What to Pack in Your Hospital Bag in Preparation for Labor

Birth items

“Be prepared” is a darned good motto to follow. It is an especially good one for the last few weeks of your pregnancy, as you approach your due date. If you are nearing the end of your eighth month of pregnancy, start preparing a bag to bring with you to the hospital or birthing center.

The minutes in between your contractions are not the time to start throwing things into a carry-all. Get that bag ready a good month before your due date and keep it in your car so that you don’t forget it in the rush. You can keep it by your front door if you are having someone else drive you to the hospital.

What should I bring for me?

The most important thing to bring is the paperwork you will need. Make sure you have a photo ID, your health insurance card, and any other information that the hospital requires. If you have a birth plan, print it out and bring it with you.

Pack a bathrobe, one or two nightgowns, slippers with a nonslip bottom, and socks. The nightgowns you bring should be loose and not constricting. Loose sleeves are a must because they will be taking your blood pressure a lot. The nightgowns should also be ones that you don’t mind throwing out if they get too messed up.

Pack at least two changes of comfortable clothes and a pair of comfortable, flat shoes. Again, don’t bring tight or constricting clothing. You are not going to be at your pre-pregnancy size in the days after your delivery, so bring clothes that you wore in your second trimester. Pack one or two bras. These are to help support your breasts as your milk comes in, along with nursing pads. You can bring maternity underpants or regular cotton undies. Some hospitals will give you some disposable underwear.

Pack toiletries, including your toothbrush, toothpaste, lip balm, deodorant, and a brush and comb. Bring sanitary napkins, although the hospital will often provide these. If you wear contact lenses, bring your contact lens supplies and your eyeglasses.

Pack a towel. Hospital towels are notoriously small and thin.

Bring some money with you, and make sure some of it is in change for the vending machines.

Bring a scrunchy or a headband to hold your hair back.

Bring some snacks.

Bring batteries and an extra memory card for your camera and the charger for your phone. Make sure you have the phone numbers of all the people you might want to call in your phone. Most hospitals allow the use of cell phones, but you should double check this in advance.

Bring an MP3 player or IPod with music you like or load that music into your smartphone.

What should I bring for the baby?

Pack an outfit for your baby to go home in. Pack baby booties or socks unless this outfit has feet. Make sure you bring a warm blanket or baby outer wear if you are giving birth in cold weather.

Pack a receiving blanket. The hospital may provide you with one, but receiving blankets are good things to have on hand.

The most important thing to bring for the baby is a properly installed car seat. Some hospitals will not let you go home unless the baby is in a rear-facing car seat. Having the car seat installed properly ahead of time will be one load off your mind and it will give you a chance to practice with the buckles and straps.

What to leave at home

Don’t bring jewelry to the hospital. It is too easy to lose it. This is also true for anything else that is valuable or irreplaceable.

While you might need some money, don’t bring large amounts of it.

Try not to overpack. Remember that everything you schlep to the hospital or birthing center must be schlepped right back home.

Are there any other items that you think you should bring or that helped you through a previous childbirth? Let us know in the Comments Section below!

Valerie DeBenedette
Valerie DeBenedette is an experienced health and medical writer who lives about an hour north of New York City with a dog that is smaller than her cat. Her work has appeared in magazines, newspapers, newsletters, and on websites. She is a member of the National Association of Science Writers.

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