...for Parent, Support Person, and Baby!
This post was originally published on April 28, 2017. It has been updated.
As a fourth time parent, your expectations fall into place and your standards lower… by a lot. hah!
When I delivered my first, it was via emergency C Section at 33/34 weeks and I had nothing packed. When I delivered my second, I was over excited and I totally overpacked. When I delivered my third, I packed just right and still over packed! I delivered my fourth during the pandemic, and kind of still over packed. hahaha!
I had four C Sections. Other than the first, the other three were very similar. Cesareans are major surgery and C Section patients are C Section three to four days if there are no complications.
I delivered during Covid and everything was pretty much the same as my other deliveries, you just need to pack a mask for when the nurse and the doctor are in your room.
This packing list is for a hospital stay for three days.
FOR THE PARENT GIVING BIRTH:
MASK. You have to wear a mask when other people are in the room but if its just you and your partner, you don't have to wear it. If you're having a C Section, you won't have to wear one since you'll be hooked up to oxygen. While you're walking the halls, you have to wear a mask. The hospital can provide you with one a well!
TWO PAIRS OF BIG, HIGH RISE, UNDERWEAR. Use as much of the big, mesh, hospital underwear as possible. You’ll be bleeding and sore. Some people like to stay and go home in their hospital underwear — its a free country… do what you want! I personally like to go home in my own. Just make sure the undies are big enough and have enough surface area to hold… everything.
TWO DARK COLORED ROBE/GOWN/PJs. After delivery you won’t want to wear pants. I mean, some people do and MORE POWER TO YOU! Knee length robes and buttoned gowns don’t put any pressure on your scar or your tummy. They allow easy access to the bathroom/your boob if you choose to nurse. I like to stay in the hospital gown for the first day then change after they take the catheter out. Since C Sections are scheduled really early in the morning, you can also go to the hospital in what you plan on going home in to minimize space in your bags.
TWO NURSING TANKS/SLEEP BRAS. Your milk probably won’t come in until the last day of your stay in the hospital. If you plan on nursing or not, nursing bras/tanks are really comfy.
THREE PAIRS OF SOCKS. When you get a C Section, they put the compression boots on you after surgery so you don’t get blood clots. They’re like space boots. The hospital will require you to wear their socks first, then after surgery you can change into your own. You can get the ones with the grip on the bottom or not, the fuzzier the better because hospitals are really freaking cold!
SLIP ON SANDALS. Crocs, Birkenstocks, Slides…. whatever you choose, get a pair of slip ons that are waterproof, just in case you want to shower. They need to be easy on/easy off so you can go to the bathroom, get back in bed, or walk the halls. I know they say this all the time, but make sure to walk to halls as much as you can tolerate so speed up recovery!
LOTION & LIP BALM. Hospitals are so dry. Is it the soap? Is it the air in the hospital? ALSO! The day before and the morning of the C Section you're supposed to shower then not put any lotions on! So you're like... dry dry. Extra dry! Make sure to pack a travel size lotion for your hands and face and lip balm for your lips!
NIPPLE CREAM. Your hospital should provide you with some lanolin for your nips (you can also use it on your lips if you forget your chapstick!). Its really sticky though... like aggressive to put on! If you find a nipple cream that has a smoother application, then bring that!
NURSING PILLOW. You’ll be tired, you’re going to want to prop that baby up while you feed them. You could use prop your arms up with the hospital pillows but that’s too much effort.
SHEET MASK FACE MASK. Take advantage of sitting down and resting and give your face a lil TLC. They're so easy and requires no effort. All you do it unwrap, apply, then throw away! Pack a sheet mask or two and use them whenever you find yourself going stir crazy in your hospital room... yeah your doctor or nurse might walk in on you looking like Michael Myers from Halloween, but they won't judge -- they've seen everything.
VELCRO ABDOMINAL BINDER. These things just help hold everything in place. They're helpful when you're up, but very uncomfy when you're sitting down. After a C Section everything just hurts and you're up and walking. These are perfect for discharge day and for the first few weeks when you're recovering.
CAR SEAT & STROLLER. Leave the stroller and car seat in the car until discharge day!
ONE PAIR OF MITTENS. Newborns don’t do anything other than sleep, so bringing one pair of mittens is enough. Unless you want to coordinate outfits with the mittens, then cool! Bring more! These little babies have wolverine claws and when they scratch it HURTS. Don’t buy the ones with the elastic, get the ones with the tie because the little wrists are so small that it’ll easily fall off!
HATS/BOWS/WHATEVER. The hospital provides a generic blue/pink striped hat and that’s cute and all but I know you want some personalization for your little squish.
SWADDLE BLANKET. Again, for personalization because the hospital provides you with some. They can also be scratchy. If you’re delivering the winter, make sure to bring a thicker blanket for discharge day.
THREE LONG SLEEVE ONESIES . (Regardless of the season.) If you can pack the onesies with the fold over sleeves, so you don’t have to pack mittens, that would be PERFECT.
GOING HOME OUTFIT. Yay the best part! Going home! Remember your baby isn’t acclimated to the outdoor environment yet, so be practical!
FOR THE SUPPORT PERSON:
MASK. Mask wearing is mandatory for when a nurse/doctor/someone goes into your room. You also have to wear a mask when you're walking the halls with the baby. You don't have to wear a mask if no one else is in your room. The hospital can provide you with one as well!
