Hospital Bags: What You Really Need

One of the age old practices of the third trimester is to prepare your hospital bag. As a new mom, I had no idea where the hell to begin. Naturally I decided that Pinterest was the bible in which I would find all the answers.

It was a shit show. Go ahead, I dare you. Type in hospital bag check-list and see what comes up. Spoiler alert: 200 different lists, none of which have the same items. Some are ridiculously long, some have less than ten items. For a new mother who is also a Type A personality, this is a god given nightmare. What I decided to do was combine a bunch of what I thought were the best lists and what I ended up with was a bag full of stuff I did not use. In fact, to be completely candid, the bag is still sitting half full on my bedroom floor and its been 6 weeks since Ellie’s birth…

I know, I know, get it together Courtney…I will.

In the meantime, to avoid tackling that mess, I decided to create a list of what a first time mom will actually need and use in a hospital bag. This is so no other first time mom ends up with a bag that looks like you’re a ten-year old going to sleep-away camp for the summer.

1.) Night gown/Loose pajama pants/Tank Top- Unpopular opinion coming up…you really don’t need a nursing tank/nursing shirts. All of those pinterest hospital bag lists insisted on nursing tanks and I purchased quite a few. I found that a nursing bra and a regular tank top with spaghetti straps works just fine. You don’t need a labyrinth tank top to get to your boob. In fact I didn’t even use tank tops. I spent my two days in the hospital in a nightgown that I easily just pulled off one shoulder at a time to nurse. I bought it off amazon from a company called Majama’s. It was comfortable and super easy for me to whip my boob out to nurse.  See picture for reference.


2.) Robe- In my 26 years of life I had never owned a robe until 2 weeks prior to giving birth. After seeing a robe on all of these goddamn lists I figured I should grab one. And I am SO glad I did. The temperature in the hospital is fickle and when you’re in clothing that is skimpy because you’re trying to get to your boob to breastfeed, extra warmth is helpful. Along with the nightgown, I lived in my robe.  I got mine off of Etsy and ordered a nursing robe that came with a matching little robe for Ellie.  If you haven’t noticed, there isn’t a single picture of her wearing this robe….completely useless and I kind of laugh at myself in retrospect for getting it.  A regular robe is fine.  And if you think your newborn is ever going to wear a robe in her first days of life, you’re so cute, and so so naive.


3.) Gownie- Not a must-have, but something I am SO glad I bought to this day. A gownie is a hospital gown. They are relatively cheap, I think $25 bucks on Amazon. And they have an adorable array of colors. Why the hell would you bring your own hospital gown? I am personally not a fan of a gown that reveals your whole back and closes with nothing but a tie. The Gownie buttons all the way down your back. It also has buttons that go diagonally from your shoulder to your nipple so it becomes a nursing gown. SUPER helpful the first time they lay the baby on your chest to feed. And…this is the more vein side of me…you look pretty damn cute when you’re giving birth. Which is like near impossible. Here is a picture of me mid-contraction rocking mine. Another plus: They are machine washable. So, you damn well better believe I threw that thing in a plastic bag provided by the hospital and washed it when I got home. It will make it’s debut for labor #2.


4.) Slippers/Flip Flops for Shower- I bought slippers to wear around our hospital room because you really don’t want to be barefoot in a place where mass amounts of people go when they are deathly ill. It also helped because I wanted to get moving soon after I gave birth. Throwing slippers on to take a walk around the labor and delivery unit was quick and easy. If you plan to shower at the hospital, flip flops are another obvious must have.

5.) Your own hygiene products (deodorant, face wash, toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, soap, hairbrush, hair ties)- The Hospital has shampoo and conditioner in the shower. And they also have toothpaste. But bring your own stuff. NOTHING felt better than taking a hot shower and smelling my own soap, shampoo, and conditioner. I felt human again.

6.) Depends- I actually didn’t have these in my bag and made my mom go out and get me some after my first night in the hospital. I had friends who told me I didn’t need to bring any after birth supplies because the hospital provides you with all of the supplies you need. This is true, except they are cheap supplies (no offense L&M). The mesh underwear they give you for after birth to hold your pad and a makeshift icepack (A diaper filled with ice) resembles a white parachute and holds absolutely nothing in place. Depends do the job. So raid your grandma’s supply ladies.

7.) Stool Softeners-  You thought labor was scary?  Just wait until your first postpartum poop.  Just trust me on this one.

8.) Cellphone charger- for obvious reasons. But when your filling up your phone’s memory with hundreds of pictures of your new bundle of joy, it drains the battery at lightning speed. So you’ll need a charger.

