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Pregnancy / Baby Question: What should I pack to go to the hospital?

(I do not know what happened but when I first published this post, the comments section disappeared completely from the page, so I had to re-publish it to restore the comments.

Sorry! I had no idea until Mel emailed me, as I was getting comments on other posts.

I was wondering why no one was commenting…)


Okay I need some help, suggestions.. what have you!

What should I pack to go to the hospital before delivering the baby?

I want to be ready for everything, but I am getting a lot of confusing tips from people (*cough* mom *cough*) telling me to pack toilet paper for instance. 😐

Here’s my list so far:


  • Cash
  • List of phone numbers / people to call (I do not use a cellphone … at all. I need paper for this.)
  • Address of the hospital and where to go (I forget stuff when I panic and am in pain)
  • Ontario Health card


  • Nursing pads for nipples
  • Maternity bras / Nursing tanks
  • Breast Pump
  • Lanolin (for nipples)


  • 2 changes of loose, comfortable clothes
  • 3 pairs of socks and a pair of slippers to walk the hospital halls
  • Old warm robe or sweater (just in case)
  • Maternity maxi pads
  • Hospital mesh panties (to hold up those maxi pads)
  • Maternity underwear
  • Lip Balm
  • Hand cream
  • Headband / Hair ties
  • Eyeglasses
  • Hairbrush
  • Toiletries (just like if I were to travel away for the weekend – deodorant, shampoo, etc)
  • Own bath towel


  • Pen and Paper
  • Digital camera, camera card, charger and battery
  • Entertainment like a Kobo Glo (for reading material) or an iPod for music


  • Swaddling blankets
  • Hat
  • Mitts
  • Onesies
  • Burp Cloths
  • Baby Diapers (*We have no choice but to buy disposables just for the hospital stay, as it is not practical to bring cloth diapers and to try and use / wash them there…)
  • Baby Toiletries: Emery boards for instance

Baby Car Seat (already installed in the car)

What am I missing?

What did you find helpful when you were in the hospital?


  • Cheryl

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  • Sonia

    Our hospital provided all the diapers. Maxi pads, I only got 1 package, but it was enough for the stay.

    Definitely keep a log of what time and how much the baby fed (I would put down R or L side or both) and times of diaper changes (they want to know if it was #1 or #2). Let each nurse on duty know you are keeping a log and show them where you are keeping it. That way they will not wake you up if you are napping. They come in and check on you quite frequently and once the nurses change shifts, let the next one know.

    I didn’t know this because no friends prior to us had kids (and we had no family with kids near us), but you do not need to change a diaper when there is only 1 pee in there. Wait until it’s relatively heavy before changing. We went through SO many diapers at the hospital because we would change our daughter after she did 1 pee. The nurse noticed and told us to wait until it was heavier before changing. 😉

    Get yourself a nursing pillow and bring it with you to the hospital!! The pillows there are FLAT and useless. You can use the nursing pillow for use as a pillow to sleep, for extra back support when you want to sit up and read, to nurse the baby once it’s arrived AND to place on the chair to sit down on (you will be pretty swollen down below) when you get stir crazy and want to get out of bed. Guests can use it too to help hold/prop baby up when they are visiting.

    Bring your choice of formula and a few sterilized bottles. Trust me when I say this. Even if you decide to 100% breastfeed, you just never know if/when you will need formula. If you do, you don’t want to be stuck using what the hospital has. I was dead set against feeding my babies formula but guess what? My milk didn’t come in until day 4 and she needed something to drink. She was trying to nurse ALL the time (and I was pumping after every feed – despite nothing coming out – to help stimulate milk production), but the colostrum just wasn’t enough and she had really, really bad jaundice. I was stuck at the hospital for 4 days for light therapy treatment for the baby because I was pig headed and didn’t want to give her formula during those first 4 days. The nurses were pressuring me to formula feed until my milk came in but the lactation consultant/doula that “trained” us in our prenatal classes had warned us the nurses would try this. So, I dutifully listened and stood my ground. When my milk finally came in, it still wasn’t enough and I ended up having to top her up after each breastfeeding with formula. I was stuck using what they had at the hospital while we were there. The damn stuff knocked her out cold for 8 hours!!! Some parents might think this is a good thing, but really it’s not. A breastfed baby should digest breastmilk and be up and hungry again every 2-3 hours. With baby knocked out cold for 8 hours, there was no demand made on my breasts so there was no supply! The pump (brought my own – and brought 1 set of spare parts – so you don’t have to wash/sterilize each and every time) became my best friend. Ah yes, bring your own microwavable steam sterilizer for bottles, pump parts, soothers, etc. The Avent one was awesome.

