When packing for the hospital, it's important to separate your list into immediate necessities, and things that can wait. Anything immediate should go into one bag which can be brought in when you arrive at the hospital. Things that can wait should be left in the car, so you aren't attempting to haul in several bags while managing contractions and checking in with the front desk.
- A folder with copies of your birth plan, contact list, insurance information, and any hospital paperwork (unless you've preregistered).
- Baby book - Most books will have a page for baby's footprints. If it's removable, add it to your folder. If not, bring your book. Most nurses are happy to do a second set of prints for you after the birth certificate has been completed
- Hospital rooms tend to be very cold, dry, and not very homey. Because laboring women get pretty hot, and prefer the air to be turned down, consider packing a warm shirt for dad, especially if he tends to be cold natured. For your own comfort pack warm socks, chap stick, throat lozenges, and a pillow to stay as comfortable as possible. Both physical and mental comfort is important during labor. Many moms choose to bring along other things to give their room a more home like atmosphere such as electric tea lights, birth affirmation banners, and essential oil diffusers.
- Slippers and a robe to go over your laboring clothes/hospital gown if you decide to walk the halls. Easily removed nursing bra - if you haven't already ditched the stiff underwire bra, it's likely you'll want to when you're in labor or soon after.
- Hair ties/Headband/Brush
- Camera and backup batteries/charger/memory cards
- Snacks - high protein snacks are ideal - if you're anything like me (and most of my clients!), by the time baby is born, the hospital cafeteria is closed and you're starving! Sure, dad can run out and pick something up, but a good snack is nice to have on hand.
- Cash/change to use at the vending machines for when the delicious snacks you brought don't sound nearly as appetizing as a bag of chips.
Things to bring, but leave in the car
- Chargers for electronics
- Comfortable clothes with easy access for nursing - think maxi dress/skirt, yoga pants/leggings, and deep v-necks/button up tops, as well as nursing bras and/or tanks.
- Pajamas and a change of clothes for Dad
- Toiletries for Mom and Dad as well as flip flops that can be worn in the shower.
- A pillow for Dad.
- Going home outfits for Mom, Dad, and baby. This is important: Moms, don't be a hero - leave the pre-pregnancy jeans at home and bring something comfortable! For baby I highly recommend sticking with something simple like cotton pajamas. It's also a great idea to bring two sizes, just in case.
- Season appropriate blanket for baby
- Carseat - It's a great idea to have it installed in your car and checked by a CPST a few weeks before your due date so Dad isn't stress reading through the manual while you're in labor trying to figure out what the heck a LATCH system is.