Experts advise that as parents prepare for their child’s delivery, they pack a hospital bag of important belongings several weeks before the due date. This helps parents prepare in advance so they can relax as the delivery gets closer and make sure they are ready in case the baby arrives earlier than expected.
As far as what to bring – experts recommend that you bring what you need, but don’t weigh yourself down with unnecessary baggage. These necessities include:
- Paperwork: Bring insurance cards, identification (such as a driver’s license), paperwork your doctor requested you complete, and a few copies of your birth plan (if you have one). Many women like to make sure that every member on their team of medical personnel has a copy of their birth plan, but it’s important to note that birth involves many unknowns, so following the birth plan may not always be possible or advised. Medical professionals will work with you in developing a birth plan appropriate to your needs.
- An infant car seat: You will need to have an infant car seat (not in your bag, but in your car upon arrival). Many partners choose to install the car seat before their hospital stay, while some choose to do so during the postpartum period at the hospital. For information on how to install an infant car seat, click here. You can also make an appointment (at your local fire station, police state, or at the hospital itself) to make sure the car seat has been installed properly. Follow this link to find other places where you can get your car seat inspected.
- Toiletries: Because hospital stays can be as short as one day or as long as a week or more, you will need things like toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, a hair brush, hair ties, lotion, makeup, and deodorant. You will also need toiletries for your partner (if you have one).
- Camera: You may not be permitted to have a videocamera in the delivery room, but you will be able to have a cell phone camera or a digital camera to take photos of your new baby. Also pack batteries, a memory card, charging cables, and other camera accessories.
- Comforts for mother: Many women bring comfort objects from home to the hospital, including their own pillows, massage tools for partner massages, scented lotions and oils, music, photos, and other special treasures.
- Comforts for others: If you have a birth partner, he or she will also be experiencing the hospital stay, so they may want to bring their own set of comfort items, including pillows, blankets, music, etc.
- Entertainment: Many women choose to bring magazines, books, or puzzles to help them and their partners keep their minds off of labor pains.
- Communication tools: You may want to bring your cell phone, a charger, and perhaps a tablet or laptop to communicate with friends and family about your new baby.
- Clothing for baby: You may want to bring two or three easy outfits for your new baby to wear. You may want to bring outfits in a few different sizes, since you may not know your baby’s size until he or she arrives. You should also bring infant undershirts, a sweater or jacket, a hat, receiving blankets, socks or booties, and extra warm-weather clothing for colder climates. The hospital will provide diapers for you (and possibly undershirts as well), but you will likely want to bring extras from home as well.
- Going-home outfit for your baby: Many parents like to choose a special outfit to dress their new baby in for their trip home.
- Clothing for mother: Bring clothing that makes you feel comfortable (sweatpants, robes, pajamas, etc.), and note that you will likely still be in maternity clothes for a while after giving birth. Moms may also want to bring maternity bras or nursing bras if they are planning on nursing. Some women also choose to bring a bathing suit if they want to bathe or shower during labor when others may be in the room.
- Clothing for your others present: If you have a birth partner, he or she will need to pack a few comfortable outfits and shoes for their hospital stay.
- Feminine needs: You will need to bring several pairs of comfortable cotton underwear that can hold absorbent maxi-pads for postpartum bleeding.
- Snacks: Your medical providers in labor and delivery may not permit you to eat during labor, but you will be able to eat after delivery. Many women choose to bring favorite foods with them to enjoy during this time, but the hospital will also provide food for you. Partners will absolutely need to pack snacks and food for themselves as well.
- Money: You may want to pack a little extra cash for vending machines or parking.
- Information Resources: Many parents like to bring parenting books and resources for reference as they begin taking care of their new baby. Of course, medical personnel will always be available to answer questions.
- A notebook and pen: You may want to jot down questions you have for the medical staff or track your baby’s feeding or diaper schedule during your stay.
For a few other unnecessary (but helpful) items to include in your hospital bag, check out the Bump’s list of Unexpected Items to Pack for your Hospital Stay.