Prepping for labor and delivery: the hospital checklist of items you’ll really need

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As we’re gearing up for our second baby to arrive, one of the (many) things on my mind is all of the preparation that should be in order before our son arrives. This includes thinking about what I’ll be putting on my labor and delivery hospital checklist because the third trimester is right around the corner for me!

I created a similar checklist when I was pregnant with my first son, but there was a lot more on that list. Admittedly, I didn’t use everything that I had on my list for my first delivery. But I was glad to be prepared. For this second baby, I’m just brining the essentials.

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A couple of helpful things to get you started:

When should I start packing my hospital bag?

You should begin planning, and perhaps even start putting a bag together as early as 28 weeks (the beginning of your third trimester). This isn’t because you’ll have to head to the hospital that early (hopefully), but really to cover any just-in-case scenarios. The actual packing of your hospital bag should be done by the time you’re 32- 35 weeks.

How much clothing should I pack for my hospital stay when giving birth?

Many women are discharged within a day or two, but certain deliveries take a bit longer to recover from. Plan to pack enough clothing for 3-4 days. It’s always nicer to have a bit more than you need than a bit less!

Do I need a car seat in the hospital with me?

Usually you won’t want to bring it with you when you go in to delivery (because it’s just one more thing to lug around). However, you will be required by hospital staff to have the seat installed in the car you leave in prior to heading home. Hospital staff will check.
If you’re not sure if the seat is properly installed, many hospitals can point you to some helpful resources that provide car seat checks (though you’d want to ask this question early). Many fire departments also provide this service.

When should I install my baby’s car seat into my car?

The seat should be installed (assuming its being put into your own car) by the time you bags are packed (again, around 32-35 weeks is usually idea).

So what kind of things do new moms need to pack in their labor and delivery hospital bag?

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Something comfortable to leave the hospital

For my first baby, who was born in the heat of the summer, this was as simple as a maternity sundress. For my second baby, due in the middle of winter, I plan to bring comfortable maternity leggings along with a simple and warm nursing sweater.

Keep in mind when choosing what you’ll be packing, your body will not only require clothing that caters to a pregnant body (because you will still appear pregnant), but it will need to be accommodating to however you give birth. If you have a C-section (whether you plan for one or not), you’ll want to avoid something that constricts your lower abdominal area. And if you have a vaginal birth, you probably don’t want pants either.

Baby’s going home outfit

For my first son, I bought an adorable onsie that said “Going home to meet my pups” with each of our dogs’ names on it. I still love that onsie.

Hair ties

Chapstick

Labor and delivery can be a dehydrating process. In order to keep your lips from cracking, you probably want to include some chapstick in your bag.

Socks with grips

Slippers are great, but socks are particularly beneficial if you’re going to be in and out of a hospital bed (which you will be).

Hospital rooms can be chilly.

So slippers are great to have on hand for after the delivery part of your hospital stay.

But socks are disposable. If you give birth in your socks they might end up pretty unpleasant. In other words, you may want something that you will feel comfortable throwing away.

Snacks for your delivery partner (and yourself after delivery)

Hopefully your spouse or delivery partner is prepared with their own bag of reinforcements for what could be a very long day and/or night. But whether they are or not, it’s a thoughtful gesture to bring something a little special for the person whose going to be helping coach you through your delivery. Adding a snack for your partner when putting together your labor and delivery hospital checklist usually is very much appreciated.

My husband brought practical snacks for himself – jerky, pretzels, things of that nature. So I brought him a couple of additional snacks, including some of his favorites.

Keep in mind, when packing snacks, that you may not be able to eat during your labor but you also may want a stock of snacks in the room with you in the days following the labor itself. And, unfortunately, you may be in the hospital for longer than you initially planned.

Water bottle

Labor is dehydrating. Breastfeeding is dehydrating. A large water bottle helps to minimize the number of refills you’ll need to go for and will be a real blessing when you’re struggling with mobility following the birthing process.

Contact information for your chosen pediatrician; your company HR/manager to let them know your maternity leave has begun

Generally, its simple enough to pop these points of contact into your phone. But you may also want your delivery partner to have these points of contact as well.

