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By the time you reach the final month of your 3rd trimester, chances are you’ve changed, adjusted, and decorated everything around the house to meet the needs of your baby on the way. That may include designing the nursery, getting baby furniture, and amending your expenses and priorities to accommodate new expenditures. It’s also the right time to start preparing your pregnancy hospital bag checklist since it will be your backup support during your stay. If you don’t know where to start and what to pack, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.
I was labeled high risk because I was carrying twins and my doctors had warned me about the possibility of early labor or premature delivery around the 7th month of pregnancy. As a checklist ninja myself, I had an oversized bag packed for my family and me placed next to the door by the 28th week to save myself from last-minute panic attacks. Thankfully I didn’t get to use it until I got to 37 weeks.
Being overprepared works for me. Owing to my extended stay of 10 days at the hospital and bringing home two babies, I filled the suitcase where I had packed everything but the kitchen sink. Even If you’re not like me and don’t want to carry around your home with you, a little planning can help you save that last-minute rush while timing your contractions.
What to consider during delivery bag packing
Of utmost importance is your comfort. I could only sleep with my blanket throughout my pregnancy. No matter how soft the hospital blanket was, my old mushy one was a non-negotiable addition to my list. But there’s other stuff you can rely on the hospital to provide.
Check what the hospital will provide as part of the package. From that list, evaluate what you’re comfortable using from the hospital and what you’d like to bring from home. Once you know the essentials and what your hospital provides, it’s easier to pack your maternity labor bag.
Here’s a comprehensive list of hospital bag must-haves to carry along as you look forward to bringing your baby home.
What to pack in the hospital bag
The easiest way to deal with an enormous task is to break it down into sections. Here are 3 separate checklists for you, your partner, and your baby with all the essentials needed to make your delivery and hospital stay comfortable.
Hospital bag checklist for mom
Having your familiar items from home despite the hospital providing the basics can make you feel at ease. You may want to call your hospital before packing to ensure they don’t have any rules regarding what to wear, such as wearing hospital-issued gowns during birth.
Here’s what you should pack:
- Documents and paper. Make at least 3 copies of your birth plan: one each for your partner, doula, and doctor. Get all your forms and articles related to your insurance in order and keep a copy with your husband. Don’t forget the medical file with medicine and allergy history (if any) for the doctor’s reference. If you have registered the baby for stem cell banking, you will need to carry the registry documents.
- Comfortable and loose maternity clothes. Get at least 2 or 3 sets of relaxed and effortless clothing when preparing for labor and delivery. These can be maternity gowns, t-shirts, or a mix of both, depending on your preferences and choice. The chances are that these clothes will be soiled and disposed of, so don’t invest in buying new clothes just for delivery.
- Comfy and extra soft underwear. Hospitals provide meshed underwear post-delivery for a day or two to avoid fabric touching against your freshly bruised vaginal regions. But at times, such underwear can be very uncomfortable. Get 2 or 3 extra-soft, hypoallergenic cotton underwear big enough to hold rather large maternity pads without scratching against the over-strained delicate areas to use immediately after delivery and dispose of later.
- Skid proof socks and comfortable shoes. Carry some skid proof socks and wear comfortable slip-on shoes as you will find yourself pacing between the labor room and maternity ward a lot. Hospital floors are not precisely the place to walk barefoot.
- Extra towel/piece of clothes. Delivery is a raw and unfiltered process involving lots of bodily fluids. You’ll be needing a lot more towels and damping/wiping clothes than you can estimate. While the hospital always provided for that, you can also carry some extra towels you are willing to lose. Please make sure they are delicate and clean to prevent any infections.
- Post-delivery high-absorbent pads. Bleeding after delivery can be pretty heavy for lots of ladies. Be prepared for it and carry non-scratchy, hypoallergenic, high-absorbent soft maternity pads.
- Nursing bra (wireless). You might want to start breastfeeding your baby immediately after birth. Carry a couple of feeding bras, which are easy to use with simple clip open hooks.
