A Wannabe Minimalist's Guide to packing your Hospital Bag
I think packing your hospital bag, especially as a first time mom, is the most confusing part of preparing for a new baby. First of all, as a new mom, you have no idea what to expect, regardless of how much you read. Second, you don’t want to over-pack but you don’t want to under-pack. Further complicating matters is this bag is supposed to be packed in advance so that it’s ready to grab-and-go when you finally do go into labor. That means whatever you pack in the bag will be stored and unavailable for use while you’re waiting to go into labor.
I have been less than interested in packing my hospital bag for some reason, despite my worries about going into labor early. I think that my disinterest is mostly due in part to the fact that I plan on packing my comfiest clothes for the hospital but I also wear my comfy clothes at home. What’s a girl to do?
Well, Mike gave me a deadline (I think he is starting to get anxious at Scottie’s impending arrival) and insisted that my hospital bag be packed by 9 p.m. July 23. So, considering I am writing this on July 24, it’s packed, for the most part, and sitting by the front door.
I really tried to pack as little as possible and it still seems like a lot. After a lot of back and forth, I finally settled on the following list of items that I will need to be comfortable during a 2-day hospital stay after a standard delivery with no complications and no surgery:
- Undies. Yes, I mean “undies” – as in, not cute but super comfy undies. I have a total of 6 pairs packed – 4 are Victorias Secret black cotton high leg briefs and 2 are Gilligan & O’Malley black seamless mid-rise briefs. The Gilligan & O’Malley undies are a recent find from Target and they are so, so comfortable. They provide full coverage and are high rise so they don’t cut into the bottom of your belly. I just wish they were cotton.
- Two Nursing bras. Went with Gilligan & O’Malley here again. The bras are comfortable, decently priced, and easy to manipulate. Can’t complain!
- Bellefit Dual Closure Girdle. Okay, so this obviously isn’t necessary. I didn’t have one after the twins were born, but I wanted to use one this time around. The Bellefit Girdle (linked in photo) is advertised as a medical grade postpartum girdle that’s supposed to speed up the rate at which your tummy shrinks and skin tightens as well as providing abdominal wall support. It’s quite an investment so I will let you know my results with it after a few weeks!
- Robe & PJ’s. I went with Gilligan & O’Malley again. I found a really soft robe and midi spaghetti strap nightgown from Target that will be perfect for wearing in the hospital. I wanted something comfortable, cute, easy to nurse in, but also easy to coverup with when family is visiting. Plus, black is my color. This robe and nightgown combo will work perfectly for me!
- Leggings. I have the Blanqi Highwaist Postpartum + Nursing Support leggings (linked in photo) and love them.
- Nursing Tanks. I am bringing three nursing tank tops with me – Gilligan & O’Malley brand again. I used them all through nursing the twins and still have them. I’m bringing the extra tops because nursing and pumping can be messy business at first.
- Going home outfit for me. I suggest not trying to be cute here. Go home in comfortable clothes. More likely than not you’re going to be swollen, sore, and tired. I am bringing my most comfortable Lululemon joggers, my most comfortable Adidas sneakers, and a white tank top for my short ride home.
- Mascara (maybe). Leave your makeup bag at home – ain’t nobody got time for that. But, I’m not opposed to a little mascara if you’re taking photos. <insert diva emoji here>
- Shampoo, Conditioner, Soap. After giving birth, having a decent shampoo, conditioner, and soap to use is going to make the world of a difference. I have packed travel sized shampoo, conditioner, and body soap from Molton Brown.
- Lotion. When you have a newborn, you wash your hands a lot, and after you give birth, your feet swell up a lot. So, I’ve packed two amazing lotions - Aveda Hand Relief and Aveda Foot Relief (both linked in photos). A friend of mine gave me the hand relief as a gift before the twins were born, and thank goodness she did. I used it when my hands were cracking from scrubbing them a million times a day when the twins were in the NICU. The Aveda foot relief is equally as nourishing and has peppermint oil to help ease pain associated with swelling.
- Toothbrush & Toothpaste
- Hair brush
- Blow dryer. If you’re into that sort of thing.
- Lavender Essential Oil. Not necessary, but I’m packing it. It has calming and relaxing qualities. I intend to use it to reduce any anxiety I might have before active labor. I read an article that stress and anxiety inhibit the natural progression of labor and I want to avoid being induced. So, I’m trying to remain as calm as possible to avoid the use of any Pitocin.
- Coconut Oil. Skip the lanolin and just use coconut oil. I got this pro tip from one of the NICU nurses at UVA when the twins were there. Nursing and pumping can really irritate your nips at first. Apply coconut oil before and after pumping and you’re going to prevent your nipples from drying out and cracking. Coconut oil also has anti-bacterial properties so it will help prevent any yeast infections from developing on your breasts. Pumping and nursing creates a lot of moisture on your breasts and moisture can lead to an overproduction of yeast. Not fun.
- Breast shields. The nurses at your hospital will likely tell you/should tell you to pump around every three hours for 15 minutes. That means in a 24 hour period you're going to be pumping 8 times. Each time you use you’re breast shields for pumping you will have to wash them. I suggest bringing 4 breast shields to the hospital with you. When I had the twins, the hospital gave me these tiny breast shields that didn’t fit and caused some serious pain. If you are having any pain with pumping (or nursing) please ask for a lactation specialist before you’re discharged! It really should not be overly painful. All I needed was larger breast shields and everything was better!
- Hands Free Pumping Bra. This is a must. If you don’t have a hands free pumping bra, pumping takes twice as long, cutting into what sleep you are getting. I ordered the Simple Wishes Hands-Free Breastpump Bra, linked in the photo, when I was exclusively pumping for the twins. I cannot say enough how much I love this bra.
- Nursing Pillow. I will be bringing my TwinZ Nursing Pillow that I used for the twins. Obviously not necessary because I am only having one baby this time but I wasn’t about to go buy another nursing pillow when I have a perfect one already. The TwinZ pillow is really comfortable, great for nursing newborns, provides lots of great support, and the cover is so very soft. TwinZ does make this pillow in a singleton version.
- Dawn Dish Soap. To clean your pumping supplies.
- Bottle brush. To clean your pumping supplies. Your hospital might give you a toothbrush to clean your supplies with and that just doesn’t cut it. I’ve used a regular sponge and a bottle brush to clean my pumping supplies. I prefer the bottle brush, it’s just easier.
- Baby’s Going Home Outfit and Baby Beanie.
- Car Seat. I have UppaBaby everything.
- Car Seat Cover - This may not be necessary depending on the time of year. I love, love the Milk Snob Car Seat Covers. They double as nursing covers and come in the cutest prints.
- Swaddle. You really only need one. At the hospital you will be using the hospital's swaddles.
I hope this list helps some soon to be mom's out there. I'm sure I am missing something from my list. Leave a comment if there is something I missed that you think is a MUST in a hospital bag!