As your due date approaches, there are many things to do to get ready, and packing a birth bag should be on your to-do-list.
For some expectant moms, planning what to bring to the hospital is exciting, but others it’s intimidating, if you happen to be someone who feels a bit overwhelmed by the thought of packing for labor, here are some tips.
Remember: When you create your birth bag, think small. A few essential items are all you need. In most cases, you are only going to be staying in the hospital for a few days, and the hospital has most of what you need.
Think Cozy and Comforting
The items you bring can make the labor room a more pleasant space. Studies show that the more comfortable you are in your environment, the easier it is for your body to relax.
This can actually decrease your sense of pain and help facilitate the labor process. For instance, is there music that makes you feel calm or grounded? A cozy pair of socks that you love to slide your feet into? Does the aroma of essential oils calm you? These are great items to have in your bag that will make a foreign space feel more familiar and might actually help your labor.
Try to create two small bags: one for labor and one for after the birth. This can simplify things and keep you organized. It also allows you to leave your postpartum bag in the care when you first arrive at the hospital.
The Labor Bag
• Light socks.
• Lip balm.
• Loose-fitting skirt for ease of movement and cervical exams.
• Top you can easily remove for breastfeeding (just make sure it can get dirty).
• Comfortable pillow or robe.
• Comfy shoes/slippers.
• Focal point (special photograph or ultrasound image).
• Phone chargers.
• Hair ties or something to hold back your hair.
• Water bottle.
• Aromatherapy-lavender, citrus or eucalyptus. Be sure to check with your healthcare provider about any fragrance-free policies that the hospital might have.
• Massage balls (tennis, lacrosse).
• Copy of your birth plan.
The Postpartum Pack
• Small container of travel-sized toiletries.
• Nursing bra or tank.
• Outfit for your baby to wear home.
• Car seat.
What NOT to Bring
• Birth balls.
• Breastfeeding support equipment.
• Feminine pads.
• Breast pump.
• Lots of baby clothes.
Don’t worry if you are reading this late in your third trimester and haven’t yet packed your bags. Use the lists as a guide, and you will be ready for the big day in no time! Take comfort in the fact that even if you don’t bring a thing, the hospital will have everything you absolutely need.
Sarah Kleinman, CNM, is a Certified Nurse Midwife in Boston who delivers babies at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Newton-Wellesley Hospital.