You really don’t need much to have a baby. You got your vagina? Packed!
But, if you’re having a hospital birth, there are a few things to make your stay a little more pleasant. Here’s the list I came up with, but feel free to let me know what else you took, or are taking.
♥♥♥This post is dedicated to my cousin Jessica who is about to have her first baby any day. I’m so excited to meet my new little family member any day. ♥♥♥
This is a pretty comprehensive list. So not to overwhelm you, I have divided the optional items at the end that is not as essential, but a “nice to have”. If you like the items on the optional list, but don’t want to feel like your moving into the hospital just to have a baby, simply leave the extras in your car until you need or want them.
Try to limit your bags to two, so it’s not too hard to carry all your luggage to the hospital when you’re in the middle of having contractions. I think it’s a great idea to take a roller hand-luggage bag and a large bag that can sit on top of it.
THERE IS A PRINTABLE FOR THIS ARTICLE AT THE END OF THE POST.
WHAT TO PACK- FOR MOM.
THE LABOR ROOM ESSENTIALS:
- Insurance information. Crazy, but you must fill out and sign a million forms when you first arrive at the hospital, including filling out insurance documents. So try not to come too late or you will feel cross-eyed filling out these forms.
- Birthplan: Have a written down general plan of what you’d like to do (or not do) or at LEAST a clear verbal one with your birthing partner, so everyone is on the same page if you are too preoccupied with labor pains to talk or need to be taken into surgery.
- Picture ID: Even if you’ve already registered at the hospital, some hospitals need to confirm your records before they can admit you. To not make the mistake of leaving it at home, put a printed copy of your license and insurance card in your bag.
- Hospital registration forms: if you have not previously submitted them.
Things to pass the time:
Labor can sometimes go on for longer than expected, (Mine was a 36-hour labor!) so you may want to think about some things to keep you entertained at the hospital during labor. Ideally, you should try rest (or nap as much as possible) because labor can be really exhausting.
- Music: A great choice. You may not have great reception on your phone, so think about a playlist downloaded on your phone.
- Reading: If you’re having an epidural, books, magazines, a tablet or computer are some options you can enjoy from your bed.
- Phone, charger (and/or external battery). You may want to update family with what’s going on, browse the web or play games. Get yourself an extra long charging cable or external battery as available power points may not be close to your bed. Keep your phone charged while you’re in labor. The last thing you want is to take beautiful pictures of your new arrival baby and to only be on 1% battery.
- Apps: Download helpful apps, like a contraction timer and white noise. You could even have a look at a few picture editing apps that create beautiful birth announcements.
You can wear the provided hospital gown. If you don’t want your butt exposed and plan on moving around, bring a robe (to stay warm). If a hospital gown is not your thing, other options are a special outfit, birthing skirt, a comfortable large T’shirt from home, or simply just go nude like I did. (My top half was covered in a loose hospital blanket). Don’t do anything too fancy because birthing can get messy.
Keeping you comfortable:
Have a think about what makes you feel comfortable during your WORST period pain to give you an idea of what you may like.
- Heat packs: can be relieving for aches and pains.
- Massage oil: If you hope to be massaged during labor.
- Motorised/ handheld Fan: Help cool yourself down if you get hot in your birthing room. Fans with misters can be nice too.
- Birth ball and pump: (If you want to use one and your hospital doesn’t provide one).
- Stress-relieving squeeze ball: or your partner’s hand can do just nicely… just try not to break their hand!
- Glasses: If you wear contacts, you will be asked to remove them if you end up having (C-section) surgery.
- Lip Balm: Those lips can get super dry with all that heavy breathing and the dry hospital air. Lip Balm can give some soothing relief.
- Hair ties and headband: Keep your hair out of your face as it can feel distracting and uncomfortable.
- Trash Bag/waterproof crib sheet and a Towel: Leave this in your car to sit on in case your water breaks on the way to the hospital and it will protect your seats.
- A list of people you want to let know you are in labor (and/or heading to the hospital).
