What Do I Need to Pack for the Hospital?

What to pack for hospital

As the big day for labor and delivery approaches you’ll want to pack your bag with a few essential items. Waiting until your water breaks or your contractions are 3 minutes apart won’t give you the time you need (or the peace of mind) to make sure you have what you’ll need for one of the most physically demanding, emotionally charged, and memorable moments of your life.

Start by checking with your healthcare provider to see what the average stay in the hospital is for patients. Each hospital has its own policy and set of procedures, but it is common that moms who have vaginal births remain in the hospital for 1-2 nights. If you have a cesarean you’ll likely be in the hospital for 5 days with your baby while you recover from the procedure. Of course there are certain unforeseen circumstances that might result in longer stays, but plan to pack enough for 3 days unless you know you’ll be having a C-section.

Paperwork to Pack for the Hospital

It’s probably the least exciting part for many moms, but the paperwork can be some of the most important things to pack in your bag for the hospital. Keep a file with the following information easily accessible (and available for someone else to find if you need to send someone to the house to grab it).

  • A copy of insurance information and any papers your insurance company requires for precertification
  • A copy of your photo ID and your partner’s photo ID
  • A birthing plan
  • A list of contacts – people to call and numbers – some hospitals don’t allow cell phones in certain areas
  • A list of instructions for your housekeeper, pet sitter, or the person who might be caring for your other children

Packing Mom’s Bag for the Hospital

What to pack for the hospital?

Image Courtesy of nuttakit / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Your bag should contain not only the things you will need, but some comfort items as well. Pack comfortable clothes, even your maternity clothes, to wear in the hospital and on the way home. You’ll be giving birth, but don’t expect to fit back into your old clothes just yet. Don’t forget to add:

  • Toiletries – invest in a double supply so you don’t have to scramble to gather contact solution or your toothbrush at the last minute
  • Mild, unscented soaps and shampoos, especially if you are going to try breastfeeding where you’ll have a lot of skin-to-skin contact
  • Nursing pads (whether you plan to breastfeed or not) because you will likely be leaking milk in these first weeks.
  • Nursing bras and comfy underwear you’re OK with blood staining from leaking
  • Feminine pads – many hospitals provide these, but they are probably not the brand you might select or the fit you might need (your flow will probably be heavier than a regular period)
  • Slippers and a bathrobe
  • Your own pillow with a colorful pillowcase to keep it separate from the hospital one
  • Music, tennis balls for massage, or other items that are a part of your birthing plan

Don’t forget to add in some items for your partner or labor coach. An extra outfit is a good idea because you never know how long you’ll be there or from where your partner will be coming. Add in to his portion of the bag:

  • Change for vending machines
  • Gum, mints, or granola bars and a bottle of water
  • Cameras and chargers
  • A copy of your birthing plan and contact information

Keep a separate bag packed for the hospital after delivery that contains a few extras you might wish you to have along:

  • A baby book to record those first hours
  • Baby announcement information
  • Gifts for older siblings from the baby and any special items older siblings chose for baby

Don’t forget to pack your items for the baby, too, and a car seat that your partner knows how to operate should be at the top of the list. Consider the weather for the clothing your baby will need on the ride home. And last but not least, pack your acceptance that as much as you can prepare for this moment, it might not be anything like you expect, but it will be memorable.

[Featured Image Courtesy of David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net]
Dr. Gareth Forde

About Dr. Gareth Forde

An obstetrician-gynecologist, a clinical professor, a researcher, and a father of five—and he delivered them all! He speaks and publishes extensively on maternal and child health issues, where he emphasizes the role of a healthy maternal lifestyle, good nutrition, and breastfeeding on infant development. He chose the field of obstetrics because it is a celebration of life, a happy and exciting profession. “Children are a blessing and they bring joy and laughter to the world,” he says. “I cherish my work, as a doctor and a dad.” The study of genetic imprinting is a major focus of both Dr. Forde’s research and medical practice. This looks at what happens in the womb, how the genes a baby inherits are expressed (turned on and off), and how this influences the child’s health after birth. “This field holds great promise, shedding light on many unsolved mysteries in health and disease from infancy to adulthood,” he adds. Dr. Forde grew up in London, England and Orlando, Florida. He received his medical degree from the University of Minnesota Medical School and is currently pursuing a fellowship in gynecologic oncology at the University of California, Irvine. Prior to this, he practiced with Grand Rapids Medical Education Partners, a consortium of Saint Mary’s Health Care, Spectrum Health, Grand Valley State University, and Michigan State University College of Human Medicine—where he was a clinical professor of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive biology. He also has a master’s in molecular and cellular biology from Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University; a Ph.D. in environmental science (computational chemistry) from Jackson State University; and a post-doctoral fellowship in biophysics from Mount Sinai School of Medicine, in New York.”