Are you expecting baby number one and have NO idea what to pack? You have come to the right place! I have created a checklist that will have you prepared for your delivery and postpartum stay at the hospital!
A couple of years ago when I was packing my first hospital bag, I did a lot of research. I watched a lot of videos, read a lot of blogs, and talked to a lot of people. I like to be prepared and I was pretty much clueless on what I needed. Like most first time moms, I overpacked. I brought tons of stuff that we never even touched.
When it was time to pack for baby number two, I packed just the essentials. My husband and I only packed this one suitcase for both of us and the baby.
Let me just start by saying, you never know how long you are going to stay in the hospital. If all goes well, you could be in and out within 48 hours. But, if there are some complications, you could be looking at much longer.
There is a balance between over packing and being prepared.
Part of the time you are in the hospital, you will be in their gown and won't need your own clothes yet. I recommend using the hospital's supplies for the majority of the time you are there.
Sweatpants/pajamas- Make sure you choose some comfy bottoms as you will be spending a lot of time in them!
Tank top or tee shirts- If you are nursing, make sure you still have easy access.
Shorts- Your hormones are all over the place and that definitely affects your temperature. Grab a pair of shorts just in case.
Socks or slippers *- I am not a slippers girl, but you will want something comfy to walk around in.
Sweater or jacket- Hospital temperatures fluctuate, chances are you are going to want one! Openings in front are perfect for nursing.
Going home outfit- I am used to dressing up, so I grabbed a pair of leggings and a sweater dress. I wore the same shoes home that I wore to the hospital so I didn't need to pack any. If it is summer or warm where you live, you can easily just use your shower flip flops! You probably won't be able to fit into jeans yet, so keep that in mind too. Make sure that your clothes are comfortable and loose.
Flip flops for shower- My husband and I shared one pair :)
Headband & hair ties- Depending on how your hair works best, I have found these very helpful to have on hand.
Old underwear or disposable underwear*- The hospital will probably have mesh underwear for you to wear. Honestly, I just wore those for 4-5 days after delivery. Some people like to wear "real" underwear, and some like these disposable.
Disposable pads *- The hospital will give you some, but towards the end of my stay I actually switch over to my pads because they are more comfortable. Trust me, you are going to be tender down there and if spending $5 on a package of nice pads is going to help you feel better, you do it. They are worth every penny!
I have bought the Walmart brand and gotten along great! I like to have 3 different sizes on hand. Those first few days, you need heavy duty pads. Then, you can go down to a lite pad. After a week or so, you can go to a very lite pantyliner just in case you leak unexpectedly (which you probably will).
If you are nursing:
Nursing tank top (1-2)- Something like these work great!
Nursing bra (1-2)- I bought these and love them!
Nipple cream or coconut oil- The hospital probably has some too.
Nursing pads- In case your milk comes in and you are leaking, you are going to want just a few. I use disposable ones like these and also reusable ones like these.
Sweatpants/pajamas- People will be in and out of the room all night and day. Comfy, but yet modest pajamas are helpful :)
Jeans- My husband is not a fan of just "lounging" all day, so it does his mental health good to actually put on "real" clothes.
Tee shirts & long sleeve shirts- Again, hospital temperatures vary, be prepared and have a few options.
Sweatshirt- At night this was very helpful for my husband!
Underwear- He might as well bring 3-4 pairs because you just don't know how long you will be there!
Socks or slippers- My husband is a big slippers person so these are a must for him!
Flip flops for shower- Again, we shared so that was one less thing to bring.
Swaddle or receiving blanket- These are great if you plan to grab a few pictures, otherwise, probably not a necessity. Our hospital provides swaddles while we are there and then sends one home with us.
Going home outfit- A cute little newborn size outfit. Don't forget the socks!
Sleepers (1-2)*- Again, a lot of times hospitals will provide clothing for the baby, but have some just in case!
Pacifier- Our hospital gave us a pacifier with our first little boy, but not our second. I was very thankful that I had packed one just in case!
Car seat & cover- Leave this out in car until it is time to go home. No need to add extra clutter to your room.
Diaper bag- Leave this in the car also. Pack any baby essentials in your main bag that way you won't have multiple bags to worry about.
Phone & chargers- Definitely make sure you bring that charger!
Toiletries Bag- Make sure you have your toothbrush, toothpaste, face wash, body wash, shampoo, conditioner and deodorant.
Chapstick & lotion- Hospitals seem to be dry and you will not regret having this!
Snacks- You will be spending a lot of time at the hospital. Bring some of your favorite snacks and candy!
Entertainment (books, DVDs, laptop, magazines)- Depending on how long you labor, you could have a LONG time before baby comes. Bring some of your favorites to take your mind off those contractions.
Camera- If you have a nice camera, leave it in the car (as long as weather permits). If you or your husband feel up to it, snap a few shots. Many phone cameras take great pictures too, so this is not a necessity.
To download, click here!
Things to Leave at Home
Nursing Pillow- I brought my boppy nursing pillow (like this one) with us for my first pregnancy. It was a nice luxury as I was learning how to nurse, but definitely not a necessity.
Towels and pillows- In many videos they recommended bringing your own pillow or towels so it feels more "home-y", but my philosophy is just bring the basics. You will survive a couple of days without your favorite towel. Again, that's just me.
