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Nearing your due date? Here’s our advice on what to pack in your hospital birthing bag for a calm and (sorta) comfortable stay.
Whether you’re approaching your baby’s due date or you’ve already passed it, preparing a hospital birth bag is a great way to get ready for this new chapter in your life. It’s not just a practical move, it’s also a good distraction for moms-to-be who are feeling nervous about laboring.
Why not channel that nervous energy into packing a bag with all the things you and your new baby will need in the days after birth?
Packing Your Hospital Bag with Plenty Time to Spare
The smartest time to prepare a hospital bag for labor is before your pregnancy reaches 36 weeks. That way, it’s unlikely (but not impossible) that you’ll go into labor before you’re adequately supplied.
While some of the items recommended for a birthing bag aren’t strictly essential, others such as loose-fitting clothes, toiletries, and clothes for your newborn are indispensable.
Keep reading to find out which key items made our hospital bag checklist and which luxury items we strongly recommend you pack as well.
Hospital Bag Checklist for Mom: The Essentials
Your Birth Plan
If you’ve already agreed upon a birth plan with your doctor, it makes sense to bring a copy with you to the hospital.
Print it out, pin it up in your room and direct your midwives to look at it if you want to request something specific but find yourself too distracted by those pesky contractions to form words.
It’s funny now but you’ll be patting yourself on the back for remembering when you’re really in labor (promise).
As soon you’re able, you’ll want to brush your teeth, freshen up your face and comb your hair. These are the things we do to feel rejuvenated so pack a hairbrush, toothpaste, a toothbrush, dry shampoo, hair ties and deodorant as priority items.
Face wipes are another valuable addition in case you can’t get up and shower soon after birth.
Extra Comfortable Clothes
Any hospital bag for mom that’s worth its salt contains her favorite slouching clothes. Think loose pajamas, your favorite bathrobe, stretchy leggings, thick socks, lightweight T-shirts, and dark-colored sports bras or nursing bras.
The aim is to feel as physically relaxed and comfortable as possible so you can focus on recovering from the baby’s birth. Don’t forget your comfy footwear. Slippers, crocs, and flip-flops are all excellent choices.
Reusable Water Bottle
Sure, they’ve got plenty of plastic cups in the hospital but your reusable water bottle is probably very lightweight and will come in handy when you’re laboring and need to hydrate without spilling.
An Extra-Long Cell Phone Charger
There’s a good chance you’ll be recovering in a location that’s not ideal for your smartphone.
So think ahead and equip your baby hospital bag with an extra-long charging cable. Being able to read all of those nice messages from your friends and family will make a big difference to how you feel after birth.
Not the most glamorous item on our hospital bag checklist for baby but one of the most essential nonetheless.
Maternity wards offer new moms mesh underwear and other after-labor supplies but, honestly, they’re nowhere near as comfortable as a pair of Depends. Trust us.
Oh, and if you can source some, treat yourself to a bottle or two of perineal cooling spray. Your body will thank you for it.
If you’re hoping to nurse soon after birth, a tube of nipple soothing lotion will go a long way to helping the process feel comfortable.
Breastfeeding can be very painful to start with and having the right products on hand will make a big difference to how both you and baby respond.
Not all women enjoy music while they’re laboring but most find it relaxing and positively distracting.
If your doctor, midwives, and close neighbors are happy with it, pack a portable speaker and treat yourself to your favorite tunes.
We recommend playing songs that you’ve listened to a lot during your pregnancy because some studies claim your baby will recognize and be soothed by them. It’s worth a try, right.
Hospital Bag for Baby: The Other Essentials
The hope is you won’t need more than one or two changes for the baby because they’ll (fingers crossed) be happy and healthy enough to leave the hospital soon after birth.
Even so, it’s best to pack at least two outfits and maybe an emergency change just in case plans go differently.
If you want to be extra smart about it, pack one newborn-size outfit and another slightly bigger outfit (0 to 3 months) just in case the baby arrives and they’re bigger than expected. Don’t forget to pack a hat and socks. Newborns lose heat quickly!
