Packing the Hospital Bag (Canadian Hospitals)

It’s been almost 4 months since I delivered RJ, so before I forget, I thought I would write down the items that I think should be on a packing list for a hospital birth.

I read a few different lists from different sources (e.g. before I did my packing and I ended up packing 3 bags: one for me, one for hubby and one for baby. I was so overpacked. When you give birth in Canada pretty much everything is provided. I used almost nothing that was in my bags (and had my mom running out to get some things that I hadn’t thought to bring). So here are two lists: one listing what to pack, one listing what other lists will tell you you need that you shouldn’t bother with.

What to pack:

1. Breast-feeding pillow and nipple ointment: see my post about breast-feeding supplies and you’ll know exactly which pillow to bring.

2. Slippers: opt for slippers that are machine washable. If you are like me you will be grossed out to ever wear those slippers again once you’ve walked on hospital floors in them if you can’t put them in the washing machine first.

3. Toiletries for showering: I forgot my hairbrush. Don’t forget your hairbrush. Some lists will tell you to bring makeup for photo ops. It’s easier to tell people not to take pictures of you. Generally people want to take pictures of the baby and not you anyway (because you’ll probably look gross with or without makeup and the baby will be adorable). Also my eyes were so incredibly puffy for a couple days after I gave birth (possibly because there was a lot of pressure in my eyes during 5 HOURS OF PUSHING or because I didn’t sleep for 24 hours). Makeup might not have helped that much anyway.

4. Lip balm

5. Toothbrush and toothpaste

6. Your cell phone charger: I don’t have to tell you to bring your cellphone, you’ll probably have it with you with your contraction timer app open. Amirite?

7. Going home clothes for you and baby: I don’t mean to point out the obvious, but you’ll still be in maternity clothes when you leave. Pack your comfiest ones.

What not to bring:

1. Pyjamas: Why wear PJs when you can wear a hospital gown? Your body will be a leaking mess. Your breasts will be leaking milk, your vag will be leaking blood. How to not get a bunch of bodily fluids all over your nice PJs? Don’t wear them. The hospital has gowns and robes! You can use them for free! And free laundry that you don’t have to do yourself. So you can change your gown as often as you like (which will be often because your body will be gross).

2. Underwear: No one told me this, but the hospital provides you with disposable underwear. I liked it better than my real underwear. I wished I could have brought some home with me. It was super stretchy and accommodated the giant maxi pads that the hospital also supplied. Awesome. You don’t need to bring those either.

3. Diapers, diaper ointment and wipes: Those were provided

4. Formula: That too

5. Breast pump: If you need one, the hospital pumps are the best. And there is an endless supply of sterilized equipment. 🙂

6. A ton of baby clothes: I packed a ton of baby clothes because I read ”real moms” online complaining that they didn’t pack enough baby clothes for the hospital because their baby spat up on everything. RJ didn’t even wear clothes until we left the hospital. Why? because she was always either sleeping swaddled up in a blanket or we were trying to do ”skin-to-skin”. The hospital will provide blankets. Also the hospital gave us two hats. One just after birth and one after her first bath. I think the nurses knit them. It’s very sweet.

Snacks: You aren’t supposed to eat in case you need an emergency c-section. But the hospital will give you clear fluids: that means I ate a lot of chicken broth and jello during labour. It was tasty.

A book: I brought one. Was there time to read? No. I was so naive.

A birth plan: I was happy I didn’t make one. There was a birth plan in my head: no epidural. I was in labour for about 3 hours before I asked for an epidural. Here’s a good birth plan (the one I’ll use next time): plan to do whatever it takes for you to be able to get that baby out safely.


I spent four days in the hospital and my bags pretty much stayed packed the whole time. Giving birth in a Canadian hospital is an all-inclusive experience. I used to work in a hospital so I actually kind of like the hospital environment.

One last thing: the Babycenter Canada website says to bring earplugs in case you are in a shared room. How are you going to hear your baby cry for you if you are wearing earplugs? I don’t get it.


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