What I Packed in My Hospital Bag + What I *Actually* Used!

February 13, 2021

Wondering what to pack in the hospital bag for delivery? Here’s our complete hospital bag checklist of stuff you won’t want to forget, including the best hospital bag snacks, and the must-haves you haven’t even thought of.

I’ve finally finished off our complete hospital bag checklist of stuff you won’t want to forget including hospital items for baby, mom and dad. We were in the final stretch when I started writing this post, but if you saw our two latest Sunday Diaries (here and here), you’ll know that Miss Riley arrived a little earlier than planned. Ideally, you should have your bag ready to go by 36 weeks pregnant, just in case you go into labour before your due date. In my case, I hurriedly packed my hospital bag on my 37-week mark because we thought we would be induced that night. Out of all the hospital bag items we packed, we have some must-haves and some do-withouts for when you pack yours.

You Might Be Interested In: My Most Used Baby Products in The First Three Months

Hospital Bag Checklist Calgary

My Hospital, South Health Campus in Calgary SE

You should always check specifics for what to pack in your hospital bag with your own hospital because each facility is different. For instance, at South Health you deliver and recover in your own room (own bathroom including shower), your spouse can spend the night (there’s a little built in bed in the room for them), there’s usually no restrictions on visitors (pre-covid), and you’re given a menu to order room service any time you’re hungry (also, pre-covid).

In preparation for the labour, I did a prenatal class with two nurses from my hospital as well as a virtual tour of my hospital (South Health Campus) here. The nurses were able to provide us with a hospital bag checklist for our specific hospital, so my list is adaptation of what they suggested. For all other hospitals in Calgary, you can find virtual tours of all the other Calgary Maternity and Delivery Hospitals here.

My Hospital Bag Checklist For Mom (Me!)

1 – Nursing Tanks (or other breastfeeding-friendly tops)

I love these and I have all the colours and this one! These types of nursing tanks have a clip on the strap that, when undone, lets you fold down the top panel for easy nursing. These have a built-in bra so I actually wore it without a nursing bra. I didn’t use mine while I was in hospital (I stayed in my gown, but we left before the 24-hour mark). I did, however, wear one as a going home outfit and I’ve worn them everyday since and even after long I quit breastfeeding.

If you prefer something long-sleeved, mamas swear by these Henleys with easy boob access.

2 – Nursing Bra + Dark, Large Underwear

I didn’t need my nursing bra at all, but my boobs were still relatively small and my milk definitely had not come in. I ended up going with the Knix brand because of their super absorbent technology. Their pads are quick-drying, breathable and anti-microbial. I also bought some Knix Leakproof Pads to make any tank or top leakproof too!

Their Leakproof underwear and super stretch boyshort is also my go-to that I’ve used throughout my pregnancy, but also postpartum. Be sure to buy dark colours.

Tip: Use this link for $15 off your first purchase.

3 – Loose, Dark Joggers

Loose and dark – both requirements you need for your going home outfit. You could also do a loose dress, but I had Riley in winter and wanted to be warm and cosy. I originally ordered sone joggers from H&M but ended up sending them back because they were on the smaller side and not cosy at all. I found some better pairs at Costco with a drawstring and sized up.

Although I packed my Lululemon tights, and would have been able to fit into them, they are not ideal when you’re wearing big, bulky pads.

4 – Flip flops (and maybe slippers)

You’ll need them for the shower – either during labor or afterwards, to clean up. You might also need them to go home in if your feet are too swollen for closed shoes.

Many hospital bag checklists include slippers too. Although it would be nice, it’s an additional pair of shoes that you don’t really need.

5 – Long Cardigan / Robe

I’m not a robe person, but I live in long, cosy cardigans, so I packed that instead. I wore it over my hospital gown when I needed to be cosier or when we left the room to get food downstairs. I also used it for my going-home outfit over my nursing tank and joggers.

I love H&M long cardigans (like this one) and this one has a cute tie, too. Joe Fresh also has affordable, cosy options.

5 – Nipple Butter / Cream + Disposable Nursing Pads / Reusable Pads

Again, my milk hadn’t come in yet so I wasn’t leaking but I did start preemptively putting nipple butter on to try prevent cracked nipples. To be honest, I still got cracked nipples from a bad latch / tongue-tie, but some moms swear by it so I would still do it – it doesn’t hurt.

Buy the disposable nursing pads here. Buy the reusable nursing pads here.

5 – Your Own Pillow

If you’re pillow particular, bring your own. This was probably a luxury, non-necessity but I was so happy I brought mine even though there are plenty extras at the hospital.

If you bring your own pillow, remember to use a coloured or patterned pillowcase so they don’t get mixed up with the hospital pillows. I would also opt for a darker pillowcase cover or something you don’t mind getting ruined.

6 – Extra Long Phone Charger

You’ll want your phone to keep you distracted during labour, to contact friends and loved ones when baby arrives, and of course for tons of pictures. So, a charger is absolutely essential, and packing an extra-long one makes certain that your phone will always be charged and ready when you need it.

Buy this 10-foot long iPhone charger here.

7 – Laptop / Tablet + Charger + Netflix / Downloaded Movies or Series

Load up your smartphone or tablet with tunes and anything you might want to binge-watch on Netflix. It’ll help distract you during labour, or like me, while waiting for labour to start. If you aren’t being induced or getting an epidural, you might not even have time to watch anything, but it’s good to have as a back up anyway.

