What to Pack: How to Save Money on Your Hospital Bag

When I was about 7 months ready, I received an email from a pregnancy website I was subscribed to telling me that it was time to pack my bags. It was thrilling! But when I scrolled through the packing list of “must haves,” I freaked out a little. All of these necessities were going to cost me a small fortune! We were going to have to rethink this list to save money on your hospital bag.

The Ultimate Hospital Bag List

For this post, I am using a list I found on the ever-popular Baby Center. Let me emphasize that I am no way affiliated with them. I just read their site religiously as a to-be mom.

Here’s what they suggest taking:

  • picture ID, insurance card, and any hospital paperwork
  • Birth plan
  • Eyeglasses
  • bathrobe, a nightgown or two, slippers, and socks.
  • Whatever will help you relax. (The list is lengthy, so here is what they suggest: pillow, music, pictures, reading material, and something to watch).
  • camera or video camera with batteriescharger, and memory card.
  • Comfortable shoes and a few changes of comfortable clothes
  • Money (or a credit card) for parking and change for vending machines
  • bathing suit.
  • Your cell phone and charger or prepaid phone card.
  • Snacks! (Here’s what they suggest: crackers, fresh or dried fruit, nuts, granola bars, or a bottle of nonalcoholic champagne might be fun for celebrating, too.)
  • Toiletries: toothbrush and toothpaste, lip balm, deodorant, a brush and comb, makeup, and a hair band or barrettes. (They note that hospitals provide soap, shampoo, and lotion, but you might prefer your own.)
  • Nursing bras or regular bras.
  • Several pairs of maternity underpants.
  • book on newborn care.
  • Photos of your other children.
  • Gifts for older siblings.
  • A notepad or journal and pen or pencil.
  • A going-home outfit.
  • An installed car seat.
  • A going-home outfit for the baby.
  • receiving blanket.

 

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Woah. That’s lengthy. And by my estimates, not including items that are free such as your insurance card and ID, the total cost for this bag would be roughly$635.

This list forgets a few other items that I have seen around the web. A girl in one of my mom groups ordered herself a special birthing outfit that she wore during the labor. She spent over $100 on it off of an Etsy shop and ruined it within 20 minutes.

Here’s the thing: spending nearly a grand on things you will use for roughly 2-3 nights is akin to bringing full sized luggage for an overnight trip to your parent’s house. You just wont need half that stuff. And I guarantee that you wont miss it.

So, throw away the non-essentials and instead vow to save money on your hospital bag by instead sticking to these basics.

What You Actually Need

Here is my edited list of a hospital packing list. Items in green are essentials. Items in blue are great to have, but not required. Those crossed out can stay at home. You don’t need them.

The Every Little Cent Hospital Bag Savings List

  • picture ID, insurance card, and any hospital paperwork

An obvious must have. Save money by having your doctor’s office print out copies for you.

  • Birth plan

A birthing plan is not required, but it doesn’t cost you anything either. If you do bring one along, have your doctor or nurse print it.

  • Eyeglasses, contacts, and/or medications

Stock up on your medications and eye supplies in advance.

  • bathrobe, a nightgown or twoslippers, and socks.

You most likely will not need a bathrobe. Instead, bring along an old, comfortable sweater. As for nightgowns, nothing special here either. But you may want to get one with a lower neckline or spaghetti straps incase you need monitors. Slippers and sock are totally not essentials as the hospital provides some kind of sock or shoe for you.

  • Whatever will help you relax. (The list is lengthy, so here is what they suggest: pillow, music, pictures, reading material, and something to watch).

Have a favorite pillow? Fine. Bring it, but you don’t need a special one that most likely will be forgotten or lost. As for entertainment, your room will most likely have a television and many birthing rooms are equipped with speakers, lights, etc. However, if you plan on using music to get through birth, consider buying a streaming subscription service such as Spotify to get unlimited amounts of music on a monthly basis.

  • camera or video camera with batteriescharger, and memory card.

Have a camera on your phone? Save huge by just using that instead. It’s better than fusing around with the flash during the big arrival.

