About Me,  breastfeeding,  Marriage,  motherhood,  pregnancy

What’s in your {hospital} bag?

At the risk of becoming hopelessly and irrevocably preggie-centric around here, I thought it both necessary and worthwhile to list out some of the goodies making their way into my as-yet-unpacked hospital bag for round 4 of birth wars. So maybe typing about it will spur me to action, and maybe said action will entice said baby to decamp hotel uterus for the much roomier accommodations of an official, dedicated nursery space complete with crap mommy spray painted, just for you.


Last time we made the trek to the shining white building in the suburbs it was Christmastime, I was beyond done with the entire gestation business after a solid week of prodromal labor and one “false alarm/go home and sleep it off” drive of shame. So I think when we rolled back up to actually meet Genevieve I was wearing like, not my own pants? And maybe a Bronco’s tshirt and a peacoat? It’s hard to remember. And it’s entirely possible that I didn’t bring a toothbrush or any shampoo.

This time though? This time will be different. This time, for starters, I’m finally allowing myself to entertain the notion of staying for the entire recommended slash allotted period of 3 days/2 nights, even if I feel physically capable of going home. Because room service, cable tv, and endless baby holding arms in a handily equipped and conveniently located nursery down the hall.

But mostly for the crushed ice.

So if that be the case, I’ll need to be packing for more of a long weekend adventure and less of a “I woke up this way” crawl across the emergency room parking lot.

Here’s what I’m thinking of bringing along for the ride:

1. 2 nursing tanks, yet to be purchased (but leaning towards at least 1 of these? Because holy flattering drape), and one super stretchy nursing bra + disposable nursing pads. Yes, I laudatio si that there is a decent reusable option on the market, and maybe I even own a pair or two myself, but laundry is not my favorite way to recover from birth. So disposables it is.

2. Laptop + charger. Nothing says “spa like” quite the way hospital wifi does. Plus, no kidlets to share my screen with. Who knows, I might even get ambitious and bang out the birth story while the new arrival is sleeping off his or her epic descent.

3. This hair + body wash. Can I make a confession? I haven’t used grown up shampoo or conditioner with any regularity in months. And my hair has never looked or felt better. So a travel bottle filled with this for baby and me.

4. Ear plugs. Like, 3 pair. Last time we delivered at this hospital it was the second-to-last Sunday before Christmas and things were so blessedly silent on the L&D floor. I think I got maybe 1 knock on the door all night? And none of those awful “just coming by to tally up your wet diapers” rounds, either. It was bliss. Hoping for more of the same. (And as an aside, do you pray for your medical staff before your births? Some wise woman advised me to do so, esp. the nurses since they really do the brunt of the work of birthing, aside from mom, and can really make or break a delivery experience.)

5. A large, empty suitcase with my bathrobe, aforementioned undergarments, and some additional basic toiletries, including this magical elixir of humiliation which is super effective and which I felt not at all ashamed of purchasing at Vitamin Cottage last night. Cough. I’ll most likely wear my vvvvvvery attractive Liz Lange yoga ballon bottoms home, plus the hospital-issued secrets which are beyond Victoria’s comprehension. Why an empty suitcase, you ask? Why, for all the hospital-grade pads, lidocaine spray, newborn diapers + wipes and mesh fancies I can wrangle. We didn’t buy newborn dipes for ourselves until little miss Genevieve was 3 weeks old. #workthatcopay. Just saying.

6. Some of these Arbonne fizzies to mix with my amazing crushed ice in my amazing new water bottle (which is a large motivator for continuing to breed. Large.) I don’t like to drink that much coffee in the first few days because I get parched so easily, but I also don’t want to feel like I’ve been hit by a truck. So, compromise.

7. My own pillow. I’ve never done this before, maybe because of germ phobia? Which makes exactly zero sense because of all my other personal effects I feel no hesitation bringing with. But this time I’m determined to bring my own, deliciously cotton-covered and adequately-sized pillow and case to rest mine weary head upon. And who knows? Maybe without the thin, sweat-provoking layer of non-wicking industrial grade latex beneath my face I won’t sweat to death in my adjustable bed. Dream a little dream.

