What to Pack for the Hospital

Make Your Stay Comfortable

When you are planning a stay in the hospital, whether it is for surgery, childbirth, or an inpatient procedure, it is important to be prepared.

This involves packing everything you need to not only be comfortable but to make up for some of the common shortcomings of a hospital stay (such as food or the lack of privacy).

While modern hospitals are designed to be more people-friendly than ever, they are still functional by nature and stress hygiene and durability over comfort.

So, if you are the type who is easily awakened by noise or can't sleep without your favorite goose-down pillow, you need to either bring along your creature comforts or make concessions.

man staying in hospital
Morsa Images / DigitalVision / Getty Images

The Basics of Packing

In preparing for your stay, think about all of the things you would bring on a weekend trip and then pare back by omitting anything of value, including your wallet, jewelry, or electronics.

If you really must bring something of value (such as a laptop for work), ask the ward in advance if there are any facilities in which to store your belongings under lock and key. While some hospitals offer lockable bedside tables, make certain that your belongings can fit inside.

In the end, if you're uncertain whether to bring a valuable or not, ask yourself if you're willing to lose it. If not, keep it at home.

Hospital policies are such that they won't take responsibility if a personal belonging is stolen. It's ultimately your call as to whether you're willing to risk it or take out a short-term insurance policy to cover the loss.

Once you've pared back to the basics, you should take only those things which can help you sleep comfortably, maintain your daily hygiene, provide you with greater privacy, or keep you healthy.

You should also bring along something to entertain yourself and maybe any snacks or drinks that your treatment or procedure allows.

Your Hospital Stay Checklist

You won't have a lot of space to store things, so try to fit everything you need into a standard roll-on bag. Be sure that is well labeled and is lockable as an extra layer of security.

Among the things you should include on your packing checklist:

  • Cell phone and charger
  • Comfortable pajamas (loose-fitting is best)
  • Earbuds or headphones for phone or computer
  • Earplugs if you are ​a light sleeper
  • Entertainment such as books, a portable DVD player, puzzles, or magazines
  • Eyemask for sleeping
  • Glasses (which may be easier than contacts if you think you'll be dozing a lot)
  • Hairbrush or comb
  • Laptop and charger, if you intend to bring one
  • Light robe for modesty, especially in a shared room
  • List of your current medications to add to your hospital chart, including names, dosages, and dosing schedule
  • Non-perishable snacks, especially if you have dietary concerns (such as diabetes or chronic medications that need to be taken with high-fat foods)
  • Outfit to wear home (something loose is best, also make sure it won’t rub on your incision)
  • Personal medications, preferably in their original container so that the nurse can find them for you if you are unable to reach them
  • Plenty of socks and underwear
  • Slippers with rubber soles (to prevent slipping)
  • Soap, skin care products, and hair care products if you prefer your own (ideally travel size)
  • Special needs products like tampons, sanitary pads, or denture cream
  • Toothbrush, toothpaste, and deodorant

Having a Baby? Don't Forget These

  • Baby bag
  • Baby’s going-home outfit
  • Breast pads
  • Birth plan, if you have one
  • Camera
  • Car seat; hospitals will not permit a newborn to be taken home without an appropriate car seat
  • Maxi pads
  • Nursing bra if you will be nursing
  • Phone charger
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Article Sources
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  3. Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. Car seat safety: newborn to 2 years.