Ah… the dreaded / exciting hospital bag checklist! If you’re packing your bag… that means you’re getting close!! So, congratulations! And, good luck! I’ve already been through this once before, and I’m scared. Just know you’re not alone. Here’s my hospital bag checklist! You might want to bring more or less “stuff” but this is a great starting point.
Rule #1 - Pack light. You’ll be a wreck (if you’re like me) and schlepping bags of stuff will be the last thing on your mind as you’re huffing and puffing through contractions trying to make your way to the OB unit of your hospital. On the flip side, you also want to be comfortable and have everything you need at arm’s length… so pack smart. I made sure everything fit into one carry-on bag and a beach bag that fit on the carry-on so we could just roll it (see above). The beach bag had everything I might need during labor and delivery and in the rolling bag one side was baby’s things and the other side contained my things.
PACKING LIST (**All the pink hyperlinks below link back to where you can buy the item – not sponsored, just my personal preferences**)
On Your Way To Hospital
- TOWEL – I put one in each of our cars. In case my water breaks on the way to the hospital, or at anytime really, a towel is super handy.
- GARBAGE BAGS – I put a large one and a small one in each car as well. The large one is to sit on with the towel in case your water breaks. The small one is for you in case you are vomiting all over the place (lesson learned!).
- This is just a side note because it’s not something you pack in your bag AND it may seem vain but heck I’m gonna just say it! I did my make-up before going to the hospital when I was in labor with my first child. What can I say? I wanted my photos to look nice! Guess what? By the time baby was born it was GONE. All of it. It was such a waste of time putting make-up on and I looked gross in all of my photos. Second time around? No make-up. BUT, I’m still a little vain. ha ha! I went and had my lashes done for the first time. It was hard to lie down for that long but (I’m just gonna say it) IT WAS WORTH IT. Baby came 9 days early and the day after I got my lash extensions. My delivery photos are super cute. lol
For Labor / Delivery
- BATTERY-OPERATED SPEAKERS if you want to play music. Classical music helped to soothe me.
- CAMERA with BATTERIES charged and empty MEMORY CARD. You might not want to take photos but you should allow yourself the option. My doctor made my hubby hand the camera to the nurse while Jackson was born. Those images are priceless. She said to us “You can always delete it if you don’t like it.” lol She was right – we love the photos!
- CELL PHONE. Keep family informed of your progress and if you’re like me, have hubby take notes about labor and delivery. You might not be able to remember your birth story and the timeline.
- PORTABLE CHARGERS, fully charged and traditional plug in charger for your phone. You don’t know how many plugs you’ll have access to. Here on Maui, the labor and delivery room has only one free electrical outlet.
- IPAD, BOOK or MAGAZINE. I didn’t use this one but I know other mamas that like to read to pass the time while waiting for the pitocin to kick in and/or after getting their epidural.
- TWO TENNIS BALLS IN A TUBE SOCK for your coach to press into the small of your back during back labor.
- STRAWS for drinking while in labor. You’ll only be able to drink fluids and eat things like jello once labor starts. I’m bringing electrolyte water and coconut water in a small cooler to the hospital.
- SLIPPERS / FLIP FLOPS for walking around the room and through the halls.
- WARM SOCKS – Some women (like me) get extremely cold during labor and shiver the whole time. Comfy socks are … well, comforting.
- ROBE – I’ll probably use the robe above for after delivery (because it’s my nice one from Pink Blush Maternity – click on the word “robe” for a link to purchase) but you can also bring a robe if you’d rather labor in your own clothing. You just want something that’s easy to remove.
- HAIR TIES – This is one thing that can easily be forgotten but makes a world of difference while you’re in labor. I hate having hair in my face and during labor that sentiment held true.
- LIP BALM, LOTION, MASSAGE OIL, BATH SALTS – Toiletries that can help you through labor. Make sure that they are fragrances you love and / or unscented. Your lips get super dry at the hospital so it’s always good to have lip balm at the ready. Lotion and massage oil is for your coach to use on you. If you are lucky enough to have a bathtub, the bath salts (or epsom salt) can come in handy too.
