Any clothing you pack, whether it’s a robe, a button-up pajama top, or an oversized hoodie, should open in the front if you intend to try breastfeeding and/or have skin-to-skin contact with your infant. Bring a wireless, ultra-stretchy nursing bra that is one size larger than your current cup size unless you choose to go bra-free.
When my husband and I were preparing for my first hospital delivery, he packed a wheeling suitcase that weighed more than our unborn child. In addition to a change of clothes and toiletries, he inexplicably brought four Civil War tomes, six Soylent meal replacement drinks, and a New York Times crossword book. As first-time parents, we had no idea how long labor would take and how much downtime we’d have, so we packed for every possibility.
What Should I Wear To Hospital When Giving Birth?
Clothing: A bathrobe, a nightgown or two, slippers, and socks. Hospitals and birth centers provide gowns and socks for you to use, but some women also bring their own. Choose a loose, comfortable gown that’s either sleeveless or has short, loose sleeves so that your blood pressure can be checked easily
While every labor is different, my husband didn’t have a chance to crack one book besides the crosswords, which we used as scratch paper to record the funniest things I said during labor. (We laughed in the moment, not just in hindsight—so no, it’s not that bad!) We also stayed at the hospital an extra few hours on our last day to enjoy a meal we didn’t have to cook. The salmon was our favorite; we didn’t drink a single Soylent.
How many outfits should I bring to the hospital for baby?
Pack two different outfits in different sizes because you don’t know how big or small your baby will be! Aim for one outfit in newborn size and one 0-3 months. Don’t forget hats and/or socks, if weather-appropriate. Your pediatrician’s contact information.
Packing Your Hospital Bag
On the packing front, I didn’t fare much better than my husband, in part because of dubious advice. My mother insisted that I bring a nightgown so that after giving delivery, I might feel a little sexy. I now understand that this is actually not possible. The first few nights after giving birth, you’ll sleep in disposable underwear filled with ice packs and the thickest pad in the world, which you’ll probably soak through several times, for two hours between feedings, if you’re lucky. My best recommendation is to aim for comfort since there is absolutely no way in hell that you will ever feel even remotely attractive.
To start, I’d advise against wearing constricting bottoms or any pants that didn’t fit during your final month of pregnancy.
What Should I Pack?
Expect everything you know about your body to feel out of balance due to hormone fluctuations: Your nipples may hurt, your breasts may swell, and you’ll probably perspire a lot. Although they won’t solve the problem, comfortable clothing will improve your mood.
Choose a dark color for your pajamas or other comfortable clothing to avoid worrying about unsightly leaks. (They do occur; after all, a woman giving birth vaginally should anticipate losing roughly one pint of blood during and after the procedure. 2)
Any clothing you pack, whether it’s a robe, a button-up pajama top, or an oversized hoodie, should open in the front if you intend to try breastfeeding and/or have skin-to-skin contact with your infant.
If you don’t mind wearing a bra, bring a really stretchy,
What I Wish I Brought
While you might not think ambiance matters—you’re in a hospital, after all!—I learned the hard way that there are two kinds of lighting in hospital rooms: Blinding surgical bulbs and no light at all. I’m a firm believer that light can affect your moods,3 so keeping things as pleasant and soothing as possible can only help you feel at ease, especially during those times when you can’t figure out why your new kid is crying.
My sister-in-law smartly packed a set of string lights in her hospital bag; it’s a tip I’d take the next time around since tiny bulbs are dim enough for you to rest but still bright enough for you to keep your eyes on your baby. I’ve also heard parents recommend battery-operated candles, which I’d have totally thrown in my bag if I’d happened to have them on hand.
If you’re typically sensitive to light when you sleep and want to throw an eye mask into your bag, go ahead. Just know that you’ll probably be so zonked that you won’t need it.
Packing for Your Baby
At the end of the day, you’ve been packing for yourself your entire life—you’ve got this. The toughest part of packing for the hospital is anticipating the needs of the little person you’ve yet to meet.
You won’t regret bringing a velcro swaddle since swaddling a baby in a regular blanket can be way harder than it looks—especially when you’re starved for sleep.
Most importantly, you’ll need an outfit for them to wear home. (Although I brought about 10 different options to the hospital, lest I get his size or style wrong, I can attest that you only really need one onesie and a hat, if you’d like.) Of course, as a first-time mom dressing her kid for his first trip outdoors, I ended up layering on several onesies and sticking him in my least-favorite hat after learning the cute one with the ears I’d brought was way too large. While the first photos I took of my son in our apartment aren’t exactly Instagram candy, they’re a reminder of just how clueless I was in the moment—and how far I’ve come since then.
Last tip: You won’t regret bringing a velcro swaddle since swaddling a baby in a regular blanket can be way harder than it looks—especially when you’re starved for sleep.
My Surprising Essential
If there’s one thing you remember to pack in your hospital bag, make sure it’s another bag—ideally a collapsible duffle, but a reusable grocery bag will do. Labor and recovery nurses are particularly generous with supplies like pads and the disposable underwear that every mother swears by. (I honestly would still be wearing them nearly two years postpartum had I taken more!) The last thing you’ll want to do after you leave the hospital is to scramble for sanitary or witch hazel pads, a squirt bottle, ice packs, or underwear that fits.
Since recovery time differs for everybody, pack supplies like you’ll be off your feet for a few weeks and fill your bag to the brim before you leave the hospital. My bathroom medicine cabinet still harbors half of the supplies I scored, but I have zero regrets (and feel uncharacteristically prepared for my next kid!).
A Few Other Essentials
While these items may seem basic, they bear repeating because they’re so important!
- Your birth plan
- Any hospital paperwork
- A carseat (that you know how to install!)
- Snacks and water
- Socks, booties, or slippers (for you and your little one)
What to wear after giving birth for your stomach
Elastic wraps. The best kind of postpartum wrap is made of soft, elastic fabric. It should be flexible enough that you can breathe easily and move and shift. It should be long enough to comfortably wrap around your hips and your abdomen. You can buy an elastic wrap or you can use a long piece of cloth.
The Bottom Line
There’s no harm in overpacking your hospital bag—just make sure whatever you bring plays a role in making you feel more comfortable. Anything that makes you feel a little less uncertain, and a little more in control of what’s bound to be a wild few days is well worth the schlep.