The Ultimate Hospital Bag Packing List [Reality Check Version]

Before Theory was born, I had my hospital bags packed and ready to go at 29 weeks. TBH, it hadn't even really occurred to me to think about packing for Pax's arrival until about a week ago when I got sucker punched in the balls by some intense Braxton Hicks contractions and realized hot damn, we're really doing this thing! For some odd reason, what to pack in your hospital bag is a super frequently Googled and Pinterested topic. This is bewildering to me, because just like going on vacation, regardless of how prepared you think you are, you'll inevitably get there and realize you left the single most important thing at home OR that you were nuts and packed wayyyy too much crap you'll never wear or need. So here's a real-life checklist of the ish you actually need.

What You Need:

  • Comfy jams and nursing bra: Loose-fitting pajamas in the softest fabric you can find- you'll thank me later. Trust me, you don't want anything other than baby skin softness rubbing up against you after you give birth. Remember they will probably get gross and stained, so don't spend too much on these. 
    People love to make a big deal about getting PJ tops that button down the front to better facilitate breastfeeding, but you're gonna get used to whipping that boob out of any top you're wearing pretty soon anyway, so don't limit your cozy choices on account of that detail.
    The nursing bra is pretty crucial, though, if you're going that route; they're sized so as not to be too tight, which can prevent your milk from coming in- so make sure you invest in a couple.

  • Slippers and flip-flops: I got some amazingly comfy and adorable slippers from Old Navy that I want to live in. Grab some cheap plastic flip-flops for shower time, too.
  • Going-home clothes: Don't get too cutesy with this one. Sweatpants are your friend.
  • Phone and charger: For spreading the news and taking a million photos of your tiny new human to post to Instagram.

  • Diapers/pads: Remember, this list is for you- not baby. Yeah girl, get you some adult diapers. Or do what I do and make your husband go buy them to save yourself the embarrassment. The hospital will have some of the awesome mesh ones, but with my last baby I was only given two, and in the hours after delivery, you run through those suckers fast, and I'm def not the type of girl who felt comfortable summoning a nurse to "bring me more diapers stat!".
    The convenience of just giving in and going the diaper route rather than fussing with giant pads that feel like you've shoved a sweater into your underwear when you're just hanging out in your PJs cannot be overstated.
    When it's time to wear real-ish clothes to go home, swap out the diaper for some medicated postpartum pads- these are a real thing and I literally cannot believe it took so long for someone to come out with these. Instead of buying pads and witch hazel wipes separately, these combine the two.

  • Numbing spray: Episiotomies are the devil. For real. Not to be a downer, but the absolute worst part of giving birth by far was the episiotomy and the aftermath of it. Numb tf outta that sucker with some Dermoplast. Be prepared; you'll run through what the hospital supplies you with in no time.

  • Snacks: This is not to say you shouldn't take full advantage of hospital food and eat as much of it as possible; you're gonna get charged for it anyway. But chances are you're gonna have some insane craving at a time when the cafeteria isn't open. One of my clearest memories from Theory's delivery and the 72 foggy sleepless hours that immediately preceded and followed it was how effing incredible these fudge-covered animal cookies were.

  • After-care accoutrements: Speaking of that episiotomy [or just that area in general], in addition to numbing it into oblivion, you gotta keep it clean, and wiping ain't on the table [thank goodness]. I'm pumped that such a practical yet niche item as the Fridet has finally been invented to help get the job done.

  • Toiletries, shower products, and makeup: I was not one of those women who had the wherewithal when labor kicked in at 10pm to make it through my makeup routine so that I looked decent in those delivery pictures, but I'm thankful I threw my makeup in my bag anyway so I could look halfway human and not the mombie I felt like when it was time to head home.
    Make sure you take some luxurious bath products for that first awkward shower in the hospital; some special postpartum wash should help make things slightly less traumatic. You're also gonna want a travel size shampoo and conditioner, deodorant, hair bands, and a toothbrush and toothpaste.
    Lastly? Chapstick, chapstick, chapstick. That dry, recycled air will have you hating life if you forget it at home.

    Don't Bother:

  • Nipple cream: If you breastfeed, the hospital will give you a few free samples of nipple cream. Honestly, nipple cream is nipple cream is nipple cream. It's gonna suck whether you use Lanisoh or Boob-ease.
  • Bath robe: The suggestion to bring one has always baffled me. The internet shouts about how you need one for when you're walking the hallways to move labor along so your ass isn't hanging out for all to see but, for real? You're about to push a baby out in a room filled with complete strangers [and maybe one or two people you know and aren't thrilled about seeing the implosion of all your parts]; there is absolutely nothing to keep secret. Yeah, you don't want your butt out out. Wear two robes; one the right way, and one backwards like a coat. Now get to walking.
  • Pillow/Boppy: 1) You aren't going to be comfortable no matter what. You will be puffy and bloody and exhausted but too high on oxytocin to sleep. You could bring a comforter filled with the down of golden baby phoenixes, and you still aren't gonna be cozy, so cut one large item off your list of crap to worry about. 
    2) I read somewhere when I was pregnant with Theory about how gross it was to bring a soft item from home into a hospital where it will inevitably get stained with blood and covered in germs. If it's a fancy pillow chances are running it through the washer won't be an option, and you're not gonna have the energy to do that once you get home anyway. Don't tempt fate.
  • Special labor gowns: Don't be that mom in the cheetah-print specialty gown. I promise you're not too special a sunflower for a regular hospital robe. Don't waste money on something that is useful for only a few hours of your life when something disposable and free is going to be offered to you. Plus, they're cheesy, and I bet L&D nurses roll their eyes every time they see one.
    Any other items you wouldn't have been able to make it through your hospital stay without? A husband to hurl expletives at mid-contraction? No? Just me? Let us know in the comments!


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