What to bring and what to skip, for the main event!
Having the essentials packed in advance is a great idea but like most people packing for a vacation, most new parents pack WAY too much or they pack the wrong things! To save you a little trouble, here’s a comprehensive list of what to bring and what to skip:
What to bring to the hospital for Mom
•Robe and slippers (or flip flops for showering or if your feet are super swollen!)
•Socks — the thicker the better, particularly in case you’re having trouble getting your feet into your slippers! Be prepared to toss these after the birth, so don’t bring your favorites!
•Nightgown — you’ll get one from the hospital for labor, but it’s nice to be able to change later into something familiar and comfortable. Make sure it’s loose with short sleeves (the nurses will probably be checking your blood pressure one, two or twelve times! You might want to bring more than one in case you’re there for a couple of nights. It’s pleasant to be able to change into something fresh. Large t-shirts and comfy cotton PJ pants are perfect for afterwards!
•Some sort of picture ID and your insurance card / information and your registration forms, if you’ve pre-registered!
•Eyeglasses — if you’re normally a contact lense wearer, you’ll likely find glasses to be more practical in hospital.
•Music and a player — there isn’t much chance you’ll feel like reading during labor but music may help distract you. An e-reader is a good option too for some light perusing, but don’t plan on finishing the classics while you’re in there!
•Some toiletries like lip balm, deodorant, hairbrush and toothbrush — you’ll have a chance to shower after birth and while the hospital will provide things like shampoo, you might want to have your own, for the sake of comfort or if you have sensitive skin.
•VERY comfortable bras — whether nursing or not, your breasts will be very sensitive, so make sure your bras are comfortable. Don’t forget a supply of breast pads: whether you are breastfeeding or not, you’ll need them!
•Maternity underwear — the hospital will give you mesh underpants and super sized sanitary pads; some women love the mesh, some don’t. What you need is VERY roomy underpants that will be comfortable even with a large pad. Another option that some Moms swear by is to use disposable underwear while you’re at the hospital. No pads, total comfort.
•A change of clothes for going home — preferably something loose and comfortable, easy to put on, that doesn’t pull or bunch in uncomfortable places. Think tracksuit instead of skinny jeans!
What to bring to the hospital for Dad / Birth coach
•Phone and charger — there’s nothing worse than having the battery give out halfway through your announcement emails!
•Camera and charger — if you’re planning on taking pictures after the big event (or even during, but check the hospital policies on this!), you’ll want to have the camera charged up with an empty memory card, ready to go.
•Change — vending machine coffee isn’t the best but sometimes it’s your only option. Have change at the ready!
•Snacks — Mom may not feel like eating but it could be a long wait during labor, so make sure you have something to snack on! Bring some for Mom too, for after labor, when the munchies kick in!
•Change of clothes — if staying the night with Mom, a change of clothes and a few toiletries will go a long way to making you feel human again after the first night with baby! A blanket might be a good option too, as the hospital ones for the partner aren’t particularly comforting.
•Empty bag — between some gifts and a few swaddle blankets, you might need an extra bag to bring all your goodies home in.
What to bring to the hospital for Baby
•A car seat — this is essential. Most hospitals won’t let you leave unless baby is properly and safely secured in a rear facing car seat.
•A going home outfit — consider the time of year and pick something that will protect baby from the elements. Regardless of time of year, include socks (unless it’s a onesie with feet) and a cap to keep their head warm. You’ll want something with legs as opposed to a dress / gown, so that the car seat straps are easy to manage. You may want to also consider bringing more than one outfit, in different sizes, in case your baby doesn’t fit the one you had in mind!
What to skip
•Valuables — other than the aforementioned phone / camera, skip the valuables: jewelry, larger sums of money, expensive tech equipment (unless Dad / Coach is prepared to hoof it around everywhere they go!)
•Diaper bag — unless you live far from the hospital, you can skip this and start using it when you get home!
A little extra
Don’t forget to bring a little something for the nurses: some gourmet cookies or a delectable box of chocolates, just to say thank you!
You also might want to check out if there are any take-out restaurants around the hospital because… hospital food. Need we say more?
Whether your first or your third, it’s easy to get over excited and over packed for the birth so keep it to a minimum so you don’t have to track down a lot of things before you leave the hospital. And remember, get the help you need—a postpartum doula—so that once you’ve left the controlled environment of the hospital, there is still someone there to walk you through the first hours and days of your baby’s life.