The decision on what to pack for birth can be exciting and confusing, especially if this is your first trip to Labor and Delivery. Which bag should you bring? What should you put in it? When should you pack? Remember: as long as the expectant mother is in the car to go to the hospital on the birth day, you are doing great!
I’ve had three babies, in addition to teaching childbirth classes for over ten years, and am a birth doula. Honestly, many things you might want to pack will never see the walls of your delivery room or postpartum room. I can count the things I used in labor and birth on one hand and that includes many of my doula clients’ births, too.
They are hair elastics, chapstick, snacks, and a camera. Why those four things? Well…first, ladies if you have any length to your hair, it is going to bug you and you will want it out of your face quickly and efficiently. Messy bun, quick pony – all good. Second, your lips will be dry with all of that amazing, calming, labor breathing you are doing. Third, snacks. While most hospitals will let most moms eat during labor (check your hospital’s guidelines), many times the snacks are for the partners. They get hungry too, and having snacks on hand will avoid any Snickers-type commercial scenarios. Finally, your camera will be one of the most important things you pack. Everyone wants to see your new baby and you will want the memories of this life-changing moment. How personal you get with your pictures (or how low the camera goes) is totally up to you. Your birth, your memories. Just be sure to check with your hospital regarding any rules on picture taking. Most hospitals ask you to not take pictures of staff or others without permission. Also, some do not allow videos of the actual birth or cesarean surgery itself.
So is that all you need? No, there are other things you should pack, but your labor bag should be the size of carry-on luggage, not a suitcase to go all around the world. You will be amazed at all the things you need to bring home after baby is born. Now let’s get packing!
- Toiletries: For both mom and her partner. While hospitals have many things, in case you forget them, you will want your own toothbrush, shampoo, deodorant, etc. For the moms, bring some toiletries that make you feel pampered. No better time to feel pampered than after having a baby. Include hair elastics and chapstick in this category.
- Pillows: At least 2 for mom and maybe 1 or 2 for her partner. Hospitals have a huge supply of pillows, but they are waterproof and kind of flat. They are great for putting between your knees, or behind your back. Save your pillows for mom to rest her head on.
- Clothes to labor in: There is no requirement to wear the hospital gown, though it does have its own natural ventilation in the back. Wear clothes you are comfortable in, such as a sports bra, shorts, underwear, t-shirts, or skirt. These clothes might get messy, but they can all be washed in the washing machine. Labor in whatever you want, even if that is nothing at all.
- Clothes to go home in and wear during your postpartum stay. Plan on wearing clothes that fit from around your seventh month or so. Stretchy, comfy clothes are the best to pack.
- Clothes for your partner: Many partners stay with mom through their entire stay in maternity. A fresh pair of underwear and a new shirt can make any tired partner feel better.
- Clothes for baby: While baby is in the hospital, she will wear a diaper, a long-sleeved onesie, a hat, and a blanket; however, they will need to go home in something. Pick out something special for that day that is also weather appropriate. Many moms are able to recollect exactly what their baby came home in, and many save that outfit for years. Pack a blanket to put over them for the ride home, too. Its great for winter or air conditioning on the ride home.
- Snacks: No Snickers moments here! Pack snacks for in between meal times at the hospital and those late nights. You have earned them!
- Devices and chargers: We love our phones and technology! Phones, laptops, cameras, iPods, are all great things to pack. Many phones also are your cameras, so make sure you packed that charger.
- Distractions: This could include tools for labor (tennis balls, massage oil), but also for keeping busy during downtime (magazines, movies, music, crossword puzzles.) Don’t go overboard. Many people pack a lot, and never take them out.
- Car Seat: This is essential to bringing your new baby home, but it can stay in the car until the day everyone is discharged to come home.
You are now packed and loaded! Remember that what you pack isn’t the most important thing-what you are bringing home is, and that is what you will remember the most.
Partners, you have everything you need to support mom – you love her and know her the best. You will be the best thing she brings to the hospital!
To learn more, take one of our childbirth classes, newborn care classes, or our online childbirth class.