When preparing for a hospital delivery, it is just as important to know what not to bring as what to pack. While hospitals provide most necessities for mom and baby, there are certain comfort items from home that can make your delivery and postpartum stay more enjoyable. However, you also want to avoid overpacking and lugging around unnecessary items. Here are some tips on what to leave at home when heading to the hospital to have your baby.
It is best to leave valuable jewelry, large amounts of cash, and other precious items at home when going to the hospital to deliver. While many hospitals have safes available, it is easy for things to get lost or misplaced during such a busy and emotional time. The last thing you need is to worry about losing an irreplaceable family heirloom or gift. Stick to simple, inexpensive jewelry that you don’t mind getting dirty or leaving behind. The same goes for expensive handbags, shoes, or other luxury items – leave them safe at home rather than risking damage or loss at the hospital.
When packing your hospital bag, it’s easy to go overboard and throw in anything you might possibly want or need. But realistically, you’ll use only a fraction of the stuff you bring. Try to avoid packing things “just in case” and focus only on the essentials. For example, you likely won’t need more than 2-3 outfits for yourself, so avoid overpacking clothes you won’t wear. Leave behind magazines, books, and other entertainment items that will just take up space. You probably won’t need more than a basic toiletry/makeup bag either. The hospital provides items like toothbrushes, lotions, soap, etc. Only bring travel sizes of your “must-have” items like lip balm or face wash. The fewer things you pack, the less you’ll have to keep track of.
It’s generally recommended not to pack your own food and snacks for the hospital. This is for a few reasons:
- Hospital staff need to be able to monitor what you are eating in case of any complications or reactions.
- Packaged foods from home can lead to unsanitary conditions and increase infection risk.
- The hospital provides meals tailored to your postpartum dietary needs.
- You likely won’t feel up to eating larger meals initially after giving birth anyway.
- Foods from home may not be allowed if you require a C-section or have other complications.
For these reasons, it’s best to stick to ice chips, clear broths, and other limited foods offered by the hospital during your stay. Leave the snacks and homemade meals at home. Your partner can always bring you homemade meals once you are discharged.
Overly Bulky Items
When packing your hospital bag, try to avoid large, bulky items that will take up excessive space in your room. Some things to leave at home include:
- Oversized pillows from home – hospitals provide pillows
- Thick, fluffy robes – pack a lighter weight option
- Boppy pillow or other nursing pillow – use hospital-provided pillows instead
- Laptops, iPads, gaming devices – your phone should suffice
- Large diaper bags – use a smaller overnight bag for yourself
Aim for compact, multipurpose items that don’t take up much room. The smaller your bag, the easier it will be to store and access what you need.
Your self-care routine likely involves numerous potions, lotions, and other toiletries when you are home. But when packing toiletries for the hospital, minimalism is key. Leave behind any products that aren’t absolutely essential during your hospital stay, such as:
- Excess makeup and cosmetics
- Fancy hair styling products
- Nail polish and tools
- Complicated skin care regimes – cleanser, moisturizer, and sunscreen are likely enough
- Razors, waxing strips, and other hair removal products
- Fragrant lotions, perfumes, body sprays
- Contact lens supplies if you can wear glasses instead
Focus on the basics like deodorant, toothpaste, and dry shampoo. For makeup, stick to tinted lip balm, concealer, and maybe mascara. Anything more is unnecessary.
It should go without saying, but illegal drugs have no place in a hospital delivery room. Most hospitals perform routine toxicology testing, so any illicit substance use will be detected. Bringing recreational drugs to the hospital needlessly endangers your health and your baby’s safety. It is also important not to smoke or vape while hospitalized, as most facilities are smoke-free. Leave lighters, matches, cigarettes, e-cigarettes, and any other substances at home. Focus your energy on having a healthy delivery.
Between pre-registration and insurance coverage, you likely submitted many important documents to your hospital prior to being admitted for delivery. There is no need to bring items like your Social Security card, passport, or copies of medical records – the hospital will have all required paperwork on file. Only pack vital items like your driver’s license, insurance card, and phone/tablet chargers. Leave original birth certificates, tax documents, car titles, and other irreplaceable items secured at home.
Your hospital bag is often dropped, moved, searched, and otherwise jostled about during your stay. For this reason, avoid packing any irreplaceable or fragile keepsakes you want to bring for labor encouragement. Things like your grandmother’s rosary beads, your favorite coffee mug, or sentimental photos are better left protected at home. Even if well-cushioned, cherished objects run a high risk of being damaged or lost amid the bustle of medical staff tending to you. Choose hospital-safe options that won’t break your heart if they don’t make it home.
While you may wish to bring your own mattress from home for added comfort, most hospitals prohibit certain mattress types due to safety concerns. Any mattress brought from home must be breathable in case of emergency situations. Non-breathable options like Tempurpedic or memory foam could pose risks if hospital staff need to perform CPR or otherwise access you quickly in bed. This is especially crucial after giving birth when medical emergencies can happen unexpectedly. Stick to the standard hospital mattress or bring an approved breathable mattress only.
