It’s not a secret, I am a serious planner and there’s nothing that helps me feel more in control than being prepared! Therefore I’m going to urge you to NOT WAIT on packing your hospital bag. In fact I recommend having your bag packed and kept in your car at all times by week 36 of your pregnancy. If the doctor is ok with you going into labor at this point then you should be packed and prepared as well.
I remember when we first checked into the hospital when I went into labor and the delivery nurse just smiled and shook her head at my carry-on rolling suitcase. “First child?” she asked. Despite the fact that it was my first birthing experience I guarantee you that I will still have my bag packed with the same essentials for baby #2.
When you’re packing your hospital bag you have to also think about what your husband may need, after all he will be in the hospital with you for the 3-5 days you’re there. Lastly, don’t forget about a few key items baby will need too, like a coming home outfit for instance!
The average labor lasts 16-20 hours for most first time mom’s, so call me crazy but I wanted to make sure I was as comfortable as possible and you will too! Obviously, don’t forget the essentials such as your cell phone charger and toiletries. Guys I’m not kidding when I say that first shower after countless hours of labor is HEAVENLY. While most hospitals will provide you basic amenities I personally wanted my own shampoo and body wash so I could feel refreshed and clean.
Below is a list of basic amenities you should be sure not to forget:
- Insurance card (Duh, you will be asked for this immediately upon arrival so be sure to have it handy!)
- Driver’s License (This is another thing you will be asked for upon arriving)
- Lip balm (You will be surprised how chapped your lips will get with all your deep breathing during labor be SURE to pack this!
- Shower soap
- Make up wipes
- Contact solution
- Contact case
- Extra contacts (or glasses if you prefer to take your contacts out)
- Face soap
- Make up (To look your best for those first family visits and photos of course!)
- Hand Soap (My skin is very sensitive plus I wanted a bacteria killing kind!)
- Hair brush
- Hair bows
- Cell phone
- Cell phone charger
Now I will say that the hospital will definitely be fully stocked up on postpartum essentials such as maxi-pads and mesh underwear. Yes I said mesh, and YES you will want to wear them. Trust me when I say you do not want any pressure on you down there, nor will you want to ruin any of your underwear. Personally I just felt more comfortable taking my own postpartum essentials. (Read more about The 10 Things to Have in Your Postpartum Care Kit)
Hospitals are very weird about bringing in your own food or medication, even if it is something as simplistic as antacids. Part of me feels like this is just a ploy to charge your insurance for every little thing while you are there, but I can also understand them wanting to be in control of your pain as they monitor you the first 24 hours.
Don’t be surprised when the nurses come in and check on you and your baby every hour for the first 24 hours post delivery. It is mostly to check your blood pressure and to make sure you are not passing big clots. While I did appreciate their level of care for my baby and me I was very tired by the next morning. I mean I had not slept in almost 30 hours, 16 of which were spent trying to get a person out of my body. Now with ALL of that exhaustion wouldn’t you like to have some homey touches to make you more comfortable?
Below is a list of homey comfort items to pack in your hospital bag:
- Your pillow (with a non-white pillow case so you don’t confuse it with any of the hospital ones)
- Fuzzy socks with gripper bottoms (Hospitals can be chilly so you want to make sure your toes are nice any cozy. The bottom grippers are also nice if you end up pacing up and down the hallways during labor.)
- Speakers to plug your phone into (this was super relaxing for me when we were just waiting through active labor)
- Bath towel (the ones in the hospital are thin and NOT big enough. We both packed blue fluffy towels that were amazing for that first shower!)
- Flip flops (I personally don’t like being barefoot in a shower that has played host to multiple patients.)
- Hair Dryer –this one may be put in your essentials list as well, as hospitals are not hotels and therefore may not have one. I personally get a headache with wet hair so this was a MUST for me.
I’ll let you in on the secret of the top 5 items you wouldn’t think to pack in your hospital bag.
The reality is that nurses work long and hard and you are very thankful to have them as your health literally rests in their hands. As a token of our appreciation I put together little “goodie” bags to give to my labor and post-delivery nurses. These were super easy to make and were basically the clear tall party bags that you put together with twist ties. I filled the bags with various types of candy and attached a little note thanking them for all their help. It’s a small gesture that goes a long way!
This one is kind of along the lines of those homey touches, but certain made me feel more comfortable and pretty. Yeah I hear what you’re thinking, how can you possibly feel pretty in labor? Well I’m here to tell you that you can! I actually purchased two different hospital gowns, one for labor and one to change into post-delivery. I was much more comfortable knowing no one else had worn my gown, not to mention I got a lot of compliments.
I bet you’re thinking, why didn’t I think of that? It’s genius! Simply packing a tote bag that easy folds down will come in handy for you to take home all your free hospital goodies. Did you know they fully stock the babies rolling crib with diapers and wipes? Did you also know you can take them all home!? There are countless goodies the hospital stock your room with and they are yours to take with you.
#4 Sea Bands
This one may sound odd, but is extremely handy. Some women experience nausea during birth and I by no means wanted to take any medication for it as it can affect your unborn baby! No thank you! Seasickness bands are an all-natural solution in case you start to feel queasy during labor. Of course ice chips can help cool things down as well.
Another odd item, but pineapple juice has numerous health benefits. Pineapples help fight against infections with their punch of Vitamin C, plus they help prevent constipation. The bromelain enzymes in pineapples are also anti-inflammatories with anti-clotting properties. Does all of this sound familiar? Pineapple juice is also great for softening your cervix before you go into labor. I drank one small can of pineapple juice a day the month before I was due.
Having a baby is no easy feat, but I can tell you personally that there is nothing more rewarding than to stare into the perfect little face of your baby. I hope you found these tips helpful in preparing to pack your hospital bag.