I am often asked what to pack in your birth bag. There are a few different scenarios to consider… Birth Center, Hospital, or Hospital Induction.
If you have a birth center birth, you are only there for the time of your labor plus approximately 3 hours. You need to talk to birth center and see if they provide anything. Hospitals provide diapers (and send extras home), wipes, nose bulb, thermometer, hat (unless you want a cute one), pads and disposable undies for birthing parents (usually), a peri bottle, and often tucks pads or something such as that.
Things I recommend you pack:
Going home outfit– a onesie, plus a cotton romper in the summer. A onesie plus a fleece romper in the winter.
A cute hat if you want one
A couple of blankets for in the car (the hospital will provide them in the hospital)
And of course, your car seat. Make sure the base is properly installed and all straps are set to the lowest settings for ease in homecoming.
This is truly all that you need for baby.
For Your Birthing Partner-
I recommend snacks for quick access, or when the cafeteria is closed. Nuts, jerky, fruit, crackers, these are good things to have.
A blanket and pillow. You will definitely need some sleep, and having a little comfort can go a long ways.
Clothing– Loose fitting comfy changes of clothes. Make sure a sweatshirt or coat and shorts are included as sometimes Birthing Parents have a funky sense of temperature. Also a bathing suit in case you want to massage shoulders or help with showers or baths.
Toiletries– you can usually take a shower and it’s nice to feel fresh and clean.
A book, movie, headphones- something to entertain yourself. Sometimes it can take awhile. Make sure you have chargers. (Check with your hospital, sometimes you can plug in Roku).
Sleep Mask and Ear Plugs– There are a lot of beeps and doors opening. These can really help you have better sleep.
For the Birthing Parent-
I do not get any money or anything for the products I am about to suggest 🙂
Often the blanket,pillow, sleep mask, ear plugs, and entertainement can be very helpful for you as well!
I personally recommend a birthing gown similar to this one. It provides modest coverage, it’s soft, it can be used with epidural and monitoring, it has easy nursing access. Everyone who has ordered one has been glad. I even recommend two (one for before and one for after).
Fuzzy comfy socks are always a good thing to have.
As a doula, I personally have essential oil towelettes that are wonderful when feeling sick (peppermint), needing to feel calm (lavender) or needing a little energy (orange). Having your favorite scent can calm you and reduce pain.
A music play list can also distract from the pain or boredom. I personally recommend some good “get up and move” music as well as a quiet, peaceful, meditating playlist. You can bring a Bluetooth speaker or just play it from your phone (that you remember the charger for ).
Other tools in my bag that you can add to yours include:
Combs (they can be great to squeeze during contractions)
Massagers (there are a variety, try a few)
TENS Unit (Look into ones for use during pregnancy)
Honey sticks (for a bit of energy)
Heating pad (some people really like warmth during labor)
Gummy Bears (some hospitals consider it clear liquids)
Dum Dums (great for a little sweetness)
And then we come on after labor… most hospitals provide things suchas disposable underwear, large pads, ice packs, tucks pads and peri bottles. Check with yours and make sure all of this is included. They usually give enough to get you home.
You need a comfy going home outfit. Your belly wont be a lot smaller, so yoga or pajama pants are great. Tank Tops can help with nursing, or loose fitting shirts.
Some nursing parents like their boppy pillow for in the hospital to help with nursing. You don’t need your pump as most hospitals have them. You might want some breast pads for coming home, though often milk doesn’t come in quite that fast.
Snacks- again, your favorite snacks can be really beneficial during and after labor when the cafeterias are closed. (but you can usually ubereats some food to the hospital.
And lastly, DO NOT FORGET YOUR CAMERA and charger for it. Although so many just use their phones now adays and that works too!
Please leave a comment on your favorite items you used in the hospital, must haves. I will be updating this list and appreciate the feedback.
Suzanne is a doula and birth photographer serving the Pacific Northwest. She loves helping in home births, birth centers, and the local hospitals. She serves Kent, Tacoma, Renton, Seattle, Bellevue, Issaquah and more. Valley Medical, UW, Multicare, Puget Sound Birth Center, The Birthing Cottage and more!