As if having pregnancy brain wasn't enough to deal with! One of the most common soon-to-be-parent questions is, "what should I bring to the hospital?" You'll want to start prepping your bag by week 34 of your pregnancy. To help keep your sanity, these are our top 10 absolute musts to pack in your hospital bag.
A super exciting place to start, right?! But seriously, bring everything. Must have are IDs, insurance info, and any intake paperwork. If you have a birth plan, get it all down on paper so you can give it to the staff. In fact, a birth plan is important to give to your doctor well before your due date.
It might be a little tough for you to articulate your plan with all your labor hormones and emotions swirling, so having it all written down in advance can save you the trouble.
You may also want to bring your medical records from throughout your pregnancy, especially if there is something that needs attention.
2. Nursing Top, Bra, and Nursing Pads
Colostrum (the first super-rich, antibody heavy milk that comes in before full breast milk) can start to leak right after birth. It may take longer (which is totally fine and normal!) but you'll want to be prepared anyway.
Whether you're planning to breastfeed or not, your breasts don't know the difference yet! Bring a comfortable nursing top with no underwire or built in bra, and some nursing pads too. Nursing pads slip into your nursing bra (which should also be seamless and wire free) to absorb any leakage so your clothes don't get wet. Wire free keeps your breasts relaxed, helps avoid clogged ducts, and will be most comfortable considering you just had a baby!
Don't forget a nursing hoodie for when you are on your way out of the hospital and need to stay warm, but need quick breastfeeding access.
3. Non-Skid Socks and Flip Flops
Whether it's before to induce labor or after to get you out of bed (or both), you will be walking around the hospital ward. Walking will help with labor and the contractions. Bare feet are not encouraged. Cozy non-skid socks keep your toes warm and are way easier than shoes.
Bring non slippery flip flops so you can wear them in the hospital shower.
5. Your Favorite Toiletries
Shampoo (dry shampoo is a great option), conditioner, and natural body wash, so you can shower during and/or after labor. Plus lip balm and lotion (or coconut oil for face and body) to combat the dryness of the hospital. Try to stay away from heavily fragranced toiletries. You and your baby may find them overpowering and it's not recommended because you'll be skin to skin and it can rub on the baby.
Don't forget deodorant! Don't forget your glasses or contact solution!
You may think you're hair is going to stay all Pantene pro-V commercial like, but it's not sista! Keep some hair bands and ties in your toiletry bag to keep your hair out of your eyes.
5. Cell Phone Charger
Be sure to check with your hospital or birthing center about their cell phone policy. If you can bring a phone, don't forget your charger! If you can't, or have limited use, bring a pre-paid phone card so you can easily contact family and friends without leaving the building.
You'll need this too for the endless video and pics your partner may be taking. After all, capturing this once in a lifetime moment of the day your baby says "Hello World!" is going to create epic Instagram and Facebook pics of epic proportions!
6. Breast Pump
If you have one, you may want to bring it. Some hospitals have IBCLC's come to your room to help you and show you how to use it.
7. Whatever will help you relax!
Stress balls, your own pillow, music, magazines, a comfort blanket, your journal, back massager...whatever works for you. Stay away from snacks pre-labor (unless recommended by your doctor) and focus on things that will make you physically or mentally more comfortable. A rice pack you can heat in the microwave is a great relaxing tool. You could stuff a tube sock with tennis balls too. Put it in the small of your back to help with cramps.
8. Cash and Change
The hospital cafeteria may only be from 9-5, but vending machines are forever! What if you're craving something? You will be hungry.
9. Extra Panties and Heavy Flow Absorbent Pads
This is where things get super sexy. Some new moms love the infamous 'mesh' hospital panties and some hate them. They're disposable so you're not wearing someone else's undies, but it totally okay to prefer your own clothes. There will be bleeding after labor though, so bring cotton underwear you don't mind throwing away. A pack of absorbent pads is a major necessity. Make sure you have plenty at home too.
If you can make it happen, prep some pads (aka "padsicles") with aloe vera gel and witch hazel, stick them in the freezer, and bring them with you in a high quality insulated bag that keeps things ice cold. Keep extra for when you arrive home.
10. Outfit for Two!
Yes, as crazy as it may seem, the hospital is going to let you go home with your new human! Bring you and them an outfit to go home in. You'll want something loose and comfy, like a basic loose top you can feed in, and they'll want something adorable!
Keep going mama! You're doing great! Get ready because the big day is on the way!