Let me begin by sharing about a great smart phone app that I used during pregnancy for organization – Sprout. A friend let me in on this piece of goodness and I used it mainly for the Organizer function, which contains lists titled M.D. Visit Planner, To Do, Newborn Essentials, and Hospital Bag (divided into lists for Mom, Dad, and Little One). I like it because it contains a list of items that gives you a good base to begin, but you’re able to edit it accordingly, removing items you don’t want or need, and adding items that are not listed. (My next post will briefly cover newborn essentials that I found most helpful.)
I spent time perusing my list before writing this blog, identifying items that I’m glad I packed, as well as items that I never touched. Most of this blog will apply to those of you delivering in hospitals. If you plan to deliver in a birthing home or center, you probably do not need nearly as many items since you’ll be going home sooner. I assume your midwife will advise you accordingly.
Some of these items need no explanation, but some I provide commentary based on my experience. Hope you find it helpful!
One suggestion is to pack two bags – a labor and delivery bag, and a postpartum bag. This might simplify things so that you only have one bag of related items for labor and delivery, and you won’t have to worry about sorting through unnecessary items. We did this and it seemed to work fine. While I was in recovery, waiting for my postpartum room, Nick ran out to the truck and switched out the bags. It saved space and meant less to carry. I’ve shared two lists below based on the two bags we packed.
Random Tip: Heading to the Hospital – It’s not a bad idea to keep a towel/trash bag in the vehicle for you to sit on, just in case your water breaks before you arrive at your location of labor and delivery. My water broke at home, so when we got in the car, I simply moved the towel I’d stuffed under the seat onto the seat for the ride there. I’m glad I did. 🙂
Labor and Delivery Bag
Lip Balm / Chapstick – I don’t remember my lips getting dry as much as my mouth did, but this is good to have in case you need it.
Tennis Ball / Rolling Pin / Rolling Paintbrush – These make great massage tools for back labor. My favorite was a rolling paintbrush. Have your husband rub your back with one sometime. Note: If you choose to use a wonderful doula, she will likely provides items like these for you!
iPad/iPod for Music – I didn’t make a playlist ahead of time because I wasn’t sure what I’d want to hear. I ended up requesting slower, softer songs, particularly some of the recently redone hymns.
Labor Clothes – Choose to labor in whatever is most comfortable to you. Many women are unaware that hospital gowns are not mandatory attire. My hospital made me put one on initially when they checked to see if my water had broken, but then I was allowed to change into my own clothes for labor. I felt so much more comfortable after this happened. My attire consisted of a sports bra, tank top, and mens’ basketball shorts. I went back and forth on what I wanted to wear, but I am happy with my choice. If I’d gotten to the pushing stage, I would have simply removed layers and still been somewhat covered. I considered one of these labor dresses, and had a friend who actually used one and loved it. Whatever you think you’ll feel most comfortable in is what you should wear – you don’t have to wear a hospital gown if you don’t want to do so.
Some Sort of Heating/Cooling Device/Pad – I had a few items (one was a sock!) filled with rice that could be either heated in the microwave or cooled in the freezer. I quickly learned during labor that I preferred heat around my neck, so Nick and my doula Becky took turns heating up two different rice-filled items for me. I still use these to this day for random aches and pains instead of waiting on a heating pad to warm up.
Sour Candy on a Stick – I read that some women like to suck on something sour during delivery. I never did, but I had some in case I wanted it.
Hand Fan – Again, I didn’t use this either, but I had it in case I wanted some extra air blowing in my face.
Boppy – If you plan on breastfeeding, you can have your boppy handy for nursing right after delivery, or you can simply use a pillow and wait to use your boppy in your postpartum room.
Swim Trunks for Dad – We packed these for Nick in case I labored any in the tub and needed him for support.
Drinks/Snacks for Dad – You never know how long you’ll be in labor (33 hours, for example), and your spouse just may need something for fuel. (I think Nick simply drank 12 cups of coffee.)
Coins for Vending Machines for Dad
Cord Blood Banking Kit – We recommend CBR.
Cell Phone Charger
Camera – Again, having a doula meant that she took pictures of everything we wanted on camera (we discussed it ahead of time). We didn’t have to worry about taking pictures – we could simply enjoy our experience and our baby, and the moments she captured are incredibly priceless. I conclude this post by sharing with you some of these pictures.
