If you are pregnant and nearing the delivery date for a baby, then you have probably already thought through what to pack in your hospital bag. You might even have a packed bag already sitting by your door!
I did minimal research on what to pack in the hospital bag to help me before our sweet baby girl was born. I perused the internet and gathered a basic assumption of what to include – toiletries, an outfit for baby, and clothes to journey home in. I packed some entertainment items (which we never touched in the recovery and visitation chaos!) and since I have specific dietary needs I even packed some snacks along to stock the mini fridge.
Yet when I look back at my stay in the hospital after the birth of our sweet baby Ellie, there are four specific items that I desperately wish I had been told to include when I was wondering what to pack in my hospital bag. These items would have helped to make my hospital stay easier, more relaxing, and much more comfortable. Some of them would have even jump-started long term benefits to both my own and the baby’s health.
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If you’ve been working on packing your hospital bag (or wondering what to pack in your hospital bag!) then hopefully these items are already included on your list – but if they’re not then these are items that I highly recommend:
1. Breast Pump
I had very little knowledge of breastfeeding before my daughter was born, except that I wanted to do it. So naturally I didn’t come to the hospital prepared with any breastfeeding materials. The lactation consultant met with me just after Ellie was born and instructed me on manual expression to aid the arrival of my milk supply, but it was very difficult and yielded little. It was only when we took Ellie to the pediatrician four days after her birth that a lactation consultant there instructed me to use the breast pump after each feeding since my supply had still not come in. By then Ellie had lost a concerning amount of weight and we had to supplement her feeding with small amounts of formula by syringe. However, after just a few days with the breast pump my supply began to come in and I was able to successfully breastfeed for many months.
I wish I could have aided my supply in arriving sooner by pumping after feedings at the hospital rather than attempting to manually express. So, if a breast pump is not among the things you are packing in your hospital bag, then I highly recommend that it travel with you for the birth! Many insurance companies even offer a free electric breast pump to first time expectant mothers. We had to call and inquire but were able to get ours free of charge from our provider.
2. Nursing-friendly Clothing
Again, I had very little knowledge of breastfeeding before Ellie arrived, so the only clothing I took to the hospital was a clean outfit (of maternity clothes!) to come home in. I hadn’t even purchased any breastfeeding bras or tank tops! However, wearing a hospital gown to greet visitors for days after her birth was less desirable than wearing some “regular” clothes would have been. I also found it bulky and cumbersome to breastfeed while wearing the hospital gown. I highly recommend throwing a nursing bra and breastfeeding-friendly clothing into your hospital bag for having the baby, even if it’s just a loose t-shirt and pair of comfortable shorts.I quickly purchased some nursing bras and tank tops after she was born and a few months later discovered some nursing attire that made it even easier to feed her and remain confidently clothed.
I bought a few long-sleeved nursing tops from latchedmama.com and was very happy with them, but there are many sites out there that make clothing specifically for nursing moms including Belly Bandit, Leading Lady, and ROOLEE. Amazon also has a large selection of nursing tops and dresses. I did not regret investing in at least a few articles to wear in the early months of frequent feedings. If we have another baby I will be sure to throw one of my nursing tops and a bra in when I go through what to pack in the hospital bag!
3. A Velcro Swaddle
We were so unaware before our first baby was born. We had no idea that swaddling was important or even a thing! We quickly learned, however, that to calm and comfort our daughter in the hospital (and for months afterwards) swaddling was an extremely helpful task. The only problem was that swaddling with the hospital provided blanket was tricky and very difficult to do in a way that Ellie wouldn’t just pull her arms out of. We called the nurses several times to ask for their help to swaddle since we realized it helped to calm her but couldn’t figure out how to do it ourselves. (I’m sure I was one of their favorite patients.)
A few weeks after we got home some friends introduced us to velcro swaddles and it was a beautiful thing! They are so much less hassle than blanket swaddling and were much harder for Ellie to pull her arms from. We loved the SwaddleMe brand ones like these available on Amazon since they have a wide band for the velcro to attach to and make as tight or lose as needed. Much stress would have been reduced if we had included one when packing the hospital bag!
This might be a bit TMI, but I desperately wish I had taken some Miralax with us to the hospital for the aftermath of labor and delivery. Our hospital provided a stool softener post-delivery that I took, but my body developed severe pain from constipation after our baby arrived that made it uncomfortable to even sit up straight or raise the recline of the hospital bed. As soon as I purchased some Miralax after several days back at home I began to experience relief. It may not be an issue for anyone else and others may respond differently if it is, but Miralax was a life-saver for me after returning home. I wish it had been brought to my attention when I was wondering what to pack in the hospital bag so I could have taken it right away to avoid days of intense pain.
These are the items I wish had been in my hospital bag while recovering after our daughter’s birth. Every birth, baby, and mom is different but if you’re expecting soon then I hope this list helps you to avoid having items that you wish were there with you!
UPDATE: It’s not on the list because I did in fact have it in my bag, but if you don’t have any Depends on your list for what to pack in your hospital bag I highly recommend them! I actually ended up using them when my water broke before getting to the hospital or I wouldn’t have been able to walk in without a towel between my legs! They were also extremely convenient after birth. They were much easier to use than the hospital provided undies and pads. I’m currently expecting my second baby and have already set aside a pack of these for when I begin packing my hospital bag!
Read my full post on what to pack in your labor and delivery hospital bag (with a FREE printable checklist!) HERE.
If you’ve already delivered a baby, what are some items that you wish you would have packed for the hospital?