Feeling prepared and ready for your baby’s arrival can give you some peace of mind. Packing the hospital bag is one step to getting ready for your big day! For some expecting families, everything will be packed and ready before week 37, when you are considered “full-term”.
If you normally like to procrastinate and fly by the seat of your pants, you may want to pack early. It can be hard to handle contractions and pack at the same time. There is always an element of surprise on the big day so being prepared for your hospital stay will help relieve one less stress.
I tend to over-pack every time I go away. Try not to do this because you will be dragging unnecessary items to and from the car. I recommend K.I.S. (Keeping It Simple)!
Expect to be at the hospital 6-24 hours post-birth so you do not need much to get by. However, I always recommend packing an extra bag that you leave by your front door or in the trunk of your car in case you are admitted for a longer stay. If your baby is born via cesarean section you will need to stay for 48 hours after your baby is born. A family member or friend can get your longer-stay bag and bring it to the hospital for you.
There will be items that you will not be able to pack until the big day such as your glasses or toothbrush, so have a post-it note list of items written down to remember to pack the day of.
Essential Items to Pack
- Any prescription medications you currently take. Your care providers need to know if you have any existing health conditions.
- Important documents such as hospital paperwork, I.D., health card and insurance information. Your care provider will give you an envelope or folder with your hospital paperwork when you are 37 weeks in your pregnancy. Make sure that this is packed.
- Cell phone and charger. There are lots of outlets in the hospital rooms, however, don’t use any of the red outlets as these are for medical equipment.
- A copy of your birth wishes or birth plan, if you have one. If you do have one, a few copies are always a good idea in case a new care provider comes into your room, you can share it with them quickly. If you aren’t sure how to write a birth plan, check out this blog post HERE
- Toiletries. Toothbrush, toothpaste, hair brush and hair elastics/headbands, lip balm and lotion (the hospital environment can be very dry). Shampoo, conditioner and soap may be provided by the hospital, but you might prefer your own.
- Glasses and/or contacts, lens solution and lens case if needed. If you have a c-section, most hospital policies require you to remove contacts before surgery.
- Sanitary pads-the heavy overnight kind. I recommend any brand, other than ALWAYS. This brand has a dry weave formation and can sometimes stick to stitches. Adult Diapers – any brand can be used instead of pads. It is normal to experience a lot of bleeding after birth so the thicker the pad the better.
- A robe and slippers and/or flip flops for the shower. Any clothes that you pack for labour should be things that you don’t mind throwing out if they get dirty.
- Most people live in the hospital gowns for most of their stay. Less laundry to do once you get home! With a new baby, you don’t want to make more work for yourself.
- You will be very tired and seeking comfort so you may want to wear pajamas from home. Bonus if your pyjamas have easy access for breastfeeding if you are choosing to do so.
- An outfit for going home in – sweatpants or baggy pants and a comfortable shirt – if you have a c-section, tighter clothing will be uncomfortable. You look like you are about 5 months pregnant the first few days after birth so make sure to still pack maternity clothes.
- Postpartum Underwear – Cotton Granny Panties or mesh underwear. Thongs are not practical with the thick pads you will be wearing.
Essentials for Labour
I always encourage my clients to think outside the box and create a vision for their birth. What kind of ambience do you want? What will help you focus during those intense contractions or while you wait for an epidural? Some examples could be:
Music: Bring a Bluetooth speaker. Create 2 playlists – one that is upbeat and great to use when it is time to push and one that is softer, calmer and relaxing for those in-between moments or naps.
Lights: Battery-operated tea lights and dimming the lights can help create a calm and quiet atmosphere.
Focus Object: A vision board with pictures (your wedding day, your pets, ultrasounds or your other children) and words of affirmation for you to focus on when you need to get out of the thinking, analytical side of your brain. Lots of clients have found these to be helpful in tough moments in labour. It helped them to feel grounded and inspire them that they could keep going.
Snacks and water: Foods that are nutritious and full of energy as labour can sometimes be long. Always speak to your medical team about whether or not you will be allowed to eat or drink anything during labour. And, consider packing some of your favourite snacks to enjoy after labour. You may like some comfort food during your hospital stay.
Comfort items: You might appreciate having an eye mask, a portable fan or an extra pillow. Just make sure your pillowcase is a different colour than blue or white so that it is not confused with a hospital pillow.
Massage tools and items for pain management: We have birth boxes available for rent. These items can help you cope in early labour up to when your baby is born. We provide a hot/cold pack and a TENS machine which is an excellent distraction tool. We call this our Doula in a box! For more information check out our Birth Box rental page.
Entertainment items: a book or a laptop with some funny TV shows or movies downloaded to distract you in the early stages of labour. These items are also helpful to have around for your partner when you are napping.
Items to Pack for Your Support Person
- Phone and phone charger.
- Water bottle, drinks and snacks.
- A comfortable change of clothes and a pair of comfortable shoes.
- Money and/or credit card for parking, cafeteria visits and vending machines.
- Their pillow. Rest is recommended for labour partners during downtimes as well.
- Your lip balm and breath mints should be easily accessible for them. Breath mints help if they have been drinking lots of coffee to stay awake during labour. They can also be helpful if the birthing person starts to feel nauseous in labour.
- Diapers, wipes and a small container of coconut oil! This is amazing for cleaning the Meconium (your baby’s first poops) off of their little keister!
- 1 or 2 comfy sleepers in case one gets dirty
- A cute going-home outfit.
- Hat and socks.
- Car Seat and car seat cover
Check out our Postpartum Essential Bags available for purchase. All you need to add for a hospital birth are clothes for you and your baby, your favorite toiletries and some items for your partner. We have taken all that worry of what to pack away! Check it out HERE
If you plan on birthing at home, we still recommend packing a hospital bag in case you need to transfer in. Ask your midwife for their home birth supply list as each clinic seems to vary in what they want you to have on hand.
I hope this has given you a little push in the right direction. For more information on other things to do prepare for your baby, learn more about our Fourth Trimester Guide, or check out our prenatal classes HERE