You've taken the childbirth preparation class, built the crib, attended your baby shower, read 20 new books and you're following yours truly on IG. Basically, you're doing everything right!
But people keep talking about the hospital bag and what to actually put inside of it. How are you supposed to know what's right for you? There's a list on every website and in every book. Which one is right?! All of them or none of them? Well, it's really up to you, your body and your baby. Afterall, your baby and body are the ones in charge of how this whole thing is going to go down. Prepare for the birth as best you can, bring the stuff. It's sort of like bringing an umbrella in case it rains. You may or may not use it, but at least you'll have it.
So, what's going into the bag?
Comfort Items for You During Labor
You know most what brings you comfort. Do you have a favorite blanket or pillow that will make you feel cozy? Bring them! Pro tip: make sure they're not white, so they don't get mixed up with the hospital linens.
Do you want to make the hospital room feel less like a hospital room? Bring battery tea lights and twinkle lights or a star projector. This is YOUR space so dress it up the way you want. Pro tip: if it's locked, it's not for you but explore the room to learn what's stored in which cabinet. Ask the nurse what's okay to put where in the room. I recommend lights around the tray table, the clock, the picture over the bed, the back of the toilet. Make it dreamy.
What snacks make you smile? Bring them! Pop tarts? Chex mix? Your water bottle with the funny cat picture on it? If they make you feel good, bring them, eat them, enjoy them. Pro tip: Skip the greasy, heavy snacks and stick with those that are easy to digest and give you energy.
Want to wear your own clothes during labor? By all means! You can bring your favorite old t-shirt and sweatpants or a specially ordered super soft labor/maternity gown. Wear what's the comfiest for you.
On the little rolling tray table, have your immediate essentials: a hair elastic, lip balm, water (with a straw), your snacks, ear buds (to drift away into your own mind and music space), whatever you'll want within easy arm's reach.
Finally, I asked a group of moms once what they were most happy about having brought to the hospital for labor. The #1 answer? A long phone charging cord. Mic drop. You're welcome.
Essentials for You and Your Support Person
You're a grown adult who has most likely packed for a weekend trip. This is the same. No need to overthink this part. You're staying in a "hotel" (albeit one with no locks on the door and where people come and go as needed) so bring what you'd bring for a few nights away. Changes of clothes and PJs, toiletries, phone chargers etc. Pro tip: Bring a bathing suit top for you and a suit for your support person. If you're loving the tub or shower and you need support right then and there, it's helpful for the supporter to have a bathing suit! Another Pro tip: Support person, bring a sweatshirt. The laboring person is in charge of the room temp so be prepared with layers to be able to go with the flow.
Essentials for Your Baby
Honestly? They don't need much. The main thing? Their car seat. Pro tip: Get it inspected by an expert, often your local fire department, to make sure you've installed it correctly and you know how to put baby in safely. Other than that, the hospital gives you almost everything you need from diapers to wipes, shirts and swaddle blankets. You might want to bring a special "going home outfit" for baby. Pro tip: ultrasound size estimates are often inaccurate, so bring a newborn and 0-3 months outfit just in case. You might wish to bring your own baby swaddle blanket from home (you know, the ones with Velcro) since learning how to swaddle with a flat blanket can be overwhelming. Another helpful item might be a nursing pillow. There are LOTS of pillows available to you at the hospital, so you make the call on this one.
Do you need to bring your own birth ball? Nope. They've got those in the room. Do you need to bring the lights mentioned above? Only if that's important to you (but trust me, it makes the room so nice). If you forget something, don't sweat it. Also? maybe have it packed by 37 weeks, just in case.
Add to this list the other items you want or need and if you don't use them all, no big deal! Happy packing!
I've got your new family needs covered.