  • Comfortable shoes and a few changes of comfortable clothes

A few changes of clothes are a must, but don’t go overboard. You will probably be in pain and still carrying around a small pregnancy belly. Sweat pants, t-shirts, and sweaters are totally acceptable. Plus, with a messy newborn, you’ll want to say goodbye to designer clothing for a few months (or years).

  • Money (or a credit card) for parking and change for vending machines

My personal recommendation is to look up the cost of parking before you get to the hospital. Some allow new parents to park for free while others charge high prices. Times that parking cost by 6 to cover 3 days worth of parking for your partner to go home.

  • bathing suit.

The original post says to bathe in, but I’m not sure this would ever be essential unless you plan on doing a water/tub birth.

  • Your cell phone and charger or prepaid phone card.

Don’t bother with portable chargers. They rarely work.

  • Snacks! (Here’s what they suggest: crackers, fresh or dried fruit, nuts, granola bars, or a bottle of nonalcoholic champagne might be fun for celebrating, too.)

Head to the grocery store before your due date! Stock up on comfort snacks that are easy to clean up and won’t get smashed or ruined. But remember, most women are not allowed to eat during labor so you can always send your partner on a food run later!

  • Toiletries: toothbrush and toothpaste, lip balm, deodorant, a brush and comb, makeup, and a hair band or barrettes. (They note that hospitals provide soap, shampoo, and lotion, but you might prefer your own.)

Here’s a must-do before birth: Ask your hospital what they provide in your birthing room. Mine stocked up on toothbrush, paste, and shower supplies. My sister’s gave her lip balm and lotion. Every hospital is different.

  • Nursing bras or regular bras.

This will all depend on if you plan on breast feeding or not. But either way, you do not need expensive nursing bras when a sports bra that can be pulled down will do. No matter your choice, avoid bras with wires or excessive padding. Comfort first.

  • Several pairs of maternity underpants.

The hospital will give you these mesh garments. Don’t listen to the hype about buying depends or maternity pads. Just ask for extras!

  • book on newborn care.

You have the internet at your fingertips. A book (except maybe one from the library) isn’t a must-have.

  • Photos of your other children

The reasoning behind this one is so that they know that you are thinking of them. Maybe I’m cynical, but I don’t think they’ll care too much.

  • Gifts for older siblings

Save the “big brother” t-shirts for grandparents and aunts to buy. A two year old doesn’t need one (or a toy) from their brand new sibling.

  • A notepad or journal and pen or pencil

You may want to write down how you feel in the moment. That’s totally admirable. But you can do this in an online journal or word document. Just open Google Docs for free to begin.

  • A going-home outfit.

Remember the comfy clothes suggestion? Just go with that.

  • An installed car seat.

In many states, it is illegal to leave the hospital with a newborn without an installed car seat.

  • Going-home outfit for the baby.

This is another new phenomenon that’s taking over mom’s expectations. You don’t need a fancy new outfit! It will most likely get dirty by the time you get it home and it wont fit for more than a few days.

  • receiving blanket.

A regular ol’ blanket from the hospital does the trick, even if it isn’t high quality.

______________________________________

Items in green total (if bought new and considering pre-owned items): $190

Items in blue total: $245

 

In both cases, the bulk cost goes to the infant car seat. You could probably stock your hospital bag with items from home and not spend a penny!

Why You Should Save Money on Your Hospital Bag

When I had my daughter, it was totally unexpected, unprepared for. I had only received that email about packing suggestions days before I gave birth and hadn’t even had a chance to really go through the list. I didn’t have anything on me but my cell, wallet, and a pack of gum.

Yet, I survived.

There is so much pressure to make birth this luxury experience that you will never forget. But long before the overstuffed hospital bag, women were giving birth with ugly hospital socks or messy hair. No one thought about purchasing a new camera or what their child would wear on the five minute drive home. That is because birth is already an experience you will never forget, even without the stuff.

Focus on what matters by sticking to the essentials in your hospital bag. You’ll be glad to have done so.

 

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