Once signs of labor start, panic often sets in. It’s time to get to the hospital – do you have everything you need?
Avoid some of the last minute mania by having those hospital bags ready a month in advance. Here is a list of the most essential items needed, plus some “nice-to-have’s.”
FOR MOM – Essentials
- ID, Insurance Card, Hospital Paperwork – Have everything all in a folder and ready to go so you can just hand it in during admittance.
- Birth Plan – If you have a birth plan, add that to your folder too.
- Glasses/Contacts/Contact Case & Solution – Some women don’t want to bother with keeping track of the contacts, but sometimes glasses can get uncomfortable, foggy, or slip off. You don’t need any more annoyances to get in the way, so have both ready – whether for during labor, or after.
- Phone, Camera, Charger/Batteries – Be ready for all those cute first baby pics and birth announcements! Some delivery rooms will not allow chargers to be plugged in, so make sure you have enough battery to last until you’re in your recovery room.
- Toiletries – Pack your toothbrush, tooth paste, floss, deodorant, hair brush, makeup, and lip balm.
- Hair Ties – You will likely want your hair out of your face – Be sure to have extra hair ties ready to go!
- Change of Clothes – Have comfortable maternity clothes with you to change outfits during your stay as well as a go-home outfit. Remember, you will initially still look like you are around 5-6 months pregnant when you leave, so leave those skinny jeans home! If you plan on breastfeeding, be sure to include loose shirts or shirts with easy access front panels.
- PJs/Nightgown – If you don’t want to be stuck in a hospital gown your entire stay, throw in comfy PJs or nightgown. Again, keep it loose and/or have something with a front opening and choose something with loose or no sleeves so the medical personnel can easily take your blood pressure and access your IV.
- Snacks – Labor takes its toll and most moms are starving after. Often, hospital food just won’t cut it, or you can’t get anything during those late night feedings. Pack lots of snacks to keep you going your entire stay.
- Nursing Bras/Bras – If you plan on breastfeeding, be sure to include an easy access nursing bra. If not, make sure you have your maternity bras with you. Your breasts will still be tender and swollen and that extra support will be welcomed!
- Maternity/Disposable Undies – Don’t want to deal with the hospital-supplied mesh undies? Pack your own for a little more comfort. They might get messy, though, so be sure they’re ones you don’t mind throwing away after, just in case.
- Notepad/Journal – Those first few hours/days after delivery can be a blur. Keep a notebook by your side to write down notes & tips from your doctors/nurses, keep track of feedings and diaper changes to tell staff when they ask you, and record all those precious first moments so you can be sure to remember them years down the road!
- Nipple Cream – Planning on breastfeeding? Throw in a tube of lanolin nipple cream for soothing when you need it most.
- Flip Flops – That first shower is going to feel incredible, but hospital floors can get a little yucky. Have flip-flops handy for shower time, or just walking the hall. The feet can sometimes swell during delivery as well, so loose flips-flops will be more comfortable than a tight-fitting shoe.
FOR MOM – Additional Items
- Extra Bag – Choose a bag with extra room, or throw in an extra bag. Often the hospital will send you home with additional materials and you’ll want to be able to easily pack it and go.
- Robe & Slippers – Having a couple of comforts from home can go a long way. Pack a light robe with loose sleeves that you don’t mind getting dirty to throw on if you’re walking the halls during delivery or lounging in your room after. Loose fitting slippers or socks can be more comfortable than the hospital-provided socks.
- Relax Items – Bring your own pillow, blanket, music, a focus picture, book/magazines, puzzle books, tablet/laptop, videos, etc. to help you pass the time while you are waiting and to make yourself more comfortable until you can get home to your own bed.
- Money/Change – Pocket change for the vending machine or parking.
- Bathing Suit – If there’s a chance you will use water during labor.
- Depends/Adult Diapers – Sounds weird, but sometimes these are much more comfortable than the hospital-supplied pads and less bulky, plus they lesson the chances of leaks.
- Pictures/Gifts – Does the baby have older siblings? Have a picture of them in the hospital with you so they can see you have not forgotten about them. Some parents also bring small gifts for the older siblings that the “baby” can to give them.
- Nurses’ Gift – Those nurses will be your lifesavers while you are there. Having a gift, even if it is just a box of candy for the nurses station, can show how much you appreciate their help!
- Disposable Towel/Garbage Bag – You might want to put plastic on your car seat with an old towel on top for the car ride over to the hospital in case if your water breaks along the way.
- Black Shorts – Having a tight pair of black shorts might make you feel more confident in case of leaks.
- Lotion – Hospital supplied toiletries aren’t always the best. Having a bottle of your favorite lotion can be soothing for both you and your skin.
- Soaps/Shampoo/Conditioner – The hospital will supply these, but they’re not the same as at home. Bring your own if you want to keep your routine the same.
- Earplugs/Eye Mask – Everyone always says to sleep when the baby sleeps, but sometimes that can be pretty hard in a busy hospital. Having some earplugs to help mute the sounds and/or an eye mask to block out the additional lights can really help.
- Nursing Pillow – If you plan on breastfeeding, a nursing pillow can help make it more comfortable.
- Christmas Lights – If you can’t stand harsh lights, throw in a strand of Christmas lights. You can plug those in and turn off the overhead light to calm things down in the room.
- Face Wipes – You might want these to “freshen up” a bit while you’re waiting for that first shower.
- Newborn Care Book – Have a baby how-to book? Bring it to read while you’re waiting and to help calm those first how-do-I-do-this jitters.
- Towel – The hospital will provide you with a towel & washcloth to use while you’re there, but if you would prefer the comfort of your own towel, pop one in your bag.
FOR BABY – Essentials
- Car Seat – Have the car seat already installed and ready to go in the car you’ll be bringing to the hospital.
- Going Home Outfit – The hospital will provide clothes for the baby while you’re there, but you’ll want a regular outfit to bring baby home in (not to mention for all those cute pictures!). Don’t forget to include socks/booties, something with legs to make buckling the car seat easier, and a hat to help keep baby warm. You might want to pack a couple of options in different sizes since you don’t know how big or small your baby will be.
- Nail File – Not all hospitals will provide nail files and babies can have sharp little nails right away. Use the nail file to gently shorten and smooth the nails so he/she doesn’t scratch her own face the first day.
- Zip-loc Baggie – The hospital will send you home with some odds & ends items. Zipping them up in a bag is an easy way to keep everything together to help small items from being lost in the rush.
FOR BABY – Additional Items
- Baby Book – Have a baby book? Bring it with you so the hospital can put in those footprints and record your initial stats right away.
- Receiving Blanket – The hospital will provide you with a swaddling blanket, but you might want something a little cozier to bring your baby home in.
- Extra Socks or Hat – Have a pet at home? Bring an extra pair or socks or hat for baby to wear and then send it home ahead of time for your dog to get used to the scent of the new family member.
- Pacifiers – Not every baby needs one (or they may be picky about which brand they like), but it might be nice to pack a couple just in case.
Don’t Forget Dad!
If dad will be staying there with you, don’t forget to pack some essentials for him too. Snacks, a couple of changes of clothing, socks, extra pair of shoes, money, a comfy pillow & blanket for him, his toiletries, entertainment items, and his phone/charger should be enough to get him by.
And on your way out the door, don’t forget the keys!