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I definitely overpacked (better safe than sorry), but these are things that I actually used.
#1 Insurance Card/ID.
#2 Baby Clothes to go Home in.
I had a warm-weather outfit and a cold-weather outfit. The hospital gives you diapers and wipes to use, and a hat for the baby to wear. We packed matching socks, mittens, and hats for her (one of the funnest parts of packing!)
#3 Swaddle for going home.
In the hospital there are swaddles to use but not for going home.
#4 Going Home Outfit for Mom.
I recommend a dress, not pants. I thought I had packed a dress, but it turned out to be a romper (it was really hard to bend over and get my legs into it on my own; took me like five minutes). On the plus side, it was really comfortable.
#5 Baby Nail files.
Our hospital didn’t supply them and Lily was born with long nails so we had to wait till we got home. We put mittens on her but she kept sliding them off.
#6 Phone Chargers.
You don’t know how long you’ll be at the hospital, and you’ll want to take all the pictures without worrying about your battery.
#7 A Snack or Two.
This was as much for my husband as for me. We honestly packed way too many snacks as I wasn’t hungry during labor, and after labor the hospital feeds you. You also don’t need water bottles; the hospital keeps you supplied with a nice huge pink cup of water.
#8 Picture Outfit.
Lily was born on a Saturday and the photographer didn’t work weekends so we missed out on newborn pics (so sad!) But I had a robe packed for me to wear in the pictures. My friend ended up doing a newborn photoshoot with us a week later so it ended up all good.
#9 Change of Clothes for Dad.
He will want to feel fresh at some point after labor also, and I didn’t want him leaving to go shower and change at home so we brought his clothes with us. Some other things we packed but didn’t end up needing were socks for me (hospital supplied them), a water bottle, so many more snacks/juice/fruit snacks than what we ate, extra underwear for me, pads for me (hospital supplies mesh underwear and giant diaper pads – trust me you won’t want your own underwear on). It’s hard to pack when you don’t know what labor will look like for you, but next time I know my bag will be these 9 things and little else, as it will just take up space. Especially if you have someone who can run to your house and get whatever is missing then you are all set! Make sure you have your carseat set up or someone come set it up for you, as you cannot leave the hospital without one. There are places that can help you correctly install it and make sure it’s safe as well.
Find a baby tracking app that you can use in the hospital. I didn’t realize before I had Lily, but once she is born you are immediately responsible for tracking her wet diapers, dirty diapers, when she eats, and how long she eats for. I tried out a few apps in those first few weeks, but the one I ended up with is called “Baby Tracker.” There are lots of apps to try out and you won’t know which is best until you actually have to use it, but having one downloaded before delivery will be helpful.