Hospital Bag Checklist: What You Really DON’T Need to Pack

Once you’re in the third trimester of pregnancy, and your due date is starting to actually feel close, you might start wondering what to pack in your hospital bag- a bag out of which you are going to live your life for the next few days. And trust me, that’s when things get REAL!

When you’re a first time mom, figuring out what you need to bring to the hospital can be really confusing. Obviously, you have no idea what to expect, which means you’ll either not bring enough, or you’ll bring way too much. And if you google it, the Internet is chock-full of ideas & checklists for you. It’s natural to want to bring everything you need to make sure you’ll be as comfortable as possible during your stay. So, in the name of being prepared, it’s very easy to over pack and bring a ton of unnecessary things with you.

Before I became a mom, a friend’s hilarious account of her hospital bag checklist was indeed a great learning experience for me. She treated the trip to the hospital like a vacation and packed a lot of things that she didn’t really need. In fact, the luggage became a nuisance when it came time to leave. Extra bags not only meant more effort & time repacking everything but also implied extra trips to the car for her husband!

So today I’m actually going to tell you what you DO NOT need to pack in your hospital bag. There are a few things that you really do not need to bother with and if you do, you’ll just be wasting space in your bag. So here’s my list of items NOT to pack in your hospital bag for your maternity stay in the hospital.

  1. Underwear

Most of the hospitals nowadays, especially in the private sector provide these amazing mesh disposable underwear for you to wear after birth which is perfect because one, they’re stretchy as heck which means they’re super comfy, and two, since you’re going to be bleeding after birth you won’t care if you get blood all over those things. You can just throw them away and put on a new pair.

  1. Clothes /Robes/Gown for the hospital stay

I thought I’d be changing into my own things during my hospital stay, but I didn’t change out of the hospital gown until 5 minutes before I went home. They give you as many clean gowns as you want, so you don’t need your own. I found that wearing hospital gowns was the most practical option while in the hospital. Pay attention to the cleanliness of your gowns and bedsheets to avoid picking up an infection.

  1. Feminine Pads

Oh, don’t get me wrong, you’ll need pads. But you’ll need the mother of all pads and hospital provides all you could need or want. As a first time mom you might automatically think you need to pack some pads to soak up all that blood. Well guess what? The hospital gives you these giant pads that are the most amazing thing ever for after birth. Trust me, you’ll need the biggest pads you can get, and they have them already there for you. You can also take a bunch when you leave, so take as many as you can because you’ll need them for a few weeks.

  1. Nursing Pads, Creams, And Pumps

First things first- you’re not likely to leak anything in the first 2 days since your body is still producing more colostrum than milk. So you would certainly not need nursing pads or nipple shields. Should you need extra nursing supplies like nipple crack cream, most hospitals have it all  including breast pumps for rent and a lactation consultant who will show you how to use them.

Psst…You might just receive a few free samples at the hospital!

  1. Too Many Snacks

Gone are the days when hospital food would actually taste like…errr… food! With customized meal plans curated with expert advice of nutritionists, your hospital would be able to offer the most healthy food options. Besides this, my hospital offered a free, fully furnished refrigerator for family- with juice, sodas, crackers, and energy bars. There are also food courts, coffee shacks in the hospitals nowadays.

  1. Special Lotions And Toiletries For Mom

New babies are faced with sensory overload.  It’s best for nursing if they smell YOU, not artificial scents. So you must give it a miss! Moreover, you would find the basics being stocked in your room/connected bathroom.

  1. Diapering Products

Your hospital or birthing center should have you covered on this one. The hospital will have wipes, diapers, and even diaper cream for you if you need it. Don’t waste space in your bag for stuff like that. Save some of yours for once you get home and have to change 10 diapers a day. That’s when the real fun and expense starts.

Pssst…. under the baby bassinet there will be drawers filled with diapers and wipes. Before you leave the hospital take EVERYTHING in those drawers. Who wants to miss out on free diapers?

  1. A million baby outfits

I realize you’ve been counting down the days until you can dress your little one in that adorable onesie you received at your baby shower, but odds are he or she will be spending most of their time during your stay wearing just a diaper and a swaddle blanket provided by the hospital. You can definitely carry mittens & caps. I packed a super cute going home outfit and that was just what we needed!

  1. Baby toys

I hate to break this to you, but newborns pretty much just eat, sleep, cry, poop, repeat. They can barely see their own hand at this stage, so you definitely don’t need to bring along your Sophie la Giraffe or your copy of Goodnight Moon. I promise they will be perfectly entertained by your voice & smell. Ditch the toys and instead stay alert to any danger signs of infection or illness in your newborn.

  1. Entertainment

So, I know you’re probably thinking you’ll need to pack a few books, magazines, movies to occupy all that down time when you’re in the hospital, right? Well, let me clue you in on something- there is no down time. Okay, so technically there is, but when you do have a few minutes when you’re not taking care of your new baby, you should be SLEEPING. You will be so tired  you’ll need all the rest you can get to recover from your baby delivery. In any case most private hospitals now offer free wi-fi services, so your good buddy a.k.a smartphone would be just enough to keep you entertained.

Nowadays the trend is that the hospital or birthing center you deliver in will provide a limited list of necessities you’ll need during labor and after birth, so you’ll only need to pack some essentials to help you feel comfortable and prepared after giving birth. Perhaps that’s the difference that exists in terms quality of care and service standards that vary amongst the several hospitals.

As a first-time mom I would suggest that if you need really to follow a checklist, follow the one about finding the best hospital that would cater to your needs, dignity and expectations. And with the plethora of hospitals mushrooming around, your being anxious & over-whelmed about quality of care, facilities and promises is very natural. But with the help of online communities like Together for Her, you can make an informed decision keeping your expectations & needs on top of priorities.

Together for Her has created a number of resources for pregnant women to help them access the best care. Together comes as a part of a push for honest parenting, as a platform for mothers speaking openly about how their experience with healthcare providers has been.

To learn more about Together, click here.

Go Mommy!

Roopika Sareen is a mom, a banker and a parenting blogger who loves sharing her experiences & learnings as a mom of twins. She is interested in exploring & bridging the gap between the notion of the ‘Ideal Worker’ and the ‘Ideal mother’ and advocating for positive changes in today’s parenting style. You can find her at ‘Go Mommy’

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