THE ” RECOVERY ROOM ESSENTIALS”:
You should think about bringing enough personal items for 2-3 days (assuming you will have a healthy labor and birth) or 5 days if you have a cesarian operation.
- Clothing: Bring front opening (soft and loose) cotton shirt or Pajama tops. You want your baby to have access to your breasts and also plenty of skin to skin contact. They are more comfortable than staying in a hospital gown for the next few days. Think about bringing a robe for when you want to walk the hallways or feel a little warmer. A robe also makes it easier to undress for any checks the nurses need to do. Plus, a robe is super easy to pop it open when it’s time to nurse. Make sure the materials are soft for your newborn. For bottoms, bring two lose and comfortable pants and/or shorts (that don’t sit to sight against your crotch as you will be tender down there). Dark colors are best in case you have a leakage.
- Nursing Bra: Contain the breasts if you need support while still being able to breastfeed. Get a stretchy type as you don’t know what size your breasts will be.
- Socks: Keep feet clean and warm when walking on those hard cold floors. Find ones with non-skid bottoms.
- Going home outfit: A clean outfit. You will still look 6 months pregnant so a maternity maxi dress or a loose t-shirt and soft comfortable pants are great options. Avoid anything that will scratch or dig into your baby when you cuddle them.
- Disposable Underwear: You will be bleeding a lot during the first few several days to weeks after giving birth. If your not a fan of the hospital’s disposable mesh underwear they provide, get yourself some Silhouette disposable underwear (that are much nicer) or some old loose undies. It will need to fit max-pads in there so don’t bring thongs.
- Flip flops: A easy slip-on option for your swollen feet. Plus you can wear them in the hospital shower.
- A nice hospital outfit: If your planning on looking nice for some hospital photos or to dress for when guests come over, bring a clean outfit to change into.
- Lanolin/Nipple Cream: Having a baby sucking on your nipples can dry and crack them. This will help and relieve them.
- Nursing Pads: You may have leaky breasts with colostrum and/or milk and nursing pads are easier to pack than having to change nursing bras constantly.
- Nipple cream: Relieve those sore nipples. Your nipples won’t be used to being sucked by a baby and may get dry and tender.
- Breastpump: The hospital’s lactation consultants will be coming around to help you and baby breastfeed (if that is your option) so you may not even need a breast pump this early. You can bring your breast pump if you think you might be separated from your baby for long periods and want to encourage your milk to come in or if you want a lactation consultant to teach you how to use it.
- Handouts: If you have any handouts about breastfeeding or anything else that you want to refer to, bring it with you.
- Overnight Toiletries: Toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo (or dry shampoo), deodorant, hair brush, hairband or hair tie, hand sanitizer etc. Don’t bring any perfumes or scented products as the baby will want to smell YOU!
- Hair dryer/straightening iron: if it is essential to you. I didn’t worry about that.
- Makeup: If you want to look done up for photo opportunities or when visitors arrive over the next few days. (I usually like to look nice for photos, but I wanted to look genuine in my photos. I had dark circles under my eyes and looked a mess, but I love that because I did have a 36-hour labor. I also could not be bothered doing my makeup).
- Wipes/Towel: The hospital provides baby wipes but if you want to bring a spare set, or a small hand towel to freshen a sweaty hot body or mess from bleeding.
- Phone and Charger: Contact family, Surf the internet etc.
- Camera: You can see some great newborn hospital photo ideas here.
- Headphones: for listening to music or things on your phone if you want to keep it quiet in your room.
- Image editing app: If you plan on sending out a little announcement image with your baby’s height, weight, time of birth etc on it, having an app on your phone could be fun.
- Laptop & Charger: I also brought my laptop and made a little video on iMovie to send out to all my family with some highlights of our first 24 hours. Or you could download a few movies onto your computer. Don’t watch anything with scary sounds in it, like hard action movies. Keep it baby friendly.
