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Woman packing hospital bag

Tips and Tricks for Packing the Perfect Hospital Bag

As you near your due date, there’s one thing that’s on every expectant mother’s mind: your hospital bag. Whether it’s your first baby or your fourth, you know how important it is to have a hospital bag that has everything you need and nothing you don’t. 

Labor is exhausting, and the last thing you need to worry about during the process is, “Do I have this?” That’s why we’re here to help you get all the essentials ready for birth and beyond without all the stress.

Below are the tips and tricks you need to pack the perfect hospital bag.

Understand Your Birth Risks & Plans 

The key to packing the perfect hospital bag is understanding what you can expect. First and foremost, make sure your bag is packed no later than 38 weeks, just to be safe. That way you’re ready to go whenever your baby is. 

Also, you’ll need to keep your length of stay and recovery in mind when deciding what and how to pack. If you’re a low-risk pregnancy that plans to deliver vaginally, you can expect a one- to two-day hospital stay. However, if you deliver via C-section, that stay can be lengthened to three to four days. A good thing to do is to check with your hospital to see if they have a checklist that matches your situation and needs. 

Break Your Bag Down Into Three Categories

When you’re planning your hospital bag, there are three distinct types of items that you’ll need.

  1. What you’ll need during labor.
  2. What you’ll want to recover from labor.
  3. What you’ll need for your new addition!

If you can place every item in your bag into one of these three categories, you’ll be set. It’s also important to try and keep these items separated by category as much as possible. Not only will it make the entire process simpler, but it will also keep you stress-free and happy when you’re searching for what you want and need. The Baby Center has a great list to get you started. 

Plan for Your Labor 

The two most important items for your labor include your birth plan (make extra copies for your family and nurses) and your insurance information. Even if you’ve already pre-registered with your hospital, make sure your insurance card and ID are in an easily accessible place. 

Then, when planning for your labor, think about your five senses (touch, taste, sight, smell, and sound) and what would improve your birth experience. For example, would music and a good set of speakers help during labor? How about comfort measures such as a heating pad, massager, or lotion? Then, there’s stuff to keep you connected such as your phone, tablet, camera, laptop, and whatever else. A few essentials include:

  • A few pairs of non-skid socks
  • Two pairs of two-piece pajamas/robes you don’t mind ruining.
  • Electronics including chargers

Post-Labor Items

After labor, you’ll be exhilarated and exhausted in equal measures. At this time, you’re going to want to get as comfortable as possible. A good portion of your hospital bag should have personal items you’ll want for recovery. These items can and should include:

  • Toiletries such as shampoo, conditioner, soap, lotion, etc.
  • Comfortable clothing (breastfeeding friendly if you plan on nursing) that you don’t mind ruining. Remember, you’ll still look and feel at least four months pregnant!
  • Nursing supplies such a nipple butter, heating and cooling pads, breast pads for leaking, and a nursing bra.
  • Post-partum pads are a must for pain relief and swelling post vaginal delivery. 

Focus on Your Baby 

Packing for your new little one is, undoubtedly, the best portion of your hospital bag. This is where it can be easy to go overboard, but you can keep it simple by thinking through exactly what you’ll need.

  • Blankets and clothing should be soft and breathable. Focus on keeping your baby swaddled plus bringing a cute going home outfit like this one.
  • If you don’t want to use hospital provided diapers and wipes, plan on bringing your own.
  • If you plan on baby’s first bath at the hospital, make sure you have the baby soap and shampoo that you need.
  • Most hospitals won’t let you carry your baby out, so make sure you have your car seat for getting your baby to the car and home.

Keep It Simple

For first time moms especially, it can be easy to over pack. You’ve never experienced birth before so you want to make sure you’re 100% prepared. The problem with this is that it can get overwhelming in the hospital room and make for a lot of clean up and packing at the end of your hospital stay when you’re just ready to go home.

Instead, try bringing only the essentials and leaving out the “what-ifs” and “maybes.” Take a minimal approach to packing your bag, organizing things by pockets and details, so you’re not overwhelmed during the labor and after-labor process. A great way to keep it simple is to create a printable checklist and only pack what’s on that.

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