Packing your bag for the hospital can be a daunting task. As you pack up things for that little person you have yet to meet, it may finally hit you that you’ll be coming home with one extra person than you left with. You also probably wonder what things are really necessary. It’s a good idea to have your bag packed by the time you are eight months pregnant. While packing, keep in mind that a typical hospital stay is two days for a vaginal birth and four for a c-section, although it can vary based on hospital policy, your insurance company, and your preferences. No matter how long your stay, here are some essentials to pack in your hospital bag:
What to Pack for Labor:
-Lip Balm: Your lips may get dry from all the breathing and panting in labor.
-Sports Drinks: If your hospital allows fluids during labor, these are great for rehydrating. Also, your birth partner will appreciate having something to drink, and it will save them from having to leave you if they get thirsty.
-Rubber Bands: To tie your hair up. If your hair is long, you can braid it so it doesn’t get in knots.
-A CD or MP3 player with calming songs on it: You may find that your favorite songs help you relax during labor.
-Warm socks: So your feet don’t get cold!
-Change for the snack machines: Your husband or birth partner will probably get hungry or thirsty during your labor, and they don’t want to be stuck in the middle of the night with nothing to eat when the cafeteria closes.
-Change of clothes for your partner: If your birth is long, your husband or birth partner will appreciate clean clothes to change in to.
What to Pack for After the Birth:
-Nightgown: After you give birth, it feels good to be in your own pajamas. Bring a comfy old pair or two because they will likely get dirty. If you’ll be breastfeeding, make sure the top is either button-down or stretchy enough to accommodate breastfeeding. You can bring pants and shirt-type pajamas too if you prefer them, but a nightgown is essential if you end up having a c-section, since pants will irritate your scar and may interfere with the bandages.
-Underwear (Big comfy ones), nursing bras (if you’ll be breastfeeding, and make sure they’re a size bigger than your usual), socks.
-Pads: Bring a few of the extra heavy nighttime ones. You will be bleeding a lot. The hospital provided ones usually don’t have anything sticky to hold them in place.
-Comfy, large slippers: Your feet may get swollen after childbirth, especially if you are induced, so make sure you bring a large pair. My daughter ended up in the NICU and I had to walk there every 3 hours to feed her, so these came in handy.
-Coming home outfit for you: Unfortunately, you won’t look like your pre-pregnancy self when you leave the hospital with your baby! Your tummy takes a while to “deflate” and it’s going to take a little work to lose those extra pounds. So pack clothes that fit you when you were about 6 months pregnant.
-Camera and/or video camera: Probably one of the most important things to bring! You’ll want to take lots of pictures once your baby is born. Also don’t forget extra batteries.
-Boppy pillow: great for putting around your stomach while you feed your baby, especially if you’ve had a c-section. Your incision will be very sore so the pillow keeps baby from putting pressure on you. If you’ve had an episiotomy or tear during a vaginal birth, you can sit on the pillow and it will take the pressure off the sore area.
-Shampoo, conditioner, soap/shower gel, toothpaste, mouthwash, and toothbrush: Try to get these in travel-size at the pharmacy.
-Nursing pads, nursing cream (lanolin): At first breastfeeding hurts! So be sure to bring some lanolin to soothe cracked nipples and a few nursing pads to deal with leaks.
-Baby memory book: After you have your baby you’ll want to record everything. How the birth went, your baby’s name, weight, height, eye color, hair color, and baby’s first visitors are some stuff you’ll be adding to the book. You can also record your feelings as a new mom. It will make a great keepsake for your baby when he or she gets older!
What to Pack For Your Baby:
-Coming home outfit for baby: Almost every new mom has this one picked out and set aside long before the baby’s due. A few tips: keep in mind what the weather will probably be like around the time your baby’s due. Bring a jacket or sweater to layer on top in case it turns out to be colder than expected. I suggest you bring 2 outfits, one in newborn size and one in 0-3 months size. You never know how big or little your baby will be, since ultrasounds aren’t very accurate in predicting the weight of a baby. Finally, make sure the outfit is extra cute for all those going home pictures!
-Receiving blankets: In case it gets cold, or to swaddle baby in.
-A few diapers and wipes: the hospital will provide these during your stay, but it’s good to bring a few along just in case.
-Car seat: Most hospitals won’t let you leave without one, and it’s the safest way for your baby to drive home.