Your Ultimate Guide to Packing Your Labor Bag!
Oh, where to begin?
You're about to greet a brand new person. Someone whom you've never met before but you already know you'll love them more than anything. The nursery is set. The carseat is installed. All of his/hers toys and swings and playthings are patiently waiting for the arrival ...and now you're faced with one last obstacle.
What in the world do I need to bring to the hospital?!
No need to panic! Here's a couple lists to get you started! Feel free to write them down or print them out so you can check them off as you go!
What You NEED To Take To The Hospital!
Some things are just wants, some are unnecessary ...and then some are absolutely needed!
Clothing for you:
- At least 4 pairs of underwear - you can buy some cheap ones in your area. I don't suggest anything that's pretty because you'll more than likely ruin them and the "boy shorts" kind are excellent in holding the giant diaper type pads that the hospital gives you!
- 4 t-shirts - after delivery, you'll take a shower and will have the option to put on your own clothes. You've just given birth so no one expects you to look amazing like always! Pack some comfy t-shirts that will give you room and the ability to be comfortable if you plan to breastfeed.
- 3 nursing bras - Even if you don't plan to breastfeed, nursing bras are usually the most comfortable. If you don't have any/can't afford a good brand then grab some without an underwire and preferably a spaghetti strap/tank top which will be easy to slide the straps down if you are nursing your new addition!
- 4 pajama pants - If you've had a cesarean section or vaginal birth, pajama pants are loose fitting and definitely the most comfortable!
- Socks with rubber soles - More often than not, you could find yourself walking the halls to speed up labor. The LAST thing you want to do is slip and fall! Make sure your feet have a good grip on those slick hospital floors!
- Comfortable tennis shoes/slip-ons to go home in - You don't want heels. You want something you can slide into in a snap, especially if you've had a c-section.
Hair, makeup, and bathroom essentials:
- Plenty of pony tail holders (or clips) - You may lose some, you may break some. During your birth and after, the last thing you'll want to struggle with is having your hair all over the place! You will easily save yourself some trouble if you have these handy!
- Makeup at a minimum - The smaller the items are you bring, the greater chance you'll lose them in all the ruckus. You can take some mascara and an eyebrow pencil if you don't want to get all dressed up. Preferably waterproof ...keep your small items sealed in a little makeup bag or Ziploc.
- Deodorant - Now this one is just a given.
- Phone charger - Because who wants a dead cellphone when you're trying to post all your precious brand new baby selfies to Facebook?!
- Camera - Just in case you want the higher quality photos (or you skipped the last suggestion and your phone died anyway). I suggest assigning someone to photo duty or hiring your own photographer. Your partner will be too busy helping you and baby out to capture those first few moments. And trust me ...you WANT those first few moments!
- Your Prenatal Vitamins - Continue taking these for as long as you want ...especially if you're breastfeeding.
- Toothbrush and toothpaste - Normally they will provide a toothbrush but sometimes you don't end up with both, or one or the other, or neither, whichever! You can take them just in case.
Stuff for Baby!
- Diaper bag - Well, obviously. You can stuff all the necessities into it too!
- Car seat! - Make sure the base is installed in your vehicle. You can leave the car seat in your car as well until it's time to take baby home. No point in having it take up room for the few days you'll be in the hospital. A nurse will also inspect when you're leaving to make sure baby is strapped in properly and that it's in the car properly as well. Now will be the time to ask questions about safety laws and requirements if you need to!
- 5-8 pairs of clothes - If you're going to be taking lots of pictures, you might want quite a few. However, I must warn. The more clothes you take, the higher you risk losing or ruining them with your own special body fluids. Yuck!
- 4 pairs of socks - Hospitals tend to run a bit cool. Keep them in a specific location in your bag because these are easy to come up missing!
- 2 pacifiers - If you're the type to use them. Most hospitals will provide them, however.
- Hats! - Baby will love to keep his/her head nice and cozy so don't forget the hats!
- 2-3 swaddling blankets - Having their body exposed to our world can be rather traumatizing. Your brand new baby will want to be swaddled and kept cozy at all times. The hospital staff will be more than happy to teach you how to swaddle ...or you can purchase a sack for baby to sleep in. Those are the best!
- 2 cozy blankets - Even when swaddled, having a bigger and more comfortable blanket is nice, also. It will develop your smell and will teach baby that things are just fine when not swaddled!
- Hand mitts - Babies have a tendency to scratch themselves and are usually born with rather long nails. If you aren't comfortable clipping them just yet, hand mitts will be a lifesaver!
- 6 Burp rags - More than likely you'll end up with this new innocent being spewing warm white liquid all over you at some point. It's always good to have one draped under baby during your burping session ... just in case.
