I like to be prepared as much as possible for things, and this preference was very evident during my two pregnancies. The plan for my first pregnancy was to get all my ducks in a row for labor and delivery two weeks before my due date (because first babies always come on time or late right? Wrong!). Much to my surprise, my little pea in the pod was born prematurely, three weeks early to be exact. Needless to say, I completed my birth plan and got my hospital bag ready to go at the beginning of my third trimester the second time around!
Here is a sample packing checklist to help you prepare for labor and delivery.
Clothes and hygiene
- Toiletries - body wash, shampoo, conditioner, lotion, hair brush, deodorant, toothbrush and toothpaste, chap stick and make-up, etc.
- Outfit to wear home - sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but you probably won't get your bathing suit body back immediately after giving birth (you will likely be the size you were when you were around five months pregnant)
- Flip-flops or sandals, for the shower
- Outfit for labor and delivery - underwear, socks and sweatshirt for over top of your hospital gown that you are okay to throw out if they get dirty
- Warm clothes to wear after delivery - robe or sweatshirt as well as socks and slippers, since hospital temperatures may vary
- Nursing bra, and breast pads, breast shields and nipple cream if you plan on breastfeeding or expressing milk
For your baby
- Outfit to take baby home in - sleeper, hat and bunting bag (don't forget warm clothes or a blanket if it's cold outside)
- Scratch mittens (so baby doesn't scratch her face) and Pee-pee Teepees (for little boys, so you don't get peed on!)
- Receiving blanket
- Diapers, wipes and rash cream if you prefer to use certain brands
- Sterilized soother (with an attachment to clip on to baby's clothes so you don't lose it!)
- Ensure the base of your bucket car seat is installed in your vehicle or in your trunk so you can take your baby home from the hospital (it's not a bad ideas to install the car seat before you go to the hospital, if possible, just in case something goes wrong)
Miscellaneous items, as applicable
- Copy of your birth plan (and list of baby names!)
- Health insurance cards (you may not want to bring cash or valuables in case they get stolen)
- Cell phone and charger
- Medications and other things for labor and delivery, and for after delivery - for example, if you plan to use natural painkillers, homeopathic medicine, or natural botanicals that promote tissue healing of the perineum to spray on frozen maxi pads (some tips and ideas for natural remedies that you can ask your healthcare provider about can be found here) - and don't forget to bring your own maxi pads if you have a preference!
- Snacks and drinks, including this natural energy drink to help keep your stamina up
- Gum or mints since you may not have an appetite during labor and delivery (and because when is it ever a bad idea to have these handy?)
- Entertainment, distractions and comfort items for labor and delivery - books, magazines, playing cards, iPod, iPad, massage oil, etc.
- A pillow, if you're particular about them, as long as you're not fussed about having to throw it out if it gets dirty
- Breast pump you purchased or rented along with attachments and sterilized bottles/storage bags
- Ear plugs and an eye mask, in case don't have a private room and it is loud or bright and you would like to get some sleep (and nurses tend to check on newborn babies pretty frequently)
- Supplies and contact information for cord blood storage and placenta encapsulation
- Perineal cushion and wipes (in case it hurts to sit or wipe down there with TP after delivery, but the hospital should provide a spray bottle which helps with this)
- Pen (to complete forms)
Your birth partner may also want to bring a hospital bag with them containing things such as a change of clothes and bathing suit or shorts and sandals for the shower. You may also want to task your birth partner with installing the car seat while you are in the hospital.
If you have other children, be sure to arrange alternate childcare unless you plan to bring them with you to the hospital. Depending on the age of your other children, you may also want to bring them each a present when you return home from the hospital from their new baby brother or sister.
For more tips and ideas to help make your labor and delivery more manageable, including sample birth plans, visit this page.
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