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What to Pack in Your Hospital Bag

Why you'll want separate bags for labor and postpartum

Whether you’re Miss Girl Scout or Miss Fly-by-the-Seat-of-Your-Drawstring-Pants, you’ve probably put a little thought into your hospital bag, or maybe it’s already in the trunk. It can’t be too hard, right? You know you need a couple changes of clothes, toothbrush, deodorant, shampoo (because you’re determined to look good) and that adorable first onesie Grandma bought.

But you might be missing some essentials or even some not-so-essentials that will make your hospital foray a bit more comfy. We asked three local experts—doula and lactation consultant Linda Worzer; Tanya Shelton, former childbirth educator and labor and delivery nurse at the Medical Center of Plano; and Jill Johnson, nurse and childbirth educator at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas—for a list of goods most moms forget. Take notes.

Pro tip: The experts agree that you should pack separate bags for labor and postpartum. “You don’t want to lug everything with you to labor and delivery,” Shelton says.

Packed Items for Labor 

1. Lip balm
Dr. Bronner’s Organic Lip Balm, sold in stores including Target
Yes to Coconut Naturally Smooth Lip Balm

2. Aromatherapy essential oils, which can help relax and heal during and after childbirth, says Johnson.

3. Pillows from home with colored pillowcases, so that they don’t match the hospital linens (Be aware they could get stained.)

4. Bathrobe and slippers

5. Hair clips or bands

6. iPod (or iPhone) with your favorite tunes, or a few Spotify (or Apple if you are one of those) playlists downloaded to your device in case of spotty Wi-Fi. Johnson recommends bringing a Bluetooth speaker along, too, for music in the labor and postpartum room.

7. Chargers for all your electronics and backup batteries for your camera. Pro tip: Johnson says to bring an extension cord—you never know how far the outlet will be.

8. A notification list, i.e., all the people you promised you’d text when baby arrives.

9. Massage tools for labor. “Most hospitals have limited availability to these items,” Johnson says.

RELATED: Before Baby To-Do List

Packed Items for Post-Labor 

10. Comfy pajamas

11. Toiletries (shampoo, skin care items, hairdryer, etc.)—hospitals have limited supplies.

12. Nursing gear: nursing pads, nursing pillow, bra or tank top, breast pump
Undercover Mama Nursing Tank
Earth Mama Angel Baby Natural Nipple Butter, sold at Target

13. Socks and footwear

14. Your baby book or scrapbook so the nurses can add your little one’s footprints. Shelton says it’s harder than it looks. “We’re really good at it.”

15. Swaddle blanket and a pint-sized hat. Pro tip: Opt for a muslin blanket. “These are breathable versus thick, heavy blanket where baby can overheat, especially in the car seat,” Johnson says.

16. Mittens and fingernail clippers for baby

17. Discharge outfit with drawstring pants that fit at about 26 weeks (so don’t consign them yet). Bring an outfit for baby, too. “Avoid white socks, mittens and onesies,” Johnson says. “White clothing can get mixed up with hospital laundry.”

18. Infant car seat. Make sure it’s installed properly before you leave for the hospital. You can even get your installation checked at seatcheck.org.

19. “Don’t forget Dad!” Worzer advises for dads to “Pack like he’s going on a casual overnight trip. In other words: toiletries, deodorant, comfortable clothes (plus a change of clothes), the most comfortable pair of shoes he owns, extra socks, breath mints and swimsuit—just in case mom gets in the shower or tub and needs assistance.”

Shelton adds that he should bring a sweatshirt or jacket because you’ll want the A/C going strong during labor. Johnson agrees, and suggests he pack a snack too. “If labor is long, it is nice for partners to have something available, so they do not need to leave mom for an extended period of time.”

RELATED: 8 Breastfeeding Tips from the Experts

This article was originally published in October 2017.

Image: iStock