Packing for your Hospital Labor

One part of my preparation is packing for the hospital.  I have been slowly packing for my hospital since I found out there was a risk of preterm labor. I wanted to be sure I was ready. Now that I'm 37 weeks, I need to put the finishing items in my bag and make sure everything is ready. Here is a list of items I learned from my first time around that I should take with me.

For Mom

  • 1-2 Nightgowns - These are to make sure you are comfortable. For my first, I didn't take anything and ended up staying in the very uncomfortable hospital gown throughout my entire C-section stay. It was miserable.
  • Robe - If you want to/need to walk around the hospital, a robe will help keep you comfortable.
  • Snacks - Most hospitals have a policy about not allow you to eat or drink anything during labor because of a fear of aspirating should you need an emergency C-Section, but it has been found that the risk of that is minimal and it is actually recommended to eat lightly during labor to maintain energy but policies have not been updated. Sneak in some snacks for you to munch on when you're hungry.
  • Water Bottle - During my stay with my first, I found that I was not getting enough water. My solution for this is to bring a water bottle, like the kind used at the gym, so you can just keep refilling a big bottle less frequently from the nurse's station instead of having to depend on someone to do a million trips for you.
  • Important documents - You will need your insurance card and ID. I plan on taking my birth plan and pinning it on the nurse's board.
  • Relaxation Tools - Tennis balls in a tube sock, heat packs, massage oils, whatever helps for labor.
  • Nursing Pillow - This is a must unless you can get creative with hospital pillows. Better just to bring your nursing pillow.
  • Nursing Pads
  • Nursing Bra & Pumping Bra - If you're going to pump while at the hospital, and you have a pumping bra, take it with you. It'll avoid having to sit there holding the flanges the whole time.
  • Socks - Your feet will get cold. Bring socks or you'll get those really uncomfortable and ugly hospital socks.
  • Hair ties - If your hair gets on your nerves like mine does, bring hair ties to keep it back.
  • Toiletries - This includes toothbrush/paste, minimal makeup, shampoo/conditioner, or anything else you will need for a quick overnight.
  • Basic makeup bag - Just bring some of the basics so you can put something on for pictures and to go home in, if you wish. By basic I mean a little powder and/or liquid foundation, neutral eyeshadow, mascara, blush, and neutral lipstick just to perk yourself up a little for pictures so you don’t look horribly tired in pictures. You’re basic 5-10 minute application kit. Anything more is overkill.
  • Smart Phone with Music & Headphones - With my first, I didn't have to use this because of the C-section, but for labor, I know I will want to drown out the noise in the room, so this is my solution for that.
  • Charging Cables for electronics - You're going to be in the hospital for a few days and your phone will be blowing up! From people calling you to using the phone for music and posting on social media. You're going to need your charging cables to make sure you are still connected to the outside world.
  • Going Home Outfit - Make sure it's something comfortable. I recommend maxi dresses. They're flowy, roomy, and just comfortable.
  • Depends (great for postnatal care!) - These are amazing for making sure you're well cared for...down there. The hospital will provide you with monster sized sanitary napkins and a mesh panty that you can take home, but for a nicer all-in-one solution, there's depends.

For Dad

  • Change of Clothes
  • Snacks - for when you’re in labor, so if he doesn’t want to, he doesn’t have to leave your side.
  • Water Bottle - I’m also packing my husband a water bottle so that he can have water as well while I’m in labor or even after.
  • Toiletries
  • Cash for food/snacks machines

For Baby

  • Infant Seat - You need this or your baby is not going home with you, so don’t forget it.
  • Going Home Outfit - Some people have traditions around this outfit or just something cute to wear.
  • Outfits for pictures - At the hospital where I’m delivering, they do newborn pictures that are really quite nice! I didn’t realize this with Sebastian so I didn’t have too much in the way of cute outfits for him to wear, so I just put him in his going home outfit for the pictures. I also wasn’t prepared for myself and didn’t look as great as I could have, which is why this time around, I am bringing a basic makeup bag.
  • Clothes for baby - 2-3 Sleepers, socks, and hats. You don’t need to bring diapers and wipes because the hospital will provide them for you and you’ll actually get to take some home with you. Save space in your luggage and leave these at home. Just bring some nighties for baby to hang out in, and something that is easily accessible for diaper changes, of which you will be doing A LOT of.
  • Swaddler - Because figuring out how to swaddle a newborn with the hospital receiving blankets is a pain. If you have a swaddled at home, like the Halo sleep sack or something similar, just bring it. It’ll save you a whole lot of aggravation and sleepless nights.
  • Nail Clippers/File - Babies have sharp, teeny tiny little claws. Seriously. They scratch themselves, they’ll scratch you, and they don’t know their own strength. Bring clippers to cut these suckers and file them down before you look like you got in a fight with a feral cat.
  • Mittens -  For the same reasons as you need clippers.

Extras

  • Extra bag for take-homes - As I mentioned above, you’ll be able to take home some diapers and wipes. Also, anyone who visits may be bringing little gifts and such that you will need a bag for, so just back an extra duffle bag in your suitcase for these items.
  • Bluetooth Speaker - It’s nice for baby to listen to music and for yourself. My fondest memory of the hospital was Sebastian listening to Roy Orbison’s Crying and his reaction to hearing the music. It was pretty magical and relaxing for all of us.
  • Baby Book (for hand/footprint) - This is totally optional, but I do wish I had done it with Sebastian. The nurses can help you get baby’s foot/handprint in the baby book, so if you don’t want to try to figure it out on your own, just bring it so you have the extra help.
  • Video Camera - I know smartphones have video cameras, but I really like having my own stand-alone video camera for the sweet little moments.
  • Snacks for Nurses - Nurses work really hard to make sure you are taken care of. Yes, sometimes you can get the occasional crabby nurse, but bringing them a little something to let them know you appreciate everything they do for you is a nice gesture, even if it’s something like a box of donuts or something. When I was in the hospital after my first, my husband had to run out for something and I had him bring the nurses some “pastelitos” as a thank you for everything they had done.

For Siblings

  • Entertainment - You don’t want a bored child at the hospital. If you are going to have your older children with you while in labor or even after, make sure they have something to keep themselves entertained with so they’re not driving you crazy.
  • Gift from New Baby - This is something I’m still not certain about, but everyone I’ve spoken with swears by it. Buy a little something for the older siblings as a gift from the baby to make them feel included.
  • Make sure you have a babysitter in place - If you don’t want to have your older child(ren) there while you labor (of course, this also depends on hospital policies), make sure you have a plan for where they will be staying.
  • Pack a separate bag for the sitters with 3-4 days worth of clothes & supplies - Pack for worst case scenarios. Make sure your child will have all the clothes they will need in case you need an emergency c-section and enough supplies (like diapers and wipes if they’re still in diapers) so it’s not a strain on the sitter.

These are all the items I’m thinking of while packing my bags for the hospital and hopefully I won’t come back and tell you there is something I forgot. I can tell you, the first time around I didn’t pack anywhere near as much as I will be for baby #2 and I ended up having to send my husband out a few times for some items we needed. This time, I’m taking all of this into consideration and packing accordingly. Thankfully, I’ll be giving birth in the same hospital as my first so I’m familiar with the hospital already and what they offer so I can plan accordingly. If you’re not familiar with the hospital, I would take a hospital tour or ask other moms what their experience was like so you can plan accordingly.

I’ve also taken all of this information and created a Hospital Bag Checklist for you to use. Just download it here so you can keep it on hand and check off items as you go.