What to Pack in your Hospital Bag for Childbirth
What to wear to the hospital/birthing center
First of all, this will all depend on if you are allowed to wear your own clothes while laboring. In my first experience I was immediately put into a hospital gown. In my second experience I was allowed to wear the clothes I was in, as long as the midwife could easily check the baby and my progression in labor.
-I suggest a comfortable bra. If you are planning on a water birth you will probably only have on your bra when you get in the water. So a bra that is comfortable and allows you to breathe well is key. Some women wear a bathing suit bikini top. Just whatever is most comfortable for you. These are some cute nursing bras that are also comfortable to wear in pregnancy.
-Panties that you don't care about. Your water may break in them. You may get blood or other fluids on them. Just wear some big ones that are comfy and you don't care about saying goodbye to.
-For my first birth I wore a big t-shirt and pajama pants. For my second birth I went to the hospital twice. The second time, when I gave birth, I wore a big maternity shirt and a soft, stretchy, cotton skirt. This worked well for laboring because I could walk the halls to progress my labor, but the midwife could still check my progression. My water did not break until just before I started pushing, so if your water has already broken this would probably not be the best option for you.
Your Labor Bag
Both times I packed a separate bag just for labor.
-Music player and speaker
My husband made a playlist... I suggest one for labor and one for after. I needed more upbeat music to keep me going during labor. But at one point I remember it being too much noise so I asked him to turn it off. For after labor my husband made a beautiful playlist with acoustic guitar music. I will never forget the song that was playing with the nurse laid my beautiful daughter on my chest. For Christmas my husband gave me the cd... and I cried and cried, it was so touching. You can make a playlist on your phone and use a speaker like this.
You may have a massage tool you like. You can use a tennis ball to rub sore spots. This can especially help with back contractions. If you are bringing a ball, yoga mat, etc. to use while laboring, bring these all in this bag.
This one is a little controversial. See Ina May's Guide to Childbirth about this topic. If you are delivering in a hospital, they will not want you to eat during labor. This is because if you need to have an emergency C-section or other procedure you will not have recently chewed food in your stomach that could be aspirated. My Doulas, both time I was laboring, brought snacks for me. For during and after labor. This is because your blood sugar can drop And you need energy for labor. At many points I did not want to eat because of the intense contractions. I couldn't even think of food. But in the early stages of labor with my second I did get hungry. My doula suggested bananas, almond butter packets, and carbs. She also pushed lots of fluids. You really need to drink quite a bit during labor. So bring a big cup with you and try to remember, or get your partner to help you, to drink a lot during labor.
My doula used on like this during my second labor. At times it got on my nerves, but at times it was a god send. The fresh air blowing in my face was invigorating.
These can help with pain from contractions. And the change in temperature can help distract some from contractions.
Your Maternity Ward Bag
I packed a separate bag for after labor. I included my clothes, toiletries, and linens that I wanted to have with me.
This was something that I did not have the first time that I definitely packed the second time. It is great to quick throw on to go to the bathroom, or to snuggle in if you get cold. I just appreciated having that big, cozy, extra layer. This robe is soft and lightweight. This robe is thicker if you are worried about being cold, or live in an area that is cold.
The hospital gave me those "non-slip" socks, but I preferred sticking my feet into my own cozy slippers when I got up to walk, go to the restroom, etc. If you don't have any, there are some cute options here and here.
This is something I read about for my first birth. After you give birth you will be bleeding. The nurse will come and check how much you are bleeding, especially in the first day after birth. If you take a shower at the hospital and put on your own clothes, dark sweatpants are awesome. They are cozy, and having dark material helps in case you bleed onto them. You ca check out these, or these.
You just had a baby! And if you are breastfeeding, that baby is going to be eating about every 2 hours. So a nursing bra is easy to pull down and snap back up between feedings. This bra and this one are some good options.
-tanktop easy to nurse in and pull up
Along those lines is a comfortable nursing tanktop. You are going to be nursing a lot and getting used to being used for food. Having a top that works with you to pull down and snap back up can make things a little easier. There are some options here, here, and here. You may want to purchase a few in case you are at the hospital for a few days. And they are comfortable to wear at home.
-muslin swaddle for the baby
The hospital had blankets for our baby, but they were not very big and not super easy to swaddle. For our second birth I brought our own Muslin swaddles with us. They were so soft, and they were big so they were easy to make a swaddle with. And the nursing staff can teach you how to swaddle, so when you go home you already will know how to swaddle your baby with the materials you have. You can wash them before you go to the hospital so they smell like home. There are some options here, here, and here.
-additional comforts from home
If you have a super soft blanket, or if you sleep well with your own pillow, I suggest bringing your own. I also brought my own towel from home. It was just comforting to have some of my own linens from home. Depending on your birth you may spend several days at the hospital. With my both of my first birth we stayed one night, and for my second birth we spent two nights. If you have a C-section you will stay a little longer.
-pregnancy journal/baby book
At the hospital the nurse will take the baby's foot prints. You can ask them to also put the footprints into your baby book. They do this several times a day, and it is from the day your baby was born, so it is really a wonderful keepsake.
What To Pack To Wear Home
So three things I mentioned that are comfy for the hospital are also great to wear home:
-black/dark sweatpants- you'll be wearing a diaper
-tanktop easy to nurse in
Another good thing to have with you is shoes that are easy to slip on. You may have a C-section, or it may be hard for you to bend over. Having shoes that are easy to slip-on and walk in make it much easier to get in and out of the car and walk into your home on that first day. The slippers I posted in the hospital section can be worn inside or outside. Or these shoes could work well.
This comes in where the robe did in the hospital. It can be cozy for you to have an extra layer to cover yourself in. Something that is flowy, soft, and makes you feel good. This cardigan is a little thicker with a chunkier knit, if it is going to be cold when you leave the hospital to go home. This cardigan is more lightweight.
-outfit for the baby
An easy outfit to put on the baby, like a onesie, is great for taking them home in. Avoid something that has 10 snaps or a bunch of buttons. Newborns are already confusing and squirmy... let's keep it simple. Burts bees makes really cute onesies that are great quality and are really soft.
-swaddle/blanket for the baby
You will have to put your baby in their car seat to take them home. So they will not be able to be swaddled for the ride. But having a soft blanket to cover them can comfort them, and you, for that nerve-racking first car ride.
I hope this article helps to give you some ideas of what to pack. You may have gotten some of these things at your baby shower. Or maybe it will give you some ideas for things to ask for your birthday, baby shower, etc. These things can help you and baby to feel most comfortable for your first few days together.