Giving birth for the first time is both a joyous and nerve-wrecking experience.

You’re beaming and ecstatic about meeting your baby for the first time, but you’re terrified about the unknown feeling of labor pain and surprises that might arise.

Your first instinct is to bring everything you have to the hospital just in case.

What do you really need in your hospital bag?

 

Before I went to the hospital, I spent hours looking through hospital bag checklists. Asking friends about their experience and what they included in their hospital bag.

I wanted to be prepared, but I didn’t want to overpurchase. What I often heard over and over again is “Don’t overpack.”

Even with that advice, I still overpacked.

Here’s a realistic hospital bag checklist for mom, dad and baby.

 

(To help with managing costs, don’t forget to sign up for an Amazon Baby Registry! You can get almost every product from Amazon. Amazon provides you with a one-time 10% discount on select items from your registry, 60 days before your child’s arrival date. There are also free 90 day returns on baby store purchases.

If you are an Amazon Prime member, the one-time discount is 15%! Amazon Prime also comes with 20% off diapers and baby food when you have more than 5 subscriptions.

The best part about this membership: 2 day FREE shipping and FREE access to movies, TV shows, music and books. You no longer have to worry about last minute items. You can cancel your other movie, music and book subscription services!

Get the Amazon Prime 30 day FREE trial here, which you can cancel at anytime. No questions asked.)

 

What to pack for labor and delivery:

  • ID, health insurance card, hospital paperwork
  • 1 box of energy barsWhether or not you can eat during labor is a topic you should discuss with your doctor. For my experience, I ate Cliff Bars before and after labor. I checked into the hospital in the evening, was induced with cervadil to soften my cervix and then ate 1 cliff bar before going to bed. When I woke up in the morning, I ate another cliff bar before they broke my water and gave me pitocin. I didn’t eat anything during labor. The reason I chose energy bars is because I wanted to eat something that filled me up and gave me energy for labor, but didn’t make me feel too full and uncomfortable. I found the cliff bars hit the spot!
  • Water bottle – Having a good water bottle is important to stay hydrated throughout labor. I just brought this Voss water bottle that I’ve been reusing for years because it’s extra large and made of glass so there’s no unwanted flavoring from the package. I have friends that love this Lifefactory water bottle because it’s also made of glass, but has this silicone sleeve for easier gripping and an opening that’s large enough to put ice cubes easily in if you overheat and just need to chomp on cubes.
  • Lip balm – During labor, you are constantly breathing through your mouth and drying your lips out which is where lip balm comes in handy.
  • Hair tie

What to pack for just after delivery:

  • 1 pack of disposable adult underwear – The hospital had giant adult diapers with the sticky tabs in front. When you’re postpartum, struggling to use the bathroom, and bleeding non-stop, these diapers are challenging to manouevre and get on. I got my share of blood on the floor and on myself trying to put those diapers in place. The last thing you want to do when you’re postpartum is bend down for anything. Even worse – bend down to clean up blood! I highly recommend getting the pull-on Depends underwear. You can easily slip it on while you’re on the toilet. Most importantly, it’s comfortable. When you’re looking at the sizing, go with one size up from your pre-preganancy size. For example, I’m usually a size S and I went with the size S/M.
  • Dark colored clothes that are comfortable enough to sleep in (2 pants, 2 button down shirts for easier breastfeeding, 2 pairs of thick socks to keep you warm). Dark is important because you might have postpartum bleeding or milk stain accidents while guests are there! For the pants, I just used my maternity leggings. Yes – you will still look 6 months pregnant even after you give birth. It’ll take a few weeks for your uterus to shrink. In total, I actually only used 1 outfit while I was there and I went home in it! It’s always good to bring a second outfit just in case!
  • Robe – My hospital room was warm so I didn’t use the robe often. I only used it when I needed to cover up at the hospital when guests came. I did use the robe in my first few months postpartum. It was a quick and comfortable way to warm up and easy to manouevre to breastfeed. If you’ve booked a c-section, I heard a robe is helpful as the operating room can be cold.
  • Nursing bra with no underwire – I only used this nursing bra when I was leaving the hospital. I stayed in my hospital gown the entire time I was there. It was just easier, especially when learning how to breastfeed. Once I got home from the hospital, I did use the nursing bra every time I left the house. It was comfortable and inexpensive. It has easy-to-use nursing clips. I’ve tried similar nursing bras without underwires from other retailers and this one is the cheapest for relatively good quality.
  • Nursing pillow – Here’s the nursing pillow I recommend. I left mine at home and I regretted it! When you’re postpartum, your body is weak so every little aid helps!
  • Toiletries (toothbrush, toothpaste, face wash, moisturizer, shampoo, conditioner, deodorant etc.) – You could also bring a hairbrush and makeup for the first family portrait. I never ended up using the shampoo and conditioner because I didn’t need to take a shower while I was there.
  • Phone and charger – This is not only handy for contacting family and friends, but also to keep track of baby feeding times.
  • Paper file folder – Some type of folder or holder to store all of the baby paperwork and information you’ll receive helps to keep everything in one place and not lose it.
  • Prenatal vitamins – This is something I forgot to take! Perhaps ask your significant other to remind you to take these.

