As excited I am about giving birth to my fourth baby, I’m just as unprepared. With my other pregnancies, I was packed and ready almost two months before my due date, which came in handy because I went into labor right at 37 weeks each time. Normally, I pack early because there’s always a little wiggle room in the true due date — this time around, I haven’t packed or bought anything yet. It helps that I just had a baby at the end of 2016, and still have almost everything. It’s certainly saving us money, but it’s also given me an excuse to be a bit lazy. In my defense, I know my body so well, I’ve predicted when I would go into labor within hours of when it actually happened, for two out of the last three babies — so I’m basically an expert, right?
When To Pack?
When it comes to packing your bag for the hospital, there are a few things to consider, is your pregnancy high-risk? Do you have a history or symptoms of pre-term labor? Have you had any medical issues that would put you a risk of delivering prematurely? If you answered yes to any of those questions, I’d recommend packing as early as 33 weeks. If not, you should be fine as long as you pack by 36 weeks. Whenever you choose to start getting ready for your little one, take my advice and start with installing your car seat. My last pregnancy, was my husband’s first and he had no idea to to install a car seat. He ended up waiting until the day we were being released, with the help of my mom (who hadn’t helped with a car seat in 10 years), and they were shuffling to install it as I was being rolled out to the car, with my baby in hand.
Keep It Simple
With my first pregnancy, I made the rookie mistake of packing everything under the sun. Extra pillows, blow dryers, my own blanket — I ended up not using any of that stuff, and it was such a hassle to get out of there without leaving stuff behind. For baby #2 and baby #3, I adjusted my list of must-haves I’m not against bringing comfort items from home, I just find it unnecessary to bring everything I own. There are definitely a few essentials that you’ll want to have on hand during your trip to the maternity ward, but there’s no need to overdo it. So, what do you need for a comfortable, hassle-free stay? I’ve got you covered.
Hospital Checklist for Mom
One of my favorite hacks to packing for the hospital, is to bring my purse (I carry this one from Cuyana), packed with the items I’ll need easy access to like my chargers, toiletries, underwear, bras and pads — then packed the rest of my stuff, my husbands stuff, and baby’s stuff in another bag or suitcase. It’s important to keep the length of your stay in mind, which varies based on the type of delivery (vaginal or c-section), but a good rule of thumb is to at least pack enough underwear for 3-4 days. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Photo ID, insurance card, doctor’s info, & birth plan
- Cell phone, charger, & earbuds
- Lip balm
- Headbands & ponytail holders
- Hard candy, gum, & snacks (I survived for 18 hours on Blow Pops, Werthers, and ice chips)
- Labor/Nursing gown (optional — hospitals provide these, but the material isn’t the most comfortable, so you might want to bring your own)
- Socks (regular or non-skid — again, hospitals these, but I’m not a fan of the footies they provide)
- Maternity bras, nursing pads, underwear, & menstrual pads (even if you don’t plan on breastfeeding, some leakage is inevitable, so be prepared; also don’t underestimate the power of bringing your own pads — the ones the hospital provides feel like pillows wedges between your legs)
- Robe (optional, but nice to have when you walk the halls)
- Toiletries & personal items (I stick with the basics — glasses, deodorant, and soap; I can live with the toothbrush and toothpaste at the hospital, and I wait to wash my hair at home in my own shower)
- Bath towel (Is it just me or are hospital towels too small? I also have a personal vendetta against white towels)
- Comfortable going-home clothes (A maxi dress or something similarly simple works wonders)
Hospital Checklist for Your Partner
- Your partner will have more flexibility to leave the hospital, and they probably will, whether they’re checking on other children at home or getting you food. They won’t need quite as much stuff, but they’ll need a few basic things to make their stay comfortable too. They shouldn’t have much, so toss their stuff in with yours. Here’s what they’ll need:
- Cell phone, charger, & earbuds (ask them to put the ringer on vibrate, and you won’t want to hear the sports podcast their listening to, while you’re having contractions)
- Magazines, iPad, laptop (there will mostly be some downtime, and naps happening while you wait for baby, so they’ll need some entertainment)
- Camera video, batteries, charger & extra memory cards
- Snacks (you won’t want to share while you’re in labor)
- A change of clothes (my husband runs home for a quick shower, so he brings basketball shorts and a t-shirt to lounge in
- Toiletries (only the necessities; toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant)
Hospital Checklist for Baby
You probably have a good idea of what you’ll need to bring for your baby, and the good news is, it’s not much. The hospital provides diapers, wipes, and formula (if you choose not to, or have difficulty breastfeeding). They’ll need you to bring your cast seat in for testing before they release your baby, so getting the base properly installed is key. Other than that, everything else is up to you. Here’s what you should bring for baby:
- Receiving blankets & outfit for photos (optional; unless you’re crazy like me and you plan on photographing and filming the entire delivery and aftermath yourself — my husband thinks I’m nuts)
- Approved infant car seat
- A coming-home outfit
- Seasonally appropriate gear: blankets, snowsuit, hat, etc.
What Other Moms Recommend
Pillow, Phone charger, bottled water, snacks, 2 changes of clothes, Tylenol, stool softener (the hospital charges about $50 for one pill), car seat and manual (leave in car). — Lori, www.inspirehopemagazine.com
Nipple balm. — Miriam, www.theverybestbabystuff.com
Snacks, chargers, stool softener, a few changes of clothes, definitely a sweater for layering, a pillow, soft socks, tablet or kindle, journal, camera, a few changes of clothes for baby, first photo outfit if needed, lip gloss/vaseline, lotion. — Dani, OKDani.com
Flip Flops–yes, and nothing fancy, just plain plastic ones that you don’t mind getting dirty and can either be rinsed off or even thrown away. — Megan, www.nepamom.com
Workout pants and t-shirts for dad. — Christy, www.stainedwithstyle.com
Once you’ve packed everything, leave it near the garage door or in the trunk of your car, and you’ll be ready — no matter when your sweet little decides to make their grand entrance to the world. Good luck!