Hospital Bag, Redux.

By: Jen Shoop

I didn’t do a horrible job packing my hospital bag the first time around — I used most of what I brought with the exception of the pajamas; I didn’t have the energy or inclination to change out of my hospital robe, which was so much more convenient given all the medical stuff happening and the fact that I was struggling to figure out how to nurse mini (and therefore naked) most of the time I was there. Also, I found that nightgowns were much more appealing during recovery from a c-section as I did not want anything like a waistband close to my incision. Maybe I’ll pack a pair of jams and a nightgown this go around for either circumstance — but I’ll probably just wear the damn robe. (Less laundry to do, easy access, etc.)

I feel as though there is a lot of smugness from tenured moms when it comes to what first time moms are planning to bring to the hospital.

“Ah, you won’t need any of that,” we’ll say, knowingly, the gleam of the initiated in our eyes.

I get it. We’ve seen the other side. We are proud of our warrior status. We’ve earned that knowing look. But I have steered clear of such commentary with my first-time-mom friends, because a) every woman is different and far be it for me to deter someone from a full face of makeup post-birth! and b) the act of packing a hospital bag is more freighted than it might seem at first glance. For me, packing the hospital bag (which I did around week 30 the first time — anxious much!?) was a physical manifestation of accepting the fact that I was physically going to have a baby. It was a reckoning, in its own way — a practical step toward birth, a tangible act I could undertake to prepare for the baby. It was one of the first times throughout the entire pregnancy in which I felt some small semblance of control. “There. I’m doing something to show I’m ready,” I said to myself. “I have no idea what I’m doing in any other lane of motherhood or pregnancy, but I have packed this bag full of things I might want as I recover.”

And so, I cut women a lot of slack when it comes to the hospital bag. Let them pack three robes and forty-two pairs of socks and a full trundle of cosmetics. There’s nothing wrong with feeling prepared. (All that said, I draw the line at twinkle lights for the hospital room, which I’ve seen on some hospital bag packing lists. I just can’t imagine anyone having the energy to tack them up and can picture myself with a sheepish grin as nurses would find Mr. Magpie stringing them around my bed.)

At any rate, below, what I’m planning to bring along this go around, which I’ll probably get around to actually packing in another month:

Hospital Bag Items for Me.

+A weekender bag.

+Nursing pajamas and a nursing nightgown (<<I LOVE THESE. The softest cotton modal. I already own this exact style in two or three prints; will probably add a new one to the repertoire. I wore them for months after baby was born. They are flattering, comfortable, practical, and hold up well in the wash.)

+Cotton bathrobe. A MUST. If you do end up only wearing the hospital robe because of a c-section or whatever, the back swings wide open. A robe gives you some privacy while walking the halls of the hospital. I like this soft cotton style (easy to toss in the wash afterward — probably best to avoid white).

+Inexpensive, high-rise granny panties. If you end up needing a c-section, you will be so happy you have these. They give you those standard issue mesh ones, which are also fine, but you’ll need these eventually and they are so soft and wonderfully high-rise.

+Cozy socks. For walking the hospital floor.

+Nursing bras. These were my favorites in the hospital, though several of you have urged me to try these Coobies, which come in fun colors and prints (including on-trend tie-dye!) Both are pull-down styles, which I really liked in those early days. Will probably pack two.

+This cream and these soothies were wonderful in the early days of breast-feeding. Also, a bunch of these.

+Laptop and extension cord. We put on old episodes of The Office while we were blearily awake in the wee hours of the morning.

+So many of you recommended this Haaka thing for capturing milk on the opposite breast while nursing on one side. GENIUS. Ordering. UPDATE WRITTEN POST-BABY: I never got the hang of using the Haaka and it just felt like one more thing to worry about, to be honest. I do have close friends who swear by it. Probably worth testing it out to see if it’s good for you since it’s not expensive!

+Lactation bars. I was glad I’d brought these! Not sure how well they worked (still had an undersupply) but they made me feel as though I was doing something and maybe they did help in a small way. Also, I was ravenously hungry at all times and these were pretty tasty in the blueberry-coconut combo. I also liked those Quaker soft oat bars; anything with oat in it is good for milk production. (And I also drank fenugreek tea, which I incidentally rather liked.)

+All my favorite cosmetics in mini sizes — I wrote about a bunch of them in yesterday’s post, but I should also underscore that I loved having my favorite shampoo and conditioner on hand, a loofah, and a bar of classic Dove soap. For some reason the smell of Dove soap is tantamount to purification in my mind, and that first shower felt and smelt like heaven to me.


+A baby book. I was able to write down all of mini’s information right in the hospital so I wouldn’t forget a thing. I think you can even have the nurses put her little footprints on one of the pages if you ask! To be honest, I fell off the wagon in terms of keeping this up-to-date, which is shameful since I only have one child to keep up with, but we started to post daily pictures of mini to a shared iPhoto album and so I feel like I’ve marked most of her milestones there. With micro, I want to remember to jot things down in the book, though! (HA, we shall see.)

+Have heard these and this are clutch for giving birth if I don’t need a c-section.

+XL phone charging cable to be sure it reaches your hospital bed from the closest outlet.

+Going home outfit: it will be late May if all goes to plan, so I’m thinking something like this loose dress and some new slides (no buckles or laces pls and thank you). I think my personal gift to myself will be a new pair of sandals for summer. I have been dangling on the ledge of buying some silver Birks for like two years but got caught up in the latest Chanel collection and am eyeing something like these or these as a gift to myself instead (last go around, my gift to myself was Gucci Princetown mules)…I’ll also pack maternity leggings and a loose-fit button down (<<own and love this) in case I’m in the mood to feel sucked-in/contained instead.

