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What Do You Really Need to Bring to the Hospital for Childbirth?

With things getting so close to the end of my pregnancy now, I have to get ready to go to the hospital. Naturally, I looked over what is recommended that you have prepacked and ready to go. It’s been a while, after all, and I don’t want to be too rushed.

I forgot how ridiculous most of those lists are.

I’d forgotten a lot since with my last pregnancy nearly 4 years ago I was sent from a routine OB check to the hospital to be monitored and prepared for an urgent C-section. In other words, no bag. No supplies.

And in my first pregnancy, I quickly found that I didn’t use that much of what I brought. There just really aren’t that many things you need there.

Toiletries

Yes, absolutely. But unless you have duplicates, they’re really hard to prepack. Just keep in mind that you will want your toothbrush, toothpaste and hair brush at some point. The hospital has soap and shampoo as a rule, so if you don’t bring them it’s not the end of the world.

Important Papers

You’ll need your insurance card. You’ll want to have a copy of your birth plan if you’ve written one. Not much else matters.

My husband and I had a birth plan with our daughter, but ended up really not paying attention to it. Sometimes they work out great. Other times… just paper.

Don’t forget a phone book or list. If you have a family member who is willing to call with the good news, you can split up this job so that you mostly call the people you really want to talk to. After giving birth you’re probably going to be tired, so anything that keeps the number of calls down to something reasonable is good.

Clothes

Most important to me has always been just having an outfit to go home in. But if you want to wear your own gown during labor, or clothes other than a hospital gown when you’re done, pack what you need.

My first time around, I found that I just didn’t feel like changing clothes much of the time, so I spent a lot of time just in the hospital gowns. Also nice that if anything got on them, I wasn’t going to have to wash them when I got home.

A nursing bra is nice to have along, though. Your milk may start coming in during your hospital stay, so have some nursing pads ready too. Oh, the joys!

Your partner may or may not want to bring clothes. My husband always just went home to change. For our first, we were just blocks from the hospital anyhow. For the second, he spent time with our oldest as well as with me in the hospital, so packing clothes wasn’t needed. But that won’t work for every couple.

Labor Supplies

What do you need to make your time in labor comfortable? MP3 players really make bringing your own music easier than it was back when I had my daughter. Some people like lotions or massage supplies, a birth ball, focus object, pillows… you can create quite a list.

Just practice at home first. If something sounds nice when you read about it, but doesn’t work out at home, odds are you won’t want it at the hospital either.

Money

Odds are pretty good that you will have to pay for parking. Not true at all hospitals, but know in advance if it’s true at yours.

Besides, your partner will want to be able to buy snacks and/or meals. The hospital rarely feeds anyone who isn’t a patient there.

Snacks

Odds are, the hospital won’t let you eat during labor. They’re too concerned that you might have to go in for a C-section, as I understand it. If you want to eat during labor, better do so before you head out to the hospital if you can.

You may be able to enjoy some hard candies and such to keep your throat moist, but that’s about it.

Your partner, on the other hand, will probably need snacks. The hospital won’t care what he eats. But if it bugs you, send him out of the room to do so.

Raisins are a fair choice for snacking after giving birth. That first postpartum bowel movement is not so fun. Making it move a little easier is not a bad idea. Though you probably don’t want to overdo it.

Camera and Supplies

I have my digital camera cleared out, and two sets of batteries charged. I still need to check the camcorder to be sure that there’s plenty of tape, although I don’t anticipate recording the labor. Cozy times with baby, on the other hand….

Baby Supplies

The only vital things are your infant car seat, a going home outfit and an appropriate blanket. All of these can be brought from home by your partner after you’ve given birth. No need to rush on getting these together beforehand if you just don’t have them ready.

The hospital will have disposable diapers and wipes for you, so just skip it unless you really, really need to start cloth diapering in the hospital. Which isn’t a bad thing, but rather more inconvenient than you may have the energy to deal with.

Something to Do After Baby is Born

Hospitals are boring! Even with a new baby beside you waking regularly to be fed, you will get bored. Keep it simple, as you’ll probably have to put down your book or whatever you bring down pretty often as people come in to visit, nurses come in to check your blood pressure and such, baby wakes up and so forth. Boring certainly doesn’t mean restful.

No, You Probably Won’t Use All This Stuff

If you get in a rush and don’t even bring the bag at first, don’t be surprised if you get along just fine with only what the hospital gives you for the first while. The only things you really need in order to give birth are a comfortable place and some good support.

But having things packed means your partner can bring the things you need for after labor pretty easily. No wondering about what you want to wear when you go home. No searching for baby’s first outfit. No wondering what you’d like to do with your spare time.

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