited to avoiding using the disposable products provided, you'll be glad to have these on hand! A big reusable water bottle will come in handy while you are laboring, and in recovery - this is especially true for nursing mamas, since hydrating is extra important for making breastmilk.

For baby, I like to bring a swaddling blanket (the Deluxe Swaddles from Little Unicorn are so incredibly soft, they feel dreamy to wrap around a new babe) and a natural rubber pacifier

For Mama: 

Here is one place that I've learned to reel it in. I wear whatever I'm wearing to the hospital, and pack light clothing wise. For me, that looks like my most comfortable jogger style lounge pants (with pockets, because every garment should have pockets, am I right?!), a nursing tank top in a size up from my pre-pregnancy size, and a loose-fitting and soft tee shirt. I also pack (not pictured) a lightweight robe, for easy on and off layering. I tend to vacilate between hot and cold quickly and frequently in the hours following delivery, so easy layers to peel off are best for me. Also not pictured are, ahem, unmentionables (alright, I'll mention them - pack your granny panties!), a nursing bra, and socks.

My toiletry bag is packed with travel sized shower products like shampoo, conditioner, body wash, tooth paste, and a travel tooth brush. I do also bring my tinted moisturizer, concealer, blush, and mascara; putting on my face makes me feel all kinds of human again, but obviously make up is an optional packing item! I bring my phone charger and my own pillow as well. I'm not high maintenence, I swear; I just have a really nice pillow. 

For Baby:

Here's where my overpacking really shows itself, but c'mon, can you help but want to bring all the cute things you've been staring at for months and months? Me neither! Packing for baby can be very light - the hospital should have disposable diapers, and often side-snap or pullover style white t-shirts or onesies. They also typically provide knit hats.

For the first little while, I like to do skin-to-skin with baby. It's great for getting healing rushes of oxytocin for mama, and saving on laundry. But eventually, when I am ready to share the baby love, I like to have a one piece sleeper outfit for baby to wear under their swaddling blanket.

We do use the provided disposable diapers for the first few changes, but I like to bring a few newborn sized cloth diapers to transition into. You'll want to bring a wetbag  to house the dirties in. A second wet bag would also prove helpful for any clothing that gets soiled or dirty during your stay, too!

Last but not least, that token Coming Home outfit for baby. It's sort of funny for us, since our drive home is ten minutes long and we will be greeted by our dog and cat, but shortly after, my in-laws will bring my big kids, so they can all eventually enjoy the cute outfit, too. For that outfit, we have chosen soft layers, topped with warmer knits, and once baby is in the carseat all snug and buckled, we will layer blankets. February in the midwest will be quite chilly!

I hope that having a peek inside my hospital bag proves helpful to you when you are ready to pack yours! Do you have any must-have suggestions? We'd love to hear them!