What to pack in your hospital bag
As any nesting mom-to-be knows, it’s never too early to pack your hospital bag.
Careful planning leads to peace of mind so here’s everything you need to know about what to pack in your hospital bag.
For the labor
- You will have discussed your ideal labor and delivery with your obstetrician but have a copy of your birth plan on hand to show the nursing staff on the day. That way they will be aware of your wishes from the start, whether that be low lighting, minimal interruption, an epidural or particular music. You’ll also need to let them know who is going to be attending the birth – some births are strictly mom and partner, others are a family affair, but if you make the nursing staff aware early of what you want (and need) they can help you with the process.
- After waiting months and months you might get super excited at the first signs of labor but… labor may start slowly and be a lengthy process so pack some items to keep you calm and focused. A Taiwanese study has shown that the use of music can significantly reduce pain and anxiety in labor so bring an iPod and speaker deck and different mixes of feel-good songs and relaxing music. If you are planning to use specific labor tapes or relaxation methods make sure they are pre-loaded onto your device before you go to the hospital.
- Some women recommend taking a stress ball into labor as a distraction aid during contractions – or you can pass it to your partner if they need a distraction!
- Hospitals are busy places and even if you have a private room, earphones and an eye mask will help during the moments you want to block out distractions and interruptions.
- Lavender is often recommended as a calming scent for women in labor so bring along some lavender scented massage oil. A lavender spray for your face can also cool and calm you during labor. Also, remember labor is an important and sometimes stressful time for your partner too. Partners can sometimes feel a bit redundant because, as much as they would like to, they can’t actually do the work of labor for you. Having your partner give you a massage, rub your feet or offer any kind of distraction can be a way of reducing the stress for both of you.
- Labor progresses faster when you are relaxed and calm in your environment so bring your pillow from home for the comfort and familiarity.
- When it comes to eating and drinking during labor most hospitals are very strict about what is allowed. Ring in advance and ask the hospital what you may be allowed to bring – broth or coconut water for example – so you can get organized.
What to wear
- You’ll be offered a hospital gown for the labor but if you’d prefer to wear your own clothes pack a loose oversized t-shirt or nightdress. Alternatively, Etsy has lots of options for personalized maternity gowns – even featuring sleeves that unsnap to open fully for IV lines or to breastfeed your baby. Don’t wear anything you are particularly sentimental about, clothes can get damaged, torn or lost in labor.
- Your hospital stay could be between two and five days depending on how your labor goes (and whether you have a cesarean section) so pack a couple of items of comfy nightwear plus loose clothing such as sweatpants and button down shirts. Few of us look like Kate Middleton hours after we give birth, so expect to be in your maternity clothes for a little while longer. Your legs and ankles may also be swollen from fluid retention so definitely leave the skinny jeans at home.
- In early labor it helps to let gravity do its work so pack a dressing gown and slippers so you can move around the hospital corridor to get things moving.
- Many women get cold feet while in labor, literally! This can be exacerbated if you have an epidural, so pack at least one pair of nice warm socks.
- Many hospitals have in-house photographers who will come and take photos of you and your newborn, or you can organize your own photographer. Pack a solid color top to wear for your photoshoot and a favorite blanket to wrap your tot in.
- If you decide to breastfeed expect to be unbuttoning your shirt frequently! Wrap nursing sleep bras are comfortable and convenient, especially when your milk comes in and your breasts are engorged. You can also buy nursing camis and nightgowns that easily clip down for feeding.
- You will need all your everyday products such as shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, face wash, deodorant, a toothbrush and toothpaste.
- Then there’s nipple butter for breastfeeding mamas (that newborn latch be tough and providing a barrier during and between feeds can really help). You may also be sore after delivery so pack some New Mama Bottom Spray and Mama Bottom Balm to help with soreness and swelling, bruising and hemorrhoids. The Organic Pharmacy also has a lovely pregnancy and labor kit which includes all the late-pregnancy and post-labor vitamin and supplement essentials.
- Before you go to hospital find out whether breast and sanitary pads are provided by the hospital or whether you will need to bring your own. We recommend the Kushies Organic Jersey Nursing Pads (these are washable rather than disposable, and there are six in a pack, but in the early days of breastfeeding with leaking and sometimes excessive supply, you might want to purchase a couple of packs so you can have them on high rotation.)
- Hospitals usually supply newborn diapers, wipes and creams for those first few days, but if you prefer to choose which products you use, we love the Angel Baby Non-Scents Baby Lotion and Bottom Balm and Water wipes. We like Blueberry cloth diapers, or if you prefer disposable diapers try Bambo nature eco-friendly diapers.
- You will want to pack a super cute outfit for the proud moment you take your bundle of joy home – though don’t be surprised to find yourself inundated with gorgeous newborn gifts and spoiled for choice! When you choose your baby’s going home outfit be mindful of the weather and the fact that newborns aren’t very good at regulating their temperature – babies usually need one more layer than adults.
- Swaddled babies sleep better but newborn babies can be surprisingly defiant about swaddling. Don’t say we didn’t warn you: many moms compare their little newborns to Houdini when it comes to escaping the swaddle! Save yourself the hard graft of re-wrapping your infant over and over throughout the night by investing in a couple of swaddle suits. We like the Under the Nile swaddle blankets or this Halo organic cotton sleep sack swaddle. The hospital will provide bedding for your newborn, though you can bring your own if your own fitted sheets and blankets if you prefer.
- It may sound strange, but newborns also aren’t aware that their arms and hands belong to them – the move their arms and hands at random and are quite prone to hitting and scratching themselves. Take along a pair of Kyte baby mittens to protect from little fingernail scratches.
- The hospital will not let you take your baby home without a car seat with the base safely installed. You can get your car seat inspected free of charge at many fire or police stations.
- You might wish to pack a nursing pillow to take the pressure off your back as you come to grips with breastfeeding.
- Remember your phone charger, iPad, tablet (most hospitals have wifi) and camera.
- Take a journal and pen. You won’t have this time again and even if some details will remain acute forever, some things you will forget. So, if you have time, write down how you are feeling, what you are thinking, your experience. Some time in the future when your Tot is running around the house or off to school or… well, grown up, you will treasure what you wrote about how you felt in those first strange and exciting days as a parent.