- Feeding pillow. Another item to make the transition into breastfeeding smoother and somewhat effortless. Buy a feeding pillow beforehand and carry it along to master the breastfeeding technique before bringing the baby home.
- Miscellaneous. Other items to keep in mind.
- Hair ties. Yes, this is when your hair goes up in a bun and stays there for another couple of years. Stock up on ties already.
- Nursing pads. Whether or not you’re breastfeeding immediately, you’ll be thankful for this addition in your bag.
- Breast pump. It is good to buy a pump in advance and learn to use it efficiently from a lactation consultant at the hospital.
- Earphones/headphones. Labor is strenuous and, most of the time, a real patience test. You can use some music to relieve stress and divert the focus to relax. Prepare a calming playlist beforehand and use it while waiting for your baby in the labor room.
- Scarf/shawl. Hospitals can be cold for a new and tired mom drained after a long and difficult delivery. Scarfs come in handy at such times. You can also use a pretty scarf to accessorize quickly for a post-baby photo shoot.
Baby hospital bag checklist
You’ve waited 10 long months to see your little one dressed up in those cute wears you bought for her. Most hospital policies cover newborns with supplies during their stay, while others ask you to add accessories and layers.
Consult with your healthcare provider before packing these items:
- 2-3 sets of weather-appropriate clothes. That’s if you don’t want to wear hospital clothes. Also, you’ll need a set of clothing for taking cute newborn pictures and bringing the baby home.
- Onesies. Pack those with long sleeves as the hospital can be cold for babies.
- A blanket. If you wish to use yours instead of the one provided by the hospital.
- Burp cloth. Get soft, high-absorbent burp cloths to catch everything the baby throws towards you—milk spills, sneezes, spits, etc.
- Swaddle blanket. Some hospitals supply swaddle blankets, but make sure to check their quality as your baby will be wrapped in it most of the time. Hence, it should be soft and hypoallergenic.
- Car seat. Get a multi-purpose car seat cum child seat as you’ll also need to carry the baby in it until you learn how to hold your baby correctly.
- Newborn toiletries. If you don’t want to use the hospital ones.
- Diaper. Make sure you don’t hoard in bulk.
- Other accessories: cap, mittens, socks, and pacifier.
Hospital bag checklist for dad
Don’t forget your partner! Pack some things for your husband to use during your stay. The hospital likely doesn’t provide much for them besides somewhere to crash on.
Here’s what to pack:
- Essential documents. A set of all documents needed, including insurance, medical files, birth plan, and stem cell registry (if applied for).
- Comfortable clothing. 2-3 pairs.
- Nightwear/pajamas. You will all be spending a couple of nights in the hospital; get the comfortable ones.
- Electronics. Other than the inseparably dear phone, your birth partner will need these electronics.
- Laptop: If they need to be connected with work or respond to urgent emails.
- Camera: You probably won’t forgive your spouse for missing to log and document your baby’s birth story.
- Chargers. For all of the above.
- Sleeping bag/bedding. Check with the hospital if your package covers an additional set of beds for the partner. If not, go for small and compact sleep-in bags as they take a lesser room in the bag. Suppose the hospital takes care of beds for attendants. In that case, it’s still wise to check beforehand whether it’s comfortable for your partner or if they’d prefer a personal set.
- Books. Labor can go on for 24 hours or more at times, so your partner will find themselves with lots of time in hand. Pack a light and easy read to make most of the free intervals in between.
More to keep in mind
If you’re expecting a C-section, make sure you pack a few extra clothing sets. A search for socks shouldn’t become a real treasure hunt. Pack smaller kitbags for each category, like packing all toiletries in one bag, snacks in another, and smaller stuff like socks and scarves, then pack all together in a single load. This way, it’s easier to find anything when needed.
Put all documents in one folder and label them to save the trouble of fiddling through every single paper every time you need anything.