Makeup- Bring the bare basics like mascara and foundation or skip all together. I bring a little to help me feel refreshed, but definitely not as much as I usually wear.
Breast pump- Depending on your plan and your baby, you might need to pump at the hospital. The hospital has pumps you can use. You also could just leave your pump in the car and go get it only if you need it.
Let me know in the comments section below what some of your favorite items are to pack in your hospital bag.
Yay, congratulations on being pregnant! You have probably been told multiple times in your pregnancy that being pregnant is a beautiful thing. I agree, pregnancy is truly a blessing, but there are also so many other emotions to describe it.
During my first pregnancy, I spent a ton of time researching ways to prepare for labor and they really proved beneficial. Both of my pregnancies have gone really well and I think part of that is due to these 6 things!
I do want to also say that sometimes things come up that we can not plan for. Your labor story might be completely different than mine. You might try these things and they might not work for you. I am just sharing what worked well for me during my two pregnancies. I know that I will definitely be doing them again and encouraging all my friends to also!
I cannot say this enough. YOU NEED TO WORKOUT WHILE YOU ARE PREGNANT! At least 5 days a week you need to do something active. I know a lot of times throughout pregnancy we feel tired and lousy and the last thing we want to do is workout, but it will make you feel so much better in the long run! Having a strong heart and strong muscles will make pushing feel easier and in many cases go faster!
I knew that labor was going to be very intense. As with any race or major physical event in life, I decided I needed to "train" for labor. I decided I would take those nine months to prepare my body, and it paid off!
There are many prenatal workouts that you can choose from. Swimming and walking are great options! I bought a membership to Beachbody on Demand and loved it! I actually loved the program so much I became a coach. If you haven't heard of it, it is basically a "Netflix of workout programs". I highly recommend you trying it out! There are a couple of different programs they offer that are specifically designed for each trimester.
Before you start any workout program, you need to check with your doctor.
2. Educate Yourself
There are so many resources out there to help you learn more and prepare for labor.
Many hospitals offer childbirth classes. Ask your friends who have taken them to see if they think it is worth it. I heard from multiple people that our local hospital's program did not impress.
My husband and I bought an online birthing class through Lamaze. It was SO helpful that it was online and we did not need to give up our time to go to a physical class. It was also very nice that we could do it when we had time, but it was very outdated and definitely not enjoyable. I think that there are other programs out there that would have been much better!
There are a TON of videos on Youtube for free that we found very helpful! I LOVED watching Sarah Lavonne's childbirth videos. (Check out her channel here). She is a doula and is SO knowledgeable and fun to watch!
Another doula I found very helpful on Youtube is Bridget Teyler. (Check out her channel here). I learned so much from both of these women and highly recommend them to every first time mother!
If I could do it over again, I would have skipped the paid course and just used Youtube's free videos to learn the basics.
3. Perineal Massage
Not the most pleasant of topics, but perineal massage is another great way to prepare your body for labor.
I had multiple people tell me that this really made a difference in their labor experience. I did some research to see if it was worth it. Although there is not a lot of evidence that it makes a difference, many women recommend it!
I read multiple articles and watched multiple videos to teach myself how to do it properly. (Check out this video). Start around week 35, and try to do these massages 4-5 times a week. There are many different lubricants you can use. I broke 1-2 Vitamin E capsules and used them as a lubricant for the massage. You can also use coconut oil.
4. Evening Primrose Oil
Make sure you talk with your doctor about this one too. Some say that it can help induce labor naturally.
I used Evening Primrose Oil to prepare my uterus for labor during my third trimester. They also say that it can start thinning your cervix in preparing your body for labor.
Evening Primrose Oil is something that can be taken orally and used vaginally. I started using it vaginally around 36 weeks during my first pregnancy. You can also break the capsule open and use this for your perineal massage.
Again, make sure you talk to your provider as this might not be safe for everybody!
I had never eaten dates before in my life, until I was 35 weeks pregnant with my first baby. I had read in multiple places that dates help prepare our bodies for labor. They can aide in a natural induction for us and ripen our cervix, getting it ready for birth! How cool!
I thought "Hey, they are healthy and decently inexpensive so why not give them a try?" I ate six dates a day during my last couple of weeks of pregnancy. Unfortunately, I didn't love them, but I made myself eat them. I told myself if it would help with labor it was worth it.
Another health benefit of dates is they can help prevent constipation, which many of us deal with during pregnancy. Ugh!
6. Raspberry Leaf Tea
Red Raspberry Leaf Tea is a tea that is known to strengthen the uterine wall. It is also believed to decrease labor time! Who doesn't want a shorter labor?
I drank 1 cup a day, but you can drink 1-3 cups daily. I am not really a tea person, but again, I heard it was good for me and my pregnant body, so I drank it. With a little honey, this was very easy to fit into my daily routine.
Many people start drinking Red Raspberry Leaf tea during their second trimester. I waited until my third trimester. Again, keep your provider in the loop on what you are doing to prepare for labor.
Remember to give these 6 things a shot to get ready for labor!
I hope this post was able to help inspire you to get your body ready for labor!
Be sure to check out my post on packing your hospital bag here!