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What to Pack in a Healthy Hospital Bag

by Arielle J on February 21, 2017

{Photo by Robert Fitch Photography}

I’m 39 weeks pregnant this week and officially in nesting mode. 

I’ve been getting tons of recommendations from friends, family and my doula, Rachel Meakins of Zen Mama NYC on what to bring to the hospital. So I’ve gathered all of the lists and healthified them, too so I feel prepared and my healthiest during labor and after (and so you can, too!)

Here is what I’m packing in my healthy Be Well with Arielle hospital bag:

For the Mama

lip moisturizer: I love this one.
toothbrushes: bringing three of these color coded ones (one for me, my husband and doula).  

tongue scraper: this tongue scraper is an everyday self-care staple of mine so I actually never travel without it. Makes me feel more fresh in an instant.  If you’re curious, more on why I use one here.
toothpaste: I prefer all natural.
face wash: I love this one. I’m also obsessed with this GOOP facial cleanser.  It’s definitely pricey, but it’s so creamy and luxurious and quite a treat. 

moisturizer: My skin tends to be on the dry side, so I use a mix of this nourishing facial oil plus this moisturizer under my makeup. I also love this moisturizer. 
night cream: I use this nourishing facial oil.
makeup: A must-have for me! I rarely leave the house without this lipgloss .
Q-tips: always a necessity! I bring along this little container to store them.
deodorant: I like this one. 
body wash: there’s nothing worse than drying body soap (or the one they supply in the hospital). (Update: I was released from the hospital 24 hours after I gave birth so I didn’t even take a shower until I got home)
body cream: I use this one after I take a shower.
belly cream: I’ve been using this belly butter all throughout pregnancy (usually apply it at night and regular moisturizer during the day) and will continue using it post-pregnancy. It smells so fresh and it feels really creamy and buttery.

hair clips and bands: a necessity during labor. I love these clips and these bands.
face mist: Just in case I need to freshen up and can’t get to the bathroom to wash up, this may come in handy. This toner doubles as a mist smells sweet and feminine. (Update: I didn’t end up using this)
laundry bag: to keep dirty hospital clothes separate from hygienic baby stuff! (Update: I didn’t end up using this. I ended up washing literally everything I brought back home anyway)
phone charger: a necessity.
nipple cream: Some people swear by olive oil and coconut oil but my breastfeeding friends swear by this one. Bringing for my first few hours of breastfeeding! (Update: I didn’t end up using this at the hospital, but wish I had. Breastfeeding hurt me A LOT those first couple of days and the nipple butter definitely helps soothe the nipple and decrease the pain. I suggest buying two (one to keep on your bedside stand and the other to keep in a place where you normally breastfeed). I loved using it. PS read my breastfeeding tips here.
pillow with pillow case: I’m very sensitive to fabric so bringing my own of both. 
slippers: my mom wore feather ones to my birth, so I’m planning to wear fab ones, too!
flip flops: for shower 
warm socks (The ones they give at the hospital aren’t the most comfy)
compression stockings: my feet haven’t swelled at all throughout pregnancy yet, but I’ve heard that they can post-pregnancy, so I’m bringing these compression stockings. (Update: I didn’t end up using these as my feet didn’t swell at all)

swimsuit: I’m planning on birthing in a birthing center, and there is a tub, so bringing one. (Update: I only wore the bikini top but I’m so happy I brought it)

pajamas: bringing a nursing nightgown. (Update: I ended up wearing the hospital gown, but I would bring one just in case you prefer to wear your own clothes)

robe: (Update: I never ended up using this, but it is nice to wear your own clothes, especially when people visit)
going home outfit: something comfy and cozy and that still that fits a belly. I’m obsessed with this top. I wore it home from the hospital with a sweatshirt over. I’ve been wearing the short-sleeve and long-sleeve versions throughout pregnancy and now they double as nursing tops.

nursing bra: I love this bra (I’ve been wearing it as a sports bra during pregnancy). I also like this bra from Bravado super comfy. 

nursing tank: I’m also bringing along my fave nursing tank from Boob Designs. I’ve been wearing it all throughout pregnancy – underneath sweaters and as a workout top!

larger underwear: if you have a natural birth, you’ll probably bleed for a couple of weeks post birth. The hospital will provide you with disposable underwear/shorts (and pads) and you can certainly take some home with you, too, but after a few days, I felt like I needed to wear something a little nicer. I ended up getting colorful cotton underwear and bootie shorts from Victorias Secret. I would recommend going up a size because you need to fit thick pads with them. You don’t necessarily need these at the hospital, but I would recommend having a few on hand for when you come home. See padsicles below.

breast feeding pillow: a lactation specialist encouraged me to bring a breast feeding pillow to hospital. My friend gave me hers, so I bought this soft breast feeding pillow cover to put over. (Update: the lactation consultants recommended this one, instead. It was literally my favorite thing when I got home from the hospital. After a few weeks, I didn’t need it as much but it was SO helpful the first few weeks of breastfeeding)

hands free breast pump bra: I plan on breast feeding exclusively at the hospital, but in the case that the baby and I have any difficulty at the hospital (or if you are going to have twins and may not be able to exclusively feed both, having a pump and a pumping bra on hand may be smart. (update: I didn’t pump at the hospital, but this was a necessity once when I got home!)

