The Perfect Hospital Bag Checklist: Compiled by Dad
If you’re reading this article you are likely in your second or third trimester and are heading into the final months of your pregnancy. Keep your head up, there’s not long to go now and you are getting closer and closer to meeting your baby!
Get your paper and pen ready to start your hospital bag checklist. Even if it only has a few items on it at first, start now, don’t wait until your due date to start creating your list.
Make sure the person who will be responsible for helping you pack it, including elements that have to be packed right before you head into hospital, are involved from the start.
Unleash Your Inner Planner
Whether or not you love compiling lists, get stuck into this process. When you head into hospital it will help to make you feel more in control, even as your body dictates things a little bit more than usual.
Presuming you are being driven to hospital there is little danger of overpacking, however I would recommend keeping your items to a single small suitcase or bag and a ‘carry-on’. Your partner or hospital staff may be moving your bags around for you and it’ll be easier to keep track of them if you don’t arrive with a collection of multiple assorted bags and suitcases. For each of our hospital bags (we packed three over the years), we erred on the side of caution. I’ve never heard a new mother complain that she brought too many unused items to the hospital.
Don’t bring anything valuable, you don’t want to be worrying about the safety of your packed items. The few valuables you do bring should be things that you keep close, such as your cell phone or your wedding band.
Plan for the Unexpected
Maybe you will have a quick labor and delivery, speedy post-birth checks and be released from hospital that very same day. Although I hope this happens, you should consider that you may need to stay overnight, if not longer. If you do end up needing any items you do not pack, it won’t be the end of the world but your partner will have to leave your side to retrieve them or you will need to contact family or friends.
I would always recommend packing for an overnight stay and presuming that the hospital may not provide basic items that are of a standard that will make you comfortable. A great example are pillows. We didn’t pack a pillow for our first child but it was top of our list for our second and third kids. Hospital pillows in the UK are so thin you almost forget they are there and end up having to fold or stack them!
Focus on You
Just a quick note to remember things that you may not be packing in the traditional sense. For example, you may want to compile a music playlist ahead of time. You may wish to research where you can go around the hospital if you are told to walk around and come back later as labor progresses. Get any research or preparation out of the way early.
Hospital Bag Essentials
Here are my recommended must haves. Make sure to have some of these already in your car or in a corner of your house, and keep a physical list containing at least these essential items for your partner to check right before you leave the house for the hospital!
- Car seat - without this you are not getting home. Not only do you need to bring one but you actually need to know how to safely secure it in your car, taxi or uber. Practice!
- Phone charger - unless you are a technophobe, your phone will be your means of communication with your friends and family - and with your partner if they have to leave your side. It also doubles as a camera to take any pictures or videos, if you want any. You don’t want to run out of battery.
- Pillow - bring one; your head, neck and back deserve it! Make sure to bring a pillowcase that you are not attached to.
- Fan - if you’re having a summer baby, a handheld rechargeable fan that your partner can hold or that can freestand is worth its weight in gold, trust me.
- Change of clothes - you will not want to leave the hospital in the same clothes that you came in with.
- Regular medication - if you are taking any regular medication ensure that you bring enough for a few days with you.
- Hair clips, hair bands, or hair ties - unless you have short hair, pack these. When you are sweating and pushing and panting the last thing you will want is hair in your face.
- Maternity notes and birth plan - although you and your partner will communicate your birth plan and decisions, it is useful for the hospital staff to have these in written form too.
- Headphones - we could debate whether these are essential but if ever you need help to mentally escape and focus inwards these will help. Maybe you’re on a loud maternity ward and need to block out surrounding noises. Better safe than sorry, pack some!
- Mask - you may be required to wear a mask when walking around the hospital. (In the UK it is currently obligatory).
- Hand Sanitizer - they’ll have this in the hospital but you’ll want your own.
After you’ve got the essentials ready, you should focus on things that will help you through labor, which can last many hours. After that, it will be time to think about what will help you feel comfortable postpartum and assist with things like breastfeeding.
- Drinks - water, juice, fizzy drinks. Gatorade/Lucozade are also good options
- Snacks - for before, during and after. Take your partner stealing some of these into consideration.
- A drinking straw - this is essential for drinking while you push!
- Flip flops - for the hospital shower
- Towel - some hospital towels can feel like sandpaper that barely covers your body.
- Toothbrush and toothpaste
- Toiletries (moisturizer, facewash, body wash, soap, shampoo, lotions)
- Lip balm
- Multiple pairs of underwear and maternity pads
- Going-home outfit
- Nursing bra
For Your Baby
The hospital will normally have everything you need for your new baby, but there may be specific things that you want to pack yourself for your little one, such as:
- Mittens - Quite important to stop your newborn accidentally scratching themselves
- Diapers, cotton wool, and baby wipes
- First outfit with hat
- Spare baby grow(s)
Now you know what you need, it’s time to get packing!