So, being that this was my first time having a baby, I triangulated these items from many sources (lists which ranged from exhaustive to minimalist) to see which items were frequently suggested by most mamas and then adjusted our list to what we thought would be helpful to have on hand at the hospital for our preferences and situation.
I hope that if you’re in a similar season of life that you find this list to be helpful! I started this post while in the final weeks of my third trimester, but ended up updating it to the current list after we returned home to reflect what we actually ended up using while at the hospital.
You’ll find my suggestions for everyone, including mama, partner, and baby!
Okay, I’m asking for no judgment because this is a total #champagneproblem, but the only other pieces of “luggage” that I have are my beloved Louis Vuitton Keepall Bandoulière duffle bags and I really didn’t want to bring them to the hospital where there are germs and fluids and just general possibilities of damage. I normally love traveling with my LV bags and am somehow less concerned when they are in an overhead compartment on an airplane, but taking them to a hospital was a no-go for me. I ordered this duffle bag on Amazon because I wanted something that would accommodate what we needed to bring to the hospital, but wouldn’t be a major investment just in case it got ruined (if it “survives” the hospital, Baby Girl will likely inherit it for her items if we have any travel in the next few years). I obviously love the pale dusty rose color and the size is exactly what I felt like I needed… looking to the future it’s also TSA carry-on compliant for most airlines!
My husband and I have both been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 since the end of May so technically we don’t need to wear our masks in most situations, but we choose to continue wearing masks and it’s still required to wear them when in a medical environment and I don’t know what we can expect from our visit to the hospital so we’re planning to be prepared, just in case. The hospital may request that we wear surgical masks (that they will provide) during our stay, but of course I would like to make sure that we at least have our own masks to arrive in.
These masks have become our absolute favorite non-medical grade ones; they fit well (no sucking fabric into your mouth), are made of recycled materials (bonus for being eco-friendly), are pretty breathable while still being effective, and they’re also machine-washable! Until 2020 I never thought in a million years I would ever have a “favorite mask”, but here we are… 😂
Nursing / Cesarean-Friendly Pajamas
I honestly just ended up wearing the gowns provided by the hospital because I was too tired to dig around in my bag for anything else, even though I had packed two nursing-friendly nightgowns. I ended up wearing one of them home, so it wasn’t a complete waste, but just know that you may not end up even wanting to wear anything else unless you’re planning to take cute photos while at the hospital.
I chose nightgowns because I wanted to have comfy jammies to wear while in the hospital that would allow me to easily breastfeed and use the bathroom, plus the potential of a c-section was always a possibility so I wanted to make sure that whatever I wore would be gentle on a possible abdominal incision. I also decided not to wear any of my favorite jammies while at the hospital because I was leaking everywhere and didn’t want to ruin any of them (idgaf about leaking on hospital gowns 🤷🏼♀️🤣).
I loved the Everything Camisole Dress… it’s actually pretty cute and is ultra versatile. This is what I wore home because I could throw a cardigan on over it, added some slip-on shoes and called it an outfit! (I mean, we just walked to the car and then from the car into the house… I didn’t care if it was super fashionable). I also liked this button-down long sleeved nightgown as an additional option and took it with me to the hospital, but ended up not wearing it until we got home. It’s been great to use for skin-to-skin and getting covered in spit up because it’s not a favorite piece (like my Nap Dress!).
Regarding a robe: you do you, but I personally don’t care much for robes because I always just end up getting annoyed with it not staying tied / in position. This may be an unpopular opinion, but I know myself pretty well at this point in my life and I knew that the last thing I was going to want to do while navigating motherhood for the first time was to keep fidgeting with my damn robe. If you’re someone who loves robes I think that these brands carry some really gorgeous ones, which would be great especially if you plan to take newborn photos at the hospital!
Caden Lane, PlumPrettySugar, and BelaBumBum
Outfit for Mama to Wear Home
This option isn’t super necessary (as I wore a nightgown home — haha), but you’ll certainly want to dress for the climate and season of your babe’s arrival. If I had needed to wear pants home after having a winter baby, I definitely would have purchased this set (but also love these pajama pants or these joggers!) and think that all options would be great and comfy to wear home post-delivery. As I mentioned just above re: nightgown, the potential of a c-section is always a possibility so I wanted to make sure that whatever I wore home would be considerate of that potential scenario and these pieces meet that criteria.
As far as the first few weeks with baby go, the transition to breastfeeding is going to be uncomfortable so you will want to do everything as comfortable as possible for yourself — holy engorgement and raw nips — meaning that you will likely want to forgo the “fashionable” nursing bras (such as the cute ones from Belabumbum!) until later on when your milk regulates and you actually venture out of the house.
I didn’t end up breastfeeding (read more on that here) so I can’t speak to the ease of any of these bras in regards to actually feeding baby, but these were all of the options that I considered for nursing. All of these bras have excellent reviews and look like they’d be super comfy to wear and easy to shift to accommodate a hungry baby!
