Congratulations! You’re pregnant and likely into your third trimester. You’ve done so much to prepare for the birth of your baby, now all that’s left to do is pack your hospital bag. Even if you're planning a homebirth, packing a hospital bag is a smart idea for that just in case scenario. Today, I’ll be detailing a few essentials that no one should go without, but if you’re short on time and just want the list, scroll to the bottom and click the button.
This is a BIG one! Nothing will make labor, birth and postpartum easier than your birth team knowing exactly what you do and do not want.
That said, a solid birth plan is not just a list. It’s a short, one page, easy to read document highlighting what you’d like your birth to look like.
These are things you should be discussing with your medical provider, and anyone else you plan to have at your birth, long before the big day and more than once.
There are many things that can be included on a birth plan. Here’s just a quick list of items to consider:
Environment: lighting, music, privacy
Medical intervention: epidural, Pitocin, surgical birth
Special considerations: catching your own baby, partner cutting the cord, immediate skin to skin.
This is by no means an exhaustive list. I do one hour birth planning sessions if you’d like to dive deeper into the details!
Comfort items include anything that’s going to help make the hospital feel more like home. Many folks choose to bring their own blankets and pillow. Even though the hospital provides these items, they’re never as comfy as your own.
Other items the hospital sometimes provides are a robe and mesh undies. Robes are excellent for skin to skin and breastfeeding since they open in the front. Some folks choose to bring their own, but this is a nice item to keep at home since it can be very bulky and may not fit well in your bag. Just be sure to double check with your hospital to be sure they provide them.
This applies to you and your partner. You’ll both want to freshen up after the birth, especially if it goes on for a while. Don’t overdo it though. Remember, you’ll only be in the hospital for 1-2 days for an uncomplicated, vaginal birth. If you need to be there longer, someone can always bring you additional items.
A simple toiletry bag might look like:
Soap or mini body wash
Try to use products you've been using throughout your pregnancy, and that you plan on using after baby is born. Your unique scent is one of the main ways your baby recognizes you.
2 changes of clothes
Consider if you’re going to want to breastfeed and/or do skin to skin. If so, choose loose tops. Tank tops work well. Many choose one with a shelf bra, or one that’s specifically made for breastfeeding. If you want extra support, a nursing bra can be helpful, but it’s not necessary. Breast pads are helpful if your mature milk comes in before leaving the hospital. Breast pads catch leaking milk and protect your clothes.
Maternity pants. That bump doesn’t just disappear after baby is born. You can expect to still have a 20+ week bump during the first few days or even week after your baby’s arrival. Same goes for undies.
If you’re going to bring fuzzy socks, be sure they have a slip resistant bottom. If not, I suggest slippers to keep your feet cozy on the cold hospital floor.
Things for Baby
A car seat is the most important thing to bring for baby. You can not leave the hospital without your car seat properly installed. I suggest getting this done before 36 weeks and putting one in all of the family vehicles.
The only other thing you’ll need for baby is a “going home outfit”. Some people love dressing up their babies, and by all means go nuts. If you’re like me, you like to keep it simple. In that case, a zip up footy pajama goes on easy, makes for easy diaper changes and keeps baby snug and warm. If it’s chilly outside, a blanket over baby (after they’ve been strapped in), a hat, and a cover over the car seat will keep baby snug and warm for the ride home.
Leave it at Home
If you take nothing else from this, remember to keep it as simple as possible. The last thing you want is your partner and your doula lugging around so much stuff that they can't help you to your birthing suit. Try to avoid "just in case" items, and only pack things you know you'll need.
Be sure to talk with your doula bout items they'll bring, so you're not doubling up unnecessarily.
The hospital will provide everything baby needs including diapers, wipes, creams, soap, hat, receiving blanket and onesie. Many hospitals will also give you a sleep sack! If you’re concerned about brands that are used, don’t hesitate to ask and definitely bring your own if you’re not on board with their choices.
The hospital also provides items such as mesh panties or adult diapers, peri bottle for cleaning your bottom, ice packs, stool softener, and pain killers. Sometimes these things aren’t offered but are available. Be sure to ask your hospital if they have these items before the big day, so that you know what is and isn't available.
Anything that the hospital gives you is yours to take home! Sometimes they’ll even restock right before you go home!
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I'm a wife, mother of two, avid reader, doula, birth educator and an aspiring midwife. I grew up in Iowa, and my family and I moved to Columbus in 2019, and have decided to call it home.
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