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        packing for the hospital to give birth

        Pregnancy

        Hospital Bag Checklist: What to Pack For You And Your Babe

        It’s easy to stress over what to pack for the hospital when you’re about to give birth and even easier to pack a bag full of things you won’t use. Hospitals will have most of the things you need, so here are a few things you’ll definitely want. Plus, a printable hospital bag checklist to keep you organized as you inch closer to meeting your babe.

        Illustration
        Emily Isabella

        When To Pack a Hospital Bag

        Most expectant families should plan to be ready to jump in the car by 38 weeks, so start the process when you head into the third trimester. If you are at high risk of going into labor early, talk to your OB to understand when you should pack a hospital bag. While it’s OK to add your toothbrush in at the last minute, the more you do in advance, the less you’ll need to remember at the moment.

        What To Pack In A Hospital Bag for Baby

        Your nurses will have your baby swaddled and in that striped hat before you can catch your breath. As much as you might want to put them in that onesie you bought 6 months ago the moment they're born let them do their thing and focus your efforts on anything you'll need to take your baby home.

        Newborn clothes: You’ll want something sweet and functional when you leave the hospital. One simple baby outfit –– either a kimono or crossover style onesie made to accommodate the umbilical cord or footed pants and a top. If you’ve never dressed a newborn baby before, now is not the time to attempt a three-piece ensemble complete with suspenders. If you err on the side of overpacking, bring an outfit in newborn and 0-3 month sizing.

        Warm layers: If it’s cold, pack a warm hat and an extra blanket to fold over the car seat.

        Infant car seat: You can forget pretty much everything on this hospital checklist, and make it work –– except for the car seat. A hospital will not discharge you until your baby has and can fit into a car seat. It should already be installed when you pull up to deliver.

        Pediatrician information: The hospital will want this information so they can send over the baby’s medical records before your first check-up. So have the name, office phone number, and email ready.

        Baby nail file or nail clippers: Newborns can have unexpectedly long nails and tend to flail and scratch themselves as they adjust to life on the outside. A nail file or clippers keep nails short while allowing them to move freely. 

        What To Bring In A Hospital Bag for Your Partner

        Cell phone & charger: It’s your camera, your megaphone announcing your babe to the world, your distraction during the early stages of labor. We found that most people didn’t need or even want a fancy camera in the hospital, so leave your DSLR home. To ensure Aunt Lacy stays in the loop, make a group chat or create a list of people to text the good news ahead of time and delegate this all-important job to your partner.

        Cash for parking snack: Don’t expect to be able to pop out for snacks or to feed a parking meter. Instead, have some cash on hand for the hospital vending machines, cafeteria, or tip for a delivery person.

        Toiletries: Depending on how long you’re in the hospital, partners may want to be able to brush their teeth and even shower. If you wear contacts or take any medications, bring those as well.

        Change of clothing: One change of clothes should be enough for a partner –– consider a button-down shirt that you can unbutton for skin-to-skin contact with your newborn.

        Book, magazine, or tablet: Download a new book, podcast, or audiobook you’re looking forward to in case of downtime.

        Snacks (to share): There are different schools of thought on eating during labor, so we’ll that to your OB, but it can’t hurt to overpack if you have favorites. Think: chewy dried fruit, crunchy carrots, jerky or a health bar, salty crackers or pretzels, or a few sweets.

        What to Pack In A Hospital Bag for Mom

        Hospitals can be cold and dry (and you don't know exactly when you're leaving) so bring along a few things to make you feel like a cozy, hydrated, calm version of yourself.

        Folder for paperwork: Having everything in a folder will make it easy to find the right number or contact when you’re distracted or tired. Include a picture ID, insurance card, and birth preferences.

        Toiletries: Raid the hotel during your babymoon for minis of shampoo, conditioner, bath wash, and moisturizer. Feel fresh with your own toiletries like your toothbrush & toothpaste, face wipes, hair ties (some people swear by workout headbands), deodorant, and dry shampoo. If you wear contacts and take any medication, bring those along too.

        Lip balm is a must. Take the dehydration you felt during the worst hangover of your life and multiply it by ten. That is how your mouth will feel while you are giving birth. Come prepared.

        Dark pajamas: Just after giving birth is not the time to channel Daisy Buchanan in The Great Gatsby. Beautiful, fine. But white? No. Silk? Definitely not. You’ll want pajamas in black or navy that’s super soft and buttons up the front for around-the-clock feeding.

        A robe: A robe is a good thing to splurge on if you want a little luxury. Your body temperature will be all over the place, so layers will help, and you’ll want something warm but breathable. Don’t worry about slippers. The hospital-issue socks aren’t the chicest, but they have treads that’ll come in handy if you take to the hallways with a fussy newborn.

        Eye mask: Fluorescent hospital lights are the enemy of a well-rested new mom. A fitted eye mask can block out light from in between feedings and rounds. Look for one in silk, cotton, or wool that fully covers your eyes.

        Slip-on shoes: You might want fuzzy slippers, but you need a pair of EVA sandals that can stand up to your water breaking, a public shower, and accommodate any temporary swelling from IV fluids.

        Nursing bra and breast pads: Soft, seamless nursing or maternity bras are helpful to labor in and provide support postpartum; adding breast pads can prevent leaking as your milk comes in.

        Light blanket and pillow: Many new parents want to make their stay a little cozier with a favorite blanket or pillow from home. If you’re stressing about fitting everything into a carry-on or tote, use a vacuum space-saving bag to extract all the extra air.

        Relaxation tools: Many of these tools your hospital will have on hand but chat with your OB, doula, or midwife to find out if they suggest bringing a birth ball, cold pack, hot rice pack, squeeze ball, massage oil, or rebozo scarf for labor support.

        Book, magazine, or tablet: Especially if you head to the hospital to get induced, you may have some downtime when you want something absorbing or distracting, like a new beach read.

        Water bottle: Being hydrated can decrease the time you spend in active labor, so bring a water bottle you like and a bottle or two of something with electrolytes like coconut water if you’d like.

        Plus, What to Bring Home From the Hospital

        Now, for what to take when you leave. First, you’ll be amazed by the sheer number of seemingly useless things the nurses will present you with. And then you will wonder about the best way to smuggle them out. Luckily, most hospitals don’t mind if you take a few things when you go, so ask your favorite nurse to put these essentials together:

        Mesh Undies: When you first lay eyes on the industrial-size white mesh boy short undies, you will be repulsed. And then you will fall in love. So take more than you think you need.

        Baby Comb: For whatever reason, this tiny piece of hospital-issued plastic will be more effective at removing the little flakes of dry skin from your newborn baby’s head than the fanciest you can buy.

        Changing Mats: The no-slip, washable changing mats are perfect for everything from quick changes in the newborn days to what will feel like light years later when potty training your child through the night.

        Donut Seat: When the nurses offer you an inflatable cushion upon which to sit, take it. This might not be your first instinct, but it will be a life saver in those early days when you go from being in a hospital bed to actually wanting to sit on a sofa or chair.

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