What’s in my Hospital Bag + Prepping for Baby
I still can’t believe this pregnancy has gone by so quickly. I feel like it was just yesterday that we transferred our embryos (February 2022), and now here we are at 38.1 weeks! Looking back at our IVF journey, it was almost a year ago to the day that our second round completely failed. They had retrieved two eggs, one of which fertilized but then stopped growing. I was so devastated and terrified that having a child wasn’t in our future and honestly felt like a failure. By grace, we were referred to a different IVF practice, Dr. Kaufmann, who was the complete answer to our prayers!
I can’t remember now if I’ve talked about this before, but in January we had actually transferred two embryos – a boy and a girl. Nine days later we went in for blood work which was positive! OH my gosh the immense joy and anxiety I felt all at once was overwhelming and yet the best feeling I’ve ever had. A few weeks later we went in for our first ultrasound which showed one baby although we didn’t know which one it was. It was a weird situation where you find yourself battling disappointment knowing one embryo didn’t make it and yet you’re also so immensely grateful that one did! A few weeks afterward we did a blood test to find out the gender and it’s a GIRL! She’ll be the first granddaughter of my parents and we’re so excited to meet her!
In my opinion, it’s never too early to be prepared for the unexpected — hellloooo see my overly detailed disaster prep post. It’s safe to say I’m an anxious planner by nature. That being said, my hospital bag has been packed and in the car since about week 25, hah! I was born over a month early and because of my age, I wanted to make sure I was as prepared as possible in case something happened earlier than planned. So let’s address a frequently asked question of any pregnant woman: what to pack in a hospital bag? And FYI, obviously, I’ve never done this before so this is what I’M packing. Some of it may be unnecessary so we shall see!
Again we’ve established many a time that I’m a pack rat. I’ve accepted it, relish it, and thrive in it. That being said, I’ve packed all my goodies into a small suitcase and have a separate bag for the baby. I’ve also packed a bit more into mine because we have a planned c-section which tends to mean a 3-4 day stay in the hospital. After speaking with my perinatologist and my OB, we all decided a c-section was safer for me due to my seizure disorder and avoiding the strain of pushing.
I polled my Instagram audience as well as my personal Facebook friends to gather all the tips and opinions on what to pack. For the most part, all of these are travel sized so they don’t take up a huge amount of space in my bag. Also, if you don’t have a bag, are caught by surprise, or forget any of these things, don’t panic! The hospital provides just about all of these things, they just might not be as nice as the items you normally use. Feel free to pack as little or as much as makes you comfortable. Do keep in mind that all of these bags will need to be carried out back to the car PLUS your new little one! So here’s the list with my own additions:
- Long phone charger (this was emphasized SO many times!)
- Chargers or extra batteries for any devices you plan on taking with you (iPad, Kindle, camera, etc.)
- Folder for any paperwork you receive at the hospital, OB and pediatrician info, and registration forms
- Wallet (duh) with an insurance card, license/ID, cash, or change for vending machines
- I preregistered at our hospital to help make the check-in process easier whether the baby arrives earlier than planned or her scheduled due date
- SNACKS (this was also heavily emphasized!). Hospitals obviously provide meals but not so much snacks and they’re usually pretty generic.
- Pack a bag of snacks for you and your partner/whoever is accompanying you. Vending machines add up quickly!
- Hard candies are also a great idea. You’re most likely not going to be eating or drinking anything for a while prior to the birth and your mouth will get dry. Hard candies are super helpful!
- I would forego bringing your own cup to the hospital. They will give you a large one of your own.
- I’m definitely taking some Liquid IV to help me stay hydrated!
- Your own pillow + pillowcase (take it from a nurse, the pillows in the hospital are horrible). Also, your own blanket if desired. I plan on taking one of our barefoot dreams blankets. This dupe is also SO GOOD!
- Clothing: robe and/or towel wrap (some preferred to take their own towel as well), comfy socks + socks with grippies, compression socks (you will definitely swell), easy access nightgowns or button-down jammies, slippers, shower shoes, comfortable underwear or mesh undies, going home clothes
- Note: some people preferred to buy some inexpensive slippers they’d be okay with throwing away once leaving the hospital d/t hospital germs.
- Also, some waited for the hospital to provide mesh undies, and some took their own.