    Second delivery, I brought my own formula and despite my milk coming in on day 2, I still had to top my son off each feed and he still got slight jaundice, but not as badly as my daughter. No additional hospital stay required…phew! I used a formula that was easily digestible so no 8 hour knockout naps for him. He was up every 2-3 hours crying to be fed. 🙂

    So much more but too lazy to type. Call me.

  • Potato

    I set up an email listserv in advance. Too hectic those first few days/weeks to write to everyone (or even to CC them) who wants regular updates. Calls to the grandparents, and one email for everyone else.

    Snacks: they will feed you, but the hospital cafeteria may be closed at off hours. Do not eat right before delivery, but you may be famished right after. A water bottle is very handy: even if you just fill it from the tap, a bottle that closes tightly you can keep in bed with you vs reaching. Also, bring advil and a few prenatal vitamins. The hospital will likely provide, but just in case. Similarly, your choice of topical ointment (ozonol, polysporin, etc.)

    Figure out parking in advance. For example, daddy might need to buy a day or week pass rather than paying for each trip.

    Pillow(s), spare warm blanket: Even if you don’t want or need it, daddy likely will.

    Swaddler: if you can do it with a nursing blanket then you will do fine. Generally the nurses can help show you how. If not, you may want to bring a swaddler.

    Logs: the hospital/your midwife will log for you or ask you to log the first few days of baby’s life in exquisite detail, particularly feeding times/amounts and excretions. You may want to be ready with an excel template and printouts for when you get home, too.

    A box of kleenex or two.

    Books: bring (or load to your Kobo) your 1-2 most important reference materials (e.g. what to expect, a breastfeeding guide, birth companion’s guide) so you can check back when you lose your mind on something.

    Before: read about “the second night” and be prepared. Get as much sleep as possible, especially for daddy (that part may come naturally to you, or discomfort may make it impossible — but he’s going to be the one up all night the 2nd night when you can’t move and baby is screaming non-stop). Prepare and freeze ready-to-eat food. Prepare a stock email or even set up your autoresponder for people who ask “is there anything I can do?” in the first two weeks that says “yes, bring sandwiches.” You will not have time to cook, or likely even grocery shop for nearly a month. Get your support network on it (if any of them had kids somewhat recently they’ll know).

    I suggest you make a main bag and a backup bag: you want to be somewhat portable, and if all goes well it will only be 1-2 days in the hospital. Of that, much of it may be spent in a hospital gown, so you may not need more than 1 change of clothes. Remember to pack something that can cinch in: you’re going to be a bit smaller on the way out, but not immediately back to your old clothes. But if you’re there for longer, it might be good to have a backup bag in the car with your “maybe” items (and stuff for daddy).

    Other: entertainment is for pre-delivery only, so you may not need much. Afterwards you will have your hands full, or you will sleep, and that is all. If you want to bank cord blood you have to make that decision and the arrangements in advance. Come with your game plan and your birth partners. If you have a lot of family and friends in town, you may need to designate someone else to run interference and organize hospital visits.

    • save. spend. splurge.

      OH! I LOVE THIS IDEA! Will definitely set up a listserv.

      I will be careful not to eat before delivering unless I did it and then happened to go into labour. I also hear that breastfeeding makes you thirsty, so I have water on my list.

      *puts prenatals on the list*

      Okay. I will definitely get on that parking bit, as I think we will be there for 2 days.

      I have nursing blankets already, so I won’t be buying any swaddlers…

      Check on the baby logs — I’m making a note to keep track of that.

      I’ll also load up my Kobo.

      My partner will already be cooking for me. He does it normally so it won’t be any different. I will also have support at home (my mom) during the night.

      Okay, will make a note on the backup bag as well.

      Thank you so much!!

      This information / advice is gold.

