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Birth Basics: What to Pack for The Hospital

Car Seat? Check. Swaddling Blanket? Check. Partner's bathing suit? Check.

It’s pretty obvious you’ll need a toothbrush and a onsie, but what else is on the checklist for your hospital bag? Maybe a few surprising things: Your partner’s bathing suit… a six-pack of granny underwear? Gatorade? A bendy straw? Lip balm?

Over the years I’ve put together a list of basics for the hospital bag and I thought I’d share it here. You may not need all of these things but you’ll definitely need some! It’s required by law, for example, that you leave the hospital with your baby in a car seat.

In any event, better to be prepared than not. Here are the basics:

Your Stuff

  • Labor clothes (a big old t-shirt or something made for the occasion) unless you’re fine in a hospital gown (or naked). Consider that things may get pretty…  dirty.
  • Nightclothes, robe, slippers or warm socks and underwear– maybe buy a 6-pack of super cheap granny underwear for the first couple weeks postpartum and then toss them.
  • Maternity or very loose clothes to wear home
  • Comfortable support bra or nursing bra
  • Toiletries (especially toothbrush/paste and lip balm as lips tend to get very chapped during labor)

Baby Stuff

  • Infant car seat: required to take baby home from hospital
  • Weather-appropriate clothing for your newborn
  • Socks/booties/hat (some of which may be given to you at hospital)
  • Cotton “receiving” or swaddling blankets (you will also get some from the hospital)
  • They give you diapers and wipes in the hospital but you may want some ready at home

Other stuff

  • Insurance card and any hospital papers you have filled out
  • Birth plan, if you have one
  • Any labor support aids: ipod, headphones, birthing ball, pillow (I always tell students to bring at least one pillow as the NYC hospitals can be stingy and there’s always somewhere to stick a pillow to make mom more comfortable in labor) and any other comfort props you like such as a massager, ginger candies for nausea or an calming essential oil or hot water bottle/heating pad/ice pack from the drug store to use on mom’s lower back.
  • Stuff for partner (change of clothes/shirt, toiletries, bathing suit if he or she will get in shower/tub with you)
  • Camera, film/charged batteries/tapes (if you want to take pics)
  • Phone and any phone numbers of people you may want to call and/or pre-paid phone card for long-distance calls using hospital phone if you think this is necessary.
  • Protein snacks and drinks with electrolytes such as Gatorade (and maybe some bendy straws so mom can sip a drink from any position); any snacks for your partner or special treats to enjoy after the birth! Champagne! Chocolates!

If you’ve given birth what was the most essential item you packed? The most useless?

 

 

This list is adapted from From The Hips: A Comprehensive, Open-Minded, Uncensored, Totally Honest Guide To Pregnancy, Birth And Becoming A Parent, the book I co-authored with Rebecca Odes.

photo: Debs (ò”¿ó)♪/Flickr

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