What am I forgetting, mamas? Do you have any hospital stay must-haves that you won’t give birth without?

hospital bag


  • Mary Wilkerson

    Oh I have so much to say…
    I think you know my feelings on the hospital stay… I actually don’t understand women who want to leave, or who feel (legitimately to them) that is a prison sentence. I am straight having fantasies about my hospital stage.
    Also- I was JUST thinking about Laudatio Si in terms of the newborn phase, and let’s face it, the end of pregnancy phase. I am all about the disposable everything… me thinks papa Francis would NOT be impressed.
    My Joey was kind of an emergency c-section situation, and the nurses threw my bag on the bed (bottom) and broke my laptop. I am STILL not impressed.
    I don’t bring my pillow, but my teddy bear has been there for every step of hospital recovery.

    • Jenny Uebbing

      I slunk out of Dollar Tree this morning with 300 styrofoam plates and a whole bag full of “disposable” toys to throw at the mewling masses while I’m nursing, so….I don’t think he’d be impressed with me right now, either.

      • Rita @ Open Window

        Paper plates are my go-to new baby gift for new parents. They are a lifesaver. I do care for the earth in so many, many ways, and I need to focus on raising my children rather than loading and unloading the dishwasher all day–which is what somehow happens anyway. Hope all goes well! Praying for you and your little one and a great transition for the whole family!

    • Kharking

      I am one of those crazy women who like leaving the birth center 3-4 hours after delivery and going home to the bliss of my own bed. But so far we have successfully shipped the other kids off to their grandparents for a couple of days each time in lieu of that babymoon we never have time to take so I think we get the best of both worlds with that.
      Nursing 10 day old #4 over here and my totally irrational must have has been my bowl from home for throwing up in when I hit transition. It seems silly but somehow I find it vaguely comforting and and familiar at that moment.

  • Lacey

    i like to bring a Glade plug in with a delicious scent. It just makes the laboring and recovery a little more pleasant.

      • Cami

        Even better… Diffuse essential oils. I had this with #3 and it was ahhhhh-mazing!!! You can do a search for what oils are appropriate for labor or post.

  • Laura Smeby

    For babe number 3, my husband went to the store and bought rice chex, roasted almonds with sea salt, chocolate chunks, and raisins and then mixed them in a big ol ziplock gallon bag. It was the most bomb trail mix in the world…I kept the bag on my hospital tray and shoved some on my mouth at anytime that I felt like it, day or night. About 3 weeks later, he made it again, and I found it was a great breakfast for stashing into cups as we rush out the door to VBS;) So, I guess what I’m saying is bring some great snacks with you!!

  • Colleen

    My Christmas (Dec. 27) birthing experience was anything but peaceful. They actually woke us up at 1 in the morning to prick the baby’s heels ten million times (“If they have to reschedule, who knows how long it’ll be…” to which next time I will reply, “I’ll wait forever for them in the daylight, please go away.”). I just got all steamed up again remembering.

    But I did bring my own pillow and it was the best!

    • Kt

      If they were checking baby’s glucose levels you would have been more “steamed” if your child became hypoglycemic and had seizures.

    • Meagan Daoust

      There’s no need for them to do things like that in that in the middle of the night. So annoying!! You need your rest too! You know what fixes low blood sugars? Nursing your baby, which your baby will let you know about.

  • Heather

    I’m prepping for round 3 of birth wars (still have a couple months to go), and I’m starting to wonder why, oh why, am I doing the birth center thing again? 3 days in a hospital with no other kids to take care of, all the screen time I want, helpful nurses for the baby, and…silence!? Sounds positively heavenly. (But I know the answer – it’s because I don’t sleep well in new places for the first two or three days. I have the baby and say “mmmkay, where’s my own bed now?” Still, it’s a nice dream… Maybe I can demand hospital-like conditions of my family? Maybe?)

    Anyway, I hope your birth goes well!

    • Jenny Uebbing

      I knoooooooooow, I’m a crap sleeper anywhere but home, too. Including 5 star hotels. I’m just crossing my fingers that the balance of child power at home has finally tipped far enough that a “free” stay cation in the hospital is more appealing to my exhausted, hormonal self than checking out early. (Swollen fingers crossed, and congratulations to you too!)

  • Amanda

    As far as nursing tanks go- I bought a sliming nursing tank from Target. I may or may not wear the blasted thing EVERY DAY except laundry day. LOVE.

