Our bags are packed and ready. It feels more both more real and still not real at the same time. To prep, I read blogs and asked friends what they loved having, and I also reached out to Instagram where there was a huge response with tons of helpful information in the comments section on this post here. I compiled all those into this list, and am now feeling prepared for almost anything. Here's what we're bringing:
(Bags pictured: On the right: Birdling Bags Weekender. This is a small business run by moms, and the bags are super high quality, made in the USA, and designed with compartments that help to stay organized while traveling with babies and all the gear they require. On the left: Baggu Clutches: an ethically minded company, love their nylon reusable bags and as a bonus the leather on this clutch is made from scrap material from other bags.)
Birth plan. Up until I was 37 weeks pregnant I didn't think I would even draft this, but I'm so glad I did. It was good for me, even just mentally, to get organized about the things I hope for or really don't prefer in labor. I feel so much more knowledgeable and prepared by having made these decisions in advance. (I totally understand that birth plans are a "best case scenario" kind of thing and that no birth goes exactly to plan, but it was just helpful for me to think about and communicate my ideal preferences, even if none of them happen in reality.)
Swimsuit. There's a hot tub at our hospital and I hope to be able to labor in it at least for a little while before getting an epidural. We'll see how this plan works out but I'm packing it anyways. Another friend mentioned that her strapless swimsuit top was a lifesaver and she wore it during birth.
Cheap flip flops. This item was recommended over and over again, for walking the halls and showers.
Lip Balm or Chapstick of choice. Another highly recommended item.
Essential Oils. Some people swear by these. A nurse gave us a great tip to put a few drops of an essential oil on a paper towel and then into a ziploc. That way, if you decide you like the scent one second but hate it the next, you can just zip it away.
Coconut oil and/or lotion for a million uses.
Books or other distraction tools.
SNACKS & DRINKS
The number one recommended item to me on Instagram was by far: SNACKS. Both for during labor (each hospital policy is different, ours allows eating up until the moment of an epidural) as well as post-delivery. Someone mentioned that even if the hospital where you're delivering has a reputation for an amazing menu, it could take a while for those orders to come through and you will be STARVING after birth. I've already gotten into my packed snack stash and will be replenishing it soon in response to how often this item was recommended.
Many people echoed bringing your own water bottle. This one is my favorite for keeping drinks ice cold.
Lots of granola bars. One brand I've recently discovered is Oat Mama Lactation Granola Bars, which are really are more like a cookie, with the added bonus of helping with milk supply. They're gluten free and made with wholesome ingredients, and the Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip flavor is amazing.
Drinks. I wanted a lot of green juice in my pregnancy, and it was hard to find ones that were pasteurized and safe for pregnancy. These Bundle Organics Juices fit the bill, and are fortified with things especially for expectant moms like folic acid. They also have a tea for pregnancy that I've been drinking iced recently. Your hospital may or may not allow iced tea during labor, so be sure to check the policy. Multiple people recommended coconut water as a way to replace lost electrolytes post-delivery.
Another tea that I've loved iced as I near labor is Red Raspberry Leaf. This one has been widely researched for helping with a variety of labor and delivery factors including shorter labor times and lower c-section rates, among other benefits (see research findings here). Of course, run everything you take by your health care provider first.
Gum, hard candies, and cough drops. Many people suggested these items, as labor can be really drying and all the pushing/breathing can cause a sore throat. Also, gummy bears! A nurse friend told me they fall into the required "clear liquids" category if your hospital has a strict policy.
Because some friends have had longer hospital stays than others, I'm bringing a few prenatal vitamins because I hear they're helpful to take while nursing, along with Postnatal Omega 3 supplements. (I've loved the Prenatal Omega 3 this pregnancy, the strawberry flavor is the best.) I like that this brand is endorsed by the American Pregnancy Association, but as always, run everything you supplement with for yourself or your baby by your health care provider first.
A tiny bottle of champagne. Because we are ready to celebrate.
