Weeks before the arrival of your precious baby boy or girl, you’ll find that a printable hospital bag checklist can make your life a lot easier. Chances are, you’ve already got a million things running through your mind, and the last thing you want is to be unprepared when the big day comes. This is why a mom’s hospital bag is typically packed in advance.
After months of waiting and bonding with your unborn miracle, nothing is as exciting as the weeks and days leading up to your little one’s arrival. When you pack your hospital bag, it’s crucial to make sure that you have all of the supplies needed at home after you come home as well.
Not only do you need to be physically and functionally prepared for the life-changing moment that’s about to happen, but you also need to prepare yourself mentally for what’s in store.
How to know what to pack into your hospital bag
For most first-time moms, it’s hard to know what to expect when you’re about to give birth for the first time, never mind what to pack into your hospital bag! Fortunately, with resources such as this printable hospital bag checklist and some guidance from friends and family who’ve gone through it already, you can relax.
Ideally, your hospital bag should contain essentials and non-essentials to make your stay a bit more pleasant. What’s a hospital bag without a little treat for the new mom? After all, you deserve it for bringing life into the world. To make things easier for you, here’s a list of items that every mom should include in her hospital bag. For added convenience, this printable hospital bag checklist will make purchasing these items even more seamless.
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Hospital bag checklist
This may turn out to be your saving grace in many situations when you go into labor and during your stay, so this is a non-negotiable for your hospital bag. Most hospitals typically provide towels, but there’s no harm in bringing an extra one or two (or three) and having them in your hospital bag as backup.
Because you’re working off this printable hospital bag checklist and preparing a separate toiletry bag to take with you, the easiest way to approach it would be to replicate your current one! Because you may choose to keep your hospital bag in your car, it wouldn’t be wise to keep your toiletry bag with things you use daily in there.
Just recreate and make a “copy” of it, so your hospital bag has exactly what you use at home. This includes items such as your toothbrush, toothpaste, face cloth, face wash, moisturizer, etc.
I can’t stress this one enough! As was the case throughout your pregnancy, you’ll want to pack clothes that are comfortable and not too tight-fitting into your hospital bag. Ideally, your hospital bag should contain clothing that’s easy to put on and take off, so no crazy no zippers or intricate buttons!
Don’t forget to also pack something that can be worn after delivery. Your maternity clothes are perfect for this, they’re stretchy and comfortable, but they also have snaps at the waist, so they won’t ride up or down as much during labor.
Robe, socks and slippers
This may count as comfortable clothing but listing these separately on this printable hospital bag checklist will ensure that you don’t forget them. I’d recommend packing slippers and socks with a non-slip grip into your hospital bag, because you never really know what situations you might find yourself in or the type of flooring that the hospital has.
Hospitals typically provide you with disposable underwear, but again, packing extra underwear into your hospital bag won’t do any harm. I’d rather be overprepared than underprepared, especially when it comes to packing a hospital bag.
This is an absolute must-have in your hospital bag if you intend on breastfeeding when your bundle of joy arrives. Your breasts will likely be tender and soon after delivery, so a comfortable nursing bra will do you a world of good.
There will likely be some leakage from your breasts during your stay, especially if you start breastfeeding immediately. Your clothes will thank you for adding this to your hospital bag!
Childbirth is a physically demanding process that takes its toll on your body. Because of this, there is bound to be some leakage and postpartum bleeding, which is why packing pads into your hospital bag is recommended. You can consider fragrance-free pads and choose an absorbency that’s above what you would typically use.
Breastfeeding moms will tell you that you’ll kick yourself if you don’t pack this into your hospital bag. Nipple cream will help soothe and heal the skin around your nipples. I also love how versatile nipple cream is, you can also use it as a lip balm or skin moisturizer.
Healthy snacks and water
Packing a good balance of sweet and savory snacks is best. It’s important that you continue to duel your body with healthy and nutritious food and water during your stay (while you’re allowed to.) Granola bars, fruit mixes and a selection of nuts are great to have with you. It goes without saying that water is a non-negotiable on this hospital bag checklist.
Vitamins and supplements
Throughout your pregnancy journey, your doctor is bound to have stressed the importance of getting the necessary nutrients and not forgetting about your vitamins. The same can be said postpartum, so this has to be mentioned in this hospital bag checklist. Your body is still healing and recovering, and it might need an additional boost and assistance in the form of vitamins and supplements.
This might seem insignificant at first glance, but you’ll realize the importance of hair ties once you step into that hospital room. If you have long hair, the best thing to do throughout your stay is tie it back, especially when you go into labor. Having hair uncontrollably falling on your face can add to your level of irritation and frustration.
