What To Pack

According to the due date that I was assigned by my OBGYN when I found out I was pregnant, I am now a week and a day “overdue”. I’ve had my hospital bags packed since the end of July, anticipating that this baby would be earlier than August 15th, based on the fact that it is my second term pregnancy and she was extremely active and being carried low for a good bit of my third trimester. I decided to go through the bags today to put my mind at ease, since they’ve been packed for literally a month now, and I was psyching myself out that I had somehow forgotten something.

A while back I remember seeing a YouTube video that an expecting mama had made…it was a walk-through of what she had packed in her hospital bag, and I found it really useful. When I was due to give birth to Pumpkin, I really had no idea what to bring. I ended up overpacking and not having some of the items I wish I’d had. I find these kinds of online gems (videos, blog posts) really useful, so I decided to do my own, since I was already pulling everything out for review!

If you just want to jump to the lists, here they are, for convenience sake:

Recommendations for your labor kit.
Recommendations for your postpartum hospital stay.
Recommendations for your baby bag.

In the world of smartphones and ubiquitous GPS in cars, much of the early phone calls and route planning that was once a necessity isn’t critical, but if you have the time to save some phone numbers in your phone and do a dry-run of the drive to where you’re giving birth, why not? At the least, program the hospital’s maternity center phone number (or midwife, or birth center) into both your phone and your partner or labor coach’s phones. Most places will require you to call in advance to give them a heads’ up that you’re coming in (and in some cases tell you to hang out at home for a while longer if you’re “not in labor enough”). Additionally, I think most birthing facilities now give you the ability to pre-register your information, which makes your check-in much easier. Check the website of the place you’re going to be giving birth for a pre-registration link. Lastly on the early-contacts front, if you’ve done your research and chosen a pediatrician (which you should have!), program their number into your phone as well.

Make sure you pack your insurance card.

Leave your jewelry at home. Necklaces may scratch tender newborn faces during early nursing sessions (I learned this from experience), and watches and bracelets may interfere with IV placement if you require it. Rings may get uncomfortably tight if you tend to swell when you get hot…and you’re gonna get hot, mama. I suppose post earrings would be unobtrusive, but if I’m trying to get comfortable through contractions and I happen to put my head down into a pillow or my husband’s shoulder, ear-down, the last thing I’m going to want is a metal post sticking me in the neck!

In your “labor kit”, you may want to include:

* a tennis ball or hand-held massager, to be used on you by your coach.
* chapstick or lipgloss, and lollypops or gum; the heavy breathing through contractions may dry you out.
* warm, comfy socks, preferably with tread on the bottom to minimize slipping risks as you walk around…you may fluctuate between being icy cold and sweating buckets, and cold feet are the pits, and sweaty feet can be slippery.
* some sort of focal point…something to help you find a “happy place”. For Pumpkin’s birth I had a small “brag book” photo album of pictures of our dogs (this was before they drove me batsh*t crazy, as they do now), and for this birth, I have a brag book of photos of Pumpkin and the Captain.
* lotion for massage…some people prefer powder for a dry massage.

I almost wish I was in labor right now, so I could dig in.

* healthy snacks; many birth places have moved away from the policy of preventing women from eating and drinking during labor. You need your energy (let’s be honest; birth is the most intense aerobic feat that a human body can accomplish), and drinking your fluids is way favorable over having them delivered through an IV. We’re packing a combination of nuts and dried fruits, as well as peanut butter snacks…I feel okay about eating lots of peanut butter snacks because of the protein (and Trader Joe’s chocolate-covered peanut butter cups are hea.ven.ly – yes, I’m going to eat them while in labor…don’t judge me). I know that one couple included beef jerky in their labor kit for the protein, and I suppose it would suffice for that purpose, but the last thing I’d want being puffed back into my face by the Captain’s zealous chants of encouragement is beef jerky breath, and nor do I want beef jerky breath (or beef jerky breastmilk) to be my little girl’s first experience with mommy. But, I digress. Point is, be conscious of your breath. And coaches, don’t be offended if mom asks you to go brush your teeth or rinse with some mouth wash during labor.
* camera; make sure you have extra, extra batteries.
* CD with music that helps you find your happy place.
* pillows from home.
* birthing ball to bounce on or lean over. Many hospitals and most birthing centers have these “in stock” for use these days…you may want to call in advance to see if they have them available.
* if you’re planning on taking advantage of hydrotherapy (showers, birthing tubs, or if you’re lucky; jacuzzis), pack a comfy sports bra or bikini top, unless you’re okay with the girls hanging out for all to see. By the end of your birth experience, you’ll likely have no modesty left (really, everyone in the room is going to see every bit of you, including bits of you that even YOU can’t see), but early in the process you may still be a bit shy about leaving it all out there.
* you may be more comfortable laboring in your own PJs or just a robe, rather than the standard-issue hospital gown. They even make designer delivery gowns if you want to look your fabulous best in photos of your big day, but honestly…do you seriously want to spend up to $60 on something that is going to get all manner of biological mess on it?

