What Should I Pack in My Hospital Bag?
Updated: May 10, 2021
Deciding what to pack in the hospital bag for labor and the hospital stay can feel overwhelming, especially when you're not sure what's provided.
Public hospitals in Madrid typically provide necessities like diapers, wipes, onesies/clothing, and formula milk (if the mother wishes) for the baby during your entire stay. For mom they provide a hospital nightgown, postpartum pads, soap, towels, and a hospital robe.
Private hospitals in Madrid usually don't provide anything for the baby (no diapers, no wipes, no clothing) so it's important to ask your specific hospital what they provide for both baby and mom. Private hospitals do provide a hospital nightgown, postpartum pads, soap, and towels for mom.
While packing for the hospital, you may want to consider packing two bags. One for labor and another for postpartum. Get a free printable packing list here!
Packing for Labor
Comfy Nursing Bra, Sports Bra, or Own Clothing for Labor: Some women prefer to labor and give birth in the hospital gown. Others end up completely naked. Keeping in mind you probably won't know which kind you are until you're in labor, it's a great idea to take your own clothes in case you'll feel more comfortable in them.
Water Bottle: A water bottle with a straw makes it easy for your birth partner to lift the water bottle to your mouth while in labor. Even if you have an IV, you may get thirsty during labor. A water bottle is also good to have for the hospital stay in case your nurses don't keep up with your water demand.
Labor Playlist & Bluetooth Speaker: Music is an incredible tool during labor. Before giving birth, consider creating a few playlists of different kinds of music you enjoy. It can be upbeat, soothing, instrumental, hard rock, whatever you think will feel reassuring to you! Take your Bluetooth speaker or headphones from home so you can easily connect to it from your phone and have your music with you.
Chargers: Buying new chargers to keep in the hospital bags instead of packing them the day-of is an option to consider. Running out of battery on the phone, tablet, or computer while in labor would not be fun.
Hat for Baby: This one depends on your birth plan and the team you're delivering with. There is evidence to suggest babies don't need hats right away as long as they're skin-to-skin with their mother or father. However, many private hospitals ask that you bring a hat for right when baby is born. Public hospitals provide it.
Diapers: Most diapers have a line that indicate when baby has peed or pooped. These can be helpful, especially those first sleep deprived days and nights!
Wipes: Water wipes are a great option for the hospital. Even if you plan to use cloth wipes at home, you may want to have water wipes at the hospital for that first meconium poop and because you won't have a way to wash cloth wipes while there. If you don't plan to use wipes, you can also wash baby's bum in the sink and dry baby with a hospital towel for each diaper change.
Massage Ball: This is a great addition to any labor, even when you plan to get an epidural right away. With a massage ball your birth partner can massage your back, or wherever you need it, while you wait to register at the front desk or other times you may have to wait.
Twinkle Lights: Keeping the mood calming and the lights dim is a wonderful way to keep labor hormones flowing. You can pack your own string of battery-run twinkle lights and put them somewhere in your hospital room.
Hot Water Bottle: A hot water bottle can help alleviate pain during contractions. You can fill this with hot water at the hospital if it's warm enough, or bring it filled with hot water from home which will last a few hours.
Adult Diaper or Puppy Pads: This is actually a suggestion for early labor/on the way to the hospital. If your water breaks before you go to the hospital, wearing an adult diaper or putting down a puppy pee pad is a great way to protect the car. It can also help if you dislike the gushing sensation of amniotic fluid freely going down your legs. If you own your own car, you could keep an adult diaper there from 36 weeks onward just in case.
Packing for the Postpartum Hospital Stay
Adult Diapers, Postpartum Pads, Mesh Underwear: If you have given birth in the US or have family/friends who have, you've probably heard all about the mesh underwear. This is not always provided here. You can buy them in the "parafarmacia" of stores like Carrefour or buy them online. They may also be available at pharmacies. Postpartum pads are supplied by the hospital, but you can also bring your own preferred brand of pad if you'd like. And of course, the classic adult diaper never goes out of style for a postpartum mom.
Breastfeeding Pillow: This is not a necessity. However, if you plan to breastfeed, bringing your own pillow from home can help make it easier from the start. You don't need any pillows to breastfeed, but it can increase comfort.
Disposable Breast Pads: It's possible you won't need breast pads at the hospital, but if your milk comes in and you get leaky, you'll be glad you brought some along. There are some brands that offer individually wrapped breast pads and these will remain sterile before opening and are easy to toss into the hospital bag.
Chargers: Yep, I said it again! Pack any charger you might need! Especially with Covid restrictions and not being able to come and go as easily, you'll really want your chargers.
Toiletries & Makeup: This depends entirely on your preferences. You may want to bring lotion, your own toothbrush and toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, and makeup bag. Hospitals do provide soap and basic toiletries so this boils down to what you'll feel most comfortable with and if it's worth it to you to bring it along. Remember chapstick for dry lips!
Clothing for Baby: A hospital stay for a healthy mom and baby is usually between 2-4 days depending on if you had a vaginal birth or C-section. One way to pack for this is to include two onesies per day, a few pairs of socks, a few pairs of mittens, and a few hats.
Woombie, SwaddleMe, Etc: If you're planning to use a swaddle blanket or special swaddling sack, you can bring it along in the hospital bag. Most babies love being swaddled as it reminds them of their time in the womb and for a brand new newborn baby that time was just a few short hours ago.
Diapers for Baby: Same as above. Most diapers have a line that indicate when baby has peed or pooped. These can be helpful, especially those first sleep deprived days and nights!
Wipes for Baby: Water wipes are a great option for the hospital. Even if you plan to use cloth wipes at home, you may want to have water wipes at the hospital for that first meconium poop and because you won't have a way to wash cloth wipes while there. If you don't plan to use wipes, you can also wash baby's bum in the sink and dry baby with a hospital towel for each diaper change.
Pacifier: To avoid nipple confusion, lactation experts advise waiting a few weeks after establishing breastfeeding to introduce a pacifier. If you don't plan to breastfeed, or would like to be prepared for anything, you may want to pack a pacifier just in case. In the US, the Soothie is commonly used at hospitals and you can find that pacifier online here in Spain or in some pharmacies/stores.
Diaper Rash Cream: It's likely you won't need this so soon, but if your baby gets an irritated bum from the first meconium poo you'll be glad you went ahead and packed some!
Hemorrhoid Wipes: Even if you don't have hemmies, you'll be happy to have these wipes as they are soothing and much more agreeable to wipe your tender ladybits just after giving birth than hospital toilet paper. You can find these at the pharmacy asking for toallitas hemorroides in Spanish.
Witch Hazel Spray: This is so common for postpartum care in the US and is surprisingly not that simple to find here. It's called agua de hamamelis and you should be able to find it at some pharmacies.