Packing for Labor & Delivery (with printable hospital checklist)

Man running with a Suitcase

It’s funny how little I’ve thought about actually delivering the baby this time around. I never put together an extensive birth-plan last time, but I did watch videos and read books  about labor—and think about (and sometimes dread) it, a lot. The impression I left with—not all-together too surprising—is that labor rarely happens the way you anticipate, and that (hopefully) the baby will be arriving in his or her own time and manner no matter what you try and predict or plan.

The hospital bag seems almost metaphorical in that sense. It’s almost comical to see how long the potential packing-list often is (and I’ll share one such extensive one here), because—when all is said and done—if you had to rush off to the hospital or birthing center with no such bag in sight, you’d survive just fine!

That said, it’s nice to feel prepared (and comfortable), so here’s an extensive—hopefully exhaustive—packing list. (I suppose I should get going on this… As of yesterday, the baby is full term!)

  • Photo Id
  • Insurance card
  • Any hospital paperwork your provider has previously passed onto you
  • Cameras with battery chargers (and if you’re just using your iPhone for photos/video, you might consider a way to download and clear your storage while you’re in the hospital—be it a cloud, or a laptop with cable)
  • Phones and phone chargers
  • List of phone numbers (for ringing the news)—or, ideally, numbers or “groups” pre-programmed into your phone
  • Name and phone number of the pediatrician (or physician group) you have chosen for you little one
  • Infant car seat (practice installing or have base installed prior to leaving hospital)
  • Personal toiletries: toothbrush, toothpaste, lip balm, deodorant, brush/comb, makeup, hairbands, soap, shampoo/conditioner (and perhaps dry-shampoo and hairdryer), lotion, face wash, extra pair of contacts, contact lens case/solution, eyeglasses.
  • Bathrobe
  • Nightgown or pjs (sleeveless or loose sleeves for blood pressure checks)
  • Socks (2-3 pairs–but you can also get these from the hospital) and/or slippers
  • Entertainment: Could be light reading (i.e. magazine or two)—but more likely you’ll want to watch something.
  • Snacks (and money for hospital snacks or take-out)
  • Hard candy or throat lozenges (sugar-free ideally); popsicles are also commonly recommended
  • Notebook and pen/pencil—ask your partner to take notes about the timeline, nurses’ names, etc. It’s crazy how you forget.
  • Nursing supplies: Nursing bra and/or tank (those by Bravado
    are great); Nursing pillow (my pick
    ); Lanolin
    (tip: apply after every session and before showers)
  • Change of clothes for you. Bring something comfortable and stretchy to go home in, like yoga pants/nursing tank/and cardigan. (i.e., no pre-pregnancy jeans!) I was also glad to have sandals to slip into.
  • Going home clothes and/or pretty swaddle for baby (although I’m a fan of those iconic newborn Moses blankets at the hospital, and the teeny white kimono shirts they put them in)
  • Baby Book (for getting the foot prints when the nurse is doing the paperwork)
  • Bag for partner: Toiletries, change of clothes, reading/entertainment, extra snacks, and bathing-suit in case of water birth or use of shower during labor
  • Gift(s) for other sibling(s) from the the new baby—and a mental plan for introducing them

Man running to catch a train

Here are a few other commonly noted items one could consider:

  • Birth preferences
  • Birthing ball
  • Music playlist
  • Your own water bottles
  • Your own pillow
  • Maxi pads, Depends, and the like
  • Colace (In fact, when I wrote about packing a labor bag once before, many moms suggested one start taking this before going into labor)

Note that most hospitals provide pads, along with mesh underwear and a numbing spray (like dermoplast). Some people prefer their own, but I say take advantage of these resources while they’re available to you. In fact, don’t be shy about asking for extras of anything you might need to get you started at home!

(Print this HospitalBagChecklist and modify the list as you need.)

Here we go again…

A couple getting ready to deliver a baby

(Aron and I about to go hail a cab—leaving for the hospital in the middle of the night, the day that Hudson was born.)

Did I miss anything?

[Movie stills from The Darjeeling Limited, c. Fox Searchlight Pictures, via]

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