the domestic tales of four sisters

Hospital Bag: What to Pack for Labor & Delivery?

I was supposed to do a video about this – and I tried! Unfortunately I don’t have a fancy video camera and the webcam in my computer has terrible quality. I wouldn’t put you through that. 🙂 You’re welcome.

As I stated in my Labor Prep post the hospital bag seems to be a BIG deal for everyone. I remember being nervous with my first labor about what I should and should not take. I packed it at 36 weeks, and then ended up having to repack everything anyway when I was induced a few weeks later.

I felt “dismissed” (a lot!) while preparing for labor and delivery. Many people said to me, “Labor is natural. Don’t freak out.” Mmk. “Don’t overpack for the hospital. The hospital has everything. You’re wasting your time.” Mmk.

Finally I just stopped asking questions. Because what I realized (more than ever) is that EVERYONE is different.

My husband will be the first one to tell you – I don’t have a “modest personality,” but I am most certainly a modest person. I do not like being vulnerable with just anyone or for anyone to see more of me than I am comfortable. This meant that I was NOT going to live in a gown while in the hospital, and I absolutely still wanted to wear makeup and do my hair. Call it insecurity, call it modesty, or call it vanity – whatever you want! My level of comfort is directly related to how “exposed” I have to be to anyone other than my husband, child(ren), and family. (Again, I was the girl who put on a little makeup before I went to the ER. For kidney stones.)

Those women who do the water births in front of their whole family pretty much? Haha! God bless you! Not one part of me could do it. When I was permitted to get out of my bed (after my epidural wore off) I had to walk to the bathroom with the nurse as she instructed me to pee. My husband was still in the room and she left the door wide open. My face turned bright red and she said, “It’s okay! We do this all of the time!” to which I responded, “It’s not really you I’m worried about. I just don’t use the restroom in front of my husband.” To this day that was the most embarrassing part for me of the whole childbirth thing. And he watched everything from beginning to end!

Saying all of that to say this – if you’re like me and you crave some things to stay personal and you’re pretty particular about your level of comfort – this is your list. If you’re totally cool (like Danielle and Hilary) with the whole thing and you don’t have a care in the world – you can obviously pick and choose what you think you will want/need.

Here we go!


Hospital Bag: What to Pack for Labor & Delivery:

1) Stretch Headbands

You’re probably thinking that I’m kidding because this is the first thing on the list. I am not. Not one part of me is kidding. I am blazing mad that I forgot my headband with my first L&D. I had purchased new ones for the purpose and I just completely spaced out.

The truth is whether you have long, medium, or short length hair you will want one. This doesn’t matter if you are having a vaginal delivery or c-section. You want these. I remember about halfway through pushing and thinking (and brushing little whispies away from my face for the 859th time), “I really, really would love a headband right now!” It also didn’t help that my mom or my husband kept touching my head. Now, I have really long hair and I still had stuff falling down despite my hair being pulled up. Labor and delivery is a workout – I assure you.

Headbands will not be forgotten this time.

Here are some favorites of mine!
Goody Athletique Premium Comfort Stretch Headbands (Multicolored)
Conair Classic Wide Stretch Headbands
Goody Wide “Stay Put” Headbands

*All of these can be found in your local Target or Walmart!

2) Toiletries

I cannot recall if my hospital provided toiletries. There’s a possibility that they did, but I didn’t pay attention as I had brought my own. My husband and I both have very, very sensitive skin. I’m not one to “just use whatever” when it comes to what I put on my body/skin/hair. Simply because I’m asking for hives. 🙂 Therefore I always plan accordingly. Here’s what I did –

I went to Target (are you sensing my love of Target after all of these posts?) and purchased one of these “travel” kits and then just filled them with the items I already had in my shower. For $4 you can’t beat it. You can also buy individual bottles at Walmart for about $0.98 as far as I can remember. Another bonus to this is when you go into labor you don’t have to remember grabbing your stuff out of the shower as the travel bottles are already full and in your bag!

A few things I would recommend that EVERYONE take – toothbrush & toothpaste, lotion (your skin may still be pretty itchy even if you’re done “stretching,” and chapstick. My lips were terribly dry in the hospital!

