You've counted down the weeks and nested like crazy, but have you remembered to pack a bag for the hospital? If you're waiting until you feel a labor contraction to get packing, don't. Choosing what to put in your hospital bag and packing it for your stay at the hospitalis one of the most exciting parts of late pregnancy.
There’s no telling when your baby may arrive, so it’s a good idea to have a hospital bag packed by week 35. Keep it in the car you’ll be traveling to the hospital in, or in the hallway ready to grab on your way out.
Work out whatever essentials you’ll need for yourself and your newborn by making a list. Your hospital bag should be whatever works best for you, like a large tote or small suitcase.
- Birth plan, hospital notes, and insurance information
- Labor gown: the hospital will give you this, but you may want your own. This will likely get messy so don’t buy anything new or special
- Nightwear, including a gown and slipper
- Going home clothes, which should be loose fitting and comfortable
- Nursing bras and tanks – pack two or three comfortable bras
- Breast pads
- Maternity pads and lots of spare underwear (disposable ones are particularly helpful too!) – The hospital will also provide both of these but bring your own if you have a brand you prefer.
- Toiletries and a towel – just the basics including toothpaste and toothbrush, deodorant and shower stuff
- Lip balm
- Hairbrush and ties/clips for long hair
- Snacks/cartons of drink
- An extra pillow and blanket to make yourself more comfortable
- You may want to add in some personal items too – your camera (and spare batteries), iPod, phone and chargers, books and magazines
For the baby:
- Diapers– you’ll go through plenty in the first few days but the hospital will also provide some
- Baby wipes
- Scratch mittens
- Socks or booties
- Baby blanket
- Boppy or nursing pillow
- Car seat - although this isn’t packed, make sure it’s in the car!
Don't forget about your partner! Your birth partner may require a few things including:
- Clothes: depending on how long labor goes, your birth partner could be with you awhile without access to a shower
- Electronics – a mobile phone, charger and digital camera to capture the first moments with your baby
- Food and drink – having extra food and drink on hand will allow your partner to stay well-fed and hydrated, meaning they will spend less time away from you
- Pillow and blanket – because hospitals chairs are not comfortable when you’re there for over 12 hours
If you're participating in a post-birth portrait session, include these items in your list:
- A soft cuddly toy – this makes a great photo prop
- A blanket – whether it’s been knitted specially or bought
- A plain top for you if you want to be in the photos
- That special ‘first’ baby outfit
Working out what you’ll need for yourself and your newborn, and then finally packing it all up really does bring it home just how close you are to holding your baby for the first time!
Speaking of which, now might also be a good time to find out what the signs of labor are so you’re ready to go when it’s the real thing! Good luck!