Most of us struggle to pack light for a weekend away. Packing for night or two at the hospital, while you’re giving birth, and then when you have a new addition to the family can be more than overwhelming! What do you need? What does your birth support person need? What does your baby need? The possibilities can seem endless and impossible to navigate. Before you know it, you’ve got three bags full, including half of your baby’s newborn wardrobe.
So what do you actually need to pack in your hospital bag? Lets break it down for planned labors, planned C-sections, and planned home births in case of transfer.
Hospital Bag List for Labor and Birth
If you’re hiring a doula, you’ll want to talk to her about the things you need to bring and what she will bring. Most likely, she’ll come with most of the relaxing and coping tools that you will use. If not, here are some compact things you might want to bring:
- Massage oil
- A tennis ball for rolling massages
- A rebozo-style wrap for support and sifting techniques (sarongs work well!)
- Earbuds or a small portable speaker
- Hot or cold packs
You’ll also need some basic personal belongings.
- Toiletries for you and your partner (just the basics: small toothpaste, toothbrush, dry shampoo, deodorant - you don’t want a stinky labor coach telling you what to do!)
- Swimming clothes for partner in case they get in shower or bath with you
- One change of clothes for each of you
- Protein or granola bars in case your partner can’t leave to get food
- Phone chargers
And some postpartum things:
- Comfortable, supportive underwear (you may or may not like the mesh underwear, but those will only last so long anyway)
- Nurtured Mother for afterpains
- Postpartum pads (padsicles for soothing ice packs right after birth, cloth pads if you would rather use those. The hospital should provide disposable pads while you are there.
- A nursing bra or a nursing camisole, loose-waist pajama pants
- Breast pads
- Nipple Salve for early nursing
- Let There Be Milk to start working on your supply
Finally, for baby:
- 2-3 onesies or sleepers total (they will likely swaddle her up really well, but you might want one warm sleeper just in case)
- Cord Care Powder
- They will provide diapers, but if you want to use cloth exclusively you’ll want to bring some
Don’t forget to have your carseat installed and ready to go!
Hospital Bag for Planned C-Section
If you are having a planned C-section, you can omit the labor coping items, but don’t forget some of these in addition to the list above:
- Recovery Spray
- Aromatherapy or calming tools for pre- or post-procedure anxiety
Transfer Bag for Planned Home Birth
It’s always best to be prepared, so a small bag in case of transfer is good to have on hand even for a planned home birth. That way, if something happens, you will be ready for it without having to worry about what you’ll do next. And your partner can stay with you without having to run back home after the birth for things you need.
Make sure you have the postpartum and baby supplies from above, as well as:
- phone chargers
- a description of your prenatal care and homebirth plans
- emergency homebirth transport plan
In most cases, your midwife will transfer with you and take care of those details. Be sure you talk with your midwife about transfers and the way she handles them. The unknown adds worry and headache to circumstances that are already less than ideal. Get an idea of what you might expect now so that you can make informed decisions with confidence as needed if the situation arises.