- Extension cord with multiple outlets: Don’t freak out with one power outlet that is free halfway across the room to charge multiple phones, laptops, etc. Usually, the power cords near the bed are used already.
Other things to bring:
- Snacks: When you’re finally able to eat something after giving birth and it’s the middle of the night, your snacks will be a god-sent. Plus you will get a new-nursing hunger as breastfeeding burns about 300 calories a day. Awesome!
- Earplugs and/or Eye Mask – Hospitals are so noisy at night with nurses constantly coming in to check the baby or people out in the hallways. When you get a good period to sleep, make it happen, even if it means to wear earplugs or an eyemask. Don’t worry you can still hear your babies cry through earplugs, strangely enough.
- Money: For vending machines or for having a family member run to the hospital cafeteria for you.
- Stool Softener: Straight after delivery, take a stool softener. Trust Me. You are going to feel like your vagina is going to fall out your ass so squeezing out a pooh is going to feel very scary the first time. Hahahaha, Sorry!
- Pens and spare paper: You will be filling out plenty of forms and pens can be scarce sometimes. You may be taking notes for advice or recommendations the nurse, doctor or lactation consultant gives you. After giving birth, it’s going to be hard to remember all the large amount of information they may throw at you.
- Spare room in your bag: The hospital will give you a load of documents, diapers, wipes and more to take home. Take as much as you can because they are charging you an arm and a leg for your stay anyway.
- Prenatals: While you are breastfeeding, its still a great idea to keep up taking prenatal supplements.
- Pillow: An optional comfort item. (Don’t bring a white pillowcase that can be confused with a hospital pillow)
- Gum and Gatorade: Keep your fresh breath and stay hydrated in the dry hospital air.
- Journal: You may want to start documenting your birth story while it is still fresh in your head. There will be a lot of downtime resting while your baby sleeps.
- Photo props/outfit: Any outfits or props you plan on shooting with your newborn- e.g. a blanket, a soft toy etc while at the hospital.
- Sibling Gift: If you have an older child, give them a gift to open from the baby when they visit.
- Soft lighting: Hospital lighting is pretty bright. Bring soft electronic candles, or LED string lights for late night feeds (or for a pretty atmosphere during labor). We did this and it was incredible. All the nurses were talking about our nice room.
- Gift: The nurses do A LOT of gross things for you while you’re recovering from your baby. It’s always appreciated to give them a little gift like some fresh fruit or chocolates. or a simple note to say ‘Thank you”. If you forget, simply pull them aside before you go and tell them how much you appreciated them (if you did).
THERE IS A PRINTABLE FOR THIS ARTICLE AT THE END OF THE POST.
WHAT TO PACK- FOR BABY
- Receiving blanket/swaddle: Use it for wrapping the baby up, as a nursing cover, blocking sun, wind or rain when you take your baby home in their carrier. If you want, get a nice one that will sentimental for a memory box, to grow up with your child or to create a tradition with all of your next children. The nurses at the hospitals are baby burrito making PROS so have them show you how to swaddle your baby if you are unsure.
- Going home outfit: The hospital will give you some plain legless onsies to wear in the hospital. But you need to think about the weather outside for when you leave. We didn’t have any pants for our son, so we had to turn a onesie upside down to cover his legs. If it is cold outside, don’t forget jackets, pants, socks and/or booties. Don’t take your little one home in a sleep sack because the car seat clip can be challenging to do up between their legs. Also, think about taking off their jacket in the car to stop them overheating.
- Car Seat & Base: The hospital will not let you leave the hospital without a car seat unless you are taking the bus. (Make sure this has been properly installed beforehand. Having the car seat in the middle seat in the safest, in case you have a side impact accident, heaven forbid.) Leave the car base in the car and have someone bring the car seat up just before you are ready to leave. I also DO NOT recommend walking home, even if it is a few blocks away as you will feel like your insides are going to fall out. It’s not pretty. You need to rest.
- Baby Oil: Apply baby oil to a soft cloth. It cuts through the thick and sticky pooh better than baby wipes and it will keep your baby’s skin protected from getting a rash (caused by moisture on the skin and rubbing).
