Items designated with the word “required” are necessary. And you’ll notice there is only one of them – a car seat (most hospitals won’t let you leave without it.) All other items are optional! And even for the car seat, if needed, someone could get it after the baby is born. We’ve been to wonderful births where the parents had nothing but the clothes they were wearing. So don’t feel like you need to get or pack everything on here – it’s just a list to help you think about things that might provide you with added comfort.
For the Birthing Mother
- Health insurance card and pre-registration forms from the hospital, if applicable
- Birth “Plan” or Birth Preferences document, if you have one
- Clothes for laboring—You can choose to wear the hospital gown or clothes you bring from home. Many women like wearing a loose dress, or stretchy pants with a t-shirt.
- Sports bra—This can be useful during water birth or when using the birth pool; they are also good for suppressing lactation if you are not planning on breastfeeding.
- Nightgown and robe—It’s helpful if they open in the front if you are planning on breast feeding.
- Socks—Many women report having cold feet at points during delivery, so have a couple of pairs in case one pair becomes soiled. Many hospitals will also provide socks.
- Slippers or Flip-Flops—Walking is often a great way to help labor progress. Flip-flops can also be used in the shower, which many women find helpful in easing the pain of contractions.
- Toiletries—To be more comfortable, take a toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, chap stick, makeup, hairbrush, shampoo, soap, lotion, hair bands, etc.
- Glasses and contact case
- Pillow from home—Just make sure you have a different colored pillow case on it to distinguish it from hospital pillows.
- Speakers for music—Soothing music can help you and your partner relax both during and after labor.
- Breast pads—You will need this whether or not you are breastfeeding because they stop leaks by absorbing milk.
- Nursing bra(s) or tank-tops—This supports tender breasts, and helps keep breast pads in place.
- Clothes to wear in the postpartum room – May include nursing tank-tops, yoga pants, etc.
- Nursing pillow—Can be used if you are breastfeeding or bottle feeding to reduce strain
- Baby book—You can ask to put your baby’s footprints in it.
- Going-home outfit—Choose one that fit you when you were around 6 months pregnant.
- Sanitary pads—If you’re delivering at a hospital, they can provide you with these, but many women feel more comfortable when they bring their favorite brand with them. Remember, you are going to need a pad designed for a heavier flow.
Natural Comfort / Pain Management Items – We carry these items in our doula bag, but you can pack them yourself if you don’t have a doula or want to use them before your doula arrives.
- Rice pack—You can buy these or make one yourself. To make your own, take a tube sock and fill it with uncooked rice (but not instant). This can either be heated or placed in the freezer and provide comfort during contractions.
- Battery-operated tea lights—These are great for creating a more calm atmosphere, especially in a hospital room where the overhead lights can be bright
- Aromatherapy oils—Lavender and clary sage are two that many women like in labor
- Massage oil and/or lotion—Unscented or a scent you particularly like both work well
- Massage tools – You can use specialized store-bought items or household items such as a tennis ball or pool noodle, which are both great for providing lower back pressure
- Mints, lollipops, or hard candies—Many women experience nausea/vomiting during labor and delivery; these will help freshen your mouth or the mouths of your support people
- Infant car seat and infant head support (required) —If you are delivering in a hospital, you will not be allowed to leave with your baby without one; make sure you bring the instructions.
- Hat—Babies lose the vast majority of their body heat through their heads. If you are delivering in a hospital, the hospital staff will also give the baby one.
- Receiving blankets—Many newborns like to be swaddled, and these blankets are perfect
- Newborn diapers—If they do not have the umbilical cord area cut out, make sure you fold them down. If you are delivering in a hospital, these are supplied for you.
- Cans/bottles of formula—If you plan to formula-feed you baby, this will allow you to begin with the formula that you have chosen.
- Going-home outfit, including booties or socks.
- Change of clothes
- Bathing suit—This is important if you and your partner are planning on a water birth or using the birthing pool or shower during labor. Can also be helpful for shower use – if mom benefits from counterpressure, you can get quite wet trying to provide it while she is in the shower!
- Snacks and/or cooler with drinks and food—Labor can be a long process. There is sometimes a cafeteria or vending machines at the hospital, but having nutritional snacks nearby can help keep your energy up.
- Quarters/Dollar bills for the vending machine
- Video/still camera/phone—Make sure you have the charger, too
- Crayons, markers, paper, coloring books
- Special camera to take pictures of the baby