    • MelD

      @Potato: I continue to be bemused!!
      Surely hospitals provide any kind of bedding? They offered me all sizes, shapes and styles… Another funny story – we went to hospital for my second birth, which was also overdue (much like the first), the evening before because they wanted to try a gentle inducing first. My husband was told he could go home and return the following morning but he didn’t want to – so they offered him a birthing trolley to sleep on while I got the whole big squishy down-comforted hospital bed with all the trimmings: he is 6’4″ and not exactly a beanpole and the gurney was only about 2′ wide, but he spent the night on it. The midwives ordered the regular meals for me and gave them to him because I wasn’t supposed to eat, and they kept making him tea and coffee, too! Big baby 2 was born the following afternoon…
      Baby 3 came quite quickly and was a late Friday evening water birth. We went home the following morning in time for our oldest to see her new sister before she went to school (in those days they had Saturday school!). My mom had come to look after the older girls while I had the third, and 8 am Saturday morning my dad turned up to pick here up – we were home again, after all…!! My husband had decided that instead of taking a week off work to help out, he would work 50% for two weeks, thinking my mom would be there. So Monday lunchtime I was in the kitchen making lunch for my family because of course hubbie’s 50% worked out at about 95%… fortunately I was pretty well!
      Because I came home very soon after Babies 2 & 3, a midwife came to see me daily to check on my wellbeing for a week or two, though they can come up to 28 days if necessary, covered by ordinary health insurance. With Baby 1 I had to stay in hospital for a week and was very glad of entertainment (books, in those days) because the babies all slept so much and even after a birth you don’t want to sleep all the time.
      In fact, the first couple of days your adrenalin can make you feel very lively – hence the family tea party my daughter came home to, 4 hours after giving birth to her 2nd baby LOL!! (After the first one, we called after a period of grace only for her to say they were just out taking a walk in the sunshine with the baby and the dogs!! This was 6 hrs after giving birth :))

  • MelD

    LOL I am reminded of a story when I had my first child and was not only new to motherhood but new to Switzerland. Once I was on the ward, they came round and asked if I wanted any tea – as a Brit, this would be normal, but when I said yes, they asked what kind – limeflower, rosehip or peppermint?! I was a little taken aback and said could I have coffee, when they stared at me and explained that the herbal teas were supplied in refillable flasks at intervals throughout the day and night and meant to increase our liquid intake while breastfeeding! I felt such an idiot 😉 I don’t think they do this any more (it’s all bottled water these days I suppose) and I read somewhere that peppermint tea is actually not good for breastfeeding but that is what I chose back then and as I mentioned, it didn’t have adverse effects! I still often laugh about this and Swiss friends think it’s hilarious – herbal teas are still very popular alternatives to coffee, rather than the black tea I usually drink.

  • MelD

    I had wanted to comment on the post about what to take to hospital because once again, I’m struck by the differences.
    For my babies’ births, I had a hospital gown (or not, in the water birth!) so my own things would not be spoilt, which is standard here. After the birth, once I was cleaned up (I emerged shiny clean from the water birth lol!) I could shower and wear my own night things. Anything else I or the baby needed was supplied by the hospital – pads, net “underwear”, cloths, wipes, nappies… you name it (and this is everywhere – I went to 3 different hospitals for my 3 girls due to moving home inbetween). The assumption was that I would breastfeed, which I did for 6mths for each baby (then they wanted real food!), and if I’d needed to pump, again it would be sterilised hospital equipment – as it happened, after my first birth, I had more than enough milk and another mom didn’t have enough and so I did pump for a couple of days, which benefitted both of us! (Perhaps you and your culture consider that gross (I’m not sure what is considered acceptable these days, everyone seems so prudish, espec
    ially in north America!) but it’s been done to help babies survive for millenia…)
    For the first birth I took two nightgowns and my personal toiletries and an outfit for the baby to come home in; here, babies wear cute onesies and hand-knitted bootees owned and laundered by the hospital as long as they’re there, they are equipped with everything you might need (they knit the bootees in the course of long night shifts..!). With our 2nd and 3rd babies I was only there briefly overnight, so needed even less… of course you can take music or essential oils etc. as you feel the need.
    My mind is still boggling at all that seems standard these days. I just used easily laundered towels for pretty much everything and could continue to use them till they wore out 15 years later, nothing “baby-specific”!

    • save. spend. splurge.