- Laundry bag for your dirty laundry
- dry shampoo
- shampoo/conditioner if you plan on washing your hair there – I don’t.
- razor (I’m leaving this out. shaving is my absolute last priority)
- toothbrush + toothpaste (I would take a toothbrush you’re fine with throwing away)
- contact solution (if you wear them) or your glasses
- hairspray/hair dryer if you desire
- ponytail holders or hair clips
- headwrap (I wear this always when washing my face)
- makeup wipes
- body wash
- chapstick (also heavily emphasized and again as a nurse, I can vouch hospitals are very very drying).
- Again, the hospital has a lot of these items for you. Don’t feel like you have to pack your entire bathroom. Take what you want, as much or as little that makes you feel comfortable.
- Makeup: if you prefer or plan on doing some photos while in the hospital. This also applies to any hair tools. We are planning on having some photos done and I’m packing very minimal makeup, but we shall see how I feel that day if I apply any or do my hair. I’ll probably just braid my hair for the sake of ease and I highly doubt makeup gets used.
- Skincare: if you’re like me and have a skincare routine, I’ll be taking the bare minimum. Definitely packing my moisturizer and maybe a serum. Nothing fancy, but enough to keep my skin hydrated. See my pregnancy skincare post!
- If you’re nursing and/or pumping: nursing pads, nipple cream, nursing bras, nursing pillow (isn’t this cover beautiful?). Some people preferred to take the pump they’d be using at home in order to get used to it and receive any help while some preferred to use the one provider at the hospital. I plan on nursing and taking my haaka.
- Frida mom peri bottle whether you’re having a c-section or vaginal delivery. The hospital has these but I’ve heard the frida version is easier to use.
- Medications: this is so important. If you take any meds at home, make sure to take them with you. While you’re a patient, they should be providing them for you, but if for any reason your baby has to stay longer than you do and they let you stay with them, you’ll need your own meds.
- Heating pad: some have said this helped with any aches and pains, plus the hospital is usually pretty cold.
- Portable speaker: some people recommended this to play some music. For me, it’s not something I’ll be taking but if that’s your vibe, go for it.
- Cord blood kit: if you’re cord blood and/or tissue banking. For me, this is a given. Stem cell potential is an absolutely incredible field of medicine that continues to evolve. God forbid we ever need it in the future, but knowing it’s there with the potential to save baby’s life really puts me at ease. If you’re curious, definitely talk to your OB about it!
- Travel tissues: hello hormones and one of the biggest emotional experiences of your life! I always carry a travel tissue pack in my purse as a habit I picked up from my mom, lol. Forewarning, hospital tissues are the worst. They’re cheap, scratchy, and extremely thin. Just my own two cents 🙂
- I’m also packing my own little wet wipes. Hospitals are full of germs and I prefer these over constant sticky hand sanitizer.
- Also, another tip, don’t take your jewelry to the hospital. With any trauma to the body (yes, birth is a form of “trauma”) you are going to swell like crazy in addition to all the IV fluids we give you. Your rings will most likely get stuck and suffocate your fingers. Don’t find yourself in a situation where we have to cut them off. Plus they’re valuable and you don’t want to lose them.
- Lastly, I’m definitely packing some Poo-Pourri. Sharing a bathroom with your partner or guests in one room definitely comes with smells. You’re already going through a variety of sudden hormonal shifts and probably nausea. This will absolutely help! I always pack it on vacations too!
Luggage, packing cubes, and toiletry bags
Toiletries and such
I’m sure I’ve also overpacked the baby’s bag but again, zero apologies. I live for options. The hospital provides so much for baby but I like having my own goodies too. This list is mostly all from recommendations.
- 3 newborn onesies. (I got this one for her and a matching robe for me).
- 3 0-3 month onesies
- going home outfit w/ hat
- preferred swaddles
- burp cloths
- car seat (we’ve got both the uppababy travel system and the doona). I plan on taking the doona into the hospital. Make sure you’ve got the base installed in your car. If you’re worried that you didn’t install it correctly, you can go to most of your local fire stations and they will give it a look over!
- car seat cover
- white noise machine (heavily emphasized)
- Ink pad + baby book (I loved this idea so much. Capturing the first teeny tiny footprint in the baby book just melts me).
