What to pack in your hospital bag
For many moms to be, preparing a hospital bag for labor and delivery is an exciting milestone marking the end of our pregnancy. We are finally getting ready to meet the new most important person in our lives. The grand prize is so close we can almost touch it - literally.
How to pack your hospital bag
As with all things related to pregnancy and babies, advice on what to pack in your hospital bag can be overwhelming. The internet offers countless pregnancy hospital bag checklists and you are pretty much guaranteed to overpack for baby’s very first journey. We encourage you to enjoy this final milestone of getting ready for baby’s arrival rather than feeling stressed and worried about forgetting an important item. As long as you have your hospital notes and something comfortable to wear during labor, you will be fine. Your partner can always nip out and get any forgotten items once baby has arrived. The truth is that you will be so busy during labor, you might forget about that playlist you had lovingly put together or that lip balm you thought was so important.
Some families prefer having separate bags to make finding specific items as easy as possible. These might be individual bags for baby and mom or for during and after labor. Consider that you might not be able to unpack yourself, so getting your partner involved in the packing process can help make things easier on the big day.
So, what do you really need in hospital during and after labor? We have aimed to give you the essentials you will need, along with some nice-to-haves on a separate list. To make packing a breeze, please scroll all the way down for printable lists.
When to pack your hospital bag
It’s a good idea to have your hospital bag ready about a month before your due date, just in case your little passenger decides to make an early appearance. Have your hospital notes at the top of the bag or in a side pocket so you can grab them easily when going for check-ups during that final month. Remember to always put them straight back in the bag when you return home. Place your bag somewhere you are guaranteed to see it on your way out. This will make everything as easy as possible when it’s time to go.
What to pack in your hospital bag for yourself and your partner
- hospital notes with birth plan – The single most important item on any US hospital bag checklist. Place them at the top of your packed hospital bag after every check-up.
- TENS machine - If you have decided to use it for pain relief. Consider bringing some spare batteries, just in case.
- drinks and snacks - for yourself and your birth partner. Cereal bars and glucose tablets work well. Bananas are also miracle workers and make a nice addition to your bag closer to the time. Keep in mind that during Covid-19, you will have to minimize the times you leave and re-enter the room, so bring enough food to last you a while.
- toiletry bag for yourself and your partner: toothbrushes, toothpaste, hairbrush, moisturizer, shower gel, deodorant, shampoo if you feel fancy.
- clothing for labor – Button up nightdresses are great because they keep you covered up and cozy during labor (remember you will not be wearing any bottoms and if you are hoping for a natural birth, you will be walking around a lot) while facilitating skin to skin and breastfeeding once baby has arrived. Don’t forget a pair of warm socks, as cold feet can stall labor.
- clothing for after labor – you will want some clean nightwear to put on once baby has arrived. Pajamas work well now but try to find a pair with a button-up top. Socks and a dressing gown.
- spare clothing and nightwear for partner – check with your hospital, if you are staying in the home from home part of the maternity unit (the home from home is specifically for low risk, natural births), your partner might be able to sleep over
- underwear – cotton knickers (a few pairs that you are not too attached to), 2 nursing bras, breast pads (even if you are not planning to breastfeed, your breasts will be sensitive, bigger than usual and leaking).
- towels – some hospitals don’t provide them, so better safe than sorry.
- sanitary/maternity pads – bring plenty
- pair of glasses or contact lenses – if you need them
- hair ties
- going-home outfit – loose and comfortable
- change for the car park
- full petrol tank
- phones and chargers - with important numbers and contraction timing app.
- face masks & optional hand sanitizer – Remember to bring face masks for yourself and your partner during Covid-19. Hospitals generally have plenty of hand sanitizer, but you might prefer bringing a personal bottle.
What to pack in the hospital bag for baby
- – disposable & diaper bags or cloth & wet bag
- cotton wool or natural wipes, suitable for newborns (1-2 packs)
- baby clothes – 5x vests, onesies with feet
- going home outfit – baby’s cutest ensemble
- outerwear – jacket or all in one, hat and booties for going home, depending on the season
- 1-2 muslin cloths
- car seat
- camera – you will never get another chance to capture these moments
- books/magazines/games for yourself and your birthing partner
- e-reader - They are great for 1-handed-reading during feeds, but most likely you will want to simply stare at your new arrival.
- playlist and speakers for labor
- make up
breast balm – if you have a preferred brand you would like to use
lip balm – pro tip: nipple balm is wonderful for mama’s lips
- ear plugs & eye mask – in case you should struggle sleeping in a shared room
- pillow – to feel more at home and comfortable
- water-spray – to keep you cool during labor
- massage oil – for baby but also for yourself during labor
- lavender oil or spray – many women find these relaxing during a natural birth
- notebook – to jot down these precious memories
All of us here at Kit & Kin wish you the very best for the next few weeks and for the birth of your little miracle!