You’ve probably seen it done on TV — the wife goes into labor, and the frantic husband does everything from fainting to forgetting the suitcase to forgetting the mom-to-be! As an expectant mother, it’s natural to feel nervous when The Moment arrives and you know you’re in labor – which is why pre-planning is your best friend. Even when you feel that flutter of butterflies in your stomach and despite the fact your husband might be running around like a crazy man, your preparation will ensure you’ve got everything you need when your little one arrives. So, here’s our list of what to pack in your hospital bag for childbirth.
The first thing to realize is that in pregnancy, as in life, timing is everything – and as a new mother, you don’t really know what your time will be. You don’t know if you will deliver early, late, on time or somewhere in between. For that reason, it’s a good rule of thumb to pack a bag 3-4 weeks before your due date. That way, you’re prepared for anything!
The Paper Trail: Make sure you have your insurance information, a photo ID, any preregistration forms completed and a hard copy of your birth plan, if it’s something that you have written or typed out. In this day and age, much of this may be done online, but bring any confirmation or print outs you may need. Have these together and in one place, such as a zipper compartment of your bag.
Comfort is the Key: Much to many new mothers’ dismay, you may not end up leaving the hospital in your pre-pregnancy clothes. And while you’re there, you probably won’t be dressing for success. Being comfortable really is the main objective. Unless you really love hospital nightgowns, you’ll want to bring a few of your own, along with a bathrobe. Warm socks (preferably those with the rubberized bottoms) are great to have, and it’s always good to throw in a pair of slippers. For going home clothes, back to that “not size 6” warning, bring something comfy like sweatpants, or a 2nd trimester outfit. You won’t want anything too tight or close fitting on your skin, and that goes for your sexy girl panties. As much as you hate them, stick with your maternity underwear a bit longer, especially with hospital pads and post-pregnancy bleeding. You won’t mind if you ruin a few pair of those. One thing to note – your feet may swell, so loose fitting shoes or even leaving the hospital in your slippers is perfectly fine!
And Baby Makes 3: Now, here’s the real star of the show! While you may be Miss Comfortable, you want a cute outfit for your new bundle of joy; after all, he or she will be the center of the photos. Many moms choose a special “going home” outfit, complete with knitted caps and all. But, do stay mindful of comfort for your baby, and choose something soft, like cotton. You’ve got plenty of time for lace, ruffles, or other itchy fabrics! Think about the weather, as you want to dress your baby appropriately, and you may want to include a receiving blanket as well.
And, as long as we’re talking about Baby, keep in mind that you will want some nursing bras, as you may now be the one and only source of nutrition.
Let’s Get Personal: Remember – this is the hospital, not the Hilton! There’ll be items there but you may want your own so throw in some travel size shampoo/conditioners, face wash and moisturizer, toothbrush and toothpaste, eyeglasses and contact supplies if you wear them (you may not always be able to or want to wear your contacts during your stay). You’ll also want ponytail holders and headbands – again, we’re talking comfort, not the cover of Cosmopolitan, though if you’re the type who likes to keep her cosmetics close, then pack those as well. One comment that moms consistently make – bring lip balm, as hospitals are very dry and no one wants chapped lips.
Technology: Once upon a time, you would have brought a still camera, a video cam, and possibly an address book. Today, it’s quite possible that you may just bring your and your husband’s iPhones – and that’s just fine. But, remember chargers and be sure your device has all the contacts you may need to call, email or text once Baby arrives. One word of advice: find out your hospital’s policy on filming and photos during delivery as those may vary from facility to facility.
The Hard Part: Last but not least, think about what you want for your actual labor and delivery, not just the stay afterwards. It may be your own pillow, your iPod and headphones, a roller massage or simply some tennis balls in a sock, massage oils or magazines. Think it through and pack those items as well. And, don’t forget you’re not in this alone. Your partner or spouse may need small duffel of items, including quarters for vending machines. In many hospitals today, machines make take plastic, but come prepared with change, just in case things are still old school.
Packing your hospital bag is just one more thing to check off your pregnancy to-do list. Try to keep it simple and basic, but remember that your comfort, and that of your baby’s, is important. Enjoy each moment of your preparation and just think – when you unpack that bag at home, you’ll no long be a mom-to-be. You’ll be a mother.