  • Kati

    I LOVE that you love those water bottles like I do. I don’t know anyone else who feels this way but when you said it was a large motivation for continuing to breed….I mean, can you see into my soul?!?! I even stole one from my sister last time she had a baby because I love them so much. And inevitably someone in my household puts mine in the dishwasher after a few short months and its gets all bent out of shape and I may or may not have shed actual (postpartum, hormone induced, sleep deprived) tears over that. Times two. (Now that I’m typing this I’m wondering if this destruction of my oh so favorite hospital grade water bottle every. single. time. is God’s way of continuing to encourage my openness to life…)

    Also, crushed ice with hospital apple juice is amazing.

  • Hannah

    “Mesh fancies”… oh, the perks. Our most recent babe required a two week stint on hospital grade bed rest thanks to preterm ruptured membranes, and in the beginning, it was a glorious escape (I read two WHOLE books and shamefully “happened to catch” an unreasonable number of episodes of “Naked and Afraid”, or “Bizarre,Yet Captivating Survival Show”) while my darling husband was forced into appreciating the well executed circus that is mothering our other four children. Linda in room service even started bringing me my ginger ale herself for afternoon chats. However, because of the surprising circumstance of my admittance, my husband was left the task of bringing me my effects from home, which was… very sweet. Lots of odd combinations of workout wear, a plethora of t-shirts I had long forgotten about, one bra, and, bless him, a new package of socks, which in retrospect was a gentle way of letting me know my other socks are embarrassingly holey. He did bring me a Bluetooth speaker (?) and a ziploc of peanut m&ms (where’s the rest of the bag?)… well intentioned, but that being said, whatever you pack, pack it yourself.

    • Allie

      Yes!! My first postpartum nurse was kind of inept (though sweet) but the cranberry “cocktails” she kept coming made-up for it!!

  • Jeannie Redmond

    Our homeschool co-op mamas have a lovely tradition before a new baby is born where they hold a “visitation” for the expectant mom, whether it is her second or ninth baby. All the moms gather, bring appetizers/snacks to share, give the expectant mother a frozen meal, diapers, and wipes to bring home, and we all pray the second Joyful mystery together. Each of us then prays aloud an intention. The intentions are usually for the final weeks of pregnancy, for birth and delivery, including the medical team and nurses, for postpartum healing, for her husband and the new baby’s siblings, for breastfeeding, and for any special intentions. So, yes, I have been blessed to have been prayed over and the nurses are always included. So far, the after-care has been excellent, I’ll chalk it up to the prayers!

  • Jessica Compton

    I’m a boppy user so I make sure to bring mine. I don’t like having to figure out the right arrangement of pillows every time I need to nurse.

  • Emily

    Aside from delicious snacks (already mentioned), don’t forget an extension cord for your phone charger, in case the outlet is too far away!

  • Pearlann

    I agree with the food. After I give birth I am always starving and they never seem to bring enough food! I really like Undercover momma nursing tanks. I am planning on bringing an essential oils diffuser this time.

  • Jacqui

    Lots of snacks and lots of chapsticks! It gets so dry in there and I’m always losing those darn little sticks. And I needed the snacks for middle of the night munchies.

  • Tori

    Yes on bringing a pillow! The sweat-inducing hospital pillows are the worst. I also bring my nursing pillow, and plenty of snacks. My post-partum hunger does not align with the hospital’s meal schedule. And I am with you on the disposable everything. Too, too tired to do anything else.

    The idea of staying in the hospital for the full stay is appealing, but I always find myself longing for my bed after the first night. It’s been hit and miss how much we get bothered, the worst was my third. The night nurse came in EVERY TIME I finally closed my eyes to sleep. Baby wakes up, start all over. I was so mad by morning, I just wanted the hell outta there.

    Hope you get a nice baby-cation, though! I’ll pray for a quiet hallway and easy-going nurses.

  • Cami

    I always bring a beautiful smaller framed picture of the Holy Family. It was our wedding theme and brings me peace to look to when I’m laboring. I also bring a small picture of L’innocence, the gorge painting of Mary holding baby Jesus and a lamb. Song of the Angels is a good one too. Anyway, I place them nearby and look to them for serenity and strength. They’ve helped me through 3 non-medicated births. Also, if a trusted friend or sister is around, invite them to be in the room, even if all they do is pray a rosary or something. Studies show that when another woman is present, it speeds labor. I had a best friend female present 2/3 and it definitely was faster (and more pleasant) those times.

