As your due date approaches, you’ll probably starting thinking (and/or stressing) about what to bring to the hospital when you give birth. Have no fear: we’ve got a handy packing list to make sure your trip to the hospital goes as smoothly as possible!
First off, we highly suggest having your bags packed by the time you’re 34-35 weeks pregnant. That way, you should be ready to go whenever labor starts.
It’s also a good idea to call ahead and ask your hospital what they provide for newborns and their moms so you’ll know what to leave at home.
Now for the actual packing. You’ll need three different categories of items: stuff for you, stuff for your partner or whoever’s accompanying you to the hospital, and stuff for your baby.
-ID, insurance card, hospital paperwork, and anything else you’ll need to check in at the hospital. (Again, you should call ahead and make sure you have everything your hospital requires.)
-Your birth plan, if you have one. This document details your preferences for how you want the delivery to go, from pain management during labor to postpartum care. You can find some birth plan templates here and here.
-Headbands and hair ties to keep your hair out of your face during labor. If you wear them, eyeglasses are also recommended; contacts could be a bit of a hassle during a long labor.
-Hard candy to keep your mouth from drying out during labor.
-Nightgowns, a bathrobe, slippers, and socks. Hospitals provide gowns and socks, but you can bring your own clothes if you prefer. Nightgowns should be loose, comfortable, and sleeveless or short-sleeved so that your blood pressure can be checked easily. It’s a good idea to bring at least two nightgowns so that you’ll have something to change into after giving birth. Robes and slippers are useful if you want to walk around during early labor or go visit your newborn in the nursery. Remember, any clothes you bring are likely to get dirty, so it’s best to leave your most precious nightgowns at home.
-Things to help you relax. This can be anything from an MP3 player to pictures of your older kids to your favorite pillow (just make sure it has a colored pillowcase to distinguish it from hospital pillows). Some moms also recommend physical relaxers like stress balls, heating pads, and back massagers.
-Toiletries. Just bring the basic stuff: shampoo, conditioner, chapstick, toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, face wash, lotion, hairbrush, and contact lenses and solution if you need them. It’s also a good idea to bring a pair of flip-flops to wear in the hospital shower.
-Basic nursing supplies. Check on what your hospital provides, but you’ll definitely want comfortable nursing bras, lanolin cream, breast pads, and a nursing pillow.
-Maternity or disposable underwear and sanitary pads. The hospital will provide you with mesh underwear and pads, but you can bring your own if you prefer.
-Snacks and takeout menus. You’ll probably be hungry after all the work of labor, and you may not want to rely on the hospital cafeteria.
-Writing utensils and a baby book or notebook. You can use this to track your baby’s feeding sessions, write down questions for the postpartum nurses, jot down advice from the pediatrician, record memories of your baby’s first day, and even get a copy of your baby’s footprints when the nurses record them for the birth certificate.
-An outfit to wear home. This should be roomy and comfortable, as you will probably still look around 5 or 6 months pregnant.
-An extra bag. Between supplies from the hospital (diapers, blankets, etc.) and gifts from well-wishers, you’ll probably be going home with more stuff than you came with.
For your partner:
-Camera with extra batteries or charger. As long as your hospital allows it, you’ll probably want to record the big day!
-Cell phone, charger, and contact list. You’ll probably want to let lots of people know about your baby’s birth; make a list of people to contact ahead of time so that no one gets forgotten in the excitement of the moment. (If your hospital doesn’t allow cell phones, make sure to bring a prepaid calling card or change for the hospital phones.)
-A change of clothes and toiletries if they’re planning to stay overnight.
-Snacks, change for the vending machines, and something to read or watch. Labor can take a loooong time.
For your baby:
-A rear-facing car seat to make sure that your baby gets home from the hospital safely.
-A going-home outfit. This should include pants (to make strapping your baby into the car seat easy), booties or socks, a hat, and any weather-appropriate clothing. Remember, newborns are very sensitive to the cold. And don’t forget to mind the umbilical cord stump! Pants' waistbands should be pulled either well over or well below the stump, and cross-over shirts that button to the side of the baby’s body are extra-gentle on healing tummies.
-A receiving blanket. Your hospital may provide these, but you can also bring your own to swaddle your newborn.
-Baby nail clippers, an emery board, or mittens. Some babies are born with long nails; it’s important to keep your newborn from scratching their face.
That’s our list of hospital must-haves; what’s yours? Is there anything you packed that we didn’t include? Something you didn’t bring but wished you had? Get in touch and let us know!