What are the essentials that need to go into a hospital bag?

What are the essentials that need to go into a hospital bag?

As your due date approaches, the list of things to do only seems to grow.

Packing my hospital bag is one of the things I put off. To be honest, it made the whole thing feel too real and was kind of overwhelming.

I'm also a notoriously bad packer. I pack every useless thing for a weekend trip – but forget my charger.

Your hospital bag is not the time to forget something critical. It's important that you have the things you need...

Because we pack all these beautiful items for baby and think of everyone else...

But what about the items we need for comfort and recovery?

You don't know how long your hospital stay is going to be, and even if it's brief, there are things that will be game changers for your recovery in those first hours and days.

This minimalist list outlines the essentials you will not want to miss (but many people do):

Birth Plan

While the topic of birth plans (or birth values, as we refer to them) can be a bit contentious, our philosophy is that everyone has preferences and they deserve to have them respected.

Bringing in a written document – and it does not have to be complicated – is better than trying to remember the details if things become stressful.

Upside Down Peri Bottle

If you're not sure what this is for, we're glad you're here! For a few days after vaginal birth, expect to experience some stinging and burning when you pee. Filling a peri bottle with warm water and using it to spray a gentle stream when you pee is very effective in counteracting pain.

The upside down model is ergonomically designed so that you don't have to crouch over (this is very useful for Cesarean-birth parents) or, god forbid, drop it in the toilet. Not speaking from experience of course... And ours comes in a discreet carry case and the nozzle retracts so it's super portable.

One Tough Mother - Upside Down Peri

Music or Meditation Tracks

I planned for a hypno-birth – you can bet having those meditation tracks on hand was critical! So it was more than a little distracting when the tracks just stopped working (luckily my doula had back up and I had a successful hypnotic birth after all).

You don't need to be hypno-birthing to benefit from a meditation, they're also useful for getting to sleep if your stay is longer. Make sure you have the tracks that you need for focus or ambience on hand, and perhaps a back plan too. 

Perineal Spray

This is instant relief in a bottle – so it's definitely something you'll want on hand with you at the hospital. As a natural soothing remedy for sore and tender perineal tissue, this spray helps to reduce swelling and promote healing.

Use it to prep your padsicles at home then throw it into your bag.

One Tough Mother - Perineal Spray

Slippers or Grippy Socks

Having comfortable footwear is an obvious must, but making sure it has good grip may not be. During your birthing time you may want to walk around, move, lunge – dance even! – top help move things along. Never was there a less ideal time to fall down...

Glasses, Contacts and Solution

As someone whose vision has gone from bad to horrible, forgetting any of these things would be really horrible – unless I wanted the first sighting of my baby to be a big, blobby blur. Again, birth and the hospital environment is drying, so you may not last in contacts for long. Just pack it all so you have options.

Moisturizing Lip Balm

Birth is exhausting and dehydrating. The hospital air system is also dehydrating. Having a really moisturizing and natural lip balm will keep you from getting chapped lips and feeling really uncomfortable.

One Tough Mother - Ultra Moisturizing Lip Balm

Toothbrush, Toothpaste and Face Wash or Wipes

You won't know for sure how long you'll be at the hospital and having all the toiletries you need will make your time far more comfortable. 

Nipple Balm

This is something that people often overlook when packing their hospital bag as we are usually not thinking ahead to our physical recoveries and postpartum/breastfeeding journeys.

The hospital may give you samples... But as a small business committed to handcrafting with high quality and natural ingredients, we are very wary of the mass produced products. Some mainstream products use ingredients that are suspected to increase instances of infection and that many people are allergic to.

We like to be very clear that breastfeeding pain is not something anyone should suffer through. However, it is common to experience pain in early days when you are establishing a latch, so being prepared is key.

One Tough Mother - Nipple Balm

Cell Phone Charger

Even if you have a quick birthing experience, you're likely going to be in the hospital for a little while. It would be so frustrating to have your phone die during your stay.

Reusable Aluminum Straw

This one always seems a bit strange but it's a game changer. During your birthing time, you are going to be very focused (trust me!). Your partner, support person or doula will be helping you stay hydrated and being able to hold a straw to your mouth is the best way to keep you feeling good.

Soft, Absorbent Nursing Pads

This is along the same lines as the Nipple Balm. It's not something people often think about when they are packing their hospital bag but it may end up being an item you are so happy to have on hand. Yes, hospitals provide some items for free, but often they are not great quality or they never seem to give you enough.

One Tough Mother - Reusable Nursing Pads

Your ID and Some Cash

Make sure to add some cash to your bag so it's available if you need it for anything, like parking. And your ID, too.

High Protein Snacks

High protein snacks will help you maintain your strength during your birthing time. Depending on hospital policy you may not be able to eat during labour, but either way, you will probably be so hungry after! Having something readily available is great while you wait for your First Meal After Giving Birth to arrive (Mmmm, such a rite of passage).

Hair Tie

Giving birth is like running a marathon. Actually, it's been scientifically shown that giving birth is far harder than running a marathon. Make sure you have a hair tie and/or hand band so you can keep your hair out of your face and stay cool.

One Tough Mother - Hair Tie

Nursing Bras

In our free guide,  The Pregnancy Handbook, we recommend buying nursing bras while pregnant to get the most bang for your buck. They comfortably grow with you through pregnancy, and then you have them on hand immediately post-birth.

Regardless of your feeding plans, a nursing bra is great for your comfort during pregnancy and and in the immediate postpartum. They're also great for actually labouring in and make access to skin-to-skin easy. This nursing bra by Bravado is our favourite. 

Comfortable, Clean Set of Clothes

A clean and comfortable set of clothing for yourself after baby is born is a must.

Baby Outfit and Blanket

Though this isn't technically for you, we included this one on the list because it is the one thing will be great to have on hand for your baby. A newborn doesn't need much but a first blanket and outfit can be very special (and make beautiful memories for you).

Car Seat 

Again, this one isn't for your hospital bag but it will be a requirement to leave the hospital with your newborn. Save yourself any stress and install your car seat base by around 36 weeks (in case baby is an early arrival).

However, we do not recommend driving around with the car seat in the car for that long. If you were to get into an accident, the seat would no longer be usable. Save yourself from having to purchase a whole new seat and wait until baby-day to add the actual seat to the base.

Grab our free Better Postpartum Healing guide:

Free guide to Better Postpartum Healing


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