  • Lisa

    Our hospital was taken over by some health system b/w babes 2 & 3, so the chocolate cake, gigantic water bottles, and…soothing recovery products I was looking forward to at hotel hospital were callously done away with. 🙁 Good idea to bring your own pillow! And I have a hard time sleeping because I always want to watch just *one more* HGTV episode. 😉

  • Julie

    I bring food. I’m always FAMISHED after delivering, and those little hospital servings just don’t cut it. So I’ve brought sliced strawberries (because I tend to crave them) and — I’m not kidding — a whole pan’s worth of brownies. This time I’m resolved to bring a couple of good carryout menus too. 😉

  • Rachel

    I’ll second the Chapstick, and follow up with a good body lotion (unscented…never know what will irritate you or the babe), lots of snacks, waterproof mascara, dry shampoo, and perhaps most importantly, a basket of goodies for the nurses! Upon checking in, I gave our LDR nurse a basket with quality teas, a bag of coffee (I’d spotted a nurses pot on the tour), and some snacks (cookies, fruit bars, candies, etc). I tucked a thank you note from my husband and I in there, and apologized in advance for my preggo induced insanity. We also had a few Starbucks gift cards and black notecards to hand out to staff that were extra meaningful to us along the way. We truly wanted these people to know how thankful we were for helping us meet our greatest gift in safety and health!

  • Frances

    Not sure what’s the same / different in the US from UK in terms of maternity care but I found these helped with my two:
    Forget maternity pads (the ones here are incredibly uncomfortable). Get incontinence pants, the all in one type. Surprisingly comfy especially on stitches and they DON’T LEAK or become misshapen. Not ideal ecologically but it’s only for a few days.
    Crocs or similar, comfy and washable and can wear in the shower if you need.
    Bed bath wipes. Wonderful things. Clinell ones have a mild, pleasant scent.
    Goodies for nurses big yes, they are champions.
    Enjoy being taken care of xx

  • Victoria

    I’m 34 weeks pregnant with our 3rd, and this is my current list in case it’s any help:

    Birth Plan
    Phone with labor playlist

    Non skid socks
    Nursing bra/tanks
    Toiletry bag for hubby and I – with toothbrush/toothpaste, hair things, deodorant, nail clippers for baby
    New Shower shoes
    2 changes of clothes, 2 underwears
    depends silhouette, large pads
    Camera with charged battery
    Phones with chargers
    Books to read
    Notebook to record details
    paper for footprints/handprints (to put in baby book)
    List of who to call?
    Rosary, comfort cross
    St Gerard statue/ prayer card

    For baby:
    swaddling blanket
    coming home outfit
    baby hat
    diapers (for the way home)

    Car seat

  • Melissa

    this last time I had the foresight to pack some cliff bars in my bag and I am so glad I did. I delivered in the middle of the night (fifteen minutes after we got to the hospital, and im pretty sure i stumbled out of the house in pjs, no bra, no socks, in december), but I was SO hungry after i got to recovery, and I was met with “its not breakfast time yet??” So i was pretty darn glad I had something to eat with me!

  • Meagan Daoust

    I’m considering bringing nail polish (maybe some more pampering items) . It will be the first time I can reach my toes in quite some time and heaven knows my kids won’t let me stay still long enough to let them dry once I’m home. I’m trying a belly bandit after this baby so I’ll be bringing it but I have my doubts it’s going to fit right after birth like it’s supposed to. I’m also bringing tons of snacks for myself, Mark, and for when the kids visit.

  • Betsy

    I just wanted to chime in on the whole nursing pad situation. I totally understand the logic/laudato si side of using reusable pads, but I leak through them – especially in those first few weeks when my milk is figuring itself out. The disposables are the only thing that *usually* keeps my bra/shirt dry. Soooo, I don’t feel that bad about it even though maybe I should.

    • Meagan Daoust

      I’m in the exact same situation. (#5 overdue by a week right now) When I had my first I had a stash of resusable breast pads. Turns out I’m a dairy farm. I make so much milk that with letdown alone I can get a solid 8 oz at times. I would wake up in puddles of milk in the night and if baby wasn’t latched on when my milk let down, well lets say that I’ve sprayed a few people a row or two in front of me at Mass. Not even all the disposable ones work for me either. The Lansinoh ones work the best for me and I have a drawerful waiting for me right now as I usually go through at least six a day. No one told me that part of motherhood would be so messy.

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