breastfeeding relief packs: These slip into your bra and delivers moist heat or cooling relief. They’re used to increase milk supply and improve let down, nipple pain, mastitis, clogged ducts, engorgement and general discomfort.  (Update: I didn’t end up using these at the hospital because my breasts weren’t engorged yet but they were SO helpful when I got home and my milk supply started to come in.  They were so soothing. I would definitely suggest you get for when you get home). See here for breastfeeding tips.

mom bottom washer: Update: if you plan to have a vaginal birth, I highly recommend bringing this with you or at least having for when you get home. Since you will most likely be bleeding a lot post-labor, it’s recommended that you clean your vagina and bottom by spraying yourself with water, instead of wiping. The hospital will provide you with clear bottles but this one is much easier to use and even more effective. 

blanket: for naps and in case I get cold. (Update: I did use and it was so nice to not have to use a hospital blanket!)
music:  Lee, my husband, is in charge of the labor playlist and we’re going to bring along a portable speaker. (Update: We did use the speaker and it was GREAT to have during labor! P.S This white noise machine that I use for my baby doubles as a speaker)
coconut oil: Great as moisturizer for baby and me, and nipple cream…and I’ve heard can be used during the pushing process too! I prefer not smelling like the tropics, so I chose this good quality aroma-free coconut oil.  (Update: I didn’t use it during labor – my midwife ended up using her own goopy stuff)
aromatherapy: I’m not sure what I’ll need or want during labor, so I’m bringing a whole array of scents with me – eucalyptuslemon and spearmint, which are energizing and anti-nausea, and geranium, rose and lavender which are more calming and soothing.  (Update: I didn’t end up using these – totally forgot when I was in labor!)
essential oil diffuser: I use this one at home to put the aromatherapy in. (Update: I didn’t use this. Would’ve been nice, but it wasn’t necessary at the time)

– water bottle: I love this water bottle from SOMA. It’s not that big, but it says “breathe” in pretty writing.  (Update: I ended up using the hospital water bottle with a straw. It held a lot of water and was easy to use!)
straws: My doula, Rachel, recommends flexible straws, as they are easy to sip at in any position so I ordered these BPA-free, flexible straws.  (Update: I ended up using the hospital water bottle with a straw. It held a lot of water and was easy to use but still may be nice to have your own straws)
birthing ball and pump: Bringing my own birthing ball (and pump) just in case other women are using them! I got the medium size – 65cm.  (Update: Thank goodness I brought this! This came in super handy for most of my labor at home and when I got to the hospital. Don’t forget the pump, or bring it already inflated)
battery-operated candles: I’m bringing along some battery operated candles to create a calm environment. (Update: We didn’t end up using, but would’ve been nice!)
personal fan: my sister said  a portable fan during labor was amazingly helpful, and also post-pregnancy when she had night sweats. (Update: This is so helpful! The night after I gave birth, through the first week postpartum, I SOAKED through my pajamas. Having the fan definitely helped cool me down.)
padsicles: the hospital provides you with some ice packs, but I want the cleanest of ingredients on my vagina post-birth, so I decided to make my own. Made them with all natural pads, witch hazel (alcohol-free, unscented), aloe (paraben and dye-free), coconut oil (aroma-free) and lavender, wrapped them up and put them in freezer bags and freeze. (Update: I froze them and brought them to the hospital, but didn’t end up using them. They were super helpful when I got home, though)
reading material: I’m bringing my kindle (and will make sure it’s fully charged) (Update: We didn’t end up reading at all. I was in active labor once I got the hospital and once I gave birth it was all about the baby. But I would recommend bringing it just in case you have a lot of down time)
insulated cooler bag: to keep broths and drinks and popsicles cold on way to hospital and for the placenta woman to use. (Update: I didn’t end up drinking any bone broth or eating any popsicles at the hospital, but if you do plan on having your placenta made into placenta pills, bring an insulated cooler bag and a few freezer bags so whoever is encapsulating them can have a place to store it in the meantime. PS I used this placenta woman and she was great. )
medications: I’ve been taking thyroid medication throughout pregnancy so will pack a few pills with me. (Update: if you take medication, don’t just bring the pills. Bring the prescription container also because the hospital may need to see it)
vitamins: Going to pack some liver pills and vitamin D3/k2, which my acupuncturist said is key post-pregnancy. I would recommend asking your practitioners what supplements are right for you. (Update: I didn’t end up taking any vitamins post birth. I forgot! But, if you’re planning on having a natural birth, I found this  to be really helpful for cramps. I didn’t end up taking any tylenol or motrin after so I think it definitely helped with postpartum pain. I only took it the first two days post-birth. When I got home, I took my placenta pills and these supplements.)
jewelry: I’m going to leave my diamond engagement ring at home, but I’m definitely bringing my i love me ring. I made it! It’s stamped inside with “i love me” as a reminder to be calm, confident and to love myself, first. Perfect for labor! 

