Birth Question: What Did You Bring to the Hospital?


When we headed to the hospital to have Toby, our first child, we packed an ENORMOUS bag of stuff. A tennis ball for massages, tons of snacks, even a movie! (No movies were watched.) A few years later, when we had Anton, everything happened so quickly and I brought basically a toothbrush. So, I’m really curious what other people liked packing. My friend Allison brought her childhood teddy bear for comfort, which is so sweet. Here are a few other ideas…


Playlists! The best, and unintended, part about that was that each of our kids has a special song that they were born to. We may have put more thought into the lists if we had known how much we would talk about those songs. — Rony

Birkenstocks are a labor lifesaver. You need to walk before, during and after giving birth. They feel so good. — Jean

This is a totally South African thing, but many of my friends and acquaintances (and local baby experts and midwives) recommend taking ​a big bottle of homemade “Jungle Juice” to the hospital. It apparently boosts your breast milk supply. ​​The main ingredient is Blackthorn Elixir, a tonic that helps restore your body’s energy reserves. — Diana Moss

The only thing I remember bringing was my own pillow since I’m a sleep diva. If I’m only going to sleep in fifteen-minute shifts, I’ll do it on 100% goose down! — Linsey

I regretted not bringing lip balm because labor breathing really chapped my lips. — Steph

Coconut water. Five sips between contractions. It was my husband’s job to provide that and he took it very seriously. — Sarah

The first time I brought a lot of stuff — nice nightgown, birthing ball, popsicles in about 50 flavors, an iPod with pre-programmed music, etc. The second time I brought almost nothing. I brought an empty bag so I could take home all that fabulous hospital swag: diapers, paper underwear, plastic bottles, nipple cream. — Lina

My friend Faith just had a baby, and she recommended this beauty water, which she said was a great refreshing pick-me-up in the hospital, so of course I ordered it immediately. — Anna

Miso soup packets! We took an amazing birth class, and the instructor recommended that we bring miso soup to refortify during a long labor. It seemed so random but we were obedient and followed her instructions. I wasn’t in the birth center for long before our daughter arrived, but I must have had ten cups of miso soup in the hours after giving birth. It was so salty and comforting and so much more palatable than hospital food. — Erin

We packed a bottle of Lambrusco, and my husband ran out to get H&H bagels and lox immediately after our daughter was born — best meal of my life. — Nicki

A big soft cardigan because hospitals can be weirdly cold but you need easy boob access. An eye mask because the room is never totally dark and people check on you all the damn time. And giant bottles of water and one-hand snacks that don’t smell or have crumbs — almonds, chocolate, berries… – Gemma

What about you? What little things made you feel comfortable and good? What would you recommend for other mothers? I’d love to hear…

P.S. What to register for your baby, and 8 confessions of a new dad.

(Photo of my bag before heading to the hospital.)

  1. Anna says...

    I had my first kid via emergency c-section after 72 hours of labor, and since I wasn’t expecting to have a c-section I didn’t know to pack certain things – I thought I’d be going home within a day or two, and I didn’t expect to be on so many pain meds. Since I just had my 2nd (also via c-section), this is fresh in my mind! Here are a few things that helped me:

    Ginger tea – pain meds can be constipating, and I found ginger tea to be an effective solution (and far more palatable/comforting than the prune juice they offer at the hospital!).

    Boppy (or your nursing pillow of choice) – otherwise you have to jury-rig an uncomfortable nursing situation with a mountain of pillows – can be painful with a c-section wound.

    Moisturizer/balm – hospitals can be super-drying, so whatever you’d use on an airplane will be helpful (I had Glossier coconut by my bedside and used it every other minute – the scent made me so happy).

    Face cleaning wipes – I’m too lazy to wash my face at the best of times, let alone when I’m in pain/had no sleep/can barely walk, so it’s wayyyy easier to have a pack of these at your bedside table for when you start to feel gross (I like the Yes to Cucumbers kind).

    Shampoo/conditioner – that first shower after a couple of days makes you feel like a new person, and it’s nice to have your own stuff instead of whatever the gift shop sells.

    A “c-section friendly” going-home outfit – something that doesn’t irritate your wound, like maternity leggings that go “over the bump” or a loose fitting dress.

    Also I’d echo the person who said they’d bring an empty bag to stock up on stuff. If you’re there for a few days, you can stash diapers, wipes, pads, disposable underwear, etc in your bag each day and your next nurse will refill them (kind of like hotel toiletries). At least, that’s what they did at our hospital!

    • This is very helpful, thanks!
      I also had an emergency caesarian section, 10 years ago. Now I’m going for a scheduled one and needed a list like yours. Thanks!

  2. Micky says...

    Funny, my earlier comment was removed. You probably thought it was advertising. It really wasn’t. I can’t for the life of me remember what else I really was delighted with and stayed with me as a tip to others after three babies. Only my pain reducing machine. And it’s not like it was that long ago. My eldest is 4, my youngest 18 months.

  3. Jen says...

    A bar of Dove soap and travel size shampoo and conditioner. My first shower after my c-section made me feel almost whole again. It was comforting to smell like home.

  4. Diana says...

    Good-smelling soap and lots of snacks! I labored in the shower as much as I could, and it felt so nice to lather up with aromatic soap and massage my belly in between contractions. I didn’t eat much during labor and thought I over-packed on snacks, but they were a lifesaver during the night when the cafeteria was closed!

  5. My first child I was 4 weeks early, and had already gone to the hospital twice only to be sent home (the second time they actually told me it was “go time” and kept me over night, then told me never mind in the morning). I guess the third time I wasn’t even expecting them to have me stay, plus I was so tired from having contractions for almost a week–I don’t know if I ended up packing anything beyond a pair of pajamas! Learning from experience, now I’d say the most important thing is cream for the nursing boobies!

  6. A little bottle of nail polish. We didn’t know the gender of our baby and I love painting my nails so I wanted to be prepared if we had a girl. Eleanor had her first pedicure when she was a few hours old and it was a lovely bonding experience (that took all of 5 seconds on those tiny nails!).

  7. Justine says...

    I went into labour 5 1/2 weeks early, so pretty much brought nothing to the hospital. But I did “pack” my wonderful doula, who was the very best birth decision my husband and I made. She of course, was very prepared and made my 36 hour labour a very positive experience,

    • Nevey's Mama says...

      A doula makes all the difference! Highly recommended to all my pregnant friends.