*Makeup Note! Just recently I was reading a post that a lady had written about her daughter’s birth. She shared hospital photos and the woman was breathtaking. Her hair was done and her makeup was minimal, but beautiful and natural. The comments on that post were AWFUL! AWFUL! HORRIBLE! Therefore I want to rant for a second … I put makeup on within 24 hours of having my child. This is not because I was worried about how I looked in pictures. Didn’t even cross my mind. I was not trying to show anyone up or anything of the sort. The reality is I wanted to wear makeup and have my hair done for me. I put makeup on and do my hair – almost everyday – for me. Does my husband appreciate it? You bet! It’s important to me that I have the makeup and the hair done because without it I don’t feel like my best self. And those of us who DO wear makeup and have our hair done right after having a kid don’t mind the 20 minutes or so that we have to do it. SO! If you’re like me and you want to pack your makeup bag and your curling iron/hair dryer – go on with your bad self! If you aren’t like me, don’t be the Negative Nancy posting nasty comments on someone’s blog or photos because they had the “gall” to try and make themselves feel a little better after pushing a watermelon out of their vagina. Not cool, bro.

Moral of the story – Want to pack your makeup and your curling iron or hair dryer? Do it! I didn’t pack my whole makeup bag. I took my bareMinerals foundation, warmth, a little blush, and mascara. That’s all that I felt I would need. And I was right.

3) Clothing

First things first – pack a sweater. I really like this one from Liz Lange. One of the things I made sure to do was pick one to take with me that had stretchy sleeves so that I didn’t have a problem getting it over my IV. I wore this while in labor when I was pretty cold, and then after I had delivered. I’m really, really glad I thought to pack this despite the 75 degree weather outside. (yes, in the middle of January …) I swear once I pushed that kid out my body temperature dropped a million degrees and I was freezing. This will also help you feel a little less “exposed” in the beautiful, open back gowns they provide.

*Mom Tip: I said to my mom, “I hate that the back is open on these stupid things. I feel like I’m showing my ass to the whole world!” She said, “didn’t they give you another to wear the opposite way – like a robe?” LIGHTBULB! When my nurse came back I asked her for another gown to wear over my back. She thought it was a pretty neat idea … I guess this had not been done before. Mom for the win! So! If you hate that “my ass is hanging out” feeling while in your hospital gown, see if they’re willing to give you an extra gown to wear like a robe. This was also nice when I was being transported to my private recovery room… (because I didn’t want to be pushed there, I wanted to walk.)

The other items below I recommend that you pack if you don’t want to wear the hospital gown your entire stay. I planned on a 3 day stay just to be safe. Even though I was only there 24 hours, had anything gone differently with my labor it could have been longer. I recommend that you do the same.

These items will cover the whole 3 days –
– 1 pair of yoga pants/sweatpants
– 2 shirts (baggy is recommended if you are nursing)
– Nursing tank (or two)
– Nursing bra (I just wore a nursing bra to the hospital instead of a regular one)
– 3 to 4 pairs of COMFY underwear
(The hospital does provide mesh underwear. I made sure to ask my recovery nurse if it was okay to put my own underwear on after my shower. She said yes, it was perfectly fine. I was not a fan of those mesh underwear they provided. If you are worried about bleeding and ruining your underwear just purchase a cheap pack at Target or Walmart that you won’t cry over throwing out if you need to.)
– Sweater (as mentioned up above)
– Comfy shoes
(Your feet may or may not swell. Plan accordingly if they do swell. Mine did not, but I packed my Sperry Topsiders to be safe. If you deliver in the warmer months you could just pack flip flops to be safe.)
– Socks (If you prefer socks over bare feet.)

4) Baby Items

Your baby, whether there for one day or 3, will be put in hospital clothing. Which MOST hospitals will let you take home. Because of the time of year it was, I did pack a warmer outfit for my daughter to come home in. I would say, because you do have to transport the baby in the carseat, to pack footie PJs at least to take them home in. Or any “going home” outfit that you may prefer.

The hospital really does have everything for babies, but as far as I can recall they do not provide binkies for nursed babies. My daughter had a binky regardless of her being nursed, therefore I packed some.

One thing I would definitely recommend is calling the nursery of the hospital, tell them you are expecting and delivering there, and that you were curious what they provided, what they recommend you pack for the baby, and what formula they use (if you plan on supplementing or using formula). The hospital that I delivered at did not use the formula that I intended on supplementing with (and what I had at home), so I packed some of that.

