It may seem like it was only yesterday that you found out you are expecting, but before you know it, those nine months will fly by and it will be time to meet your baby. Chances are you’ve spent a lot of time decorating the nursery, reading up on newborns and stocking up on baby clothes—but do you know your maternity hospital bag necessities?
Before you get to the hospital or birthing center for the big day, it’s a good idea to have a maternity bag packed and ready to go at around 36 weeks. This will give you plenty of time to get prepared and make any last-minute modifications to your bag.
With the help of Marguerite Fritsch, nurse manager at Riddle Hospital, part of Main Line Health, we put together the ultimate maternity bag checklist. From must-haves to nice-to-haves, we’ll help you determine what to pack in your pregnancy hospital bag.
What are the maternity hospital bag necessities?
- Comfortable, loose-fitting clothes. Keep in mind that the maternity ward can be quite warm!
- A robe or front-opening top. These will make breastfeeding a breeze.
- Slippers and socks. Many women find that their feet get cold during childbirth.
- Flip-flops—you’ll want these for the hospital showers.
- Extra pairs of underwear.
- A couple of nursing bras. Skip bras with underwire and buy something comfortable and practical.
- Toiletries. Pack the works: razor, shaving cream, contacts, contact solution, glasses, toothbrush, deodorant, shampoo, conditioner and lip balm.
- Photo ID and health insurance information.
- Your birth plan (if you have one). An extra copy might come in handy, too, as there will be a lot of people circulating in and out of your hospital room.
- A going-home outfit. Remember: it will take some time for your belly to go down, so keep it lightweight and loose.
- Your phone and a phone charger. Try to find a longer cord, too—you don’t want to get to the hospital only to find you can’t reach your phone from the bed when it’s plugged in.
- Any prescription medications.
What are some all-natural items I should consider for my maternity bag checklist?
- Essential oils or herbal spritz. Sage can help keep your contractions consistent and lavender can help you relax.
- Nut butters, trail mix and dates. Snacking on these foods can keep your energy up.
- Coconut water. You’ll want to stay hydrated!
- Eco-friendly disposable diapers free of chemicals and fragrances or cloth diapers if you plan to use them.
- Home comforts. Certain items, like your favorite throw blanket or pillow, can help you feel calm and at peace.
What are some extra items I can bring to be organized?
- Baby name list. If you haven’t settled on a name or revealed your baby’s gender, a list with all of your favorites can help you make your decision when the time comes.
- Baby book. After your baby is born, the nurse will record your baby’s footprints, so you might want to take the opportunity to record them in a baby book.
- A list of people to call or contact with the good news so you’re sure not to forget any important loved ones.
- Pen and paper to keep track of your baby’s feeding and diaper changing schedule.
- Thank you notes. You may be feeling super grateful for the team that helped deliver your baby, so consider packing these if you think you’d like to write them a note.
What should I pack for my baby?
- Newborn outfits. (Bring a couple of sizes to guarantee you have clothes that will fit them well.)
- A blanket. The outside world can be a bit chilly for your little one in their early days!
- A car seat. Some hospitals won’t discharge you unless you have one, so be sure to install this ahead of time.
- A hat. The hospital will likely provide you with a hat for your baby, but it’s great to have a backup, especially if you have a particular favorite.
What should my partner bring?
- A change of clothes.
- A pillow. Your partner may want to rest at some point, and many hospitals have limited space for guests.
- Entertainment. It doesn’t hurt to have some books or magazines to enjoy during the down time.
- Snacks or cash for vending machines.
Fritsch says that the most common mistake that new moms make when packing a hospital bag is packing too much. Try to keep it simple and stick with the essentials. Thankfully, most new mother necessities are now provided by the hospital.
However, if you still have questions about what should be on your pregnancy hospital bag checklist or what else you can bring to be as comfortable as possible, look into one of our Main Line Health childbirth preparation classes. You’re going to have enough on your mind on delivery day, so the sooner you can get your bag packed, the better off you’ll be when you head to the hospital.
Main Line Health serves patients at hospitals and health centers throughout the western suburbs of Philadelphia. To schedule an appointment with a specialist at Main Line Health, call 1.866.CALL.MLH (225.5654) or use our secure online appointment request form.