- Baby Wipes: Spare set or to freshen a sweaty hot body or mess from bleeding.
- Soothers: Great for soothing babies until your milk comes in. Hospitals may charge you for theirs.
- Scratch Mittens: Newborn nails are wafer thin and challenging to cut. If Mittens are not your thing (they can fall off), you can simply bring your own onesie or sleeper that have foldover sleeves to block your baby’s little fingernails from scratching his/her face.
- Hat: Babies lose lots of heat through their head and can’t regulate their own temperature yet. If you don’t like the blue and pink striped design of the hospital hats, bring your own. We brought a cute knotted newborn hat.
- Burp cloth/swaddles. Your baby may chuck or spit. Have a few on standby to wipe up any mess.
- Photo outfit: If you plan on having nice pictures taken of your baby at the hospital, bring an outfit for it. There will be a hospital photographer coming around with packages or you can shoot your own. (Fun tip: I bought a newborn size, a 6-month size and a one-year-old size of the same outfit so I could recreate the hospital shot I took to show how much he had grown as he got older. It looks great on our wall.) You could even have a think about getting matching T’shirts and onesies with your baby.
- Non-Toxic Inkpad: Have your babies feet and hands stamped for their baby book. (It’s challenging to open a newborns hands, so we did ours on a piece of paper and cut out the best version).
- Nursing Pillow: These are bulky in a small room so leave it in the car. If you find breastfeeding too hard with pillows, have someone go to the car and bring it up for you.
THERE IS A PRINTABLE FOR THIS ARTICLE AT THE END OF THE POST.
WHAT TO PACK- FOR YOUR CO-PILOT
When your co-pilot gets “the call” that you’re going into labor, they will be so focused on YOU, that I’m sure they will not have the time or forget what to pack for themselves. Depending on the time and distance from you live from the hospital, they may stay all day and through the night with you before making plans to do a run home for supplies.
Go through the list and work out what works for you to bring:
- Toiletries: Pack them a spare toothbrush, deodorant etc.
- Change of clothes: The hospital rooms may be much cooler than outside, or they sweat too much because they are nervous or working hard too so they will need extra long and short sleeve tops.
- Comfortable shoes.
- Pillow: Pull out couches are not always the most comfortable, but at least they can have a nice pillow.
- Group texts or lists of people to call. Work out who you want to notify when you go into labor, as soon as your newborn arrives and who is on the birth announcement when you are all settled in. You do not want to forget anyone. Set up group texts before you go into labor so then all your partner needs to do is notify the group. We set up an immediate family list and then an extended family/friends list. It also irons out any bugs in advance or who are not on iMessage and who needs to download WhatsApp.
- Snacks, drinks: The hospital only provides popsicles, fruit juice and jello for snacks. If your partner is out looking for more substantial food, they may not come back as quickly as you need. Pack some items that store well like protein bars, cup a soup/noddles, etc.
- Debit card/cash: For cafeteria runs, food delivery, vending machines and paying for parking.
- Camera, Charger and a big memory card: It’s all too often that people run out of memory on their phones with all the videos and photos on their phones. It’s nice to bring a camera specifically for these special moments. Some people bring a Go-Pro to film the pregnancy and hang it around their necks so they can be handsfree and present.
- Entertainment: Books, magazines, iPad etc. If you’re not having an epidural, then entertainment will be pointless as contractions will be too distracting. I had an epidural and slept 8 hours and spent the rest of my time talking to my husband.
WHAT TO LEAVE AT HOME:
Everything else! Seriously. The hospital will have everything you may need for your little one: diapers, wipes, ointment, shirts, hats and receiving blankets. Try to resist the urge to pack toys and a bunch of cute baby clothes. Newborns sleep, eat, poop and repeat. So you won’t be doing a lot of playing and you’ll save your sanity by just keeping your little one in those, very convenient, side snap shirts that the hospital gives you, a diaper and a swaddle.