One of the most asked questions we get as doulas is “what do we pack in the hospital bag?” There are so many lists available online that it can get frustrating finding the perfect one! Well fear not, gentle readers, as I’m about to break it down for you. Here it is.. Your Transition doula approved, one-stop-shop for hospital bags!
First and foremost, if you don’t care about any creature comforts and really just want to be minimalist, then the top things you need to bring are:
- socks, flip flops, or slippers
- a hair tie (for long hair)
If you take anything away from reading this post – let it be this. The hospital and your doula will set you up with pretty much everything else. And you can thank us later. 😉
For those of us who want to be a tad more prepared, I’ve got a pretty comprehensive list of things you can pack that will make your stay away from home just a little bit more comfortable. Make sure to have your bag packed (and car seat installed) by the time you’re 37 weeks pregnant. You don’t want to be scrambling to find everything when you’re having contractions.
It is also smart to pack two bags. A birth bag, and a postpartum bag. Then your birth partner or doula doesn’t have to pull double-duty as a sherpa while you get assessed and placed in a delivery suite. Leave the postpartum bag in the car until you’ve had the baby and want to get a little more settled in during your stay.
- Copy of your Birth Preferences (Short and sweet – no more than one page in length! – make sure this also contains the contact information for your doula) and health documents.
- As mentioned above.. A hair tie, comfortable footwear, and chapstick.
- Phone chargers.
- Birth art/mantras/affirmations that you want to have up in your delivery room.
- Toothbrush/toothpaste/mouthwash/gum. Trust me.
- Pillows from home. You will be much more comfortable. But don’t bring one you would be heartbroken to have to throw away.. Remember that labour and birth can get messy.
- Any music you would like to listen to. Also consider bringing a portable bluetooth speaker.
- Camera with charger/spare batteries for taking pictures of your first few days/moments with your beautiful new baby! (A Transition doula will do the best we can to take a few photos for you, if desired!)
- Spill-proof water bottle. The hospitals have cups with ice, but being able to hydrate without worrying about spilling on yourself is divine.
- Snacks. Think granola bars, powergels, bananas… Things that are easy to eat and high in nutrition. Labour is a marathon, and it pays to be nourished.
- Towel or puppy pads to sit on in the car ride to the hospital, in case your water breaks (or already has!)
- Any comfortable clothes that you want to labour in. You don’t have to wear the scratchy hospital gowns if you don’t want to!
- *If you plan to keep your placenta or have it encapsulated* bring two ziploc bags. Write your name on one in Sharpie. (One bag will contain your placenta, which will then be placed in another bag full of ice) This option saves much more space than a bucket (But a bucket is a great option as well!)
Partners, bring a bag of your own with swimming trunks and flip flops, a toothbrush, gum, and a change of clothes. As your doula, we will come prepared with additional comfort tools (massage oils, squeeze balls, rebozo, etc.), so don’t worry about any of those.
- Nursing bra/shirt and a change of clothes.
- Some comfortable, loose underwear. The hospital provides the mesh panties everyone raves about, but they REALLY aren’t that great.
- Overnight pads and adult diapers. Again. Trust me on this one.
- Lanolin cream for your nipples and a few nursing pads.
- Baby’s clothes for going home, car seat, blankets, etc.
- Shower bag – Shampoo, conditioner, lotions, hair brush, deodorant, etc. It’s nice to have products you like when you get that first postpartum shower!
- Nursing pillow.
“But, I’m having a home birth? What then?”
Having a handy basket of items you might like after the birth makes it easier on your support people, who then don’t have to go hunting for said items when you want them. We also recommend packing a small bag of necessities just in case you are transferred to the hospital. You can grab it and go if need be!
There you have it, folks! Please keep in mind that you don’t NEED to bring all these items, and can add and subtract things as you see fit. The most important thing is that you get to meet your baby soon! Congratulations!