Our Hospital Bag Checklist

Beach maternity shoot

So when I posed the Q of doing a hospital bag post either before or after birth (thinking that most people would be into a post-birth hospital bag checklist so you know exactly what I actually used) I was surprised to get DM’s flooding in for a third option—both! And it makes sense because what I’m packing for right now is (hopefully) a pretty straightforward birth, with pieces that are geared towards a low-intervention water birth…but as we all know if we’ve read birth stories (and God knows I’ve read a gazillion ones [though I’m limiting myself to positive ones these days to get into the right headspace!]), it’s not uncommon for a birth plan to go sideways so even if my post-birth list looks very different, knowing what we went in with beforehand might still be valuable! 

Ocean maternity shoot

To that end and slightly off topic from a hospital bag checklist, I did want to point out that I don’t have a birth plan…I have a preference right now for a largely unmedicated water birth, but I have every other possibility outlined in my little (i.e. 3-page) birth preferences doc & have walked through it all with Matt down to the last detail! I’m not at all opposed to pain relief if it comes to a point where it would benefit me, so I feel like I’m pretty at peace with my preference not working out if it doesn’t but it’s nice to have a goal in mind while accounting for all other possibilities. Whether it’s mapping out how I’d like things to go if I need a C-section or an induction, if baby is posterior or if I’m just plain not coping well/having a way longer labour than expected and really need to rest, I feel really good about having a clear sense of how I’d ideally like option a, b, c, d, e, f and beyond to go. It’s a tactic I learned during my hypnobirthing course and it’s really made me feel positive & optimistic to think about all potential scenarios, and to also kind of instil some early self-compassion in myself so that I don’t feel shitty about however things end up.

It’s funny because at the beginning of my pregnancy I kept “joking” that I just wanted to black out the whole experience and deliberately not learn that much (literally I’d read about twilight sleep from like the ’50s and thought that sounded pretty great), but I’m really happy I changed my mind and decided to inform, educate & train myself for all of this as it has actually made me feel way less scared for the whole experience, & it’s helped so, so much as far as just planning everything, from potential postpartum care (we have so many stairs that if I have any significant tearing or need a C-section or anything, we have some Plan B’s as far as hospital discharge) to mapping out our hospital bag!

Speaking of which, that spiel aside, here’s everything I have packed so far!

For the birth

  • TENS machine
  • Flameless (battery-operated) candles
  • Fairy lights
  • Bluetooth portable speaker
  • Camera + memory cards
  • Extra long charging cables
  • Portable chargers
  • A little bottle of Stress Release by Saje (you can’t use aromatherapy [like a room spray or diffuser] at BC Women’s because of allergy concerns, but we were told if it’s sealed you can wave it under the mum’s nose quickly)
  • Lots of snacks: coconut water, crackers, dried fruit + nuts, dark chocolate, etc
  • Affirmation cards (made them myself…mine aren’t very woo-woo, they’re more just like “This is temporary” “You are strong & baby is strong” “Each contraction brings me closer to baby” i.e. pretty straightforward but I think effective for me!)
  • A few crystals (because at the end of the day, I am a bit of a hippie after all)
  • A few copies of our Birth Preferences doc
  • Online but a shared Google Drive Folder with a special copy of our birth preferences for Matt (with details like the unlock code for my phone, reminders of the app [Freya] we’re using for contraction timing + meditations, our secret word/process for when to take me seriously if I ask for pain relief, etc), our standard Birth Preferences doc, our Baby Prep course book & our Hypnobirthing prep course, meditation MP3’s
  • Tablet stocked up with Netflix downloads, movies, etc + charging cable

For Mum

  • Bathing suit for the birthing pool
  • Non-slip comfy slippers
  • Flip flops (for both getting in/out of the pool & for showers)
  • 2 sets of warm, non-slip socks (packed the ones I use for Pilates/Barre)
  • 2 sets of nursing PJ’s
  • 2 nursing bras
  • 2 sweaters (cardigans for nursing if you have them are ideal)
  • 2 leggings/sweats 
  • 2 nursing-friendly tanks or shirts
  • A big knit blanket
  • Boppy nursing pillow
  • Haaka breast pump (not sure how much I’ll need this but want the lactation consultant to help show me how to use it)
  • 3 pairs of big pantaloons, aka underwear
  • Nursing pads
  • Black out sleep masks (for both of us actually)
  • Noise-cancelling headphones
  • * I packed a few pads/Depends as well as my peri bottle but the hospital should have all of these on hand, at least here in BC! Packed them just in case.