If you are giving birth in a birthing center, you will likely be fortunate enough to go home in as little as three hours postpartum, so the following list won’t be relevant for you. If you’re giving birth at home, why have you read this far?

If you’re giving birth in a hospital, the following list includes my recommendations for your postpartum stay; usually a mandatory two days in the United States. Many of the essentials you will have from the previous list (the camera, the snacks, your own PJ’s and/or robe, assuming it didn’t get ruined during your birth). My recommendations also assume that you will be breastfeeding.

* Boppy, My Brest Friend, or other nursing pillow.
* overnight maxis; the ones that the hospital will have for you are more uncomfortable than the actual birth process.
* nursing bras or nursing tank tops, along with breast pads; I recommend wearing them well before you go in to deliver…you know that “new bra itch”? It is even worse when you are postpartum and tender from early nursing. You don’t have to wear anything under your jammies or hospital gown, but you may be leaky as your breasts start to learn their new role, and you need to have a bra on to hold breast pads in place.
* wraps or shrugs or light robes that cover your arms but open easily for nursing access.

My Nipple Support Staff. Let’s go team!

* nipple butter or cream, preferably lanolin-free to maximize the chances that your newborn won’t dislike the taste.
* hydrogel pads for your nipples, such as Medela Tender Care Hydrogel Pads. You can put these in the fridge in your room if you have one, and the relief that they provide from early nursing discomfort is bliss.
* granny panties, in dark colors, for obvious reasons. They may provide you with ridiculous one-size-fits-all mesh disposable panties if you’re in a hospital, but those are mostly only good for a laugh.

* whatever your usual toiletries are, in trial/travel sizes if you can get them (thanks to my friend Brooke for this gem of wisdom from my first pregnancy!) If you plan far enough ahead, if you have any prescriptions, you can save empty bottles after you get them refilled, and put just the right amount of your medication(s) in the extra bottles. I did this with my prenatal and Prilosec. I indulged and bought travel sizes of Aveda’s Rosemary Mint shampoo and body wash for my hospital stay this time, even though I don’t use them regularly. They are what is given gratis at a luxury hotel that the Captain and I have indulged in visiting a few times, and the smell of it really puts me in my happy place. I’m looking forward to getting to use it! Don’t bother with your entire makeup regimen. I’m taking a compact (those of you that know me know that I’ve never gone anywhere without a powder compact since sometime in the eighth grade), concealer, mascara, and eyeliner, though I may not even use it.

The bare necessities. Totally forgot to pack deodorant.

* Loose-fitting clothes for the trip home. Unless you’re some kind of genetically gifted anomaly of nature, you’re going to look like you’re anywhere from three to seven months pregnant when you leave the hospital. I’m planning on taking one of my favorite maternity tops and a pair of stretchy black pants.

For the baby:

* the CARSEAT and carseat base, if there is one.

Peanut will be two days old and already having a wardrobe dilemma.

* the ever-important homecoming outfit. If your babies tend to be big, I recommend taking a newborn-sized outfit and a 0-3 month sized outfit. Additionally, take layers, especially if you’re bringing a baby home in the Spring or Fall, when weather is unpredictable.

* receiving blankets of different weights, for the trip home. We’re taking a lightweight flannel, a thick cotton knit, and a crocheted blanket, depending on what the day is like.

These were also my favorites to use with Pumpkin.


Tres’ cute.

*lightweight cap in warm months, warm hat in cold months. I splurged this time around and bought some cute organic cotton caps, since the Captain and I are such photo-hounds, and they are much cuter than the ubiquitous blue-and-pink striped one that is standard in most hospitals.

* if you’re brave enough to start using cloth diapers from the start (not a big deal if you’re already experienced with it with older children), make sure you take your newborn stash. We use cloth diapers, but will likely wait at least until the baby’s navel scab falls off.

Do you have any words of wisdom or must-have items to add? Please share them in the comments section below!

I was not compensated in any way for mentioning specific products in this blog post.

5 thoughts on “What To Pack

  1. Don’t forget, there will be times when you can’t sleep and the baby is asleep. You may want to have a book, puzzle book, handheld game, or electric to entertain yourself for a few minutes. I recommend something funny to read such as Erma Bombeck’s Motherhood the Second Oldest Profession. It is funny and will add light to what is about to come.


  2. I’m glad I re-read this! There were a couple things I didn’t think of – and I already had a long list, haha. 🙂 I guess I’d better get to packing! I also need to find a super cute warm hat for the babe since it’ll be mid-January. I have small caps already, but they’re thin.THANKS! ❤


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