+Snacks for husband. I brought some granola bars and nuts for him last go around.

Hospital Bag Items for Baby.

+Coming-home outfit, one in size NB and one in size 0-3 months. (Mini needed preemie-sized clothes for her first week or two of life, and I ordered those immediately upon returning home, but NB will suit most babes.) I got this in size 0-3 mo and this in size newborn, and these little caps will work with either.


+Itty bitty socks and booties.

+Receiving blanket.

+Hipp infant formula — just in case.

+Nail scissors. People say all kinds of things about baby nails — don’t fret if you’re a first time mom. This is a non-urgent thing and I don’t know why people make such a fuss about them! I was legitimately terrified of grooming her nails given all the hubbub. I’d heard lots of exhortations along the lines of: MAKE SURE you put on those mittens so they don’t scratch their faces! You don’t want to trim their nails while they’re super young! and then — They come out with long nails! Just bite them off with your teeth! and IT IS SO HARD TO CUT BABY NAILS. Etc. Let me first say that the last thing on my mind in those first few days was tending to mini’s talons. But, I did notice that she had long nails when she was born and found these tiny scissors were easy to use and precise, as the blade curves away from the baby’s fingernail bed. And it was really not a big deal. As they get older and move around more, it becomes harder to keep their hands still. Trim while they’re sleeping! The hospital essentially provides everything else you can possibly imagine when it comes to caring for your baby — burp cloths, swaddles, diapers, nasal aspirators, etc.

+Infant carseat!

What am I missing this go around?!

P.S. Notes on this pregnancy part 1 and part 2.

P.P.S. The ultimate baby registry.

P.P.P.S. This gives me all the feels.

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16 thoughts on “Hospital Bag, Redux.

  1. OMG the soothies for nursing pain… I think I mentally blocked those out of my memory. So much confusion and feeling uncomfortable in those early nursing days! These were SO key for me too:

    I loved your last post about giving yourself some grace with nursing. Like you, I was extremely hard on myself- and felt like everyone else was tough on me too- and wish someone had gently told me it was ok to offer formula when the going got so so so tough. Would have saved so many tears and so much stress! xo

    1. Thanks for that link!! Have added that to one of my Amazon lists and will see how this round goes…

      Glad you agree with me on cutting myself a little slack this go around. We will see how realistic that is once hormones kick in :/

  2. My must-have in my hospital bag: inexpensive flip flops (that you wouldn’t mind throwing away if you had to) for showering! That first shower, which for me was maybe 3 days after the c-section, helped me feel like a normal human being again, after an experience that completely turned the definition of “normal” on its head.

    1. I’d forgotten about shower flip flops! I didn’t use them last go around but remember a lot of moms talking about how much better they made that first shower…!

  3. Ohhhhh the baby book. I even purposefully chose one that would be easy to fill in (very little writing, just printing out lots of pictures)….. aaaaaaaand I have her footprint in there and that’s about it. For a future child (or even maybe for this one), I’ve been considering ones where you fill everything out/upload pictures online and they’ll print a book for you when you’re done. Maybe then will I have an actual completed baby book! (Though I have created annual photo books for her and have the 1 second app where you upload a 1-second video clip daily, so I guess I have a record of some stuff…)

    1. Interesting! Had not even heard of those but that makes sense! A lot easier to peck something out on your phone while nursing or laying in bed at night than it is to pull out the physical version!! xx

    1. Oh interesting – hadn’t thought about the way those washable ones would feel! Probably more comfortable than Lansinoh!! xo

  4. I’m adding a pillow (in a colorful case so we don’t confuse it w/ the hospitals) and maybe a boppy/nursing pillow?
    And a notebook to write instructions down, etc.
    Other ideas – if you know you’d like an epidural then some reading material/kindle, etc. You may have time to kill while waiting to get to 10cm.

    1. Thank you! I’d thought about adding the Kindle to the list but then I thought it might seem like wishful thinking. HA! I’ll add that to the list for sure. I could never get comfortable with the nursing pillow with mini — it always felt awkward to me? — but every baby is different…maybe I’ll regret not packing it this go around. Thanks for the food for thought!! xo

  5. I’ve delivered at 3 different hospitals- 2 in Boston and 1 in Philly. Each had very different…amenities… for mom and baby. My second hospital (Brigham and Women’s (THE BEST!!!)) tricked me since they had everything I could have thought of and more. I bring this up as my 3rd birth at UPENN was extremely Spartan in terms of items for mama and child. As in I had to ask for diaper cream and onesies! Yes, I’m a seasoned mom, but I just assumed they would provide these in our room! Do you know anyone who recently delivered at your NYC hospital? May be good to ask. I was FaceTime-ing my mother to have her locate onesies and a swaddle for our daughter. Whereas in Boston I only needed to dip into my own baby clothes/supplies on our way out the door during discharge. Outside of your current list, my only other suggestion is nursing pads. My milk came in much sooner with each child. Of course BWH provided these, but UPENN didn’t and it was an actual sticky situation, ugh!

    1. Agree! Brigham and Women’s the best! I had major surgery there and the care was second to none. Felt like I was staying at a 5 star hotel.

      That is so true and funny about the twinkle lights. It just seems ridiculous.

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