For Dad

  • 2 outfit sets + socks + underwear
  • Trunks for the birthing pool
  • Flip flops
  • 2 pairs of PJ’s

Toiletries (for both Mum + Dad)

  • Contacts
  • Glasses
  • Toothbrush + toothpaste
  • Face wash + moisturizer
  • Body wash + moisturizer
  • Shampoo + conditioner
  • Nipple cream
  • Comb/brush
  • Deodorant
  • A little bit of makeup, literally a BB cream, blush stick, mascara & tinted lip balm (very much doubt I’ll use it but you never know, maybe I’ll want to do myself up for some pics!)

For Baby

  • 2 swaddles
  • 1 thicker blanket
  • 3 sets of outfits (have a couple in NB size & 1 in 0-3 month size depending on how big he is!)
  • 2 little beanies
  • 2 pairs of socks
  • 2 pairs of mittens
  • 1 going-home cozy outfit: a knit cardigan, knit pants & knit booties
  • 1 car seat (the Nuna Pipa, all installed in our car)
  • 1 cozy bunting in case it’s chilly
  • Soothers + diaper cream (hospital should have both but just in case—I was advised to put a bunch of diaper cream on his bum before we head home so that his merconium doesn’t stick so much to his little bungus when he finally expels it, if he doesn’t prematurely)
  • A little “hello world” wooden disc for pics

COVID-specific: what we didn’t pack (but ordinarily would)

Just wanted to share a few things we would’ve ordinarily packed but just with COVID right now & trying to reduce the amount of things I know I’ll be paranoid about washing & disinfecting when we’re home (even though I’ve heard repeatedly BC Women’s is doing an amazing job about safety measures re: the pandemic), we decided to forego just because of the pandemic:

  • 2 pillows with brightly coloured pillowcases (to distinguish them from the hospital pillows)
  • 2 towels (heard the hospital ones are tiny & scratchy but have a sense I’ll just want to dry off and jump right into my PJ’s anyway)
  • A robe—I think it would’ve been nice to have & I have the nicest fleecy one but just another bulky item to add & need to wash so decided to forego it

If you’re curious about any of the items I got, I have a lot of them listed in my baby registry guide here! I will also do a post-birth post about this (whenever I can get around to it!) to share what we actually used, and maybe some of the things we wish we packed! We’re really lucky to live super, super close to the hospital though (& to have friends/family who live nearby) so if we need anything in addition to what we have packed, we know Matt can just zip down in 10 minutes or pass off our keys to one of our parents or something for an extra pick-up, so while we’re hoping for a pretty fast discharge nice to know that’s we have an easy enough top-off if needed! If you live further away you might obviously want to consider packing more.

For the time being, still just working away at wrapping up my last work to-do’s (was really hard last week because I was honestly so exhausted I could barely function, for whatever reason started feeling better yesterday though and today is good so fingers crossed that continues so that I can actually be semi-productive!), doing my compulsive tidying and going for my long walks until he’s here. I’ve been getting a lot of tightening at night and still getting those pains in my pelvis/cervix so hoping that all means he’s almost ready to come join us soon!


  1. 10.19.20
    Julia said:

    Ok this is maybe really wasteful but the hospital pillows in ny were like terrible… could you even buy a pillow and then leave it? I know not optimal but just bringing a soft pillowcase and even a cheap pillow is 100% Better than hospitals. Also I brought my boppy pillow because I sat on it when sitting up in the rooms lounge chair and I will tell you it made 100% of a difference in comfort. My hub left it at home and I had him go get it the morning after when he went to get a few other things for me. I also sat on it in the car… I’m telling you game changer. ?

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