- Name circle (You know those little plaques you see announcing baby’s birth and stats. So cute and a forever keepsake). Don’t forget a marker! Some people like using a letter board instead, also cute!
- Nail file (some people preferred to take their own, some preferred the hospital’s). I bought this one for home.
Onesies & Clothing
Going Home Outfits
Swaddles and Burp Cloths
Blankets and Nursing Pillows
Car Seat + Covers
Baby Shushers + Keepsakes
Bag for your Partner/Spouse/etc.
So this is definitely optional but many have said it’s super helpful, especially if you don’t live close to the hospital. We plan on having someone watch our dogs for us when the day comes that way Charlie isn’t having to run home to check on them. He’ll most likely run home for showers and such but he’ll be staying with me in the hospital.
- Pillow + blanket
- Long phone charger
- Toiletries, particularly a toothbrush + toothpaste
- Spare clothing (a couple of sets if needed) and something to sleep in
- comfy shoes
- tylenol/advil (many suggested this. this is a happy time but can also be stressful!)
- extra bag to tote any hospital freebies you take home
Thank you gifts
So this is absolutely NOT an essential thing and I think people can feel super pressured to feel like they need to give the staff thank-you gifts. If you want to, that’s awesome! If you don’t or can’t, it’s also completely okay. I’ve seen so many people make these extraordinarily expensive gift baskets for the staff, and it always blows my mind. Of course, they’re appreciated but as a nurse, I never ever expected this no matter where I was working (ER, ICU/CVICU/SICU, etc.). In the ICU, we can have the same patients for weeks if not months. We get to know the patients, families, friends, and stories they share with us. I’ve had many of them offer to buy coffee or pay for a meal for the unit or something nice like that. Again, completely unnecessary and so generous but do I need a personalized thermal cup, candle, notepad, hair clip, or any of that “stuff”? No, not at all. So again, don’t feel pressured. Nurses are always on their feet (especially with such low staffing these days) and LOVE food! If you’re feeling in the spirit, delivery cookies or pizza or something like that will never go to waste but again, this experience is about YOU and not about what you’re doing for others whose job it is to take care of you. I promise you they will not hold it against you if you’re not gifting them with a single thing. Do I plan on making thank-you gifts? No. We will probably order some Tiff’s Treats because fresh warm carb-loaded sugary treats are divine on a busy day of patient care.
Mentally Preparing for Baby’s Arrival
To say I’m super nervous about becoming a mom would be a massive understatement. One would think that a nurse would feel a little more prepared but no – my entire career has been in adult care. I had the occasional pediatric patient in the ER but those days were over 10 years ago. Everyone says you’ll know what to do and that you kind of automatically kick into gear once the baby arrives but we’re both still super nervous. It helps that there are so many resources out there these days to help you prep, but I also find it a little stressful since many of them can contradict each other. We’ve been watching Tinyhood which covers a variety of topics including some of the things that occur during pregnancy all the way to how to bathe a baby and perform all the basics. It even has infant CPR lectures which I love, but I still recommend finding your local CPR training center for hands-on practice. In the moment (God forbid you ever need it) when CPR is necessary, you’re going to be flooded with adrenaline and hysteria. Having that hands-on practice will greatly help. Again, I pray you never ever need it but it’s reassuring to feel prepared. I had also seen so many moms recommend the Taking Cara Babies course that predominantly helps with sleep. It’s super interesting and I’ll be curious to try all of her tips. Many say it made a huge difference!
On the topic of mental health, if you find yourself really suffering from anxiety, depression, or any other overwhelming feelings, please be sure to talk to your doctor/provider about options to help with those things. Medication isn’t always necessary but it has a place and a purpose. Many depression and anxiety medications are pregnancy safe and help TREMENDOUSLY. Mom’s mental health is of utmost importance always. If not prioritized, it absolutely will affect the baby. Untreated psychiatric conditions can be dangerous in anyone but especially in moms full of fluctuating hormones and stress. A great resource for reading about psychiatric meds during pregnancy is the app MommyMeds and the website MGH Center for Women’s Health.
Other resources for pregnancy include:
- Read Crib Sheet and Expecting Better
- Latch for breastfeeding
- It Starts with the Egg for those trying to get pregnant
- I have this fun Etsy daily calendar for day-to-day factoids, it’s super cute!
