Many online resources exist for this question, but ideally you will have three separate packages:
1. Your bag
2. Your baby's going home bag
3. Labor supplies
ALSO your husband may want to pack his own bag (or labor support person)
We'll start with your bag:
- laboring clothes (a tank top that can go in the shower, bathing suit for your husband if you want him to join you, slippers that you wouldn't mind getting body fluids on, socks, house coat)
- pyjamas or post partum comfortable clothes - ideally something you can fit into later in pregnancy, if you are planning on breast feeding something you can nurse in
- going home outfit for you
- underwear for going home, nursing bra, extra socks and maybe clean slippers
- contacts/glasses/contacts storage container ** important, if you end up going for a c-section, you will need to remove your contacts and you'll want to have glasses handy so you can see your baby!
- toiletries - shampoo, conditioner, razor, soap, lotions, make up, toothbrush/paste, etc.
- camera, batteries, cell phone and charger, video camera
- sanitary pads if you prefer your own (the hospital does provide them)
- nursing supplies - cloth or disposable leakage protection, nipple cream, breast shells
- money for pay phone (bring change and a pre-paid phone card for simplicity sake)
- money for snacks
- money for private/semi-private room if you prefer (they also accept credit cards)
- money for television/phone for your hospital room
- leave your VALUABLES AT HOME!!! Or send them home with a trusted person, as it is a public place and the staff cannot be on the look out!!
Baby's going home bag:
- an outfit that is weather appropriate (a nice, soft sleeper always works!)
- if you prefer, and outfit that will suit either gender
- newborn diapers if you prefer, although the hospital does provide
- cloth diapers if you plan on using them
- blankets to cover baby from the elements
- a few baby wipes (travel packs are small and fit well into diaper bags)
- hat, outdoor wear if needed, scratch mittens are also handy
*** new parents have a tendency to over pack! If you are going from the hospital straight home, there is no need for creams, lotions, powders, five changes of clothes, pacifiers, toys, etc etc...
- nursing pillow (I used one and found it awesome for head support while I was pushing and it also worked well for the first breast feeding session!)
- birthing ball (the hospital has their own, several to chose from...)
- music (iPod/mp3 player and speakers, maybe a small portable radio if you wish)
- cold pack (hospital also has these stocked on their carts)
- tennis balls for massage if you prefer
- flameless candles for ambiance
- anything from your blessingway if you had one (birthing necklace/beads?)
- snacks (granola bars that are peanut free, juice boxes)
- your birth plan, if you wish
- any other items you wish to bring?
Ask your doula if she has labor props that she can provide. Remember, you are carrying these things into the hospital and will be leaving with them AS WELL AS an infant in a car seat!
HOW DO I GET THESE THINGS INTO THE HOSPITAL?!!!?
- Honestly? Bring your essential laboring items and send your birth helpers for the rest. You won't need the baby's bag at the labor!! Remember to lock your car and leave non-essential items where they are safe but accessible. Don't forget your camera!
- blankets for you
- large amounts of clothing (you can always send someone to get more, the hospital provides gowns/housecoats/slippers/toiletries if you forget)
- body piercings (in the event of a c-section you may have to remove metallic or even non-metallic items, although rings can usually be covered in tape if they cannot be removed)
- large amounts of cash money (there is a debit machine on site)
LABOR SUPPORT PERSON'S BAG
- bathing suit for joining partner in shower (if you prefer to pack your own)
- a change of clothes
- money for food, change for vending machine/phones, phone card if you prefer
- cell phone to use OFF of the labor unit
- snacks in a SMALL BAG if you prefer your own
- camera if your laboring mom hasn't packed one
- small notebook for recording events if you prefer
Remember, again, what you bring to the hospital you have to take home as well as any gifts or things that your visitors bring!! I was sending things home with my husband every time he came and went. We left the car seat in the car in the weeks preceding labor "just in case" but mainly because the base needed to be leveled and properly installed. The staff at the hospital will closely inspect your car seat for proper safety before you will be officially discharged.
Candles and flammables are not allowed in the hospital due to the risk of explosion (real, live oxygen is HIGHLY flammable). But there are wonderful flameless candles on the market now. Natural and herbal things may also be restricted as they may or may not conflict with medications.
If you're having a home birth... congrats, you STILL should pack a hospital bag just in case of transfer!
Read more of Rhonda's work on her blog: http://birthingutopia.blogspot.com