- ESSENTIAL OILS, DIFFUSER – Some people swear by their essential oils. For me, I know they can’t hurt and they could possibly help A LOT – so I’m bringing them. Hospitals can smell pretty stale so I picked my favorite scent to use in the diffuser and if I get nauseous (like I did last time) I brought citrus oils (wild orange and lemon) that help with my nausea. I also made three blends to help with labor and delivery – I’ll list the recipes below.
- Perineum support for pushing stage – As found in, “Essential Oils for Pregnancy, Birth & Babies”, “gently massage on the perineum during crowning and birth of baby’s head for bruising, swelling and bleeding.” Recipe: 1 ounce fractionated coconut oil, 20 drops helichrysum, 20 drops frankincense
- Once labor has started, for nausea and pain: “Massage on insides of ankles, onto lower stomach and the low back for nausea and muscle pain. Recipe: 15 drops carrier oil, 5 drops ylang ylang, 4 drops helichrysum, 4 drops cypress, 4 drops black pepper, 2 drops digestZen, 2 drops peppermint, 2 drops clary sage.
- Labor kick starter – “Clary Sage is a uterine tonic that assists with effective contractions. It can be euphoric and wonderful for relieving anxiety as well. It calms the nervous system, relieves tension, brings on labor, and helps with expelling afterbirth.” Recipe: 15 drops carrier oil, blend clary sage with geranium and lavender.
After Labor / Delivery for Mom & Dad
- CHANGE OF CLOTHES / TOILETRIES for dad (or your support person). I remember my hubby’s clothing got blood on it during my first delivery. This time I packed him an extra shirt, shorts, hat and a long sleeve shirt (in case he got cold). I also threw in a toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant and hair gel.
- CHANGE OF CLOTHES for mom. A robe to hang out in while at the hospital and an outfit to go home in and use for any hospital pictures. Don’t forget to bring an adjustable nursing bra (or two) and large underwear. You may want to bring some make-up for any photos you might take with your newborn.
- BELLY BAND - You can wear a belly band immediately after giving birth to bring everything in. They help to support your back and belly alignment plus the gentle compression will help with the process of shrinking the uterus back down to size. I wore mine for a few weeks. Immediately after giving birth it helped me to feel “normal” again by acting as spanx would – to help me fit into my clothing and feel thinner – let’s be honest, we all feel a bit heavy after giving birth. **Side Note: With my second delivery, I had complications and nearly got a spinal headache… the belly band was one of the recommendations for managing the pain.**
- TOILETRIES – Toothbrush, toothpaste, hair brush, shampoo, conditioner, body wash, face wash, face lotion, dental floss… whatever it is that you need to feel refreshed. After giving birth, you’ll probably want to freshen up.
- TOWEL - The towels at the hospital aren’t the best quality so you might want your own towel. I packed a super thin (yet soft) microfiber towel.
- LARGE PADS – The hospital will provide this for you but if you don’t like them or they are uncomfortable, it’s nice to have your own. Some women like to just wear Depends adult diapers. Whatever your preference is! Maui Memorial will provide pads for you.
- DISPOSABLE NURSING PADS – If you begin to lactate, you’ll probably need these to make sure you don’t leak all over the place. It’s kind of uncomfortable to sleep in a wet bed.
- LIQUID LANOLIN – To ease pain if your nipples are sore.
- DERMOPLAST, TUCKS PADS, SQUIRT BOTTLE – Some hospitals will provide this topical anesthetic to ease your pain and the perineal irrigation squirt bottle for cleaning. Maui Memorial provides the squirt bottle for you.
- EAR PLUGS – If you end up having to share a recovery room, your hubby snores or you have a feeling the hospital noises may keep you up at night – bring ear plugs!
- PILLOWS, BLANKET – Some hospitals may only have one or two pillows for your use and who knows how comfy they are… you can always bring your own pillow. For me, a full size bed pillow. Hubby said he wanted me to bring him an airline pillow to sleep on. I also packed a blanket to keep warm but that could also be used as a photo prop.