This postpartum set from Thinx is a great option. Just a note: I would without a doubt purchase them in black for post-delivery leakage reasons. While I wore whatever fugly mesh underwear the hospital provided, I packed a couple of these pairs of underwear just in case I had wanted them. There will be multiple “costume changes” (as needed) postpartum so having multiple pairs definitely came in handy once we were home.
*Top Tip: According to their Postpartum Page the Super Hi-Waist style is ideal for any mamas with sensitive c-section incisions.
Just to protect my tootsies from the cold, germy hospital floors (FYI: I trust my hospital to be clean and sanitary, but floors are dirty by nature). I love these slippers that have a rubber outer sole and are easy to slip in and out of, this pair looks like a backless classic smoking slipper, and you know I love a good bow like this pair has.
These socks have little rubber grips on the bottom to prevent any possibility of slipping on the linoleum and are super cozy, especially if you get cold easily because of the higher ankle coverage — I wore them during labor too (hyperhidrosis problems)! This ankle sock option looks comfy and they have rubber grips on the sole as well!
Omfg — something that no one told me about postpartum was the swelling of my feet / ankles when my body was processing an influx of fluids. WOW. I was sooo puffy and it was incredibly uncomfortable to walk. Avoid my mistake and pack compression socks to wear to promote circulation and avoid the terrible foot and ankle swelling. I personally swear by Comrad (I love to wear them, especially on long flights! They also offer wide calf options), but Figs+ and Bombas also make great compression sock options!
Some women prefer to also take slide sandals as you can wear them to / from the shower instead of wearing socks. This is a popular option, I love the bow on these, but I have also heard great things about this style. Rothy’s recently launched their braided slide sandals and I immediately ordered a pair. The rubber sole is nonslip and the upper is made up of their classic woven material (from recycled plastic bottles!) which is machine washable! Perfect for the hospital as well as for going home because my feet had swelled up like crazy. I continue to get use out of these slides even after our hospital visit so this was a no-brainer purchase for me!
Eye Care & Rx
If you wear glasses or wear contacts, don’t forget to pack those (+ contact solution!). Additionally, don’t forget to pack your daily medications / vitamins!
These two items are musts that I refuse to live without, even if I’m wearing a mask and will be forgoing the majority of my makeup (you can read about all of my favorite clean makeup products here). I brought a little bit of concealer with me for a few iPhone hospital newborn photos, but I didn’t bother with much makeup while we were at the hospital because we had a newborn shoot scheduled in our photographer’s studio a few weeks later.
Toiletries for Shower / Personal Care
Using my trusty Truffle bags to keep everything organized (you can use this link for a discount on your first purchase!). All of my favorite clean personal care products can be found here. Our recovery suite had a shower, which was so nice to have after giving birth. It wasn’t the nicest accommodations, but certainly better than nothing! I’m also glad it was private and not dorm-style where the showers are all in one room. (I’ve never needed a shower at a hospital before so I didn’t know what to expect!)
Here’s a quick list of essentials so nothing gets forgotten:
– Body Wash
– Face Wash
– Makeup Remover
– Hair Ties
– Hair Dryer
I have developed rosacea over the last couple of years so I brought a little bit of my topical gel (metronidazole) treatment with me in a contact lens case. I don’t wear contacts, but due to the nature of the container, it’s great for holding small portions of liquid / gel products without spillage! I also packed a tube of my beloved Carpe antiperspirant hand lotion because I am constantly combating my hyperhidrosis. Gotta stay consistent with applications!
I had heard mixed reviews regarding hospital-provided products as well as the FridaMom kit for postpartum care, so I ordered a FridaMom Postpartum Kit just in case I absolutely hated whatever the hospital gave me… plus, I like having options and everyone’s preferences are different! I ended up being happy with almost all of the hospital-provided products except for their sad excuse for a peri bottle (the FridaMom peri-bottle is an absolute MUST) and the hospital’s disposable underwear were… fine, but the FridaMom disposable underwear are a lot more substantial.
You can read here about my other postpartum body care recommendations.
Changes of Clothes
Although we live within a few minutes of the hospital, my husband wasn’t able to come-and-go as he pleased due to the pandemic so packing enough changes of clothes for a few days isn’t a bad idea (including jammies and extra undershirts in case of spit up!).
*(P.S. I learned that for a typical vaginal birth you can expect a hospital stay for 24 – 36 hours (and for a cesarean your stay could be for 48 – 60 hours, so keep that in mind when packing!)
Hopefully your partner already has personal care products packed in some sort of Dopp Kit or toiletry case that’s ready to go (we always did for our pre-pandemic travels!), but it can’t hurt to make sure everything is topped off / refilled so it can quickly be tossed into the bag when you’re ready to head to the hospital!
I have heard this from many sources… especially if your significant other is particular about their pillow from home — bring it, as hospital bedding can be pretty uncomfortable. Everyone also advises no white pillowcases because they will blend in with the hospital linens, could get confused for hospital bedding and sent out with their laundry! Be sure that your pillowcase is obviously different (color, pattern, etc.) so there’s no risk of an accidental mixup.
Labor could take a while so to keep you and / or your partner entertained it would be a good idea to bring something like a book / e-reader, tablet, laptop, etc (+ their respective chargers!). This may help to distract you too before “go time”!