WATER BOTTLE. Sorry friend, no one cares about you. The person giving birth will be supplied a water bottle from the hospital with volume on the side so the nurses can see how much intake and output of liquids the patient is getting. Make sure to bring your own water bottle so you can fill it up!
THREE OUTFITS OF COMFY CLOTHES. Sweatpants, sweatshirts, comfy shorts, t-shirts, and SOCKS are a must.
SLIDES/SLIPPERS/FLIP FLOPS. Your job is to support, so that means hopping up and helping out as much as possible, no time to lace shoes!
COMPUTER/BOOK/CROSSWORD/iPAD/CROSS STITCH… WHATEVER. Your job is to support. so that means you’re going to be doing a lot of sitting and waiting. Or sitting while everyone is sleeping. Or sitting while baby gets taken for tests. Or sitting while baby nurses. Or sitting while you do skin to skin and baby is passed out on you. There’s just lots of sitting, so make sure you bring some sort of general entertainment. There’s only so much hospital TV you can watch.
A BLANKET. The hospital is going to provide sheets and a pillow. If you’re at a fancy hospital, you might have a couch or a chair that folds down. If you’re at a regular hospital, you’re probably going to push two chairs together to make a bed. The sheets won’t keep you all that warm. It doesn’t have to be your king sized comforter, just a lil throw blanket will do!
FOR THE ROOM
PHONE CHARGER. For all those hours you’ll be on FaceTime, social media spreading the good news, and Netflix.
SNACKS. Once upon a time, before Covid there were nutrition rooms with peanut butter, crackers, and other snacks accessible to patients. There was also access to the cafeteria. But let’s be honest, hospital food is just not all that great and you just had a baby so you’re going to be offensively ravenous at weird hours. So bring some snacks! You can’t go wrong with:
AT LEAST 2 different kinds of chips
Miso Soup Packets - just ask for hot water!
Coconut Water - or some other sports drink to in replenish your electrolytes
Note about snacks: I would stay away from any type of carbonated drink after a C Section, your tummy is going to hurt and there will be a lot of gas anyway, don't add to it with carbonated water or sodas.
GARBAGE BAG. Okay, I don’t know about you… but hospitals are gross. Pack a garbage bag and as you dirty up your clothes, shove them in the garbage bag and put it in the corner of the room. On discharge day, just take EVERYTHING you used/wore/didn’t wear and shove it in the garbage bag and put it in the laundry room right when you get home. Wash on hot, then sanitize, then steam sanitize, then wash again. LOL okay, one cycle is fine and I’m just being dramatic — but hospitals ARE gross.
Things I packed last time but I didn’t need:
A cute hospital gown. I wanted to get cute pictures of me and my spouse with a cute gown and our new addition, but that just didn’t happen. I brought it and it stayed in my bag. My intention was to change into it after I got out of surgery but I was cool staying in the hospital gown. Honestly, even if I did change into it – I would’ve bled all over it anyway. Sorry, TMI.
275649 Receiving Blankets. Okay, that’s an exaggeration but I totally overpacked on blankets with my 2nd kid. The hospital provides blankets for the newborn. Some parents don’t want their baby wrapped up in a generic hospital blanket. Some parents think the blankets are too gross and itchy for their newborn. Whatever the case is – be practical, don’t bring 5 blankets (whoops!) for your newborn. Maybe one blanket a day but even that may be pushing it!
Towel. I didn’t push for hours or get sweaty. So I didn’t shower! My partner could come and go as he pleased, so he went home to shower. I only stayed in the hospital for three days - admitted on a Thursday morning and went home Saturday afternoon - so I showered immediately when I came home. It’s because hospital gross me out (did I mention that already??? LOL)
Make Up. I didn’t wear make up because I didn’t want to bend over and wash my face in the sink. The intention of being done up was there, the execution of being done up was not there LOL
Breast Pump. If needed, the hospital will supply you with one during your stay there. Unless your babies are in the NICU, you probably won’t need to use it since hospitals now encourage nursing instead of pumping. If you don’t plan on nursing, then the hospital will provide little bottles of formula and nipples for your baby. The first few days is colostrum anyway and your boobs won’t get engorged until you get home. So you can suffer at home instead of the hospital lol
Newborn Diapers and Baby Wipes. The hospital will provide these!
Here is a lil thing you can copy and paste into your notes app so you can check off or delete as you pack:
Hospital Bag Checklist
FOR PERSON GIVING BIRTH:
2 High Rise Underwear
2 Nursing Bra/Nursing Tank
3 Pairs Fuzzy Socks
2 Sheet Mask
Velcro Abdominal Binder
FOR SUPPORT PERSON:
3 Comfy Outfits
Computer/Book/some sort of entertainment
Mittens - the ones that tie
Three Long Sleeve Onesies
Going Home Outfit
FOR THE ROOM:
Toiletries: toothbrush, toothpaste, face wash, lotion, chapstick, glasses, eye drops, brush, hair ties, hair claws, bobby pins
Popcorn - smartfood or angies boom chicka pop ftw!
At least 2 different types of chips
Miso Soup Packets
Coconut Water (or whatever type of sports drink to replenish electrolytes)
Packing a hospital bag is super exciting and somewhat stressful. You don't need to pack up your entire house! If you feel like you forgot something, don't be afraid to ask the hospital or if possible -- text a friend to drop it off and have your support person run downstairs to get it. Good luck and you're going to do GREAT!