The last thing you want to worry about when you go into labor, is trying to figure out what items you need to put in your hospital bag and trying to hunt them down before dashing to the hospital. Ideally you should have your hospital bag packed and waiting by the door by at least 2 weeks before your due date. That way, when the time is right, you can grab your bag and go without any last minute delays or worries.
It is useful to have 2 bags for yourself: one for labor and one for your hospital stay afterwards including your baby item essentials. It is also helpful to have your labor partner pack a bag in advance for themselves and some helpful labor items.
Labor Bag for you:
- Your Birth Plan, if you have one.
- Maternity Bathrobe. This is particularly useful for early stages of labor as you may need to walk around the hospital to progress labor. After the baby you will also need some sort of cover up to a nightgown, particularly if it's the hospital excuse for a nightgown, when you need to walk the corridors.
- Slippers and socks
- A clean nursing top or front-opening nursing nightgown if you prefer to bring your own
- Drinks and snacks and breath mints
- A straw, which will make sipping liquids easier.
- Toiletries (hairbrush, toothbrush, toothpaste, facial cream)
- Lip moisturizer
- Massage oils or lotions
- Eyeglasses (if needed)
- Cell phone and list of important numbers
- Magazines, music, word puzzles. Fun light reading to pass the time. Don't bring heavy involved reading or work from the office! You are looking for fun and mindless distraction to pass the time. Remember, you will be productive enough in a few hours to make up for any unproductive activities during your labor waiting period!
- Maternity pads (nighttime sanitary pads), and spare maternity underwear.
- Nursing bras. If you plan to wear a bra during labor, it is helpful to have a nursing bra on already if you plan to nurse your baby. Usually you will be allowed to nurse right away after birth. Make sure you wear a very comfortable fitting nursing bra, not one with underwires.
For Labor Partner:
Watch with a second hand to time contractions
- Camera/video camera if you want it and film/tape if needed
- Snacks, reading material
- Toiletries (toothbrush, toothpaste..)
- Change of clothes, particularly if they will be staying with you at the hospital for several days after the baby.
- Cell phone/phone card
- List of important numbers
- Dollar Bills for vending machine
- Water Spray/Mister for gentle cool-downs during labor.
- Tennis balls for back massage
Hospital Bag for your Postpartum Use:
Front opening nursing nightie
- Comfy clothes to wear for leaving the hospital. Remember you are not going to be able to wear non-maternity clothes a few days after having your baby! So bring comfortable maternity clothing or transitional clothing. Also, if you have a C-section, the last thing you will want is any pressure on your tummy. A comfortable cotton elastic waistband that fits below the belly or that is designed to fold down bellow the belly for comfort is best.
- Easy fitting footwear
- Change of underwear and maternity pads for heavy bleeding after birth
- Nursing Bras (at least 2). Make sure these are easy fitting nursing bras that do not have underwire. Wear a nursing bra with plenty of room and stretch as you breasts may increase up to a cup in size when you milk comes in.
- Personal music player and headphones
- Magazines and easy reading material. You will be too tired for any heavy reading!
Hospital Bag for Baby:
Last but certainly not least you will want to pack a few things for the new baby:
-Properly installed infant car seat. This is a must if you want to take your baby home with you! Make sure you have your car seat professionally installed several weeks before you go to the hospital. Any fire station can install your car seat for you. An alarming number of car seats are not properly installed by parents.
- Newborn diapers
- Infant hat
- Receiving blankets
- Newborn sleeper or outfits
If you have all of these essentials ready to go in advance, you can have peace of mind that you are well prepared when the time comes to have your baby!