What should you bring with you to the hospital? What items should be included in your maternity hospital bag? Learn how to prepare for your stay at the hospital.

If you are a pregnant mom and has chosen to deliver your baby at the hospital, you should bring with you a pregnancy hospital bag. What is a pregnancy hospital bag and why do you need one? A pregnancy hospital bag is a bag that includes items you will need during your stay at the hospital. Generally public hospitals will only provide the bare essentials and therefore you will need to bring some personal items to get through your stay. Knowing what to include in your pregnancy hospital bag will make your stay more comfortable.

What are provided by the hospitals also depends on the type of room you are staying in. With public hospitals, there are typically three types of rooms.

  1. Ward rooms - There are four beds in these rooms. You will be sharing with 3 or more (depending on the hospital) other expecting mothers.
  2. Semiprivate rooms - These are rooms with two beds. You will be sharing with 1 other expecting mother.
  3. Private rooms - These are rooms with one bed. You essentially get the whole room to yourself.

Usually all three room types includes a separate bathroom (with shower and/or bath tub) compared to the normal general washrooms that in the hospital's halls. All three rooms will have chairs and/or recliners for your visiting guests. You may have multiple guests during visiting hours as long as they do not disturb the expecting mom(s) you are sharing room with. However hospitals generally will allow one family member (maximum two family members) to stay overnight to help comfort and keep you company.

Should you share a room?

If money is a concern, you may not have a choice but to choose ward rooms. Some expecting moms like to share a room as it gives them someone to talk and share experiences with. On the other hand, if you are sharing a room, not only will you be sharing the room with another expecting mother but you with also be sharing room with her worried spouse or family member and other guests (during visiting hours). Most expecting moms prefer a private room or at least semiprivate room. This may be a good choice as having multiple expecting moms in the same room probably isn't such a good idea.

So what should you bring to make your stay more comfortable?

Depending on the reason for your hospital stay (i.e. for observations, delivery, or complications), you may be staying there for a single day/night to several days/nights.

Here is a list of items that you should include in your pregnancy hospital bag:

  • Clothing
    • Bring clothes that are comfortable. You may want to bring light dresses. Dresses are easier to change into and out of. With pants, you will have to struggle with putting on one leg at a time. Normally this is an easy task but now that your stomach is the size of a basketball, balancing while putting pants on is a much more difficult task.
    • If you don't know how long you will be staying, then bring enough clothing for 2 days.
    • You should bring clothes that you don't mind staining.
    • Don't forget your slippers and socks.
  • Personal hygiene items
    • Tooth brush, tooth paste, floss, lip balm, face and shower towels, sanitary pads, comb, hair brush, body lotion, face cream, and hair band/ties.
  • Entertainment - For the majority of your stay, you will be waiting and waiting. It may be a while waiting for the nurses, doctors, getting tests and the test results and reports. It is best that you bring something to keep you entertained.
    • Bring books and magazines.
    • Games such as cross word puzzles, Sudoku and the likes are good to pass time and keep your mind occupied.
    • Bring a laptop with your favorite DVDs.
    • Bring your MP3 player or CD player.
    • Don't forget to bring your headset so that you don't disturb others.
  • Snacks - The food that the hospital serves are generally petite portions. The portions are usually barely enough for one normal female let alone an expecting mom. Also you may have mid-day and mid night cravings. Snacks are a definite must. Avoid snacks that spoil easily such as milk and yogurt.
    • Cookies/crackers.
    • Gum and candy.
    • Fruits (fresh and dried).
    • Peanuts and other nuts. Check with your hospital as peanuts and other nuts may not be allowed due to allergy reasons.
    • Bottled water and juice.
  • A watch with a second hand to time contractions.
  • A camera with full battery and film or memory cards.
  • Cell phone and the charger. Hospital rooms do have phones but there is usually a cost to use them.
  • Items that most people forget
    • Pregnancy pillows such as the "Leachco Snoogle Total Body Pillow" or the "Jolly Jumper Pregnancy Pillow". The hospitals will not have these. So if you are used to these pillows to help you sleep, don't forget to take them with you.
    • Cash (money)
      • Some hospital cafeterias don't accept credit cards or debit cards. They only accept cash.
      • You will need cash for those late night cravings (buying from vending the machines).
    • Health insurance documents (if applicable) otherwise you will first have to pay for your hospital stay and then submit the receipt to your health insurance company for reimbursement.

Each hospital has their own policies on which items they allow you to bring. You should check with your hospital beforehand.

So when should you start packing for your pregnancy hospital bag?

Don't pack your hospital bag too early as some of your clothes may no longer fit you. Some items like food may either spoil or get stale. It is best to start and be finish packing during the beginning of your third trimester. I wouldn't leave it any later than that as you never know if you will be delivering early.

I hope the above will help make your hospital stay a little more comfortable. Best of luck with your pregnancy!

For more baby tips, read the article learn how to get a free Nestle diaper bag and why you should register for a baby registry at Babies R Us.