8 – Snacks

Hospital bag snacks were so important for me because I am gluten-intolerant and wasn’t sure how many options I would have at the hospital. Plus, you’re going to be starving after delivery! (You can’t eat once you’re in active labour). Also, with Covid precautions, they stopped offering the menu options and served only one option. The food wasn’t terrible, but after picking at the meal, I still needed more to eat.

RXbars; Sugar-free chocolate; Low-sugar gummies; GF cookies; Almond chocolate bark; and lots of KIND Nut bars.

9 – Pads + Diapers

The hospital will give you pads and mesh underwear (you can also buy the Frida mom ones) while you’re there. However, some moms swear by bringing their own protection to be more comfortable: specifically, adult diapers. Other moms bring along a well-fitting pair of high-waisted underwear (you probably call them granny panties) and their favourite brand of overnight absorbency pads.

10 – Lavender Essential Oil / Massage Oil

I didn’t think I would want this during labour but I packed it anyway. I was soooo glad I did.

We used this one from The Body Shop, but this one from Saje looks good too.

11 – Water Bottle

Although we weren’t allowed to bring this due to Covid restrictions, it was suggested that moms bring a water bottle under normal circumstances. In my case, I ended up asking for multiple plastic cups of iced water and apple juice which the nurse can get for you whenever you want.

12 – Toiletries + Extras

  • Toothpaste + Toothbrush
  • Deodorant
  • Face wipes
  • Face cream
  • Fragrance-free Body Wash (So baby can smell your scent)
  • Make-up (Optional)
  • Dry shampoo / Shampoo + Conditioner (Optional)
  • Hair Brush
  • Hair Ties

13 – Mom’s Documents + Black Pen

Although no one actually looked at my Healthcare card, we were told to make sure we had it along with a photo ID and a black pen, so pack it anyway.

  • Healthcare card
  • Photo ID (name should match Healthcare card)
  • A black pen

14 – Packing Cubes + Roller Carry-on Bag + Laundry Bag

Use packing cubes or ziplock bags to separate your hospital bag items into categories. This makes it easier for your partner or support person to find things when you need them. Our printable checklist lists the different categories we packed our items into.

We also used a small roller, carry-on bag to pack all the hospital bag items for myself and baby. On the one side I packed the baby’s things, and on the other side, I packed mine. Craig used a backpack for his things along with the electronics. A laundry bag is also a good idea for dirty clothes.

My Hospital Bag Checklist For Baby

Honestly, you really don’t need to bring much. The hospital does provide diapers (for you and babe!); wipes and swaddles for while you’re there.

1 – Car Seat

Don’t forget to make sure your car seat is ready to go and that you and your partner know how to use it before you go to the hospital. Here’s a video on how to fit your newborn into a car seat. We got the Uppababy Mesa and love that it fits perfectly into our stroller, the Uppababy Vista V2. It’s one of our most used baby items!

Note, if you’re inheriting a seat: Make sure it’s never been in a crash, and you have all the necessary parts. Any seat six years or older should be discarded.

2 – Baby Vaseline + Baby Wipes

Baby Vaseline is a mom-trick that I found out during our prenatal classes and an absolute necessity for the hospital bag. For the first few days, baby’s poop is tar-like and sticky (known as meconium). In order to make cleaning easier, you can put vaseline on your baby’s bottom to make wiping much easier. This “pre-poop lube” helps the meconium slide off with minimum elbow grease. It really is a game-changer!

I also packed our own baby wipes.

3 – Going Home Outfit For Baby (NB & 0-3 Zipper Onesie)

It’s hard to know how big your baby will be at birth, but in general, newborn size is appropriate for coming home from the hospital. That said, I think it’s a good idea to pack two outfits (you’ll want a backup in case), one in the newborn size and one in the 0 – 3 month size. We only dressed Riley in her outfit a few minutes before we left the hospital.

I also wouldn’t buy anything too bulky or fancy since it would be uncomfortable in the car seat and difficult to change into. I love these 2-packs of 2-way zipper onesies for easy dressing and diaper changing. It also removes the need for packing separate mittens and socks which honestly never stay on. We also love the Parade Organics brand, too.

4 – Baby Hat / Beanies

I loved these baby hats and they have rave reviews on Amazon. They fit Riley really well for a small newborn.

5 – Swaddles / Receiving Blankets (or thicker blanket in winter)

The hospital provides swaddles for baby while you’re in the room so ours stayed packed away the whole time. We did, however, use one out to cover Riley on the drive home. If you’re keen on taking cute photos in the hospital and you have a swaddle that you love, you could pack that too.

Option 1 | Option 2 | Option 3 | Option 4

6 – Extra Newborn Diapers

This is a ‘just incase’ packed item, because for the most part, you will only use what is given to you at the hospital. However, if you do stay longer due to complications or a c-section, you will need your own diapers to top up.

We order our diapers through Amazon’s subscribe and save option, which saves you 20%!

Hospital Bag Checklist For Dad (What To Pack For Him!)

South Health Campus allowed for one support person when I went in for induction at the end of January. Craig was my birth partner and he packed a few things in a small backpack:

  • Change of nice clothes for photos
  • Comfy lounging clothes
  • Deodorant/Toiletries
  • Toothbrush
  • Phone charger

Things You Don’t Need in Your Hospital Bag (Or Can Do Without)

  • A Nursing Pillow (the hospital has one)
  • A Birthing Ball (the hospital has one)
  • A Music speaker (once things got intense, music was the last thing I wanted)
  • A copy of your birth plan (you can tell your nurse, who will then let everyone know, but be prepared to deviate)

Personal Favourites

from the blog archives

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