You will have to trust us when we say that the big moment is not the time to be throwing items in a bag, and you will definitely forget the essentials if you try to pack around timing your contractions. What things you take with you to the hospital and how much you need to make your stay comfortable and relaxed will vary from person to person, but we have a list that can get you started and help you remember some of the more essential items you should be considering.
Keeping a bag at the ready means you can travel to the hospital without worrying that you forgot your slippers or favorite music. Don't forget items for your new arrival like an outfit for their trip home, a cozy travel blanket, and an infant car seat (many hospitals will not let you leave without first seeing your infant car seat). Check out our list of suggestions to get you started:
- Infant car seat is a must-have item to get your newborn home safely. If you travel by car, it is required by law, and most hospitals won't let you leave without one.
- Baby's going home outfit - Your infant will get a diaper and long sleeve shirt from the hospital, but you'll need an outfit for going home, especially if you live in a colder climate.
- Mom personal care items - We're talking toothbrush/paste, supplies for contacts, cleanser, lotion, medications, etc.
- Clothing for mom - You'll want a change of clothes and an outfit to go home in. You will look about six months pregnant after birth, so plan a larger outfit for the trip home, and don't forget a nursing bra.
- Socks - Your feet will be up and out and likely to get cold. Wearing socks is key, and compressions socks might be even more helpful doing double duty for warmth and swelling.
- Camera - Whether you'll depend on your phone or a separate camera, be sure to bring something to capture the big day and include chargers, SD cards, and batteries for backup purposes.
Nice to Have
- Birth plan - you've likely already discussed this with your family and doctor, but bringing a copy can help remind others and inform nurses of your goals.
- Water bottle - Keeping water nearby will help you stay hydrated during the birthing process, which can last for hours or days.
- Pregnancy pillow - A great nursing pillow during your pregnancy can still benefit you in the hospital, but if you are worried about it getting soiled, you may want to leave it at home.
- Eye mask/earplugs - Hospitals can be loud, busy, and bright places. Getting in some rest between contractions is key to keeping your strength up.
- Lip balm - Your lips might get chapped and dry as you breathe and move through the stages of labor.
- Snacks - Often, your caregiver will not let you eat during labor, but depending on your situation, you may be given the opportunity to snack, so bringing your favorite small bites is a good idea.
- Birthing ball - Some hospitals have a ball on hand, but you'll want to bring your own in case they don't have a spare one or don't have them at all.
- Heating pad - A heating pad can help reduce some aches and help soothe a savage uterus when used sparingly with your caregiver's direction.
- Electronics - If you want music or surfing to take your mind off of labor, don't forget your MP3 or tablet.
- Reading materials - Labor can take hours, and it can be boring despite the pain. Bringing a good book or entertaining magazine can help keep you distracted.