Things to think about when preparing for your hospital birth (Mom, Baby, and Partner)
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When should you pack a hospital bag?
Start thinking about your hospital bag a couple of weeks before your due date. I packed my bag a day after my due date, and in hindsight, I wouldn’t recommend this. To my defense, I didn’t have a ton of clothes I could just throw in my bag and not use for that week, so that was my excuse. And, procrastination played a part, too. But just so you’re not scrambling at the last minute, start packing a bag early.
What should you include in your hospital bag?
In your hospital bag, you want not only things for you, things for baby, and things for your partner, but you should also include important documents like your birth plan, copies of your drivers’ licenses, a list of hospital numbers and emergency numbers to have on hand, insurance information, and possibly a print out of the hospital map. I put together a folder that had space to include all the hospital papers that I would bring home as well. Include any other documents that pertain to your particular birth (cord blood banking documents, filled out anesthesia forms for epidural, patient registration forms, etc.). You can find the anesthesia forms and patient registration forms on your delivery hospital website.
Call your hospital a few days before your due date and pre-register.
Pre registering is a good idea so you have one less thing to think about on the day you go into labor. Call your hospital and ask to pre-register so that they already have insurance information on file and know your room preferences.
WHAT TO PACK
Important Documents & Electronics
- Folder containing all important documents with room for hospital documents that you will acquire.
- Birth Plan
- Insurance cards + copies
- Drivers’ Licenses + copies. I made copies so I could just give them to the hospital and didn’t have to wait for them to make copies. If this is a possibility for you, I would highly recommend.
- Emergency phone numbers + info sheet
- Hospital Pre-Registration Form
- Filled out Anesthesia form (if an epidural is a preference or in your plan). I filled mine out so that I knew I was prepared for an epidural or emergency CS which gave me some peace of mind.
- Phones and phone chargers
- Camera (if bringing) + battery charger and memory card
- Birthing outfit. If you are planning on wearing your own clothes, a comfortable birthing outfit is a must. I wore hospital clothes and once my water broke, I changed into different hospital clothes. In hindsight, I would probably do the same thing again; I must have changed maybe two or three times before baby was born. Keep in mind that your birthing attire will become dirty with blood and bodily fluids.
- Pajamas for at least two nights. Make sure these are loose and comfortable, with easy access to nurse. I wore a pair of loose pajama shorts with a nursing bra and oversized t-shirt.
- Yoga pants. Again, loose fitting is comfortable; you are sore and don’t want anything too tight. Consider bringing maternity yoga pants if you have them. I just brought loose yoga pants with a fold over waist band and these fit fine after baby was born.
- Nursing Tanks. Make sure you are bringing tops that have easy nursing access. You will be nursing often in the hospital.
- Comfy socks. The hospital also gives you socks, but I like to wear my own socks.
- Slippers. I didn’t bring these but should have as opposed to walking around in socks the whole day.
- Disposable undies (granny panties). I would highly recommend these. They are all cotton and they actually have lasted me quite a while. These are the best bang for your buck and they wash in the washing machine just fine. They have lasted at least six months. I bought a size larger than my normal underwear size because you will wear them with thick pads for a while, and you don’t want to wear anything tight or binding.
- Zip up jacket(s) or hoodies. These provide easy nursing access and are quick to slip on.
- Flip flops for the shower.
- Gym shoes or going home shoes.
- Nursing pads. Pack several pairs. Your milk won’t come in for a few days, but when it does, you will leak quite a bit.
- Nipple cream. The hospital has lanolin and will give you a tube, but if you have a specific type you want, I would recommend bringing it to the hospital.
- Nursing cover. For the most part, you will just nurse in your hospital room and probably not have a cover on, but if you have guests and want to nurse, a cover is nice to have on hand, or just use a swaddle blanket.
- Going home outfit (optional).
I basically lived in yoga pants and nursing tanks at the hospital. I was only there for about 48 hours in total, but ended up packing way too many clothes. Opt for comfort and functionality over everything else.
- Sleepers are by far the easiest to get on a newborn + HATS. Baby has a hard time regulating temperature as a newborn. Hats help keep their head and body warm and sleepers are great for newborns because they are easy to put on and also keep baby warm. We received this sleeper as a gift shortly after we got home from the hospital and this would have been AMAZING in the hospital because of ease of opening and closing for late night vital readings. The hospital does give you hats, so this isn’t a must, but we had a set of three sleepers and three hats and this was enough for our hospital stay.
- Newborn diapers + wipes. If you have a specific type you want to use for baby, bring them with you. I cloth diaper at home, but I was glad I used disposable diapers in the beginning at the hospital, especially for the meconium (baby’s first poop). Plus, it’s easy to see if baby has peed in a disposable diaper (blue line). The hospital has diapers and wipes if you don’t have a preference as to what brand or type of diaper or wipe you use.
- Diaper cream just in case. The hospital has diaper cream, but again, if you want to use a different brand, it is best to bring your own.
- Going home outfit (optional). We just put baby in a sleeper and matching hat.
- A pillow and blanket (something we didn’t bring and wish we had) for the uncomfortable couch that your partner / boyfriend / husband will sleep on.
- Comfy clothes and PJs for at least two days and two nights.
Toiletries (for all)
- I brought my own soap, shampoo, and conditioner.
- Toothbrush and toothpaste.
- Hair dryer, hair brush, hair ties.
- I also brought baby soap in a sample container. If you are planning on bathing baby at the hospital and don’t want to use Johnson & Johnson soap (or another popular baby soap brand), pack your own soap. I opted to use this soap because of the clean ingredients. I packed a small sample container of soap and the nurse was happy to use it to help us with baby’s first bath.
- Feminine pads. The hospital has all of this, but you may want to bring your own as backup.
- The hospital will provide you with pads, spray, and spray bottles, as well as meds.
- A car seat. You can’t leave the hospital without one.
- Essential oil diffuser (if you are wanting this for birth).
- Portable speaker (again, if this is in your birth plan or your preference to have music playing during labor).
- Cash. Most hospital cafeterias accept credit or debit, but it’s a good thing to have on hand, and also easy to give to a friend or family member if you need them to go grab something to eat for you. The hospital does provide MOM with food (no one else), but if you are eating a restricted diet (vegan, vegetarian, gluten free, etc.), you will probably opt for something other than the provided hospital food. I eat a plant based diet, and the ‘vegan’ hospital food consisted of steamed carrots and broccoli. We were lucky to have other choices (we had to pay) in the hospital like vegan wraps + other hot food entrees and salads.
- A gift for the nurses. This is something that I planned to do but never did, and I wish I would have done it. You can pick up something small like a box of chocolates or sweets of some sort, but something nice for your labor and delivery nurses and mother and baby unit nurses to leave at the nurse’s station.