Packing for baby's delivery date is not something you want to put off until the last minute. (For Spectrum Health Beat)
Packing for baby’s delivery date is not something you want to put off until the last minute. (For Spectrum Health Beat)

I recently led some childbirth classes where several mamas-to-be asked me what they should bring to the hospital for labor and delivery.

It’s a common question, and a good one.

It’s certainly wise to have your bag packed a few weeks before your due date, because that’s not something you want to be doing the day you go into labor.

Remember, of course, that your due date is just a guesstimate. Baby is the one who really decides when to be born.

So, knowing you can’t possibly pack everything in advance, you can still get off to a good start.

To know what you need, it might help to first know what you don’t need. At the hospital, you’ll be provided with pads and mesh underwear, diapers for baby and, at most hospitals, birth balls. You can cross all those off your list.

With that in mind, here’s a detailed rundown of some of the items you should pack:

Personal items

You’ll want to include any personal hygiene items and essential parts of your daily routine. This includes things such as:

  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Hairbrush and hair items
  • Makeup, if you want

Clothing

Remember that most mamas end up staying one or two nights. If it makes you more relaxed, we encourage you to wear your own clothes during labor.

After delivery, you can wear a hospital gown or your own clothes. I like to remind mamas that, after delivery, bleeding is normal—so take that into consideration.

Here are some other likely must-haves:

  • Nursing bra, if you plan to breastfeed. If you aren’t breastfeeding, get a good supportive bra.
  • Robe and slippers
  • Clothes to wear home. Remember: Just because you’ve delivered the baby doesn’t mean you’ll fit right into those pre-pregnancy clothes. Most mamas wear comfortable clothing when pregnant—you can wear yours home.
  • Swimsuit, or something to wear in the tub or shower.
  • Clothes and items for dad. We encourage dads to stay with moms at night when they’re in the hospital—but dads need personal items, too.

Snacks

This is something people don’t always think about. I encourage snacks for mom and her partner. Remember that mom needs things that will be nutritious and easy.

A protein and carbohydrate combo, such as crackers and cheese or chips and hummus, is good. Other foods I’ve seen recommended include nuts and dried fruit, honey sticks, dark chocolate, coconut water and granola bars.

A lot of mamas like popsicles. You can bring in your favorite and we can put them in the freezer.

We aren’t looking for heavy foods, since mom’s body is focusing on having a baby. The food should be nutritious, to help mama endure labor.

Relaxation items

These are all items that can make your experience more comfortable and less stressful:

  • Music. Make a playlist or bring in a CD of your favorite music.
  • Focal point. This is something you use to focus on during contractions. It could be a baby item or something else.
  • Massage oil or lotion
  • Tennis balls or massage items
  • Lip balm

Baby

The newest member of your family has two big requirements for the ride home:

  • Baby outfit to wear home. Something comfortable and appropriate for the weather.
  • Car seat. Be sure to have someone check to ensure it’s installed properly. Most local fire departments are happy to oblige.

Miscellaneous

Some other items you’ll find useful:

  • Camera, phone and chargers
  • Papers needed for the hospital. Both Spectrum Health Zeeland Community Hospital and Spectrum Health Gerber Memorial have preregistration appointments where moms are provided paperwork (such as the birth certificate) to take to the hospital.
  • Birth plan, if you haven’t already turned it in
  • Eyeglasses or contact lenses and solution
  • Sibling gifts for other children, if you have them
  • Baby book or journal
  • Your own pillow, if you’re partial to it