How to pack your hospital bag for laboring
If you’re planning on giving birth in the hospital, then in the weeks before your due date, you absolutely need to get a hospital bag packed and ready to go for the “Honey, it’s time!” moment. The hospital has most of what you need—anytime I’ve forgotten something, they were able to produce it for me— so if you have an unexpected early delivery, don’t worry about it. However, I have found that I get more peace of mind knowing I have everything I need along because you never know whether or not the hospital will have lip balm or a way to play that song you recently find so relaxing. It’s also nice to have your own things because 1-you like your things and 2-that way you know you haven’t left out something important. I’ve given birth three times in the hospital and the following is a list of the things I brought along and a list of the things the hospital provided for me and my baby.
Part 1: Packing for Labor & Childbirth
What the hospital may provide-
Soothing bath scents: My labor and delivery nurse asked if I wanted scented bubble bath in my tub as I labored there. They weren’t therapeutic grade essential oils, but it was nice all the same.
Ambient lighting: My hospital has various light settings in the room that doubles as a labor and delivery room and a place to stay once the baby is born, and they generally keep the lighting either low or as natural as possible when I’m in labor.
Birthing balls: These were available to me upon request. In fact, after giving birth twice in that maternity ward, my husband and I just waddled over to get our own birthing ball when we were in labor with our third child.
Water bottle: The giant, hospital water bottle is my favorite thing in the world! Every time my water bottle dies a year or two after the birth of my last child I kind of want to have a baby again just to get a new one. Okay, so not really, but I really love my hospital water bottles. They’re huge and keep water colder than anything else I have.
Ice: With my first baby, my husband quickly found the snack room and the ice machine on the maternity floor and was able to get me ice and snacks when I needed them.
Food: My hospital delivered three meals a day and when I was delivering without meds, I was able to eat when in labor. In between, my husband grabbed me Oreos or peanut butter crackers from the same room with the ice machine.
What you should bring
Your birth plan: With my first baby, the OBGYN doctor laughed at the idea that I might have a birth plan so I never took it out and gave it to him. My delivery was entirely guided by the doctors and I had no say in that plan. I chose a midwife for the next two deliveries and refused to even see a doctor after having felt so bullied in my first. Both times they asked for my birth plan right away (actually, they already had it on file, but I brought an extra just in case) and they stuck to it like it was law. This was in the same hospital, mind you, so I think they’re just becoming progressively more woman centered rather than doctor centered.
*An essential oil diffuser and humidifier might allow you to kill two birds with one stone. They provide a calming essential oil diffusing combined with relaxing light-changing color LED effects.
Heating pad or rice sock: I’m sure the hospital has these but as I never needed them I can’t say definitively. A rice heating pad or heat sock might be helpful so if you feel like you’ll need one, take it along just in case.
Music: For me, this was key to being able to relax as labor progressed. I chose a list of songs that were inspiring, comforting, and soothing and my husband played them on his iPhone during delivery. A bluetooth speaker would come in handy for this. During my son’s birth I had him play the same song Jars of Clay song repeatedly and it just carried me over and through the waves of the contractions like a life raft…until I hit transition at which point it was the most odious sound I’d ever heard in my life.
Focal point: I won’t lie, I never used a focal point. I am able to lose myself better when I close my eyes and focus. But my midwife said to bring one along and then cautioned me that it shouldn’t be something I’m attached to as I wanted to bring a photo of my other children. At one point during labor, my husband insisted that I should try to find a focal point. I think he was afraid I was going to lose control because I was starting to have difficulty. My husband is very intuitive and helpful when I am in labor so I followed his directions and focused on a tiny screw on the side of the bed during a contraction. It didn’t work, so after that I continued to close my eyes instead. The next day I caught sight of that screw as I was relaxing next to my newborn and shuddered. I hated that screw. It brought back all the pain with excruciating detail. So, if you bring a focal point, follow my midwife’s advice and don’t bring something you can’t get rid of.
Birthing ball: My hospital has plenty of these birthing balls but you can always keep one in your car and ask your hubby to run and get it if yours doesn’t.
Massage oil: Massage is the only way many women I know were able to get through a natural delivery and I have talked with many sweet husbands who have massaged their hands and arms to the bone just to carry their wives through the worst of it. If you prefer lotions or massage oil for massage, bring it along. If not, the hospital usually includes lotion in the toiletries they offer.
Bathing suit for the tub or shower: Honestly, in the throes of labor, you might just decide to be naked no matter how crowded your room gets, but bring your bathing suit just in case. I wore a bathing suit top when laboring with my son, but I could have just worn a nursing bra, and those pictures of me in the tub are some of my absolute favorite photos. I’m thankful I was modest enough that I can now share them with those I love.
Chapstick: You don’t want to be distracted by dry lips when you’re trying to focus during contractions.
Lotion: Great for dry skin or massage, it’s always good to have your favorite brand with you in case the kind the hospital keeps doesn’t do the trick.
A large water bottle: They do have water bottles in the hospital, but bring along yours too because sometimes it takes them some time to remember to bring it to you what with all the checking in and monitoring—especially if you arrive in the advanced stages of labor.
Reading material: If you decide to go with an epidural, you’ll have lots of time to wait and sleep while labor quietly happens without your being able to feel it. This is especially true with your first child, as labor usually takes longer the first time. I had an epidural with my first and once they gave it to me there were 10 hours of quiet waiting. I slept, my husband and I talked, he worked on that Sunday’s sermon, and we watched TV. I had my other two children in unmedicated deliveries that only required two hours of labor in the hospital so neither my husband nor I had time for reading, TV watching, or sermon writing.
Card games: This goes along the same lines as reading. It depends on what type of birth you have, but you might as well throw in a pack of Dutch Blitz just in case you end up with quiet waiting time on your hands.
When you’re in labor, you want to have along just about anything you normally use to find your happy place. You’ll really want to be able to find peace and relax as much as possible during labor. I discovered my most peaceful solace was prayer so we didn’t really need to bring all the things I packed “just in case.” I literally made my husband pray aloud through every contraction. I’d feel sorry for him having to come up with a prayer that often but I’m pretty sure I had the short end of the stick.
Coming up NEXT, what to pack for Post partum, Breastfeeding, Siblings and Baby.
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Author: Becca G
My name is Rebecca and I’m a wife, mother, and work at home mom. I enjoy things like babywearing, cloth diapering, breast feeding, and using all natural solutions in my house. I teach Spanish to my children and their friends and I also love to sing, play the guitar, paint, draw, read, crochet, knit, and sew. Most importantly, I love Jesus and I strive to follow his example.