May 20, 2020 9 min read

Jackie, third time mama who is 39 weeks pregnant, is about to pack her hospital bag as she prepares to deliver any day. Her friend Judi (32 weeks pregnant with her first child) is overwhelmed and curious about what the heck she actually needs for her hospital stay!


Jackie – I don’t know what everyone else does, but I totally wear the hospital gown that they give you during labor, because you get messy! I’ve seen people wear their own gown during labor, like this Motherhood Labor & Delivery Gown, but I see it as an awesome thing for the recovery room. It’s loose enough for nursing and there’s nothing that’s restrictive around your chest.  And then all the snaps make it easy to wear with an IV, and for the frequent belly checks from the nurses.

Judi– Okay, so you don’t have to get completely naked for checkups with this?

Jackie– Yeah, exactly. It’s really hospital friendly. This will be the first thing I put on after I’m all cleaned up in recovery, and then I’ll just put on a little robe to go with it. Especially if you do have visitors, which we won’t because of the COVID-19 rules, but if visitors come this will keep you covered and comfortable while still giving nurses and baby easy access.


Judi So under the gown, you’re also going to have the underwear that the hospital gives you, right?

Jackie Yeah, the mesh underwear. After delivery, if you have a vaginal birth, you can’t actually pee or do anything yourself yet. They give you a squirt bottle and a system to follow, and stuff is coming out and you’re wearing pads. So, I would say because of all the bleeding and healing that’s to come, that’s why you wear the mesh stuff.  But I will bring underwear for going home in and they’re also great for after things calm down. This 3-pack of panties have a wide waist and there’s really no seam, so they’re great for pregnancy and post pregnancy.

Judi Mhmm, got it. Did you get a bigger size?

Jackie These run a little big when compared to non-maternity underwear. I would get your true size, or you could totally size up by one. I get it, you want them to be barely touching you, right? And then you’re going to have a giant pad in it, it’s kind of crazy.


Jackie You do need cozy socks or slippers, because the hospital is cold. And you walk around a little in recovery.  Back and forth getting out of bed and walking to the bathroom.  Oh, and I’d recommend bringing flip-flops for the shower.

Judi That’s a good idea.

Jackie This pair of socks comes with this cute little sleep mask, which I thought was perfect if you’re delivering at 3 AM and then at 9 AM you like need to pass out for 2-3 hours. So, I thought that was cute. I’ll try that this time.


Jackie I’m packing the Seamless Bra. I don’t really wear a bra during the hospital stay, but that’s just my comfort level!

Judi I don’t want anything touching me. I can already feel it. When you leave do you put one on?

Jackie Yes, I think it feels good to put one on as you leave the hospital. I did size-up for the first few weeks of nursing. The larger size is great when the milk is trying to come in, if you get engorged, and while your figuring out latching and what the heck is going on. Or if nursing isn’t happening, the larger size helps you stay comfortable as your body regulates itself. 


Jackie It’s good to have a second pair of clothes to change into, like this sleep set.  If you wanted to change out of the Labor & Delivery Gown, because maybe you feel gross after a little bit, right? Or you might start leaking – so many things are happening that you might get that urge to change your clothes in an attempt to feel better. I like that this set comes with a robe and the top has a clip down nursing function. Sleepwear is good because it basically hangs off your body – you don’t want anything really on you. The sleep pants have a similar waist as the underwear has, which is a barely there, wide band.  And the sleep shorts that we have are the best – mine are in the wash right now because I sleep in them every night.


Jackie It’s nice to have a few different tops because your boobs are doing things and you can start to feel pretty uncomfortable. They do give you nursing pads so you can use those to protect and absorb anything that comes out. But, for the most part, you’re going to want to swap your top a few times. 

Judi Yeah, that makes sense. So, if you’re in the hospital for like two days, do you think you’re changing your outfit each day or like twice a day?

Jackie Nothing is in 24-hour increments when you’re there. It’s very weird. There are moments when you’re like, okay, I’m going to try and sleep. But I don’t want to fall asleep with this wet top on, right? So, if you’re there for two days, I would say, have three outfits. And they can be shared pieces.  For example, one of your outfits could be your robe and underneath it you have no bra and just your mesh panties. Or, you could throw a bra on underneath the robe or a nursing cami. It’s whatever makes sense for you in the moment. The worst scenario would be being uncomfortable in the clothes you packed. And here’s the thing – most of us are sitting in the bed the whole time. You don’t really get up and stand or do much.


Jackie I’ll also leave the hospital in the sleep set. Some women like to leave in leggings. I personally don’t like the compression or the feel of the fabric on my belly.

Judi I can’t imagine trying to bend over to put leggings on. It would be a comedy show of my husband trying to get leggings on me. I’d want to wear a soft and loose maternity dress.

Jackie Absolutely.


Judi How many outfits do you bring for baby and what do they provide baby?