*Top Tip: download shows, movies, games, and books ahead of time in case the WiFi signal at the hospital is weak / nonexistent.
We were not be able to leave the hospital’s recovery suite until we were fully discharged due to COVID restrictions, so if we got hungry after cafeteria hours it was tough luck. Looking back, it would have be nice to have a few snacks on hand in the event of hunger striking while the cafeteria isn’t open. I should have packed a few protein shakes as well because I’m not always feeling hungry enough for a larger meal, but know that I need nutrition to replenish my body. These shakes are my absolute favorite because they’re high in protein, low in sugar, and most of them taste great (I personally avoid the fruit-flavored ones 😬).
Social Security Paperwork
This was something that I didn’t even realize that you needed to do when you have a baby. If you’re giving birth in Seattle there is paperwork that will need to be completed by the time you leave the hospital, specifically regarding the baby’s birth certificate (at least this is how it is in the state of Washington)! Thankfully, our hospital will help to file the documentation for our new baby’s Social Security Number if the election is indicated on the paperwork (we definitely opted in!). The paperwork was provided to us in a packet at the hospital, but it was also very visible and available on the hospital’s website so I printed it and filled out what I could ahead of time (obviously could not include her birth date or time, etc.) because I figured it would be easier to complete when I had a clear head.
Additionally, I don’t know what the regulations are like where you live, but our hospital did not provide us with a birth certificate — that’s something that we had to request from our local Vital Statistics Dept. (add this to the list of things I never knew about when it came to having a baby!). Admittedly, I never really put much thought into the process before; I guess I just assumed that the hospital handled all of that so I’m really happy that we figured all of this out ahead of time instead of having to scramble once we were already in the hospital with a newborn (I so appreciate my hospital clearly laying out all of this information for new parents on their website!!!)
Outfit for Baby to Wear Home
As precious as swaddles are, they’re just not practical when it comes to carseats, as the baby’s legs need to be free to be properly buckled in place. I love these footies because of the full zipper to give easy access for diaper changes and the fact that the wrists and ankles have the little built-in mittens and booties to keep baby warm and prevent any scratching, but also have the ability to be “flipped” so that baby’s hands and feet can be exposed. This style of footies has the same full zipper for easy diaper changes, but the design features permanent footies and full hand exposure. These snuggle sets are great because being in two pieces makes diaper access easy and baby doesn’t have to get fully undressed (this is the one we went with because the material is nice and light, which was perfect for our summer baby!). All three of these jammies were my favorite options, but there are so many more to choose from and it really just depends on what you feel most comfortable with!
Wallet with ID and Insurance Card
Don’t forget cash / coins for possible vending machine snacks!
Again, seems like a no-brainer, but worth adding to your checklist!
One charger apiece for both my husband and me; NON NEGOTIABLE. There were lots of photos, videos, and FaceTime calls once Baby Girl arrived so keeping our devices charged was a priority. Don’t forget both the power adaptor and an extra long cable in case the outlet is far away from the bed in your recovery room.
I’m sure the hospital could provide disposable bags for taking any soiled articles of clothing home, but save the trees and bring your own bag in the unlikely event that you soil your own clothing. This bag can be repurposed after you go home and be stocked in your baby’s diaper bag. It also couldn’t hurt to bring a Spray’n’Wash treatment stick to the hospital to prevent any permanent staining.
This isn’t an item that we necessarily “packed” (like in a bag) to bring into the hospital, but we absolutely had our car seat ready to take Sophie home!
*Top Tip: know how to securely fasten your baby into the car seat before you go in to the hospital and maybe practice on a stuffed animal or something. Also, be sure that you know how to secure your car seat properly in your vehicle! If you’re unsure, follow @safeintheseat on Instagram and / or purchase her course to gain confidence in your car seat safety knowledge.
Gifts for Nurses
Nurses are already treasures, but in a pandemic, they’re honestly the true heroes. I wasn’t sure how many nurses we’d have while we were in the hospital, but I wanted to put together a little basket to show our appreciation — there are a bunch of cute and thoughtful ideas here. I made our offering as pandemic-friendly as possible by giving individually wrapped items: these were a big hit!! I bought a variety of flavors to offer up so that the nurses had options. I was originally planning to make little individual bags to hand out to our nurses, but I guess that nowadays nurses can not accept individual gifts so a group gift (like a basket of goodies) for all nurses on the delivery floor is preferred.
Plans for Pet Care
We also made sure that our pup was up to date on all of his vaccinations and bought a small bag of his food that we kept unopened so we’d be ready to drop him off for boarding at a moment’s notice (which ended up coming in super handy if you read Sophie’s birth story!). If you are fortunate to have friends / neighbors / family / etc. nearby that can watch your pets for you, make sure to make those arrangements ASAP so that there is already a plan in place when you go in to labor! (We took our pup to an actual kennel, but this crate is so pretty I had to share!)
If you found something to be incredibly helpful or really nice to have with you while at the hospital for your baby’s (babies’!) labor and delivery, please feel free to share those pearls of wisdom in the Comments section below for any other soon-to-be mamas!
Sending hugs —