You’ve stocked the diaper changer, filled up on wipes, the nursery has been painted, and the crib assembled. You’ve read all your birthing and parenting books, you and your partner have perused the aisles of Babies ‘R’ Us for the 50th time and you’ve tested just about every stroller on the market. But when the time comes to head to the hospital, will you truly be ready?
Excited by the prospect of a new baby, moms-to-be are too often distracted by all that baby will need that they sometimes leave (or forget) their own needs until the very end. (Parental sacrifices start well before birth. I must remember to remind my son of this when he grows up). But because pregnancy is such an unpredictable event, and no one can ever predict with any certainty when it’ll be “go time,” it’s important that the hospital bag(s) be made a priority and be packed and ready well ahead of the due date. It’s one of those instances where scrambling to pack at the last minute is not recommended.
Writing this article reminds me of when one of my friends was pregnant and she couldn’t find her car keys. She turned her entire house upside down looking and still couldn’t find them. Needless to say, she never left her house that day. When her husband got home and went for a snack – the keys were found… in the fridge! That infamous preggo brain is no joke, and I wholeheartedly blame it for turning the sharpest of us into dull, rusty nail heads. So here’s a checklist to help you make sure that you don’t leave anything in the fridge when it comes to go time – because you have every right to feel confident and ready.
Contact lens case & solution, and glasses (if applicable)
Face wash or facial wipes (I love my “Yes to Cucumbers” wipes. All natural, refreshing and convenient)
Grandma undies (and no, not Grandma’s actual undies. You’ll be provided with special ones at the hospital but you probably want to have at least one pair of your own for going home)
Make Up (Yes, I said it. Vanity can do a woman good post-partum. It’s amazing how great a little mascara, blush and lip gloss can you make you feel the next day. And trust me, when you look back at pictures with visitors, you’re going to thank me)
Pajama Set (I’d go with a nursing one if you’re planning to breastfeed)
Slippers or flip flops (completely preference based)
Two outfits (One for going home and one for post-partum at the hospital. This is also purely a matter of preference. Some moms prefer to stay in their hospital gowns, some moms will opt for comfy pajamas. I brought a cotton, loose fitting maxi dress that had adjustable straps that I could make loose enough to drop down my shoulders for nursing. Instead of staying in the hospital gown, I changed into my maxi dress the very next day. It helped me feel more like myself and more confident, especially when visitors came a knocking).
Warm comfy socks
Your birth plan
A sweatshirt (it can get chilly in L&D rooms because they keep the temps low to accommodate pregnant women who tend to run hot)
A magazine or two
Outfits to change into (if he doesn’t plan on returning home)
Toiletries (toothbrush, toothpaste, contact case and solution, and glasses (if applicable))
Snacks & drinks for Dad (pack some of his favorite things to munch on, but also pack some healthy items that pack enough protein and carbs. Amidst all the excitement that is labor and delivery, Dads often forget to eat and that’s what contributes to many of them passing out in the delivery room. So make sure that Dad snacks, and snacks healthy)
A couple of outfits (don’t forget the important going home debut outfit)!
Bottles (if you plan on bottle feeding)
Caps (if you don’t want to use the hospital ones. I have to admit, while not the most glamorous, those darned little hospital issue caps are super handy and fit our baby so well. We even took a couple of extras home. (Never thought I’d do that, but they were just that comfy)).
Diapers & wipes (although the hospital should have plenty for you)
Pacifiers (if you plan on using one)
Swaddles or muslin blankets for swaddling
*This won’t fit in your bag, but don’t forget the car seat!*
Camera battery charger
Camera (sure we all have phones for cameras these days but if you have a nice camera, now would be a good time to use it)
Exercise ball (if you plan on using one during labor. Check with your hospital first to make sure that they don’t provide one).
Extra memory cards (because you’re going to be very camera happy)
Hand-held massager (massage can help a mother relax as she labors)
Meaningful/preferred props (if you plan on taking newborn photos at the hospital)
Your birthing playlist (if you’re a music buff)
For Fun (I know “labor” and “fun” don’t usually go hand in hand, but sometimes labor can take longer than expected)
Be it a deck of cards, a book, a game, or a knitting project, video games – whatever helps you pass time
Oh, and ladies, this is your opportunity to pack as much as you want. Chances are, your husband will let you do whatever you want at this point. (If they don’t, politely threaten them with those raging hormones). So take advantage and pack your heart out. I sure did. My 5 bags and I – and my husband made not a peep about it. You go girl – bring on motherhood!