Jackie So I have always overpacked for baby.  Most hospitals give you everything for the baby to wear while staying. From my experience, the baby has been in a diaper (they have diapers for you to use while there), a long sleeve top, and a swaddle. The nurses teach you how to do swaddle them and that’s the way that they sleep. And most of the nurses will encourage you to keep that on them because they can easily do checkups (which happen constantly). So, for the whole stay, the baby’s in that blanket.

And you can bring your own swaddles, of course. I’ll throw two swaddles in my bag. But I’ve totally forgotten how to swaddle. Isn’t that crazy? My daughter asked me to swaddle her baby doll because she saw it on TV and I realized I don’t remember how to do it anymore. I’ll need a refresher from the nurses.

Judi So the baby’s in the hospital stuff for the whole time. And then right before you leave, is that when you put baby in a different outfit?

Jackie Yes, because they can’t go in the car seat in a swaddle. I go for little onesies with feet, so I don’t have to deal with socks and too many pieces. 

Judi Does the baby have to be covered from head to toe? Could he wear shorts and short sleeves, or do you usually do long sleeves and long pants?

Jackie They say that baby should have one additional layer on than you are wearing at the newborn stage. You’re going to have a summer baby, so I get what you’re saying. I’ve found that a long sleeve onesie where his arms and his legs are covered ensures the least amount of fuss. I would bring a lighter option and a heavier option depending on what the weather is like when you leave the hospital that day.  Then once he’s in the car seat, tuck the swaddle blanket around him.

Judi And you a put hat on him as well?

Jackie Yes, newborns always wear hats. It keeps their body temperature regulated. So that’s why the little onesies that come with hats are nice for newborns. After not having a hat with the first one, because I didn’t know I needed it, I made sure to get the onesies with the matching hat. You just want to keep it easy when changing that tiny a baby. With my first, I brought like four different outfits because I had no idea.  I remember looking at the nurse like, “I’m not sure what I’m doing. I’m not sure what to put this baby in.”

You just want to keep it easy when changing that tiny a baby. With my first, I brought like four different outfits because I had no idea.  I remember looking at the nurse like, “I’m not sure what I’m doing. I’m not sure what to put this baby in.”

Judi I keep thinking the same exact thing. I was reading a post last night that said your motherly instincts are going to kick in and I’m like, what if they don’t?! And then I keep imagining me and my husband having to make all these decisions together.

Jackie Yes! There is all this physical and emotional stress, and then you two having to agree on all of these things you’ve never thought of is very tough. You’re not alone in that. I have no advice for you on that one!


Jackie Definitely don’t forget to pack your toiletries! Make sure you have all that stuff.  I like a transparent or mesh bag so everything is easy to find.  Think contacts, glasses, mini shampoo, toothbrush, face moisturizer and oil, and lotion because the hospital can feel dry. And there’s a moment where you just want to feel more like yourself and emulate your home routine. Oh, hair ties – don’t forget the hair ties!


Jackie You can do two things.  You can put it all in a diaper bag if you have one that’s big enough. Or you put just the baby stuff in the diaper bag to keep it separate and then throw your and your partner’s stuff in a duffle bag or a carry-on suitcase. I’ve done it both ways. To be honest, I probably won’t bring the diaper bag this time because of everything going on with COVID-19. A carry-on suitcase will be easiest to wipe down after.

Judi I know, I’ve already talked to my husband about this. As soon as we get home after baby, we’ll throw everything in the washer.

Jackie Exactly!  So anyway, that’s what I got. And bring your computer to watch movies and stuff, or a book. Look, it’s chaotic and manic, but there’s also a lot of waiting time, especially as you are in early labor. You’re kind of in this weird world, so it’s nice to have little things just to distract you for 20 minutes. When the baby’s sleeping, it’s nice to fall asleep in a way you normally would, and rest and relax as if you were home. Whatever you can bring with you that can help to calm you is good.

You’re kind of in this weird world, so it’s nice to have little things just to distract you for 20 minutes.

Judi I love that idea. Because in my mind, you’re going to be doing stuff the whole time. But in reality, it could take hours.

Jackie There are moments when you’ll find yourself getting impatient.  And a lot of it is the unknown of what’s next in the process.  For me, the discharge phase always makes me feel crazy and I find I start to lose control of my emotions a bit. 

Judi Why’s that?

Jackie They start off by saying, “Okay, you are going to leave today, you can start to pack up your stuff.”  You mentally start to prepare yourself for that and get yourself all organized, but then you’re waiting for the staff to do paperwork, rounds, and other important things. They could come and “discharge you” and then it’s another four hours before you walk out that door.  It was very overwhelming to me, especially as a first-time mom, probably because I was so scared.  After doing it a few times, I now know to mentally settle myself. If you can occupy yourselves, it helps level set your expectations and calm your nerves.

Judi That is good advice, because I was thinking, how could I possibly have time to focus on anything else. Is that it?

Jackie Yup.  I think so! 

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