When I gave birth to my first child, I packed so much stuff into my hospital bag that I could’ve lived in the labor and delivery wing for a month. You know how much of it I actually used? Not a whole lot. Many of the items that are listed on hospital bag checklists end up being completely unnecessary and just another thing that you have to bring home—and unpack—along with all the stuff for your new baby.
The hospital will most likely give you a lot of the items that you need, including diapers, wipes, baby blankets, onesies, hats, disposable underwear, and giant pads. Heed my advice and take everything that they give you, and pack only the bare necessities in your bag.
Here are the 11 must-have items to pack in your hospital bag:
1. All the paperwork
Whatever you do, don’t arrive at the hospital without your insurance card, photo ID, hospital registration, and birth plan (if you have one). Tuck everything into a brightly-colored plastic envelope so that it can be quickly and easily accessed.
2. A cozy bathrobe
It’s cold in the hospital, so it’s really nice to have a cuddly robe to wear either during labor or after you give birth. A bathrobe is also good to throw on over an open-backed hospital gown so you can cruise the hallway without flashing everyone, and I love that this Barefoot Dreams version has a zipper instead of a belt.
3. Your own pillow
Hospital pillows are stiff and uncomfortable and liable to give you a neck ache. Plus you’ll be very happy to have something that reminds you of home when you’re trying to get comfortable in a hospital bed—especially if you sleep on our favorite pillow.
4. A nightgown to wear during labor
The hospital will provide you with a gown to wear, but they’re usually open at the back and don’t fit very well. I brought my own nightgown to labor in, and it was so much more comfortable.
5. A pair of slippers
The hospital will likely provide you with socks, but if you’re prone to cold feet like I am, having a warm pair of our favorite slippers to shuffle around in will make a huge difference.
6. A sleep mask
Hospitals have this weird thing where they like to keep the lights on all the time, which makes it hard to sleep. Get a great sleep mask and make use of it. They’ll still come in to wake you up all the time to check your blood pressure, but having a mask makes it easier to catch a few much-needed winks.
7. Phone chargers
You’re probably going to be at the hospital for at least 24 hours, if not a few days. Don’t run the risk of your phone dying and leaving you unable to share fresh-from-the-womb shots of your newest family member. Purchase an extra USB plug as well as an extra-long cord in case the power outlets are across the room from your hospital bed.
8. Pajamas for after labor
You won’t regret investing in a pair of luxurious pajamas to wear after giving birth, especially if you’ve had a long labor. Splurge on a pair that’s soft, flattering, and nursing-friendly, but be sure to purchase one size larger so there’s room for your postpartum tummy and chest.
9. Nursing bra
If you’re planning to breastfeed, you’re going to need a nursing bra (or three) and you’re going to want to have it with you at the hospital. I liked the Bravado ones because they were soft, comfortable, and easy to unclasp one-handed.
Don’t head to the hospital without a stash of hair bands, a tube of lip balm, and a toothbrush. Having hair in your face while you’re in labor is seriously annoying, and your lips will likely get dry and cracked because you’re not allowed to have anything to drink until after your baby arrives.
11. An outfit to wear home
Here’s the cruelest part of childbirth: You will still look pregnant even after you’ve given birth, but not so pregnant that your maternity clothes will fit right. Pack a stylish loose dress to wear home from the hospital so you’ll feel put together but not uncomfortable.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.