Comfortable pants/bottoms

Like I mentioned earlier, these comfortable bottoms should take into consideration the various possibilities of how you’ll give birth. Pants that aren’t too snug and don’t  put too much pressure on your abdomen. You may also want to plan for dark pants, especially since you’ll be bleeding for the first time in 9 months.

Comfortable shirt suitable for breastfeeding, including a shirt that open suitable for skin-to-skin contact

If you’re going to change out of your hospital gown while you’re admitted (which you totally may opt not to, and that’s ok), keep comfort in mind. Comfort as well as the ability to easily access your boobs, because you’ll be pulling them out a lot to feed and offer your baby the comfort of skin-to-skin contact.

Nursing bras

If you decide to nurse, you’re going to be pulling your boobs out a lot while you’re in the hospital. I recently discovered these bras, which are pretty inexpensive and great, but I’ve also heard rave reviews of the Kindred Bravely bras.

Robe

This is more preference based, and I liked having one handy. But if you think you might want a robe for after you take a shower or you just want one handy to throw on over your clothes or your hospital gown in case guests show up, having a robe is super handy.  If you’re not a big robes gal, then its probably not worth wasting the space in your hospital bag.

Nipple cream

Your hospital might probably has a stash of nipple cream in the event that you forget to pack your own, but its better to have some so that you’re sure its available to you. Nipple cream is a lifesaver for most new moms.

Phone Charger

You’ll be spending a lot of downtime in a quiet hospital room, and most of us are overly connected to our phones. You don’t want to forget your phone charger when you go to the hospital. Even if you don’t have it packed and sitting in your car (which, honestly, its probably best to go ahead and keep one in there in case you don’t have a chance to head home to get last minute items), you want to this item on your hospital checklist.

Breastfeeding pillow

There are a couple of variations of breastfeeding pillows out there, specifically the Boppy (which I love) and the My Breast Friend. Make things easier for yourself while you’re in the hospital and have (hopefully) helpful staff to coach you a bit on breastfeeding by having a breastfeeding pillow on hand.

A pillow from home

You’ll want to bring a pillow from home with a recognizable pillowcase so it doesn’t get mixed up and/or stripped for cleaning by the hospital staff

Essential toiletries: shampoo, conditioner, face wash, deodorant, body wash

Makeup and low-maintenance hair products

I packed makeup for my first kid, but I honestly may not even do it for my second kid. If I do, I’ll probably keep it super simple with a basic foundation and mascara. But keep in mind that you’ll be exhausted.

ID card

Insurance Card

Hairbrush

Pajamas to breastfeed

I’m not suggesting that you need to go out and get special nursing pajamas, so don’t include them on your labor and delivery hospital checklist if you won’t use special pjs. But you’ll at least want comfortable shorts or pants as well as a top that allows you with quick and easy access to feed your baby.

Dad’s hospital bag for when the baby comes

Dad’s bag can be a little simpler than mom’s, but he’ll still want to have the essentials packed. Which is why there’s a section on the labor and delivery hospital checklist just for him.

Pants

Shirts

Underwear

Book/videogame/ magazine

Even if the birth process is quick and eventful, there will be a lot of downtime in the hospital before being discharged. Sure, babies are super cute and needy, but they also sleep a lot. Make sure to pack some form of entertainment (even if its just a backup for your phone).

Pillow

Most hospitals do not have actual beds for the dad or delivery partner. Instead, they often have something that resembles a couch or a pullout chair. You’ll want the comfort of home when you sleep, even if its something as simple as a pillow. And make sure, like with mom’s pillow, the pillow case is easily identifiable (ie. Not plain or white), so that it doesn’t get mistaken for the hospital-supplied pillows.

Phone charger

Snacks

You may also want to check out:

Mother holding her newborn baby after labor in a hospital.
Free Stuff To Take From the Hospital Part 1: What Mom Needs After Birth
Baby playing blocks in grass
Creating the ideal baby registry – The ultimate baby registry checklist
Breastfeeding is hard
Breastfeeding is Hard – A Note To the Mom Who’s Struggling

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