      @MelD: Okay, I am told I would be given a hospital gown but I am assuming I am not to wear this bloody / soiled hospital gown the whole time, so I will definitely need night things as well.

      I am told I would not get many pads or net underwear, cloths wipes or nappies. They give you a bit but then you’re on your own to supply the rest for the entire time.

      I would definitely be breastfeeding but again, I am also told I need to bring my own pump if I want to pump extra to get the milk flowing, which I think they will not provide in the hospital.

      I do not think it is gross at all to share milk! A mother’s milk is universal in my opinion and if it is good for your baby, it is good for someone else’s baby. Why waste it? 🙂

      Wow.. your hospital even laundered your items!? This does not happen here.

      We also have towels that are not baby-specific, as in large bath towels we assume the baby will use as he gets older (it’s a boy! 😀 We’re naming him Alex), same with the bed.

      I don’t want to buy baby-sized anything, so everything we bought is for life, including the bed which is a cotton futon for the floor (what we also sleep on).

      • MelD

        @save. spend. splurge.: Thanks for sorting this out!
        Despite some small grumbles I am increasingly appreciating how well provided for we are in Switzerland…!! Thanks to the net, it’s easier to make comparisons and it seems we are especially lucky…

        Wishing you all the very best for the remaining weeks – how exciting to know so much in advance and prepare for your “real” person!! Look forward to more baby news LOL

  • maz

    I was trying to leave a comment on your post but somehow it doesn’t seem to work.
    I just wanted to say this: please do research other forms of painkiller during labour.
    Not that I am against epidural but here’s the thing:
    ( I’ve had 3 kids ):
    first baby: – when I asked for the epidural ( after over 12 hours labour, I was told that no one could attend to my bed as they had 2 emergency C-sections to perform at the same time ( no surgeon / anesthesist were available )
    second baby: my baby was sleeping. It might sounds like a joke but it is not: if your baby is sleeping, they don’t give you epidural ( or any kind of drugs for that matter as it could lower the heart rate of the baby ) so once again, no epidural ( only gas allowed )
    third baby : water broke at midnight / by 3.30 PM (not AM )I asked for drugs (epidural, anything ) but was told that the baby would be coming out soon so epidural was out of the question and the other drugs might not work quickly enough… the baby came out at 7.15 pm!!!
    I don’t know if it’s just me being really really unlucky but as much as I wanted drugs (esp the epidural ) during labour, I never managed to get it. So, do yourself a favour & just ask for ALL the other type of painkillers that could help you during labour ( & I’ll pray for you that your baby won’t be sleeping lol ).
    Take care.

  • maz

    Btw, emery boards are not good for babies because their nails are SOFT. Really soft. Nail clippers are a much better choice until they are about a year old.

  • maz

    Hi there,
    for the baby: Pjs, vests, diapers ( I don’t know about Canada, here, they certainly don’t supply diapers ), wipes ( or whatever you are using, such as cotton wool ), towel ( for you & the baby ), a couple of blankets for the baby ( hat are not usually needed within the hospital but yeah, you’ll need one when you take the baby home ), jacket/all-in-one coat ( or whatever you intend to put on your baby when you leave the hospital ). Bring a couple of books as well ( or your e-reader ) just in case. Babies usually sleep a lot ( some don’t, obviously ) & you don’t want to stare at the hospital walls for hours between visits. Bring some snacks as well & maybe a water bottle ( I know that hospital supply water but when you breastfeed, I find it easier to drink from a bottle – Breastfeeding makes you really thirsty ).

    • save. spend. splurge.

      @maz: Thank you for all the notes! I am updating my list as we speak.

      I did not think about the water bottle part. I will be sure to keep that in mind.. I had no idea breastfeeding would make you thirsty.

      In Canada, I have no idea what they are providing. I am going on a tour but I want to be prepared with these kinds of questions (diapers, etc) so that I am not sending anyone to the pharmacy in a panic to buy diapers!!

  • R

    Hospitals usually supply the diapers so leave yours home and use theirs! Babies don’t require much at that stage. I try to pack light since I’m neurotic about keeping track of everything so I don’t loose it. Baby needs a couple onesies, hat, blankets and car seat. You don’t need emery boards, or toiletries for the baby. The hospital staff will usually even help you wash them.

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