Cut Flowers & Live Plants
Though you may want to decorate your delivery room with beautiful fresh flowers or potted plants, most hospitals prohibit these items. Fresh-cut bouquets and live potted plants often harbor harmful bacteria that can infect newborns or other at-risk patients. To maintain sterile conditions, it is safest to leave the florals at home. If you want to cheer up the space, opt for faux flower arrangements, mylar balloons, or other non-living decor items that are hospital-approved.
In the excitement of a new sibling arriving, you may be tempted to let older children pack toys and games to entertain them at the hospital. However, it’s best to leave cherished playthings at home where they won’t get lost or contaminated. Hospital rooms offer minimal secure storage for personal items. Plus, children’s toys tend to spread germs easily, which newborns and medical staff should avoid exposure to. Help kids pick just 1-2 cheap, cleanable toys like a new coloring book or plastic action figure. Leave the rest of their favorites safely at home.
The hospital room will be filled with plenty of essential medical equipment, monitors, and devices. Leave any extra electronics at home to maintain space and reduce clutter. Some specific devices to avoid bringing include:
- Televisions – hospitals have TVs available
- DVD players – most rooms have on-demand entertainment
- Game consoles like Nintendo Switch or Xbox
- Extra chargers and cords
- Speakers or sound systems – use headphones instead if desired
Your cell phone is likely the only device you’ll require for music, photos, and communication with loved ones. Streamline your packing list by leaving other electronics behind.
Candles & Incense
It’s important to avoid bringing any fire ignition sources to the hospital such as candles, matches, or incense. These items pose serious safety hazards around flammable medical gases and oxygen tanks used during labor, delivery, and recovery. Most hospitals prohibit candles or open flames of any kind. Battery-operated flameless candles make a safer alternative if you want some gentle mood lighting.
When packing toiletries and medications, it’s critical to only include doctor-approved drugs and supplements. Hospital staff closely monitor everything you take to ensure safety and avoid adverse interactions. Do not bring:
- Marijuana, CBD products, or other unapproved substances
- Prescription medications not currently prescribed to you
- Someone else’s medications
- Vitamins or herbal supplements not approved by your OBGYN
Stick to your current prenatal vitamins, prescribed medications, and OTC pain relievers approved by your provider. Consult your OBGYN before taking anything not on your verified medication list.
Unwashed Clothing & Bedding
To promote hygiene, it is recommended to pack only freshly washed and dried clothing and linens when preparing your hospital bag. Bacteria and germs can linger in unwashed fabrics, which can increase infection risks to you and baby during the vulnerable postpartum period. Take the time to wash all clothing, towels, robes, blankets, and sheets on hot before packing them. This helps create the most sterile environment possible.
Heating Pads & Electric Blankets
While you may appreciate some extra warmth during labor, most hospitals advise against bringing your own heating pads or electric blankets. The electrical cords pose tripping hazards to staff, and the heat can be unsafe for mother and baby during the delivery process. If you get chilly, hospital-provided warmed blankets are the safest option. Avoid bringing any outside heating devices from home.
Non-Essential Cleaning Supplies
Hospitals are meticulously cleaned by staff using medical-grade disinfectants and sanitizers. Bringing your own cleaners, wipes, sprays, etc. is generally discouraged. The chemicals could react with the hospital’s cleaning solutions and cause fumes or other issues. Hospital-grade sanitization is extremely thorough – additional cleaners are not necessary. Stick to essential toiletries only and let staff handle all cleaning and disinfecting.
Table: Non-Essentials to Leave at Home When Packing for Delivery
|Category||Items to Leave at Home|
|Valuables||Expensive jewelry, cash, heirlooms|
|Food||Snacks, homemade meals|
|Bulky Items||Oversized pillows, thick robes, laptops|
|Non-Essential Toiletries||Excess makeup, hair products, fragrances|
|Illicit Substances||Drugs, cigarettes, matches|
|Valuable Documents||Passport, birth certificates|
|Fragile Keepsakes||Cherished photos, souvenir mugs|
|Non-Breathable Mattresses||Memory foam, Tempurpedic|
|Live Plants/Flowers||Fresh bouquets, potted plants|
|Children’s Toys||Most toys, stuffed animals|
|Non-Essential Electronics||Game consoles, speakers, DVD players|
|Open Flames||Candles, incense, matches|
|Unapproved Medications||Non-prescribed drugs, herbal supplements|
|Unwashed Items||Clothing, towels, sheets not freshly laundered|
|Heating Devices||Heating pads, electric blankets|
|Cleaning Supplies||Sanitizing wipes, disinfecting sprays|
Infant Car Seat
One essential item for being discharged is an approved rear-facing infant car seat. However, there is no need to haul your car seat into and out of the hospital. Leave it secured in your vehicle until you are ready to leave. Hospital staff will inspect the seat’s installation before you are permitted to drive baby home. Keeping it in the car avoids it getting soiled, damaged, or lost during your hospital stay.
Preparing a hospital bag for childbirth can feel overwhelming. Focus on the true essentials for mom and baby by leaving non-necessities, valuables, and bulky items at home. This helps streamline your packing list while still bringing items to enhance your comfort. Always check with your hospital for any restrictions too. Eliminating unnecessary items creates ample space for your delivery and postpartum stay. Trust that the hospital will provide everything you and your newborn truly require during this special time.