[Baby Advice] The Hospital Bag Guide

Random Observation/Comment #590: Delivery is the first stop in your parenting adventure; make sure to pack your bags.

We did a lot of planning, preparation, and packing for the labor & delivery, but here’s what we actually found useful for our hospital stay. Note this list takes into account that we ended up having a c-section, live close to our hospital, and spent one night in recovery in a shared room.

Most Valuable Stuff for Hospital:

  • Portable Blanket – Our camping blanket was incredibly warm and lightweight to put on top of the existing blankets. Since it rolls up small, it’s pretty easy to take along.
  • Sleeping Eye Mask – The hospital hallway lights never turn off. Plus you may end up sharing a room. While the hospital provided a mask, this one is super soft and has extra coverage to block out bright lights.
  • Headphones / Earplugs – During triage and recovery in a shared room, these were especially handy for not hearing others.
  • Bendy Straws – If mommy has an epidural or is recovering from a c-section, she will be stuck in bed and even twisting around will be difficult. Even though Clemens is not a fan, Vinessa appreciated being able to drink fluids without spilling while stuck in bed.
  • Portable Speaker – When we got our room for delivery, we were playing a lot of soothing music through the contractions. This was especially great when we had our private room during recovery.
  • Exercise Ball – This was a big comfort before the epidural (check out here for tips).
  • Lavender Lotion – Lotion is specifically good for the daddy when rubbing the mommy’s back, shoulders, and feet. Another popular scent is jasmine.
  • Hair Tie – There will likely be some throwing up and sweat.
  • Downloaded Podcasts / Playlist – Labor can be long (ours was close to 24 hours) so we kept entertained with talking and listening to podcasts. During triage, we actually queued up our podcasts so we each listened in parallel without distracting others. You can also play your playlist while pushing or even during the c-section.
  • Extension Cord – This made sure we could reach our gadgets from the bed and that they were all in one place.
  • Cold Brew Coffee and Almond Milk – Specifically for Clemens, this was much cheaper than just buying coffee every morning. He stored the cold brew coffee concentrate (bought from Trader Joe’s) in the communal fridge and then in our private room.  
  • Pillow Cover – The pillow covers at the hospital have minimal thread count.

Stuff We Wish We Brought:

  • Tennis Balls in a Sock – For back rubs during long labor.
  • Washcloths – If you have an epidural, you can get very itchy. In our labor & delivery class, the nurse recommended to apply hot washcloths instead of scratching. Our hospital didn’t have. These are also good for wiping down the body after not showering for a few days, which will be the case if you’re recovering from c-section.
  • Pillows – We wound up sharing the boppy because the pillows were so uncomfortable. If you do bring, make sure you have a different color pillow case so it doesn’t get mixed up with the hospital’s.

Stuff We Didn’t Need at All:

  • Extra Clothes for Baby – We only needed a onesie and the car seat. Our hospital provided everything else.
  • Extra Clothes for Mommy – Because you’re constantly being visited by hospital staff, it’s so much easier to wear the hospital gown and hospital socks. If you run cold, you may want to pack a pair of loose pants and robe. The only non-hospital outfit needed was the going home outfit.

Mommy tip: Pack a maxi dress vs. a top and pants. A long dress was so much easier to change into and didn’t rub against the c-section incision.

  • Laptop or Videos – We didn’t watch anything either because of shared rooms or general angle of sharing a screen.
  • Essential Oil – Unless you dilute them with a carrier oil, this can be too strong of odor when mom’s already feeling queasy.
  • Disposable Diapers for Mom – The hospital’s mesh underwear was more breathable for a c-section incision; however, these may be better for the early days of vaginal birth recovery.
  • Bobby Pillow – We learned that it’s unpopular with lactation consultants as they tend not to fit very well. For nursing, rolled up blankets and propped up pillows worked much better.

Extra Tips:

  • Treat for the Staff – When Clemens went out for food, he always came back with a box of munchkins or some kind of snack for the nurses. You interact so much with them so we wanted to make sure to let them know that we appreciated all their efforts.
  • Clemens went home at least once a day (we’re a 15-minute commute to the hospital) in order to feed the cat and take a shower. Doing this let us pack up things that we didn’t need for the hospital, as well as grab stuff from home that we did need. It was also nice for Clemens to take a break while Vinessa was resting.

Daddy Tip: We sorted our clothes/supplies by: labor, recovery, going home and daddy. We packed each group into a separate packing cube. This let us bring a much smaller bag to the hospital and made it easier for swapping out stuff when Clemens would go home.  

  • Ask for People’s Names – This is a good advice for life in general, but specifically with staff that is taking care of you. Not only is it nicer, but it lets you keep track of who told you what.
  • Think about what Mom wants for her first meal after birth – Of course, we ate sushi. Conduct some research for restaurants (and shops) in the area beforehand. While Seamless delivered to our hospital, sometimes it was faster and better quality for Clemens to pick up something.
  • Check during your hospital tour what is and isn’t provided. For example, if you’re delivering at Lenox Hill, you may not need to pack an exercise ball.

~See Lemons and Vnessa with an Eye for Delivery