Oh…that loaded question. Packing to go have a baby can feel like one of the most overwhelming tasks during your pregnancy. Ideally, you should have your bag ready to go (besides last-minute items like your toothbrush) by 36 weeks or 37 weeks pregnant, just in case you go into labor before your due date. Some items, like a car seat, are essential. Others will make you feel comfy and remind you of home.
First pack your hospital bag for yourself.
- Your birth plan. Print a few copies. Did you know Babycakes Birth Services offers low cost birth planning sessions? Contact us to get more info!
- A fuzzy robe. This will be super comfy for those postpartum days in the hospital…trust me!
- Toiletries. Seems obvious, right? You’ll want your hair brush, regular or dry shampoo, toothbrush and toothpaste, deodorant, lip balm, extra hair ties and face wipes. Remember extra contacts and/or glasses, if you wear them.
- Comfortable clothes. If you plan on breastfeeding after delivery, pack a nursing bra or tank in your bag. Pair your tank top with a soft, loose pant like joggers or lightweight sleep pants. Postpartum leggings can also be comfy. If you plan on laboring in water at any point, pack a dark-colored sports bra or a bathing suit top. For footwear, slipper socks are great for keeping cozy (but make sure they have those rubber grips on the bottom…because NO FALLS ALLOWED). Bring slip-on shoes like Birkenstocks, Crocs or flip-flops for going home. Your feet might be swollen from IV fluids (and hey, pregnancy), so anything that’s easy to slip on works.
- Drinks. Pack a reusable water bottle and, if you want something more than water, an electrolyte drink, like Gatorade or coconut water. My favorite tip are those Gatorade powder packets, so you don’t have to load up your bag with a bunch of bottles.
- An extra-long cell phone charging cord. Hospital beds are notoriously far away from an electrical outlet, and you’ll want a fully charged phone for all the pictures you are about to take of your new baby and video chatting with excited friends and family.
- Nipple cream. If you’re planning to breastfeed, your nipples will appreciate you being so proactive. Check out my fave from Earth Mama.
- Pillows and a bath towel. You would think by now that hospital towels in labor and delivery would have received a bit of an upgrade. But no…hospital towels are the exact opposite of luxurious hotel towels—thin, scratchy and entirely too small. You may find yourself happy that you brought a towel from home for your first post-delivery shower. Pillows from home are going to be a great addition. Just maybe avoid putting your nice pillows from home in between your legs when in labor, or you may not want to bring them back home with you.
- Adult diapers. The hospital will hook you up with pads and those mesh underwear – or as I like to call them, the new Victoria Secrets – but many of my clients felt that adult diapers were more comfortable and felt more secure. A perineal spray (if your hospital doesn’t supply you with some) is also a priceless addition to your postpartum arsenal. Your bum will thank you. You could also make some DIY Padsicles for when you get home. Just stash them in your freezer with water and a bit of Witch Hazel and use them to reduce swelling.
- Portable bluetooth speaker and birth playlist. For the music enthusiasts…though you may find you just want silence!
- The luxuries. A portable diffuser to the hospital and used post-op to make their room smell like a spa. I love bringing lavender, citrus, and peppermint essential oils to all of my clients’ births, unless there is an allergy or smell sensitivity I’ve been made aware of. A portable fan is also a plus since you can’t open windows.
After your hospital bag has everything for you, then move on to the essentials for baby.
- A car seat. If you’re driving home, this is non-negotiable—they won’t let you take your baby home from the hospital without a car seat, and it should be already installed. Your local fire department will check that it has been installed correctly if you are able to plan ahead.
- A going-home outfit. Pack two different outfits in different sizes because you don’t know how big or small your baby will be! Aim for one outfit in newborn size and one 0-3 months. Don’t forget hats and/or socks, if weather appropriate. This should be the FUN part! Try not to overthink it.
- Your pediatrician’s contact information. The doctors and nurses will ask you for this information several times, so it’s good to have it handy. Include the email or fax number for the pediatrician’s office so they can easily forward your baby’s medical records.
- Bottles, if applicable. If you plan to bottle-feed from the beginning pack at least two for the hospital. If you plan to formula feed, pack some of your preferred brand, as well, though the hospital will most likely have samples for you. And those extra bottles leftover in your room right before you’re discharges? Yeah…take those home!
- Don’t worry about the diapers/wipes. The hospital has all the diapers and wipes you’ll need. In fact, maybe include one of those collapsible bags on your packing list for all the freebies you’ll bring home from hospital.
For your Support Person:
If you have a partner or support person attending the birth and staying in the hospital or birthing center with you, remind them to pack some things as well. In addition to the basic clothes and toiletries, here are some things to bring.
- Lots of snacks! Try to pack something from each of these categories: salty, sweet, protein bars, and healthy/easy on the stomach. The laboring parent will appreciate these post-birth too. Also look into restaurants nearby that deliver. Check with your hospital or birthing center for their specific guidelines. And bring that reusable water bottle.
- Book/iPad/laptop/headphones & general entertainment. Download a few new podcasts/movies to listen to and/or watch in case there is some down time.
- A blanket and pillow. Hospital sheets and pillows can be scratchy and thin. Anything to help get even a little more sleep on the infamous pull-out couch.
- Bonus: a swimsuit. In case you want some extra support in the shower or tub.
Talk with your doula about any other comforts from home that you think would be helpful. And try not to stress…you’ve got this!
What items did I miss? Are there any other essentials that should be added to the list? Let me know in the comments!