Pumpkin Bread for Hospital Staff – I had this brilliant idea that I would bake while in early labor and bring the goods to the hospital to thank our nurses (I read somewhere that baking is a good task to distract from early contractions). However, my water-breaking-but-not-going-into-labor threw a kink in those plans. I still think it’s a good idea and might try it again someday.
Comfortable Lounge Pants – I did a poor job of packing for this one. I ended up having another friend bring me a few pairs that she bought at Target for me. I did prefer pants over shorts since my legs were so swollen. Just make sure you have something comfortable.
Zip-Up Jacket/Hoodie – This works great with nursing camis if you plan on using those. You can unzip it for nursing or remove it when you’re hot, but zip it up for less exposure if you have visitors.
Shoes that Fit – okay, so I had very little swelling during pregnancy. No one told me that sometimes, especially if you have a c-section/epidural, that you can swell more after the baby is born. I couldn’t fit into my sandals anymore! I remember Nick looking at my legs and staring, saying, “Those aren’t your legs. Those aren’t your legs.” Yeah, folks, it was pretty bad. So make sure you have some comfortable shoes that actually fit. I wore Nick’s house shoes for a few days and ended up buying some of my own from Target in a half-a-size more than what I normally wear.
Socks – I didn’t wear socks very much while in the hospital because of the swelling I experienced – I found that they hurt my feet. However, they were good for walking the halls some.
Clothes to Wear Home – Remember you’ll still look somewhat pregnant even after you deliver your little one(s). I remember riding the elevator at the hospital a few days after B was born. A man let me walk out to the cafeteria first since, he said, “I was eating for two.” My mom pointed out that since I was breastfeeding, technically I was still eating for two! All about perspective, right? Anyway, I picked out my favorite, loose shirt from pregnancy and some athletic/black yoga pants from Target for the ride home.
Nursing Bras/Camis/T-shirts – Okay, I tried everything. Every nursing bra, every nursing cami. I ended up not even using nursing bras. Instead, my preferences revolve around Coobie products. I read about them in a magazine at my doctor’s office, and ordered one of their bras to see what I thought. It was glorious. These products are great and extremely comfortable for pregnancy, postpartum days, or just life in general, in my opinion. Although it took me weeks to discover a system for clothing and nursing, here is what I most likely will do from the start with future pregnancies: I might still pack a Coobie cami for those first days in the hospital, but for the most part, I think I’d prefer comfortable, looser t-shirts over a Coobie Bra, with Lansinoh Nursing Pads as inserts. I just never found nursing bras very helpful. I encourage you simply to try out one of each item and discover what works best for you before buying multiples of any one thing. You’ll determine your own preference easily enough.
Nursing Pads – As mentioned above, Lansinoh Nursing Pads are my favorite. I tried reusable cloth ones but had trouble with them not staying in place, and I felt like they didn’t absorb as well as the disposable ones.
Depends – We might as well continue with the more embarrassing items, right? But seriously, I’m so grateful for this piece of advice. Rather than worry about packing sanitary pads for those hours and days following delivery, simply pack and plan to wear Depends. I didn’t think I’d like these, but I ended up calling a friend and asking her to bring me more. Seriously. Add this to your list.
Prescription Medications / Vitamins
Make-Up and Toiletries
Favorite Pillow(s) – I read somewhere that some people make sure they have pretty pillowcases on their pillows – imagine how many pictures will be taken of you holding that baby. I didn’t really care about this, so I was okay with our simple black pillowcases.
Changes of Clothes for Dad – Nick requested his athletic shorts and t-shirts so he could be comfortable.
Newborn Hat – The hospital gives you at least one of these, so it’s not really necessary to even pack one.
1 Receiving Blanket – For going home!
2 Onesies / Pants Sets / Outfits (depending on the weather / season) – You really only need one for the ride home, but in case an accident happens, the second one is good to have. While in the hospital, we used the diapers the hospital provided, as well as the small white t-shirts. Most of the time, though, we simply swaddled B in the hospital blankets in his diaper, which made skin-to-skin time quicker and easier.
2 Pairs of Newborn Socks
There was really nothing else we needed for our baby while in the hospital. Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas, where we delivered, provides everything baby needs while there. And our nurse was great about sending us home with the remaining items in our room!
Hope this helps. I’d love to hear what items other mothers have found useful as well.
And here are just a few of those valuable pictures our doula took immediately following delivery:
- Dear Expectant Friends Part One: Preparing for Your Little One(s) (jamileegainey.wordpress.com)