photo ID and photocopy of insurance card and ID: my hospital requested this
hospital paperwork any other printouts that your hospital/Ob GYN/Midwife instructed you to bring
birth preference plan

Snacks and Drinks:
bone broth: some hospitals only allow you to eat ice chips, but my midwife allows us to drink bone broths and anything thats clear. I tend to get low blood sugar, so intaking protein-rich and electrolyte-rich substances is super helpful for me. Either bringing my home-made chicken soup.  Or, bringing this one that can be purchased online from this brand. (Update: I didn’t end up drinking any bone broth at the hospital, but I drank it at home during my labor and I think it definitely helped with my recovery and milk supply)

electrolyte water: I’m not a fan of vitamin-enhanced waters or electrolyte drinks that are made with food coloring and white sugar or sugar altertives, so I prefer these all-natural sports drinks  made with fruit concentrates and sea salt. (Update: I’m so happy that I had a few of these bottles on hand during labor. My midwife recommended that I drink after every contraction, so this helped to replenish me and boost my energy)
coconut water: high in electrolytes and thirst quenching, but apparently not high enough in calories, so my midwife recommends electrolyte water, too. (Update: I didn’t end up drinking any coconut water but happy I had some on hand)
almond butter packets: If I’m able to squeeze into my mouth, figured it’s a good thing to pack for protein! I like this maple-flavored almond butter. (Update: I didn’t end up eating this)
raw honey packets: my midwife recommended that I bring honey to give a burst of energy, so I ordered these convenient packets of raw manuka honey. (Update: I didn’t end up using this but was happy I had them just in case)
collagen powder: I’ve been taking this protein powder all throughout my pregnancy as a protein supplement and now it’s come in convenient one-serving travel packs. Each pack contains 9 grams of protein so I figured that if I need a dose of energy from protein, this would be a great source and it’s easy to just sprinkle into a drink. (Update: I didn’t end up using this but was a great option to have)

food/snacks: Update: I would highly suggest bringing some food and snacks with you to eat after you give birth, especially if you know you won’t eat the hospital food. Most hospital rooms have mini fridges, or a common fridge to use. I live in NYC so it’s easy to order in, but having some food on hand to eat would’ve been helpful. I would suggest: hard boiled eggs, fresh fruit and some protein bars

For the Baby
swaddles: I may as well bring the velcro swaddles with me to the hospital and I’m pre-washing with this baby-friendly detergent and then putting in a plastic baggie to keep them clean. (Update: I didn’t end up using this but probably should have because I had the nurse come in every 5 minutes to fix the hospital swaddle! I recommend these swaddles. I used them until Gemma was 3 months old)
healthy wipes: I’ve heard it’s best to wipe a newborn babies tush with plain old organic cotton ball and filtered water. My mama friends swear by “water wipes” especially in the first few weeks of birth, so will be packing these chemical-free wipes. (Update: I’m so happy that I brought them because the hospital wipes have chemicals in them. Now, I use these wipes because they’re extra moist.)

diapers: Using an all natural variety like these diapers may not have cute designs like leopard or flamingos, but it hopefully will let the baby’s tush breathe better and prevent diaper rash! (Update: I ended up using the hospitals diapers but I loved bambo nature because they’re smaller than other diapers. I also LOVE these all natural diapers.

baby soap: I’ll most likely bring this one. (Update: I didn’t end up needing the soap because I didn’t bathe the baby at the hospital. You’re not supposed to give them a bath until their umbilical cord falls off a few days/weeks after baby is born so I don’t think it’s necessary to shlep your own soap)
organic baby formula: As mentioned above, I plan on breastfeeding exclusively, but in the case that the baby and I have any difficulty, I feel at east having a pump, pumping bra (and formula) on hand. I ordered this organic baby formula, which was recommended by my acupuncturist, Aimee Raupp and apparently the best quality. (Update: I didn’t end up needing this, as I was able to breastfeed right away but having formula with me made me feel at ease)
car seat: I have this one. Most hospitals won’t let you leave without one. Someone recommended to make sure to check the expiration date hasn’t expired if you’re getting it as a hand-me-down. (Update: Gemma actually has been sitting in this in her stroller instead of a bassinet since birth. 
– baby hat
– baby socks
– baby mittens
– baby blanket
– going home outfit for baby

For the Dad
– flip flops for shower
– pillow and pillowcase
– underwear
– socks
– swimsuit
snacks: I packed him kale chips, protein bars and beef jerky.
– cash
– phone charger
– ID, insurance card
– kindle

Please note – this hospital list includes personal suggestions for my labor but I hope that it’s helpful for you, too! Lots of love from my belly to your belly and wishing you an easy pregnancy and an sweet labor.

Want to know my favorite maternity clothes for every trimester? Check it out here.

Here are my breastfeeding tips.

be prepared. be confident. be empowered.

be well,


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