Are you trying to pack a bag for the hospital for when it’s time for your baby to make its entrance? Are you worried you’re forgetting something?
Packing for your labor and delivery isn’t always as straightforward as you think it might be. There is a lot to remember and it seems like you always forget something.
We’ve got your back! We’ll give you a comprehensive list of everything you’ll want in your bag, as well as the inside scoop as to when that bag should be ready to go.
When To Pack
The last thing you want to do is start packing the second you feel those labor contractions. You’re bound to forget something because you or your partner, or both of you, will be panicking.
And because babies can sometimes arrive early, it’s a good idea to have those bags packed well in advance of your due date.
I had mine ready to go at my 32-week mark. I was hoping and praying I would make it full term, but I wanted to be prepared just in case. Fortunately, I went full term and that bag sat in my bedroom for weeks until I needed it.
But it helped me knowing it was there, ready to go, and I wouldn’t be scrambling and hastily throwing things in it last minute. We don’t have a lot of control over things when we’re pregnant, but we can control how prepared we are!
Where To Leave the Bag
Many people leave their bags at home, but it’s also not a bad idea to put your bag in the trunk of your car. That way, if you’re at work when the contractions hit and you live rather far from the office, you can head straight to the hospital from work and your bag will be with you.
But if you have other children, and you know you’re going to try to head home before you go to the hospital if your contractions happen when you’re at work or away from your house, keeping it at home may still be okay.
There’s no right or wrong answer here, but if your house is a good drive from the hospital, you may even want to take it with you every time you leave the house for an extended amount of time during your last month.
Mom’s Checklist for Labor
- Insurance card and driver’s license: Even if you’re pre-registered, you should have this with you.
- Towel or garbage bag: Make sure you have one of these two items in your bag for the car ride to the hospital. If your water breaks en route, you don’t want to have a big mess to clean up.
- Slippers or socks: Hospitals are a germy place and you don’t want to walk barefoot on those floors (1). Slippers are the best choice because you may not want to do much bending over to put socks on. But if your feet get cold, you may want socks to wear around — just make sure they have a no-slip grip material on the bottom.
- Phone: You’ll want to stay in touch with your relatives to give them updates on your progress. Plus, your phone may have some games on it that will help you with the slower parts of your labor.
- Phone charger: You’ll probably be burning through the battery with all the texts and pictures you’ll have.
- Camera: You’ll want some high-quality images of your baby when it is born. For some moms, a phone might do the trick, but others will want a camera there.
- Lip balm: Your lips might feel awfully dry during labor, so you’ll want to have lip balm with you to help combat that cracked feeling.
- Hair clip or tie: If you have long hair, you may want it off your neck and out of your face. Labor is hard enough without little distractions.
- Your birth plan: You should bring some extra copies of this with you. While the hospital may not be able to honor all your wishes, it’s still helpful for you to present.
- Glasses: If you need help seeing clearly, you may want to skip the contacts while in the hospital and stick with your glasses. You may not have the time or energy for your contacts and you don’t want to be stumbling all over your room. And you’ll want that first glimpse of your baby to be crystal clear.
- A tennis ball: This may sound weird, but you’ll find a tennis ball can be an effective massage tool to help you deal with labor pain. Ask your spouse to rub it on your back to see if it helps with the pain.
- Crackers: Your doctor may not want you to have anything in your system in case a C-section is needed. But pack some crackers just in case.
- Crosswords or word searches: Having something to concentrate on during the long wait, especially when contractions are still spaced out a while, can really help.
- Your favorite tunes on an MP3 player or iPod: Music can help people deal with a lot of pain. It can get you through the tough times. So if blasting Kelly Clarkson’s Stronger gets you through labor, we’re not going to judge you.
- A diary: If you love keeping a journal, labor is a great time for that. Your baby will someday love reading about what you were thinking when you were bringing them into this world.
Mom’s Checklist for Postpartum
- Pads: The hospital will give you some, but you may want to have extras or your favorite kind on hand. For the first few days, you’ll need to go with the huge diaper-like overnight pads.
- Deodorant: You might not shower for a while and you’ll probably be sweating up a storm during labor.
- Conditioner: Your hospital will have shampoo for you to use. But they don’t always have conditioner. If your hair is prone to tangling, this will be essential for you.