- Baby book! - If you want those sweet baby feet inked all in your baby book, bring it along for the ride and leave it with a nurse so they know to imprint it as well!
Just remember, if you end up having problems and have to stay in the hospital longer than usual, you can always send someone out to get you more of items that you need. Don't stress!
A simple "How To" on swaddling and calming your newborn!
Do you plan on filming the birth of your child?
What you do NOT need to pack!
These are things that the hospital will provide for you if you don't feel it necessary to take up more room with unneeded stuff.
- Diapers - That's right. Don't even bother wasting yours because you'll definitely be needing them! Use the diapers the hospital gives you while you're there.
- Wipes - The hospital will provide this as well, but if you want some for yourself then that's OK too! Just don't expect to be using them on baby.
- Razors - Trust me. The last thing you'll be worried about is your stubbly legs. 5+ people just saw a person come out of you. They don't care about your stubbles either, plus, you risk gashing your finger open when fumbling for it. It's best to leave this little hazard at home.
- Tampons, pads, etc. - The hospital should give you a convenient squirt bottle to clean yourself after using the restroom. You definitely don't want to be using tampons and there's no reason in wasting your own pads either. You'll more than likely soak through them every hour and the hospital will provide super large ones for you anyway. Wait till you're home to use your own pads.
- Heels - Come on. I've seen women do this who regretted it immediately. Bring comfortable shoes instead!
- Shampoo/conditioner/body soaps - The hospital will provide all of this. No need to bring them unless you want to risk spillage.
The pain of childbirth is not remembered. It's the child that's remembered.— Freeman Dyson
Things you don't HAVE to pack but can consider!
These are more-so items that you can bring if you want, just remember, the more items you have, the higher the chance of them becoming lost. Some people advise against them simply because you'll have a brand new baby and won't want to fool with keeping yourself otherwise preoccupied, but entirely up to you.
- MP3/Ipod/Music - Some think they want it in the room during delivery to help relax. Some think it's just something else to have to worry about. Some think you won't be able to hear it over the screams of "PUSH!!" and "ALMOST THERE!" Others think all you'll care about is getting this gorgeous baby out of you so you can kiss and love all over him/her. I personally wouldn't recommend it, but entirely up to you.
- Books/Magazines - I feel like the last thing you'll want to do when baby is born is read. If you've had an epidural, they say it's best to sleep anyhow because you're definitely going to need it. Once again, up to you.
- Your own pillow and blankets - The hospital will provide these items and they're usually up to par but if you insist on having your partner lug them around for you, by all means go right ahead!
- Breast pump - If you feel like something might occur that will prevent from baby latching on, this is a good idea, however, the hospital will usually loan you one while you're there if you need it.
Items for your partner to pack for labor!
We often tend to forget about them but this experience is just as crucial for your partner as well. Remember to pack for them also!
- 2-3 changes of clothes - Shirts, pants, underwear, socks, and shoes. They might get messy during the birth process so make sure they're something comfortable and easy to clean.
- Books/Magazines - The hospital usually has some sitting around, but just in case you're passed out because of your awesome epidural and they tend to get bored with Candy Crush, at least they'll have something to read.
- Your birth plan - All of the things you want and don't want to happen during and after childbirth. Bring two copies: one for your partner to keep up with and one for the hospital to have that way there aren't any misunderstandings.
- Essential documents - A lot of times hospitals will need ID cards and insurance cards. Make sure to leave all of this in a secure location (or the diaper bag) just in case anything comes up. Of course always make sure your partner has their ID on them at all times.
- Toothbrush, bathroom essentials - The hospital provides all of this for you but if you don't want to share (or have a tendency to use an entire bottle of shampoo in one wash) you can have your partner bring along their bathroom necessities.
- Money - Your partner will probably want some snacks here and there and you may want some after labor, also. Having about $10 in $1 bills will definitely help.
- Phone and charger - Because sometimes our partners aren't the only one with pregnancy brain! Forgetfulness is a real bummer sometimes!
I will add, it's usually easier to keep your partner's personal belongings separate from yours simply because you'll know what's what and where things are. Documents and stuff are fine, but wrap up any bottles of liquids (shampoos and such) in plastic baggies to prevent soiling other items.
Just don't pack TOO much
Keep in mind, you'll end up leaving the hospital with a LOT of gifts more than likely, plus a giant car seat with a brand new baby inside. Not to mention the bags of stuff the hospital will be giving you. It will usually be up to your partner to make all the trips to the car so try not to make it too hefty. My recommendations on packing:
- 1 bag shared for you and baby
- 1 bag for your partner
Keep it simple and try not to overwhelm yourself. It'll be just fine.
© 2014 Ash Ryan