- NURSING PILLOW – Bringing a giant nursing pillow isn’t really feasible but a travel one is! I got this one as a gift with my first born and it’s awesome. You just blow it up and then put the cover on.
- HEAT PAD – Some people swear by cabbage leaves or ice packs… for me, nothing worked better than a good ole heating pad to soothe my breasts while they transitioned into breastfeeding. **Side note: This time around with my complications from my epidural, the heating pad was one of the only things that helped manage my pain.**
After Labor / Delivery for Baby
- SWADDLE SACK – I can’t say enough about the swaddle blanket! Yes, you feel very “accomplished” after learning how to swaddle with a swaddle blanket BUT in the middle of the night when baby is crying and you just want to sleep – nothing beats the sleep sack. Just zip it and velcro it and voila! LOVE LOVE LOVE. Can’t live without it. Here is my blog about the different swaddle sacks I use for hot & cold weather and how to use them.
- PACIFIERS – If you’re going to use the pacifier, bring it. The 5 S’s in Happiest Baby on the Block includes sucking so it’s nice to have the option. Gumdrop pacifiers are my favorite.
- BABY NAIL CLIPPERS, MITTENS – Baby comes out with pretty long nails and can almost immediately scratch themselves. You can cut their nails and / or put mittens on to prevent this.
- PJ’S, SOCKS, BABY CLOTHES – I brought different sizes of PJ’s for baby… you never truly know how big they will be until they come out. Also baby could have an accident or blow out situation on your way home so it’s good to have an extra set of clothes just in case.
- DIAPERING NEEDS – At the hospital they will provide you with diapers, wipes and most of the essentials. Just bring what you think you may need for the ride home or if you want to use something particular for diaper rash (we used petroleum jelly and didn’t like the diaper rash creams) bring that too. I also packed the little arm and hammer baggies in case of a blow out. Diaper goes in trash with dirty wipes or into a baggie and dirty clothes go into another baggie to throw in the wash once you get home.
- BREASTFEEDING COVER – If you’re shy or just want some extra coverage while visitors are around don’t forget your cover. You can also use a swaddle blanket or pareo but I like to have an actual cover – they are lightweight and you can peek in at baby easily.
- BURP CLOTHS - Baby probably won’t eat much that first day or two but spit up is always a possibility. I feel like you can never have too many burp cloths!
- CAR SEAT AND CAR SEAT COVER – Don’t forget your approved infant car seat! The hospital will be checking to make sure it’s properly installed before allowing you to leave. If you are carrying baby out in the car seat, I like to have my car seat cover draped over them … I always felt like hospitals were “germy” so this gave me an extra level of comfort that no one would be able to reach in and grab my babies hand or cough on my newborn.
After Labor / Delivery “Other”
- BABY BOOK - I want to write things down as soon as possible after the birth so I figure, why not? Plus, they take the imprint of baby’s foot and can also put it in your book.
- PICTURES OF OLDER SIBLINGS – To help them feel like you haven’t forgotten about them and to help give you inspiration through labor and recovery.
- PARENTING BOOKS – In your downtime, you might want to brush up on your favorite parenting technique.
- PAPERWORK – Cord blood donor? Bring your paperwork. Want to have your birth plan handy? Bring it.
- GIFTS – It’s always nice to bring something for the nurses station. Maybe they’ll be extra nice to you I also packed a couple of thank you cards – one for my labor and delivery nurse and one for my OB doctor. Last but not least, a gift for any older siblings to help with the transition. It’s nice to be able to say “Your baby sister got you a present!” Here is my blog about preparing older siblings for their younger siblings.
- Life’s Swell reader, mama Leslie Aloy, writes “And if you’re going to have a cesarean, a back scratcher will be your best friend since your core is shot! Helps to bring the blanket up from your feet…assist in scratching once the meds wear off, or to even roll the crib closer if it’s not within close reach!! Had 3 surgeries, and brought one EVERYTIME!”
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