Everything But the Kitchen Sink
Packing for the Hospital (Updated with Printable Packing List)
You’re in the home stretch. It’s been a long 9 months and the moment you’ve been planning for is almost here! The nursery is painted and decorated. The crib and changing table are assembled. The glider and ottoman are perfectly placed catty-corner by the window. The car seat has been installed and checked by the awesome technician who works at the fire station up the road. Your doula’s info is saved in your favorites on your phone, and they are just waiting on your call.
Ahhh…now you can relax knowing everything is done and your bag packed and ready to go.
Wait! That’s what you forgot! You’ve been talking to your friends and family members, getting suggestions for just the right things you, your partner, and your baby will need for your hospital stay. Somehow none of it has managed to make it into your overnight bag.
With information overload, you’re still not quite sure what you’ll REALLY need. Don’t worry. Let’s just start with what hospitals usually have available so you can cross those items off the list.
It may not be your favorite, organic, sulfate free, fluoride free, aluminum free items, but most hospitals provide single use toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap, shampoo/conditioner, and all the towels you will ever need.
Clothing There are an abundance of hospital gowns and non-skid socks at the hospital. The gowns may not be flattering to your life-giving figure, but you won’t have to worry about soiling your favorite nightgown during labor. However, if you really want something a little more comfortable, check out What to Expect’s list of Best Labor and Delivery Gowns of 2021.
Comfort tools Check with your hospital to see if you have access to birth balls, peanut balls, and white noise machines. If you’re in need of hot or cold therapy, nurses will gladly bring you instant heat or cold packs instead of trying to pack your electric heating pad. Current Covid policies may also restrict usage to the patient microwave, so that lovely lavender-scented rice pack may not be very useful. Call the labor and delivery unit to ask about these items, especially if in-person tours are still currently unavailable.
Postpartum Supplies In most postpartum rooms, there is a generous supply of those sexy mesh panties and diaper-sized sanitary pads. However, the current trend is to tuck a few adult diapers or undergarments, the ones used for incontinence, in your bag. They still don’t do much for looks, but they are definitely less bulky and less likely to leak.
The bassinet or crib that your baby will be placed in comes stocked with diapers, wipes, t-shirts, hats, socks, mittens, blankets, petroleum jelly, gauze, and a bulb syringe. At some facilities, bottles of formula and a pacifier will be provided if you request it. All you need to pack for baby are a couple of outfits that are perfect for pictures and fitting for the season and a properly installed car seat to go home.
You can bring your favorite beverages and snacks to keep on hand in your room for hydration and nourishment. Meals are usually not provided until after you have given birth. There is usually a pantry located on the labor and delivery unit that houses orange juice, apple juice, cranberry juice, and an ice machine. You should know that for some reason, hospital ice is the best thing ever! There may be saltines, graham crackers, Jello, and chicken or vegetable broth. Also, you’ll find a coffee machine, snack machines, and don’t forget about the cafeteria. While ACOG suggests that eating and drinking during labor is safe, there are still hospitals/providers and certain circumstances that only allow for clear fluids for birthing people.
As you can see, the hospital provides a wealth of items to help your, hopefully short stay, be as comfortable as possible. Aside from copies of your birth plan, insurance card, admission paperwork, and any prescription medication you take, you won’t need much more than what you already carry in your purse (I.D., hair ties, lip balm) and things you might need for a quick weekend getaway.
Here’s a short list of things to keep in mind:
Your own toiletries (Generic just doesn’t cut it, sometimes) Labor/Postpartum gown/jammies, Slippers, Nursing bra, disposable adult diapers/undergarments Personal comfort tools – massagers, essential oils/diffuser, battery-operated candles, etc… Going home outfit for mom, picture/going home outfit(s) for baby, change of clothes for partner Snacks/Drinks Money for parking/cafeteria/vending machines Cell phone/cell phone chargers
While some pack everything but the kitchen sink (you don’t need to pack a sink, they have those in the rooms, too) it’s not always necessary and it’s a huge hassle getting it from the car to the labor room, to the postpartum room, and then back to the car. I know you want to be as comfortable as you can while at the hospital, but it will never come close to the comforts of home. Remember, you will only be there a couple of days and more than likely, you’ll be more concerned about snuggling with your baby and bathing in that new baby scent, than anything else around you.
North Atlanta Concierge Doula Services would love to answer any questions you have about the last few weeks of pregnancy. Feel free to contact us to set up a consultation to learn how we can help you prepare for your little one and in the meantime, here’s a printable packing list for your convenience.