- Old clothes: Sweatpants are a good choice so a tight waistband doesn’t irritate you. It’s best if you have short-sleeved t-shirts on hand so those blood pressure checks will be easier. If you plan on breastfeeding, you may want some button up shirts that will give you easy access to your breasts.
- Extra underwear: In case you have any leaks, bring some old underwear with you.
- A hairbrush: You’ll want to look human again at some point and a brush will help you with that.
- Maternity or nursing bra: Your breasts are going to be sore postpartum, so you’ll want a comfy bra to see you through. If you’re attempting to breastfeed, a nursing bra is in order.
- Breast pads: You might find you start leaking soon after delivery, so it’s helpful to have breast pads there to save your shirts.
- Flip flops or slide-on shoes: While you can stroll around or out of the hospital wearing any kind of shoes you want, these kinds may be the most comfortable and easiest to put on. You can wear your flip flops into the shower too to protect your feet from germs.
- Toothpaste and toothbrush: The hospital will likely supply this, but it’s good to have on hand, just in case. That’s especially true if you like electric toothbrushes that do all the work for you.
- Laptop: It can help you with entertainment, or checking in with coworkers and friends to let them know how you fared during labor.
- Nightgown: Hospital gowns are the worst. If comfort is a big thing with you, throw an old nightgown in the mix.
- Robe: This is another great option to include if you plan on breastfeeding. It will give you access and privacy at the same time so you don’t feel like you’re on display for the world.
- A box of chocolates or gift bags for your nurses: You don’t have to do this, but your nurses will definitely appreciate the gesture. They’ll be taking care of you and your baby, so it can pay to be extra nice to them.
- A memory book: When the hospital takes footprints of your baby, ask if they’ll be kind enough to put them in your baby book as well.
- Make-up: Your focus is going to be on your baby, of course, but there will be a lot of pictures. And after all you’ve just been through, a touch of make-up might be welcomed by you.
- Lotion: If you tend to have dry skin or it’s the dead of winter, you might appreciate having a bottle of lotion around.
- Pillow: Pregnancy pains don’t vanish the second you have your baby. They can hang around a while, so having your own pillow might make sleeping and recuperating easier.
- Eye mask: It’s hard to sleep in hospitals, so you might want to catch some day naps.
- Snacks: You may not be able to eat, but your partner will want to. You’ll want to have some snacks on hand so they don’t have to leave you to find a vending machine.
- Money: At some point, they’ll need to grab a meal or two while you are in the hospital, so don’t forget some money, so they don’t have to worry about keeping track of debit transactions.
- A notepad and pen: There’s going to be a lot of information you’ll both have to remember and take in. While some of that will be on your discharge papers, you’ll want to write it down too, in case those papers get lost in the shuffle. Your partner should be the go-to person for writing all this down — you’ve done your fair share already!
- Empty bag: You’ll get some freebies from the hospital to take home. It can also hold all the paperwork you’ll have to cart back with you.
- Reading material: There is going to be a lot of downtime for your partner at times throughout your stay in the hospital. They’ll want something to keep themselves entertained for the times you’re resting.
- Baby outfits: You’ve been daydreaming about seeing your baby in its cute little outfits and now is your chance. Pack three outfits for baby. You’ll only be at the hospital for a day or two, but your baby could have accidents in the outfits so you’ll want a spare.
- Diapers: The hospital will have diapers, but if you want to be completely prepared, bring a few of your own.
- Wet wipes: These are a good idea to have on hand. While the hospital will likely have some for you to use for diaper changes, you can also use them for yourself. They can be refreshing when wiped on your face when you’re sweaty during labor and they can be used to clean your hands after meals.
- Car seat: When it comes time to check out, your baby will have to be strapped in a car seat for the ride home.
- Baby nail clippers: You may have a little Freddy Krueger on your hands with knife-like claws. If so, you’ll want to clip those things before your baby scratches its perfect little face.
- Blanket: The hospital will have a swaddling blanket to wrap your baby in, but you may want to have your own there depending upon what season it is, so your baby will stay warm on the ride back from the hospital.
- Hat: Again, the hospital will likely provide you with one while you are there, but having one is a good idea anyway.
- Gifts from your baby to your other children: You don’t have to do this, but kids love getting gifts when their parents come home after a trip. And if you tell them it’s from their newest sibling, they’ll be even more excited.
- Pacifier: If you want your baby to have one, you may want to throw one in. But be warned, you may not want to introduce a pacifier yet if you plan to breastfeed (2).