Hospital Bag Checklist for Dad:

  • Camera unless he is planning on using his phone
  • Phone and charger
  • Change of clothes
  • Pillow and blanket
  • Snacks

Hospital Bag Checklist for Baby:

  • 1 pack of Diapers (20+ diapers) and Wipes – I only used a handful of diapers and wipes, but it was good to have extra just in case we had to stay more days.
  • Kleenex – I initially used this to quickly wipe my hands at the changing area and not leave the baby unattended (i.e. go to the bathroom to wash my hands). When I got home, I realized it was more cost efficient to use a washable towel.
  • Vaseline or alternative bum cream – I used this to be able to easily remove the meconium poop.
  • Going home outfit – This was a onesie with folded out mittens, sweater and toque because my baby was born in winter.
  • Car seat canopy – This car seat canopy was handy to block the wind when we walked her out of the hospital for the first time.
  • Blanket – I used a baby blanket to put on the baby while she was outside in the car seat because I delivered in winter. If you’re delivering in the spring or summer, I recommend using the aden and anais muslin blankets because they can also be used as a burp cloth, nursing cover, tummy time mat etc.
  • Car seat

Here’s what’s not on my realistic hospital bag checklist:

  • Slippers – I just used my warm winter socks when I was walking around.
  • Birth plan – I didn’t pull this out once. I just went with the flow of what happened.
  • Nursing tank top – I didn’t use this as I already had the nursing bra. In hindsight, I should have just brought either the nursing bra or nursing tank top to the hospital.
  • Cotton underwear – I just used the Depends underwear.
  • Nursing pads – Even when my milk came in several days after I had already left the hospital, I didn’t end up needing these.
  • Nipple cream – My nipples cracked a week or so after I had already left the hospital, but even then, I only used saliva to heal them so I didn’t end up using this.
  • Flip flops – I didn’t need them because I didn’t end up taking a shower at the hospital.
  • Lotion for massage, personal focal point, gum or hard candy – I didn’t end up using any of these tools during labor. Every person’s labor is different. If I have a second child, I would bring these again just in case.
  • Baby sleepers – I packed so many outfits, but my baby slept in a swaddled hospital blanket the whole time she was there so I only ended up using the going home outfit.
  • Personal pillow – I found the hospital pillows were sufficient. I’ve heard moms recommend bringing this if you want a little piece of home to make you feel comfortable. If you do bring one, I’ve heard it’s best to bring a colored pillow to distinguish from the hospital’s pillows.
  • A book for light reading – I brought educational baby books like What to Expect the First Year and Baby 411 to the hospital and didn’t read them once! When I wanted to read something, I just checked my phone.
  • A baby book for memories – I was so overwhelmed and tired after the baby was born that I forgot to record anything. If this is important to you, you might want to ask your significant other to manage this.

 

Related: 0-6 Month Baby Essentials for Frugal Parents

Related: Baby’s First Flight? Here are my Best Tips for Flying with a Baby on a Plane

 

4 important notes about this list:

 

1) Quantities may vary depending on your length of stay.

I was at the hospital for a total of 2 days from induction to discharge so quantities reflect this amount of stay.

If you’re at the hospital for longer than 48 hours, you might want to add more disposable adult underwear, clothes, diapers and wipes.

 

2) Before you do any packing, contact your hospital to ask what they do and do not provide you.

Our hospital had a website with a checklist. If your hospital doesn’t have one, contact the hospital’s maternity ward and ask their nurses what the hospital provides.

My hospital only provided a few adult diapers. They didn’t provide any baby essentials like diapers, wipes etc.

They had a vending machine where you could purchase these items at ridiculously inflated prices.

 

3) Speak to your maternity ward if you’re checking out without an infant car seat.

Some maternity wards have specific check-out procedures if you don’t have an infant car seat.

For example, if you have a convertible car seat, some nurses might not be willing to go to your car with you to check that you’ve secured the baby to the car seat.

 

4) When you finalize your list, pack your hospital bag a month before you anticipate needing it.

I waited until the day I was induced and it was stressful and hectic.

In hindsight, I should have packed it at 8 months, especially just in case I went into labor early.

 

You can print this 1 page PDF summary of this Realistic Hospital Bag Checklist here.

Realistic Hospital Bag Checklist

 

In case you missed it above, to help with managing costs, don’t forget to sign up for an Amazon Baby Registry! You can get almost every product from Amazon. Amazon provides you with a one-time 10% discount on select items from your registry, 60 days before your child’s arrival date. There are also free 90 day returns on baby store purchases.

If you are an Amazon Prime member, the one-time discount is 15%! Amazon Prime also comes with 20% off diapers and baby food when you have more than 5 subscriptions.

The best part about this membership: 2 day FREE shipping and FREE access to movies, TV shows, music and books. You no longer have to worry about last minute items. You can cancel your other movie, music and book subscription services!

Get the Amazon Prime 30 day FREE trial here, which you can cancel at anytime. No questions asked.

 

Related Baby Tips Articles:

 

Every parent’s experience and preferences are different. If I have another baby, I will definitely pack less.

I hope this list provides you with some insight about what can happen and what to expect.

What’s on your realistic hospital bag checklist?

 

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What I actually used from my Hospital Bag Checklist

What I actually used from my Hospital Bag Checklist
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