You could also bring hair clips as well, in an attempt to keep your hair in place as much as possible.
Include your baby’s essentials in your hospital bag
What’s a hospital bag checklist without some items for the newest addition to the family? This is why packing your hospital bag well in advance is so crucial; you have to think about not only yourself and what you might need, but for your baby as well. You may choose to have a separate hospital bag for your baby, but one complete and well-thought-out hospital bag can suffice.
If you’re like most moms, the most challenging part about this will be choosing which baby clothes to pack from the hundreds of cute items you’ve already started buying!
Unfortunately, this hospital bag checklist can’t help you with that. It’s always good to pack a few extra sets of clothes because babies can be unpredictable. The best thing to do is pack sets for warm and cold weather. This includes socks, mittens, and hats for your little one.
Wet wipes and diapers
This is another item that you can never have too much of. While your hospital will likely provide these, this hospital bag checklist would be incomplete without these two essential items for your baby.
Baby nail clippers
You can never be fully prepared for what your child’s birth will be like, let alone how they’ll make their grand entrance into the world. You wouldn’t want to realize that your baby has overgrown nails and risk them scratching their precious little face.
Bringing a swaddle or two won’t hurt, even if the hospital does make provision for this. The last thing you want is for your baby to end up getting cold or not have sufficient warmth. This will also come in handy for the trip back home.
Speaking of the trip back home, your baby will need to be safely strapped in a car seat when they make their way home for the first time.
Labor stress ball
This may or may not be a rather unconventional addition to this hospital bag checklist, depending on how familiar you are with a stress ball. Much like a regular stress ball, a labor stress ball can help you through the labor pains. It’s widely believed that by squeezing a stress ball during labor, your brain works off some of the adrenaline and helps to reduce the level of pain and discomfort that you actively feel.
Hot water bottle
This section of the hospital bag checklist contains a few nice-to-haves, and this is one of them. You can’t be too sure what the sleeping arrangements and conditions will be like, so to avoid possibly finding yourself feeling cold at night, a hot water bottle is the perfect friend to keep you warm.
Music can do a lot to soothe a situation and improve your mood. Whether you want to play your favorite song or one that holds dear memories while in labor, or perhaps you just want to have some feel-good music with you for your stay. Either way, having your favorite tunes with you could make the whole experience even more pleasant.
However, be careful not to blast your headsets or the music too high, otherwise you risk waking the baby up or not hearing them at all when they wake up. By including a mini speaker on this hospital bag checklist, the aim is to help you relive the special birthing experience every time you listen to the songs individually or the playlist as a whole.
Falling asleep at night is one thing, but trying to fall asleep during the day with bright lights and so much activity at the hospital can be difficult. That’s why an eye mask is on this hospital bag checklist. You may want to catch a day nap and refresh while your baby is asleep, this will come in handy.
A book or magazine
There will be times when you find yourself with very little to do, especially when your baby is sleeping. You could either use that time to rest and recover through sleep or unwind with a good book or magazine. Most moms may decide to kill two birds with one stone by reading parenting books or magazines to better equip themselves for what lies ahead.
Although breastfeeding moms may not need this, you could keep it safely stored in your hospital bag should the need for it ever arise unexpectedly.
Diary and camera
Nowadays, people typically use their phone cameras to document everything. If you’re a purist, you could bring a camera and ask your spouse to document those special moments so that you can have them to cherish forever.
Similarly, if you’re somebody that enjoys journalling, then there’s no better time to do so than while those emotions are still fresh. Real-time journalling allows you to give a more accurate, honest and sentimental account of what’s happening around you. The visuals you recreate through the written word will be more vivid.
Of course, this will only be possible if you’re able to get a bit of time to yourself during your hospital stay. Journalling can be very cathartic and healing.
If you’re a new mom, you’ve probably heard all the horror stories about what happens to your body after childbirth and what could go wrong during childbirth. Don’t let that sit in your head and consume you. You might also think that it’s impossible to plan for a hospital stay and have everything you need, when you need it, but it’s actually not.
Hopefully, this hospital bag checklist has made the process somewhat easier and helped you adequately prepare for that special time when you get to welcome your little one into the world.
Special thanks to author: Sannie Nkosi is the founder of Four-Leaf Consulting. After a few years in journalism, she ditched the newsroom to write about things that really matter (like family, finances and travel). On a regular day, you can find her creating content, listening to podcasts, or engaging with small business owners.