If you’re planning on having your baby at the hospital or birth center you will need to pack a few things to bring with you.
You will want to have these items ready to go just in case you go into labor early. Some of the essentials would be:
* Your photo ID and any necessary hospital and insurance paperwork
* Your birth plan. Don’t rely on your doula or other support staff to bring this. They most definitely will but you want to provide it to your medical staff as soon as possible. Your doula may still be on her way to the hospital/birth center when you are admitting.
* A birthing gown. The hospital provides their very fashionable gowns and socks but I personally wouldn’t want my hind end hanging out in the breeze. I know most are held together with snaps but I’m personally not interested! They sell beautiful gowns online that are also held together with snaps but are longer, feminine, and nursing friendly. I’ve always wanted one of these but have always put off purchasing one. If you have the option, go for it! Last I checked they were around $60.
* Slippers and/or fuzzy socks.
* If you’re pillow picky like I am, pack your own pillow. You obviously can’t do this while you’re using it so I recommend putting a list of items you will need to grab in the top of your birth bag. This will help you be able to grab those last minute items without forgetting something important.
* Some lanolin or coconut oil for your nipples. This will be a lifesaver if your nipples get sore before you get home.
* A camera or video camera, charged or with extra batteries/memory cards. Even if you aren’t planning on taking pictures of the birth you want pictures of after the birth. This is so important. I love looking back at my birth pictures. It’s like reliving the birth and the special moments of meeting your new baby, but without the physical requirements of labor.
* Snacks. Many hospitals will not allow the pregnant mom to eat under fear that she may end up having an emergency c-section and need general anesthesia. Occasionally a mother may throw up. The hospital wants to avoid this so they don’t offer the mother food, just juice. In my opinion this is just encouraging a c-section. Sometimes labor can take a long time, a day or two even, and if mom isn’t given any nutrition during that time her body is going to get exhausted and labor will stall. Some may protest this but I recommend packing honey sticks, granola bars, nuts, healthy energy drinks and light snacks that you think you can stomach. Your packing not only for you but also for your support staff (husband, family, etc.).
* Your cell phone and your charger. The hospital provides your room with a phone but what if you want to go for a walk? This will help you be able to keep in contact with anyone you’d like to inform of your labor. They also come in handy for pictures!
* Comfortable shoes and a change or two of clothes. Remind your spouse to bring the same thing.
* Money for the vending machines and/or hospital cafeteria. You may get food from the hospital but your spouse will most likely be eating from the cafeteria.
* A bathing suit, just in case you’d like to get into the shower or tub. This is highly recommended as it can really take the pressure of the contractions off.
* A list of who you’d like to call after the baby is born. Don’t rely on your memory! There will be too much going on for you to remember everyone and if you accidentally forget someone essential their feelings will be hurt for a very long time.
* A good nursing bra and a sleep bra. Bra’s can be uncomfortable to sleep in so I recommend a sleep bra for when you’re resting.
* Toiletries. Bring some of your own toiletries of things you are particular of using. For example, I use a homemade toothpaste that I prefer over the store toothpaste. I would pack this and my toothbrush. Also, you may have a brand of shampoo and conditioner you prefer if your hair is finicky.
* Your own pair of maternity panties. The hospital will provide you with a mesh pair of disposable underwear. After some babies I chose to wear them and with others I didn’t. The nice thing about them is you can rinse them out if you have some blood that leaks off the pad. I have two pairs that I alternate with. While the one is drying I can be wearing the other. It’s not worth staining your nice pairs! Oh, and they’re very stretchy so one size fits most.
* Some people like to give a gift to their other children. I’ve never done this nor felt like I should have done this. My children consider the baby a gift for them. I’ve found that if you hold your children often and allow them to hold the baby (supervised of course, and yes, even the toddlers!) it helps the children not get jealous. I’ve actually never had a jealous child yet. I’m not sure why that is but I suspect it’s because we try to incorporate the new baby into the family with the help of the toddlers. Also, we teach the children, as best as we can, to not be selfish and to love each other. An entire book can be written on that so I can’t really get into it here!
* Something to read to occupy your spare time, if you have any.
* A notepad and pen. I’m a list girl and would be lost without my notebook!
* A going home outfit for you and baby. Pack something that you could wear when you were six months pregnant. Chances are it will fit perfectly, unless you gained a lot at the end. I wear pregnancy clothes for a month or so after the baby is born. Also, pack something for your little one to wear. Cute outfits are nice and all but go for the one piece pajamas. Don’t forget a onesie or two and a pair of socks. Socks are nice to put over the pajamas to help keep their feet in the right place. Otherwise, their feet move up into the pj’s and are a pain!
* A receiving blanket to keep baby warm during their trip home.
* A car seat. You won’t be able to leave without one!
Don’t bring anything you wouldn’t want to risk losing or getting stolen!