As the big day for labor and delivery approaches you’ll want to pack your bag with a few essential items. Waiting until your water breaks or your contractions are 3 minutes apart won’t give you the time you need (or the peace of mind) to make sure you have what you’ll need for one of the most physically demanding, emotionally charged, and memorable moments of your life.
Start by checking with your healthcare provider to see what the average stay in the hospital is for patients. Each hospital has its own policy and set of procedures, but it is common that moms who have vaginal births remain in the hospital for 1-2 nights. If you have a cesarean you’ll likely be in the hospital for 5 days with your baby while you recover from the procedure. Of course there are certain unforeseen circumstances that might result in longer stays, but plan to pack enough for 3 days unless you know you’ll be having a C-section.
Paperwork to Pack for the Hospital
It’s probably the least exciting part for many moms, but the paperwork can be some of the most important things to pack in your bag for the hospital. Keep a file with the following information easily accessible (and available for someone else to find if you need to send someone to the house to grab it).
- A copy of insurance information and any papers your insurance company requires for precertification
- A copy of your photo ID and your partner’s photo ID
- A birthing plan
- A list of contacts – people to call and numbers – some hospitals don’t allow cell phones in certain areas
- A list of instructions for your housekeeper, pet sitter, or the person who might be caring for your other children
Packing Mom’s Bag for the Hospital
Your bag should contain not only the things you will need, but some comfort items as well. Pack comfortable clothes, even your maternity clothes, to wear in the hospital and on the way home. You’ll be giving birth, but don’t expect to fit back into your old clothes just yet. Don’t forget to add:
- Toiletries – invest in a double supply so you don’t have to scramble to gather contact solution or your toothbrush at the last minute
- Mild, unscented soaps and shampoos, especially if you are going to try breastfeeding where you’ll have a lot of skin-to-skin contact
- Nursing pads (whether you plan to breastfeed or not) because you will likely be leaking milk in these first weeks.
- Nursing bras and comfy underwear you’re OK with blood staining from leaking
- Feminine pads – many hospitals provide these, but they are probably not the brand you might select or the fit you might need (your flow will probably be heavier than a regular period)
- Slippers and a bathrobe
- Your own pillow with a colorful pillowcase to keep it separate from the hospital one
- Music, tennis balls for massage, or other items that are a part of your birthing plan
Don’t forget to add in some items for your partner or labor coach. An extra outfit is a good idea because you never know how long you’ll be there or from where your partner will be coming. Add in to his portion of the bag:
- Change for vending machines
- Gum, mints, or granola bars and a bottle of water
- Cameras and chargers
- A copy of your birthing plan and contact information
Keep a separate bag packed for the hospital after delivery that contains a few extras you might wish you to have along:
- A baby book to record those first hours
- Baby announcement information
- Gifts for older siblings from the baby and any special items older siblings chose for baby
Don’t forget to pack your items for the baby, too, and a car seat that your partner knows how to operate should be at the top of the list. Consider the weather for the clothing your baby will need on the ride home. And last but not least, pack your acceptance that as much as you can prepare for this moment, it might not be anything like you expect, but it will be memorable.
[Featured Image Courtesy of David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net]