Here’s what I packed!
– Formula of choice
– Binkies
– Blankie
– Going home outfit

Short list, right? I know. This is because the hospital provides diapers, wipes, bottles, clothing for the baby’s stay, etc. All I needed to worry about was formula, binkies, and what she was wearing home. One of the things my nurse told me was to make sure I cleaned off the bassinet. I said, “I’m sorry, what?” She responded, “Take all of the diapers on here, the wipes, the hats, the clothes she’s wearing … those are all yours to keep.” I wouldn’t say to take all of that stuff without asking, but where I delivered they pretty much let me have whatever the heck I wanted. Awesome!

5) Snacks & Cash

One of the things, again, we didn’t pack and wish we would have. I was in labor for a while and there were vending machines, but we had no cash. So my husband kept having to go down to the cafeteria (gross) and buy hospital food or drink. The nurses kept my drink full for me, but I wish I had packed some snacks to munch on when I was still permitted to eat food during labor. (Which, surprisingly, was quite a while … ) Snacks would have been amazing for my husband as well … he tends to get cranky when he’s hungry. Marines.

When packing these items don’t overpack and consider things that are going to provide you protein (energy). Trail mix (recipe coming on the blog next week), granola bars, bananas, dried fruit … and of course gummy bears. Gummy bears have A LOT of protein in them.


Keep your husband in mind while you are packing these as well. I wouldn’t pack him a beer or two … pretty sure that’s not permitted. But pretzels, chips, gum, gummy snacks … these all are up their alley. Then when he gets all mopey and whiny and hates life you can be like, “Oh. I’m sorry that my pushing your child out of my ass is so inconvenient for you. Here’s some pretzels you whiner.

Cash will be used to go and get some drinks in the vending machines.

6) Husband’s Stuff

My husband and I packed our things in the same bag, along with the baby’s stuff. My sister bought me this LL Bean tote for Christmas one year, and it is the perfect size for all of our junk.
My husband packed:
– Something to sleep in
– 1 pair of jeans (which he wore to the hospital)
– 1 extra shirt (on top of the one he wore to the hospital)
– 2-3 pairs of underwear
– socks
– shoes (which he wore to the hospital)

7) Electronics & Chargers

I’m pretty sure my hospital only had about 5 channels. One of which was the channel for the required videos I had to watch before they discharged me. (I learned not to shake my baby when she cries. Thank you.)

Thank goodness for smartphones & Kindles!

Here’s what I made sure we had:

– Kindle/iPad/Tablet & Charger (with at least 1 new book downloaded for me to read)
– Cell phones & chargers
– Camera w/ fresh batteries (You don’t want only iPhone photos of your baby’s first few days of life.)

*A little note on laptops. A lot of soon to be moms I’ve talked to really like the idea of Facetiming/Skyping with family on their laptops either in labor or after the baby is born. I know having a baby is so exciting and you want to share that with everyone as soon as possible – especially if you live far away from your family. We opted, however, to not take our laptop with us. I feel that it is very important that the first 24 hours of the baby’s life are you, your spouse, kids (if you have any), and baby. Even if you are the most social person in the whole world – reserve those moments for rest and for “just you guys.” And as much as grandma or aunties WANT to witness the birth of your baby via Skype, I would say all it’s going to do is cause you some added stress that you probably aren’t going to be interested in handling while pushing that baby out. My advice? Leave the laptop at home and let the grandparents, in laws, aunties/uncles, etc. know that you will send them pictures as soon as possible!

Well, that’s it. The “big” hospital bag. Are you ready? 🙂 I made sure to pack this at 36/37 weeks. Knowing me and my procrastination this time around I probably won’t pack until my water breaks. #winning?

Some other things you might want to pack to pass the time? Travel games!
My husband and I love Bananagrams, Skipbo, and Phase 10.

Good luck, pregnant friends! I have 10 weeks to go. OYE! Time to start preparing? Who am I kidding. I’m going to go drink a decaf caramel macchiato and watch some Jake & The Neverland Pirates with my kid. Stay at home mom for the win!


3 thoughts on “Hospital Bag: What to Pack for Labor & Delivery?”

  • I am pregnant with my first child. This list was very helpful thank you!! What are your thoughts on baby monitors?

    • Olivia, I honestly have the cheapest one you can buy (by first years) at Target. Haha! They work wonderfully. If you want a baby monitor with video you can actually by a camera on amazon that syncs to an app you can download on your phone. The good thing is it is cheap ($60), better video quality, and it cannot be hacked by outsiders as it only operates on phones connected to the IP address shared by the camera. I can’t remember the exact name but it should be an easy find on google! (Many blog posts written reviewing it as well!)

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