There are so many different lists out there that tell you what you need to pack in your hospital bag or birth center bag for your labor and birth. I've created a list based on my two births that tell you exactly what to take to the hospital in your maternity hospital bag. We've got the baby checklist, partner checklist & mama checklist -- all in one!
You’ll want to be sure that you have your bags packed and in your car no later than 35 weeks. Also - make sure at that same time you install the carseat! The hospital or birthing center will not allow you to leave without it... and you don't want to have to wait around for someone to bring it to you!
Think about packing two small bags for the hospital or birth center: one for the items you'll need during labor, and another for items that you won't need until after you give birth. Our diaper bag is large enough to carry everything you need for the delivery - might as well get two birds with one stone! We've also seen mamas use our Simplify Diaper Pouches to organize their bag - one pouch for baby, one pouch for mom's personal items, one pouch for dad's personal items. And with our monogramming, you can label as well.
What to pack for labor
- A picture ID (driver's license or other ID), your insurance card, and any hospital paperwork you need
- Your birth plan
- Eyeglasses or contacts
- Even if you usually wear contact lenses, you may not want to deal with them while you're in the hospital.
- Some women have said that their eyeglasses fog during labor, which made it hard for them to see. It's best to bring both glasses and contacts.
- A bathrobe, a nightgown or two, slippers, and socks.
- Hospitals provide gowns and socks for you to use during labor and afterward, but some women prefer to wear their own.
- Choose a loose, comfortable nightgown that you don't mind getting dirty. It should be either sleeveless or have short, loose sleeves so your blood pressure can be checked easily.
- Slippers and a robe may come in handy if you want to walk the halls during labor.
- Whatever will help you relax.
- Your own pillow (use a patterned or colorful pillowcase so it doesn't get mixed up with the hospital pillows)
- Music and something to play it on
- Think about bringing books or tv shows or movies. If you're induced, it may be a while before labor is underway. Even while you're laboring, it might be good to have your favorite shows ready to distract you!
What to pack for your partner/labor coach
- A camera or video camera with batteries, charger, and memory card. Someone has to document the big event! Some hospitals don't allow videotaping of the birth itself, but there's usually no rule against filming during labor or after the birth.
- Comfortable shoes and a few changes of comfortable clothes
- Snacks and something to read or watch
- Money (or a credit card) for parking and change for vending machines
- A bathing suit. If you want to take a bath or shower during labor, you may want your partner to get in with you to support you or rub your back.
What to pack for after you deliver
- A fresh nightgown
- Your cell phone and charger. After your baby's born, you or your partner may want to call family and friends. Bring a list of everyone you'll want to contact so you don't forget someone important when you're exhausted after delivery.
- Snacks! After hours of labor, you're gonna be hungry. Pack high energy foods that will keep.
- Toiletries: Pack a few personal items, such as a toothbrush and toothpaste, lip balm, deodorant, a brush and comb, makeup, and a hair band or barrettes.
- Comfortable nursing bras or nursing tanks.
- Several pairs of maternity underpants. Some women love the mesh underwear usually provided by the hospital, but others don't. You can't go wrong with your own roomy cotton underpants. The hospital will provide sanitary pads because you'll bleed after delivery. Make sure you have a supply of heavy-duty pads waiting at home!
- Gifts for older siblings. Some parents bring gifts for the new baby to "give" to big brothers and sisters.
- A notepad or journal and pen or pencil. Track your baby's feeding sessions, write down questions you have for the nurse, note what the pediatrician tells you, jot down memories of your baby's first day, and so on. Some people bring a baby book so they can record the birth details right away.
- A going-home outfit. Bring something roomy and easy to get into (believe it or not, you'll probably still look 5 or 6 months pregnant) and a pair of flat, comfortable shoes. Yoga clothes are a great option.
Essentials to pack for your baby
- An installed car seat. You can't drive your baby home without one! Have a rear-facing car seat properly installed ahead of time and know how to buckle your baby in correctly. If you have any questions, just ask one of the nurses and they'll help you out.
- A going-home outfit. Your baby will need an outfit to go home in, including socks or booties if the clothing doesn't have feet, and a soft cap if the air is likely to be cool. Make sure your baby's outfit has legs (is not a baby "gown," for example) so the car seat strap can fit between them. Helpful Hint: Babies heads can be sore after birth, so pack a couple of babies' caps to give yourself options since you won't know the baby's head size. And because the baby will have the umbilical cord, I've found that it's easiest to use the kimono-style tops.
- A receiving blanket. Bring your own to tuck around your baby in the car seat for the ride home. Make it a heavy one if the weather's cold.
Other things to know
- Put an unscented dog pad underneath you on the car ride in case your water breaks. It's surprising how much water actually comes out.
- Pack almonds, avocados, honey sticks, sunflower & pumpkin seeds, apples, oranges, and any other fruits or vegetables that don't require refrigeration. You'll be starving after birth, and you'll want to fill your body with foods that will nurture both you and baby.
- Bring a few changes of clothes, and plan to dress in layers. It can be really warm in the maternity ward to keep the babies warm, but with all your hormonal changes you may want some options.
- Bring baby nail clippers. Some babies are born with long nails, and you want to take care of that before he or she gouges their cheek.
- Bring cheap throwaway flip-flops to wear into the bathroom and shower.
- Bring chocolate treats, $5 gift cards, or anything you can treat your nurses with - they work hard, so make sure you thank them!