In my third trimester, I started to compile a list of things to pack in my hospital bag. I found tons of lists for “essential items” and things that you “absolutely need” when you give birth at the hospital. To be safe, I packed most of these suggested items as I didn’t know what to expect.
Now that I’ve given birth at a hospital, I can honestly tell you that more than half of those “essential items” are completely non-essential. I understand that everyone has different needs and will have a different labour and delivery. Also, take into consideration that I gave birth in Italy where hospitals may operate slightly differently from a hospital in your country.
Some of the items I suggest have affiliate links but I state my honest opinion about all of the products I list.
The Bare Bones List of things to pack in your Hospital Bag
Let’s start off with what the hospital asks you to bring:
- ID/health card and copies
- Any documents or exam results pertaining to your pregnancy
- Cord blood donation consent form
- Mesh underwear
- Post-partum pads
- Night gowns/pyjamas
- Slippers/flip flops
- Toiletries and towels
Postpartum pads are so huge, it’s laughable. You laugh now, but when your uterus is shrinking after you give birth, you will be changing those pads every hour. It is shocking how much blood is lost postpartum. The mesh underwear basically keeps those huge pads in place and is light, flexible and non-restrictive. This is also great for women who undergo c-sections. Both items are quite cheap. An alternative to the mesh underwear and postpartum pad combo is adult diapers. A few of my mommy friends claim that it is much easier to deal with. If you do go with the mesh underwear and postpartum pad combo, try to find postpartum pads that have an adhesive strip underneath or else you are going to be uncomfortable trying to adjust yourself every time you move.
You definitely want to feel comfortable in the hospital so bring clothes that you can easily put on and take off. My suggestion would be to have a night gown that buttons down in the front. I suggest a night gown because doctors are going to be checking your battle scars often so, it is just easier if you have a gown for easy access. If you choose to breastfeed, a loose, button-down gown or shirt is so much easier to deal with.
Flips flops/slippers are a must in a hospital. I used slippers to go around the hospital room and flip flops to take a shower. Choose slippers that don’t require you to bend down to get them on.
What I Actually Used in the Hospital
Frozen/cold postpartum pads
*Bathing suit – at least the top part if you plan on doing a water birth
*for water births
Look up “padsicles” on Pinterest and start making them. I made ten padsicles and made some more at the hospital. Basically, to make them you need post-partum pads, aloe vera gel, lavender oil and witch hazel. Unfortunately, they weren’t ice cold since I didn’t have a fridge in my hospital room but it still helped a lot with the swelling and discomfort. The hospital provided us with free post-partum pads.
The lanolin by Medela was available at the hospital but I am so happy that I had previously bought a tube because I was constantly putting it on before and after feedings (every hour).
There was toilet paper in my washroom but I ran out and it took ages for the nurses to replace it. That is why I say to bring a roll just in case.
The nursing tanks and bras were comfortable and convenient since I had to breastfeed every hour and sometimes ever half hour.
We were served, breakfast, lunch and dinner at the hospital. Each meal came with a bottle of water. If you want your milk to come in, you need to be drinking WAY more than three little bottles of water a day. I asked for more water but was never given anymore so I had my husband run out to grab me some.
I also got him to get me a liter of pineapple juice because I remember reading a blog post about bringing pineapple juice to the hospital. It turns out that pineapple juice reduces inflammation which is great if you have a lot of milk, suffer from engorgement and need some relief. The reality is that for first time moms, engorgement is highly unlikely. It is much more probable that your milk will not come in for those first few days, so, drink up and relax.
What I Didn’t Use at the Hospital/What I Found Useless
- Pineapple juice (although it was tasty)
- Anesthetic spray – I didn’t have stitches and I believe the hospital is equipped with the spray if need be
- Paper towels – I don’t remember why I brought these
- Normal underwear – not an option. The pads don’t fit.
- Tablet – during labour? Yeah right. If you are physically able to enjoy reading your tablet, you are not in labour. And why would you need it postpartum? I couldn’t take my eyes off my baby.
- Ipod – While I was in labour, the last thing I wanted were more wires on my body let alone earphones. There was also the possibility of hooking up your ipod to the sound system in the labour room but when contractions are coming every two minutes, not even Beyoncé’s girl power songs will be making them easier.
- Books – what was I thinking?
- Candles – I think this might even be a hospital hazard
- Essential oils – The essential oils were to be put on a damp face cloth so I could breathe in the lemon oils and feel energized. Unless you are able to explain to your birth partner what to do with the face cloths and essential oils, this is not going to happen. I completely forgot that I brought them. Labour will do that to you.
- Disinfectant – Hospital had it but I didn’t need it.
- Shampoo – I didn’t wash my hair. Is that gross? I didn’t care.
- Lotion – Unless you own unscented lotion, don’t bring it. Your baby needs to smell you to recognize you, so stop making it harder for him.
- Makeup – who cares!? Visitors are going to look at your baby. No one is looking at you.
- Non slip socks – useless if you have slippers and flip flops.
- Belly band – Nurses told me that the belly bands don’t allow your muscles to start working to go back into place. It gives you a false sensation that everything is being held together by your muscles. I, personally, would have tried it at least for the first few days because that empty, downward-pulling sensation was not pleasant.
- Nursing pads – for first time moms, it’s completely useless unless your milk miraculously comes in the first day.
- Breast pump – the hospital had a breast pump available.
Find out if your hospital has the following available:
- Lanonlin or nipple cream – I brought lanolin and found out the hospital provided it.
- Breast pump
- Nipple covers – try them if you are really suffering from cuts and open wounds
- Disinfectant and anesthetic spray
- Extra water
- Extra pillows
What did you pack in your hospital bag? Anything you found essential that’s not on my list?