- I also recommend the apps the Bump and What to Expect – they’re full of information and have the most adorable little size updates!
Breastfeeding, Nursing, & Feeding Essentials
I’ve gone back and forth on what I want to do regarding feeding the baby. Initially, I thought I might exclusively pump but the more I thought about it the more I grew hesitant. The pumping schedule for EP is GRUELING! I know there’s no predictability when it comes to baby being hungry and needing to feed, but I feel like nursing and pumping will give me a little more freedom and hopefully more sleep than an EP schedule that requires pumping in the middle of the night. I had an online consultation with a certified IBCLC lactation consultant a few weeks ago, and she really helped me feel less nervous about nursing. The world of baby feeding is STRONGLY opinionated but I’m a firm believer in doing whatever works best for you, your life, and your family. I was able to get a pump through my insurance, so I opted for Spectra Gold. I’ve heard so many good things! I’ve also bought a portable Elvie Stride and the original Elvie. I’ll be pumping at work once I return but also think having a portable pump to use around the house if needed would be hugely helpful. The one negative thing I’ve read about the Spectra Gold versus its other versions is that you’re plugged into the wall and can’t get up to do things.
I’m also thinking we’ll be doing a mix of breastmilk and formula feeds. It’s super important to us (and my seizure disorder) that Charlie be able to help feed when he can so I can sleep. We’re also not completely sure what we’re doing for childcare once I return to work but we will most likely be going the nanny route, at least for the early days. I’ve looked into so many different types of formulas and was introduced to Bobbie by my friend Lauren. I like that it’s a subscription service that delivers to your door and is organic. It’s also available at Target if you’re in a pinch!
Does anyone else find it completely overwhelming how many bottle types there are? So many options, so many opinions! I registered for a few different brands so we can see what works. There’s a lot of mixed advice when it comes to mixing breastfeeding with bottle feeding and when to introduce a bottle and which bottles cause the least confusion. OMG it’s overwhelming!
We registered for the Baby Brezza sterilizer instead of having to boil things. It’s pretty cool! We also bought a Baby Brezza bottle warmer and I’m thinking of getting their formula dispenser if we do mix in formula with her feeding schedule. I also bought a portable Baby’s Brew to warm her bottles on the go, I’ve heard rave reviews! Be sure to wash and organize pump parts/bottles/pacifiers ahead of time! Right now we have a drawer dedicated to bottle parts and pacifiers. We have one shelf dedicated to bottles and bought specific soap (Dapple) and a drying rack. I’m also trying to figure out how I’ll store my milk in the fridge – I’ve heard of the pitcher method and then others simply store in bags/bottles and freeze it. I’m also trying to decide which baby-tracking app to use that will track feedings/diapers/growth/etc. I did find the cutest app, Qeepsake, that creates daily memories!
Pumps & Breastfeeding Supplies
Bottles & Bottle Cleaning Supplies
Nursing Cart Supplies (+ your pump)
I’ve created both a nursing cart and a portable diaper caddy (or you could combine the two) to take around the house. In addition to some of these supplies and your pump, you might find adding some drinks, some snacks, a charger, or any of the items you frequently use to be helpful.
I feel like this will definitely be something I’ll have to test out. There are so many different brands! One piece of advice I’ve heard almost unanimously is to buy nursing bras that also function as hands-free pumping bras!
Baby’s Room & Bathroom
The main diaper station is obviously in her room, but as I said, I also made a basket I can take around the house for convenience.
- changing pad and washable liners
- Diapers + wipes: we’re going to try Coterie. I’ve heard so many good things!
- Wipe holder/warmer (I’ve heard this is completely unnecessary but hey, it’s my party and I’ll warm if I want to!)
- Diaper cream + spatula and these fun finger shields
- Diaper pail and extra bags
- Diaper caddy
- Hand sanitizer
Portable Diaper Basket
Bedding & Furniture
Most of her room is Restoration Hardware (crib, hutch, bookcases, and dresser + diaper station). The crib will turn into a toddler bed eventually. We made sure to purchase some blackout curtains conducive to napping. We bought the Snoo bassinet for our bedroom to use for at least the first month or two for my peace of mind.
- Crib mattress + waterproof cover (we got the breathable newton!)