Most hospitals will not allow a newborn to be driven home in a car without a proper car seat. Technically, this isn’t a hospital ‘bag’ item because it’s not going to fit. But it is absolutely essential for most parents. Have your car seat installed and ready before you approach your due date.
Bottles for Feeding
Moms who plan to bottle feed should include at least two clean bottles in their hospital bag baby checklist. The hospital will certainly have milk formula on hand for you to use but, if you have a specific brand in mind, you’ll need to bring it with you.
Your Pediatrician’s Contact Details
Write your pediatrician’s number and/or email address on a piece of paper so you can recall it quickly when asked.
You will be asked for this information on more than one occasion. It’s helpful to have it written somewhere you can gesture at if you’re not up to talking.
The midwives will use this information to notify your chosen pediatrician that you’ve given birth and will need checkups and support.
Hospital Bag for Dad or Your Birthing Partner: Essentials for Your Support Person
While you’re tucked up in bed next to your new baby, your birthing partner might be stuck with a chair. If they pack a travel pillow they’ll at least be able to lay their head down in a comfy spot after all the action is over.
Snacks are often overlooked when expectant parents are birth planning but they’re hugely important.
Labor can be an exhausting experience for all involved and keeping your energy levels up is vital whether you’re birthing or supporting.
This is one of those rare times even doctors recommend salty, sugary foods that are easy to eat such as pretzels, crackers, candy bars, gummy bears, and protein bars.
Hopefully, your birthing partner will be attentive and present throughout the birth.
However, there may be times when they are asked to leave the room while medical procedures are carried out or you are prepared for a specific procedure such as an epidural. Or you may experience a long labor with bouts of intensity and boredom.
It does happen and, when it does, your birthing partner will appreciate having an iPad, Nintendo Switch, a laptop or a good book on hand.
Frequently Asked Questions: What to Pack in Your Hospital Bag for Baby
Q – What do I need to do before I go into the hospital to give birth?
A – If possible, try to prepare your hospital bag for pregnancy and birth before 36 weeks. This should give you plenty of time to ready all of the essentials even if you go into labor a little earlier than expected. As well as preparing the key items we have recommended, it’s a good idea to have the following information written in a notepad:
- Maternity unit’s and/or midwife’s phone number
- Emergency contact details for your birthing partner
- Most important details from your birth plan
- (If you have children) your sitter’s phone number and address
- Emergency contact details for a backup birthing partner
Q – How do I know what to pack in a hospital bag for labor?
A – Here’s a quick run-through of some of the items you might want to pack in your hospital birthing bag:
- Your birth plan
- Emergency contact details (birth partner, parents, sitter, etc)
- Loose-fitting clothing (robe, leggings, T-shirts, pajamas, etc)
- Nursing bra/nipple lotion OR bottles for feeding
- Car seat
- Toiletries (toothpaste, toothbrush, hairbrush, hair ties, deodorant, etc)
- Adult diapers and/or heavy-duty sanitary pads
- Reusable water bottle
- Outfits for baby (socks, hat, etc)
- Portable speaker for music
- Extra-long phone charging cable
- Comfortable pillow
- Easy to eat snacks
Q – What is a birth plan and why is it important to have one?
A – The truth is it’s not important for every woman who gives birth to have a plan. However, having a birth plan might help you to feel more relaxed and at ease with the laboring process and the procedures that your body will go through.
A birth plan is just a basic rundown of things you would like to happen during your labor. Perhaps you’d like to listen to music. Maybe you’re keen to have a completely natural birth if doctors say it’s safe. You might want somebody who is not the father of your baby to be in the supporting role of the birth partner.
Birth plans don’t guarantee that a woman gets everything she wants – the baby’s safety always takes priority – but they’re a quick, direct way to express yourself and your wishes in a hectic environment.
You can create a detailed birth plan, share it with your midwives and then change your mind about it during labor. It’s not a binding document. It’s just a neat way for your birth team to understand what type of experience you’d prefer.
After you’ve done your research on what to pack in your hospital bag and gathered all of your essentials, leave the bag by your home’s front door. That way, it’s immediately to hand when your contractions start and the big adventure begins.
Once you’re in active labor, hand responsibility for the birthing bag to your partner. It’s their job to make sure it gets to the right place and is always ready when you need it.
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