When you're expecting a baby—especially your first baby—it’s easy to overpack your hospital bag. You're so excited (and anxious) about giving birth, that you feel the need to include everything.
I remember when my daughter was born, I had no idea what I really needed and what I could leave at home. I packed just about everything. But after looking back on the four days I spent in the hospital, here are five items that I consider must-haves.
1. Stretchy briefs
Not the most flattering and attractive panties (then again, who cares), a nice pair of stretchy briefs (granny panties) will become your hospital best friend.
They’re perfect because they give you a lot of coverage and support, but are also very comfortable for postpartum purposes. And in the days after giving birth, you will realize that comfort really is the name of the game. Plus, these kinds of briefs are, as the name implies, stretchy, so they’ll fit a postbaby body with ease—just remember to size up from what you’d normally wear.
2. Nursing bra/nursing pads
If you plan to breastfeed, you're probably going to want to pack a nursing bra—it will give you lots of support and help make you more comfortable.
Even if you plan on formula feeding, you’ll still need nursing pads (just get a small box) to insert into your bra (I recommend a sports bra) to conceal any leaks since your milk will still come in.
3. One outfit for baby
The keyword here is one.
I get it—it’s easy to get carried away. But your baby will be swaddled up the whole time while in the hospital, so you really won't get to show him or her off with all those adorable outfits.
I recommend just bringing a onesie and an adorable outfit that is soft and comfortable when you debut your little one to the world. A hat is also recommended to keep them warm in winter months or shielded from the sun in the summer.
Speaking of swaddles, you may want to toss one into your bag as part of the baby "outfit.” Your hospital will have a basic swaddle (more like a simple towel) for you to use, but I find the more modern ones work a lot better. You can check out my guide here to learn more.
4. An electronic device
You may be in the hospital for a few days, especially if you’ve had a c-section. And it can get pretty boring lying around all day since your baby will be sleeping most of the time.
I found it really helpful to have my laptop with me in between the times I rested. I even got a jumpstart on uploading all of the pictures I took. A Kindle/iPad is also nice, allowing you a chance to do catch up on some reading or watch episodes of your favorite shows in between visits from guests.
I remember everyone telling me to leave my toiletries at home and that the hospital would provide them for me. But to me, having my own stuff brought me great comfort and made me not only look better but feel better. I had plenty of time to shower, do my hair and put on some makeup. I was glad I brought my everyday items because I feel that I looked nice in pictures and I felt much prettier than if I wore nothing at all.
I did pack some other essential items like button down pajamas, slippers, a robe, a cell phone charger and a camera, but the five things above really put me at ease and helped me get through my days in the hospital.
Plus, looking back, I feel that I really needed them above anything else.
So if you're due soon and planning on packing your hospital bag, consider bringing these items and keeping the rest of your bag light and filled with only some basic necessities.
Kate Trout is the mommy blogger behind Maternity Glow. She’s a coffee addict, wine drinker, cheese lover, and is kind of obsessed with the new show Odd Mom Out. Oh, and she’s also Mom to the two cutest little kids. You can find her on Twitter @maternityglow.