- a few sets of fitted sheets (I bought multiple from various brands)
- Miku Pro monitor (we also bought the stand, or you can wall mount it)
- Sound machine
- Snuggle Me + extra covers
- Swing: we were originally registered for the 4Moms Mamaroo, but they were recalled so this was our second choice!
- BabyBjorn bouncer
Other Room Decor
I’ve added a bunch of random stuffed animals and knick-knacks to her shelving to make the room a little cozier. I’m sure over time this will all change. I really love how sweet this room turned out. It’s pink, but not overly pink in my opinion. The wall color is Sea Shell grey. Some things include:
- Picture frames
- Books for shelves
- Little rattles and toys
Baby’s Clothes & Closet
Girlfriend hasn’t even moved in yet and she’s already got more clothes than I know what to do with. I will admit this is mostly my doing – shopping for a little girl easily gets out of control. IT’S ALL SO CUTE!! At the recommendation of many, I tried to buy a lot of onesies that zip versus snap for the sake of ease. I bought a few versions of swaddles in case she doesn’t like to be swaddled with her arms down. I definitely bought and registered for an unreasonable amount of bows. Two of my favorite websites have been Mud Pie (tell me this outfit isn’t precious!!) and Spearmint Love.
- I’ve tried to be as proactive as possible and washed all clothes, burp cloths, and swaddles as we bought/received them. Be sure to purchase baby detergent that’s not as harsh on their delicate skin.
- We added these wall-mounted baskets for more storage space in her closet.
- I used these to organize her drawers
So we actually redecorated part of the bathroom this summer. This bathroom is part of a Jack and Jill bathroom and they’ve pretty much been unused since we built in 2018. We changed the mirror, hardware, and lighting. One day I’ll change the rest of the bathroom/shower space, but for now, it serves. Baby bathtime seems stressful, and it’s been 10+ years since I’ve bathed a baby while on a nursing school rotation. Tinyhood covers the basics with many tips and seems helpful!
- Prep bathroom — clean out the tub/drawers, etc.
- Bath stuff — You’ll want a tub, soaps, wash clothes, a kneeling pad (save those knees!), and a controlled pour cup. I also got this cute ducky to test the water temp. I actually bought another tub, the 4moms tub, to test out since it’s digital and provides some different measurements. I’ve heard so many different opinions on soap brands. Tubby Todd, Honest Co., Noodle & Boo – so many! We have a few from our registry so we’ll be testing our options.
- Towels – I bought a few hooded towels that make me melt every time I see them. This one will be a keepsake.
- Organize your linen closet (if you have one). I’m storing all of her diapers and wipes in here plus most of the FridaBaby stuff she’s got and random baby bath/health things. I did buy a Dr. Nozebest for baby snot versus the Frida nose sucker. A fellow nurse friend said it was so much better!
Other Things to Keep in Mind
I have obsessively read though so many different checklists and advice regarding being prepared for baby. I’m a list person, and the more I can check off of a list, the better I feel.
- Establish a pediatrician and tentatively make their first appointment after the due date. (You can always call and change if baby comes earlier.)
- Schedule maternity photos and buy some outfits
- Choose a baby book for those special memories. I also already mentioned the Qeepsake app which seems awesome.
- Are you going to keep any special things from baby? (First shoes, footprints, etc.) I’ll be ordering a trunk to keep all of these things for her!
- Are you having any photos done while in the hospital?
- Schedule newborn photos and look for some outfits (SO precious!)
- Consider meal-prepping to put in the freezer
- Are you going on maternity leave? Make accommodations at work for what they will look like for you and/or your partner
- Talk to your family and friends about helping out/visiting preferences/etc. Don’t be afraid to set any and all the boundaries you want to!
- If you know you’re having a c-section, be sure you’re going to have extra support to help you with your healing body. It’s a major surgery!
- Consider prepping a postpartum kit/caddy. Either form of birth will need some aftercare and they definitely refer to the postpartum period as the fourth trimester for a reason. Think pads or disposable underwear, feminine wipes, peri bottle, cooling wipes, belly wrap/binder, etc. FridaMom makes this in a kit if that’s easier for you.
- Don’t forget about setting up a diaper bag! I got this one for Charlie and this one for me.
- Think about baby wraps for wearing around the house or when out and about. I registered for this one by Solly, bought this one by BabyBjorn, and was gifted this one by Sakura Bloom.