The weeks before baby is due to arrive are usually the busiest, from prepping the nursery to stocking up on all the necessities. But getting ready for your trip to the hospital shouldn’t be overlooked. Oftentimes, organizing the hospital bag is left until the very last minute (like when your water unexpectedly breaks), or it’s under-packed, over-packed, or packed with items you don’t need or want.
The hospital bag shouldn’t be a source of stress – in fact, a well-packed bag that includes a strategic mix of needs and wants can make your hospital stay a little more pleasant. So, leave the multiple baby outfits and jewelry at home.
When to pack
Pack three weeks before your due date or whenever “nesting” instinct set in, and then place it somewhere you can easily access it. Personally, I kept my bag in the nursery. Some parents keep their bags in the car; however, I wouldn’t recommend it if you have heat or cold sensitive items (such as a cord blood collection kit).
One bag or two?
If you plan on packing one bag, keep birth tools for comfort such as battery operated massage tools, massage oils, and music on the top. But keep in mind, two small bags will help you easily access the items that you need during labor, while keeping the items you need post-delivery separate. Keep your insurance card, ID, and your birth plan (if you have one) in your purse.
Top Items To Pack
Most hospitals provide medical necessities such as sanitary pads, postpartum underwear, towels, diapers, A& D ointment, and formula (if formula feeding). I recommend including: comforting birth tools, a going-home outfit for mom, and basic toiletries for both mom and spouse.
Baby will need a going-home outfit (weather-appropriate blanket, a hat, socks and mittens), too (Pinterest has some fun ideas on how to preserve it in a shadow box as a keepsake). And don’t forget your spouse. It’s nice to have a change of clothes if they are staying the night with you.
There will be lots of pictures being taken, so you might want concealer handy so that you’re camera-ready. Remember that you want to walk the line between comfort and necessity, without bringing the whole house.
Here’s what you really need to pack the perfect bag
- Birth Tools: massage oils, music, etc.
- Going-home outfit for mom and baby
- Toothbrush & toothpaste
- Phone charger
- List of “who to call or email” when baby arrives
- Shampoo, conditioner, deodorant and hairbrush
- Pajamas and robe
- Extra underwear
- Socks or slippers
- Nursing bra & lanolin (if you plan to breastfeed)
- Stuff for your spouse or partner: toiletries and pajamas
- Insurance Card, ID, birth plan
And although it doesn’t fit in your bag, don’t forget the baby car seat!
Ines P. Serna, CCCE
is a Certified Childbirth Educator and a staff member of the Family Birth Center at Englewood Hospital and Medical Center in Englewood, NJ. As a coordinator for many non-clinical services the center offers patients of the Family Birth Center, Serna’s role ranges from leading hospital tours to assisting with enrollment in the hospital’s numerous childbirth and education classes.
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