Preparing for the arrival of your baby is exciting, but it can also be overwhelming–especially if you are a first-time mom. Once you’re around 34 weeks pregnant, you should start preparing for your delivery date. Even if you have a scheduled C-section or induction date, there is still the possibility you could go into labor naturally before then. So, it’s a good idea to be as prepared as possible well in advanced.
Once you’ve set up the crib or bassinet and installed the car seat, go ahead and start packing your hospital bag for labor and delivery. We suggest designating an area, like the nursery or a spare bedroom, to gather all your items before you pack them.
Here is a helpful labor and delivery hospital bag packing list that you can check off as you go:
- Personal documents & ID: At a minimum, you will need your health insurance card and a government-issued photo ID. Of course, these are items traditionally kept in your wallet and purse so they won’t actually get “packed.” It’s also a good idea to carry a printed copy of any hospital paperwork you have already filled out such as a pre-registration form. If you anticipate being away from the local area where you plan to deliver, request a copy of your medical records from your physician’s office to keep with you.
- Birth Plan: If you’ve chosen to write a birth plan, bring a few copies with you to the hospital. You care team will include several doctors and nurses, so this can be a helpful reference to ensure everyone is on the same page about your labor and delivery preferences.
- Phone Charger: Aside from using it to update your loved ones, your phone can help you pass the time while you labor. You may want to play music, scroll through social media or use helpful apps like a contraction timer or for guided meditation. You may opt to bring a traditional camera, but you’re bound to take some snaps with your phone as well. All of this can drain your battery quickly, so don’t forget to pack a charger. You might consider purchasing a charging cord with extended length since there’s no way to predict where power outlets will be in the labor or recovery rooms.
- Toiletries: Deodorant, body wash, shampoo, facial cleansing wipes, toothpaste, and a toothbrush are necessities. Don’t forget the lip balm and moisturizer – hospitals are dry, and pregnancy has likely already taken a toll on your skin! If you aren’t keen on the idea of using the hospital’s, you may also want to pack your own towel from home. Those who wear glasses or contacts should back those in their hospital bag as well.
- Hair Care and Cosmetic Products: Stick to the bare minimum on this category. A ponytail holder can help keep your hair out of your face during labor, and brush and dry shampoo will come in handy for those first photos with your new baby. If a swipe of mascara or pat of blush make you feel better, by all means, pack them. Though you’re not likely to need or use your entire makeup bag.
- Flip-Flops for the shower. No explanation, necessary.
- Slippers or Dark-Colored Socks: Whether you’re in bed or need to walk on the cold tile floor, socks can keep your feet warm and clean. These can get dirty, so pack a dark-colored pair or ones you don’t mind throwing away. Slippers or a pair of shoes you can easily slide on can be helpful when getting in and out of bed or walking the halls of the labor and delivery wing.
- Sleepwear, Robe, and Underwear: A lightweight nightgown will be much more comfortable than a hospital gown, and a robe will come in handy for walking the hallways or when visitors stop by. if you don’t want to wear the mesh underwear the hospital gives you after delivery, pack a few pairs of underwear like briefs, maternity, or disposables (ex. Depends). As with the socks, these should be items you would not be upset if they got ruined.
- Nursing Bra: Don’t forget to pack a nursing tank top or bra. If you buy them at the end of your pregnancy, most women are about the same size postpartum. They are obviously designed to help make it easier to nurse, but are also more comfortable to sleep in. If you need to use a pump, the hospital will provide one to use during your stay along with any parts or bottles that you need to go along with it.
- Homecoming Outfit for Baby: The hospital will provide everything that your baby needs during your stay. Unless you have your heart set on a specific style, don’t worry about packing any swaddles or blankets. You won’t need multiple outfits for each day, but be sure to pack an outfit for going home. Newborn gowns make for easy diaper changes, but if you opt for a kimono-style shirt and footed pants you don’t have to worry about packing socks. This style top wraps around the baby and fastens with snaps so you don’t have to put it over their head. Most also have built-in cuffs to keep tiny fingernails from scratching, so you can skip the mittens too.
- Homecoming Outfit for You: You’ll most likely still look around 5 months pregnant when you leave the hospital, so don’t throw out your maternity clothes just yet. Depending on the weather, pack your favorite maternity dress or leggings and tunic.
- Extra Bag: All of your items should fit nicely in a weekender-style bag or small roller-style luggage. With all the supplies from the hospital—diapers, blankets, and creams—and gifts from any visitors, you’re likely to have more stuff coming out than you did going in. We suggest tucking one or two extra bags into your hospital bag. Reusable shopping bags that can easily be folded up are great for this.
Other items that you may want to consider putting on your hospital bag packing list aren’t exactly necessities, though some women may consider them as such. Rather, most are comfort items that can help provide relief during your labor or post-delivery.
- Pillow for you and/or your partner
- Relaxation tools such as back massager, stress-relief ball or massage oil/lotion
- Cash for the vending machine just in case
- Snacks for you and/or your partner to munch on
- Thank you gift for the doctors and nurses that care for you and your baby. Something as simple as fun-size candy are great or, if you prefer, you can schedule for a fruit basket or something similar to be delivered. There are great ideas on Pinterest if that’s your sort of things.
- Eye mask & earplugs to help you sleep. There are generally quiet hours in the labor and delivery department, but hospitals can be noisy.
- Camera and charger if you’d like to capture baby’s first days with something besides your smartphone
You might feel inclined to overpack because after all, you’ll never know what you’re going to need. But, keep in mind the average hospital stay for labor and delivery is typically only 2-3 days. The hospital will provide most items you and your baby will need during your stay, and for comfort items, your partner or another loved one can always run out to pick up something you’ve forgotten or decided you would like.
Talk to your doctor if you have additional questions about how to prepare for your upcoming labor and delivery. The team of providers at Raleigh OB/GYN has been delivering babies for decades, so their knowledge is based on experience. For more information or to request an appointment, call (919) 876-8225.