ELECTRONICS & ETC
Many people mentioned a speaker and/or a white noise app to drown out the hospital sounds (or other people laboring!) We really love this one by Fugoo. It's bluetooth enabled, the size is small and packable, and the sound is incredible. We're not planning a specific hospital playlist but will have it set on a Pandora station.
iPhone and computer and chargers. My iPhone case by Otterbox has extended battery life capabilities which has been such a lifesaver and I'm assuming it will be even more so in the hospital. Some people also mentioned an extra-long iPhone cord is helpful for hard to reach outlets in the hospital.
Canon Camera. I decided not to have a professional photographer at the birth, but possibly will bring in a friend to take a few photos of the three of us on day two. I'm bringing along my DSLR to take a few photos of the babe on it's first days. (A helpful tip from an Instagram commenter: make sure you clear space off your phone and/or camera card so that you're not busy deleting photos while trying to document your newborn.)
People to Contact List. I thought this was a great idea. A list for your closest circle of family/friends to text during labor, and another to send an announcement to once the baby is born. Designate your contact person now (either your spouse or someone else) so that you don't have to be in charge of this during labor.
Car seat installed. Of course.
FOR RECOVERY AND POSTPARTUM
Robe. This item was recommended to me over and over again, and especially in a lightweight fabric. I love this one by Belabumbum. Super soft, stretchy, and the lace detailing at the edges adds just enough of a feminine touch to feel pretty.
Undies. Probably totally TMI for the internet, but necessary for postpartum care. Your hospital may offer a great option, but if not, one company I've discovered recently is She Thinx and Icon, two sister brands that have developed a new kind of underwear, perfect for two main issues associated with postpartum recovery. The science behind it is so intriguing, and as a bonus, each purchase contributes to health care for women in developing countries.
Spandex Shorts and/or Leggings. For keeping all the postpartum mesh underwear/ice packs in place.
Belly Bandit. To help with hip pain and torso support after birth.
Pajamas that are dark and loose, and semi-nursing friendly if possible, along with warm socks.
Blanket from home. A luxury item for sure, but an Instagram commenter suggested this one (who delivered at the same hospital where we will be) and mentioned that the thin cotton blankets the hospital offers weren't great.
Travel sized toiletries (love Dr. Bronner's). Other necessities: toothbrush/makeup/hair ties/hair brush/etc.
Dry shampoo. I forgot about this item until someone mentioned it on Instagram, and I'm so glad they did because I use this daily. Another mention that I hadn't thought of: tissues. A friend said she went through a lot of these and the ones at the hospital are scratchy.
NURSING & BABY
(A note on pumps: this was suggested by a commenter, although I won't be bringing mine as another friend mentioned that the hospital where we're delivering has one available that she used. Personal preference, but check with your hospital on availability.)
Nursing Friendly/Going Home Outfits For Me. I've heard to expect to look at least 5 months pregnant after giving birth (or more if you have swelling!) so I'm bringing stretchy clothes that also work for nursing. It was tricky for me to find cute nursing clothes, but I love this red dress, this striped dress, and this tank by Ripe maternity.
Going Home Outfit for Baby. We're bringing a couple newborn sized outfits and 0-3 months depending on how big this baby is. My husband was a 10 lb baby so I have high hopes but low expectations for a petite babe.
Our hospital provides most things for diapering and baby health needs, but I'm bringing along a few things that I'm picky about, like socks and hats, my softest swaddles (Little Unicorn, Numpfer, and Max and Moose), and a travel size bottle of a natural baby wash (especially since Johnson and Johnson has gotten so much bad press recently for knowingly using cancer causing chemicals). I've heard some hospitals don't clip newborn nails and an Instagram commenter mentioned she wished she had these, so I threw this baby nail trimmer in my bag.
I feel like guys in general need less "stuff" than women and babies, so anything Daniel remembers to bring beyond an extra shirt and toothbrush will be a bonus. His plan is to have headphones, snacks, laptop, phone, chargers and swimsuit. We were thinking of bringing an extra duffel bag to bring all the postpartum recovery and baby items they send you home with, until I heard from a commenter that our hospital provides big bags to take things home in, so we can skip it.
Anything we're missing? If you've delivered before, what did you bring and loved having?
Shared in partnership with some companies listed, and although some links are affiliate, I did not receive paid compensation for this post. Product choices and opinions are my own.