9.) Snacks- LOTS of them. Depending on where you deliver, the hospital kitchen shuts down at a pretty early hour. When you’re hungry after that hour or up at 2:00am with a screaming baby trying to nurse and all you want is chocolate….you will thank me. I tried to go the healthy route so I had beef jerky, dried edamame, kind bars, and maybe some reeses cups (can’t win them all). It really helped because as I said in previous posts, we were up pretty much our whole first night in the hospital and giving birth is a work out that boosts your appetite.

10.) Pillows- Sure you can use the hospital’s plastic filled pillows that are worse than those you find on your airplane seat. But if you want a good nights rest and the comfort of home with you…bring some of your own pillows. You can wash the hospital germs off of them when you get home. Also, make sure they have colored pillow cases. If they are white, you risk the hospital taking them. Probably so they can gradually steal enough pillows to replace their cheap ones.

11.) A going home outfit for you- This doesn’t have to be anything fancy. Hell, it could be a tank top and pajama pants. Just make sure its something comfortable and that fit you around your 6th month of pregnancy. After giving birth, you don’t magically return to your pre-baby size, and they say you still look about 6 months pregnant. I opted for a maxi dress. It 85 degrees the day we went home and I did not want to be sweating on top of feeling sore.


12 .) A going home outfit for the baby- This isn’t a must…but it’s really fun to get a cute outfit to put your baby in when you introduce him or her to the world. You also want to make sure it’s practical as you will have to put the baby in a carseat to travel home and you’ll probably be changing his or her diaper a few times. We went with a sleep sack with an open elastic bottom for Ellie. It made it super easy to get to her diaper for diaper changes. Right before we left the hospital, we threw a little pair of shorts on underneath it so she wouldn’t be bare diapered in her carseat.


13.) Extra onesies for baby- Some people insist that you bring nothing or very little for the baby. I brought more things for Elliot than I did myself. I basically had a mini wardrobe for her. Mostly because in my idiotic mind, I wanted to dress her up in adorable outfits during our hospital stay and for visitors. We ended up using these outfits not to impress hospital staff and visitors, but out of necessity. After Elliot’s birth, they threw her in a size 6month onesie. It was hanging off her and her legs were bare and hospital rooms are cold. We luckily had 3 newborn, footed and mitten cuffed- onesies that we were able to put Ellie in.

14.) Boppy- After you give birth you are EXHAUSTED. Doesn’t seem difficult now, but after being in labor, holding a 7-9lb baby in your arms to nurse is taxing. We brought our boppy to rest Ellie on during nursing sessions.

15.) Lanolin, Nipple Shield, Soothies- If you are planning to nurse and never have before, be prepared for some serious nipple pain. A baby sucking on your nipple is traumatic for your body and bruising is inevitable. Cracking and bleeding are common too. To help speed recovery (notice I didn’t say prevent) use lanolin after every feed and don’t wipe it off. It’s safe for the baby to ingest. If you’re really worried about the pain, I do recommend getting a nipple shield. You can always transition to nursing without it over time. Soothies kind of remind me of those flesh colored, peel-n-stick, silicone push-up bra’s that resemble chicken cutlets. They have adhesive on them and are super cold when they are put on the nipple. It will help the healing process.

16.) Make-up- True story coming up. After staying up all night with contractions, at about 5:30 am I finally decided to take a shower since I had a feeling we were headed to the hospital. I came downstairs after my shower to try and watch some T.V. or do anything to take my mind of the pain. I grabbed the remote and it was dead. Matt has a fancy TV system and cable box that I have never touched in my entire life and I wasn’t about to take a stab at it while going into labor. Realizing T.V. was out of the question, I started searching for something to do to try and distract myself. Yes folks. For 35 minutes, while I was enduring 1 minute contractions that were 7 minutes apart, I did my full make up. Like an insane person, but it really did help take my mind off of the pain. To be honest, I did my make up every single day I was in the hospital. Not because I was trying to impress anyone or because I’m that vein. When you’re in a room for two days straight (two rainy, dark days I might add), it can be depressing and you kind of feel like a troll. Throwing on some make-up made me feel more human. It also gave me something to do.

Things I brought that I did not need:

1.)Hemorrhoid cream.  A not so glorious side-effect of labor:  hemorrhoids.  I escaped these and therefor had no use for the cream.

2.) 3 Month clothes-  I don’t know why I thought Ellie was going to come out 10lbs.  I was preparing for the worst.  So I packed two 3 month onesies and a size 3 month going home outfit as if my child was going to be a behemoth.  She was a petite 7lbs.

3.) Swaddle Cloths and Receiving Blankets- My bag was also jammed full of these bad boys…didn’t use a single item.  The hospital provides swaddle blankets and we only used one of the three we brought for a picture.

These are rough guidelines.  And obviously your hospital bag will be personal and need adjustments based on your needs.  But this should give you a good start.  Just trying to help another first time mom escape waddling out of the hospital on going-home day with a bag that looks as large and lumpy as a body bag.  You’re welcome. ❤

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