pregnant woman packing her hospital bag

Packing a delivery bag

Your due date gives you a rough idea of when your baby will arrive. However, only about 5% of babies are born on their due dates. Since you don’t know exactly when you’ll go into labor, packing a delivery bag can help you prepare.

Whether you’re planning to give birth at a hospital, birth center, or right at home, gathering the essentials ahead of time is a good idea.

Besides any necessary paperwork, a photo ID, and your insurance card, consider packing the following items. Keep in mind while packing that anything that accompanies you to childbirth has the potential to get stained or messy! Leave behind any treasured or unwashable items.

Comfy clothes: If you’re giving birth at a hospital, they can supply you with a nightgown and a robe, but you might want the option of wearing your own clothes. We recommend packing comfy pajamas or loungewear that button or snap down the front, a robe, and something stretchy to go home in. When you leave, you’ll still have a pregnant-appearing belly, so Maternity clothes are perfect!

Undergarments: Again, hospitals supply maternity underwear. But if you’re giving birth somewhere else or prefer a specific type, we recommend packing a few pairs. If you plan to breastfeed, packing a nursing bra is a must.

Cozy footwear: We recommend having a couple of pairs of cozy socks at the ready and a some comfy slippers. Some people also like to have shower slides if they are sharing a bathroom. As you’re probably well aware, slip-on styles tend to be the most convenient for pregnant and postpartum folks. You may be surprised by the new swelling you see in your feet after giving birth.

Toiletries: Labor can be quick, or it can last several days. Either way, you’ll want to have all your basic toiletries on hand. Anything you’d need for a night away and a luxurious shower should come with you. Don’t forget some lotion, lip balm, a brush or comb, and hair ties! That said if you’ll want any other products, go ahead and pack them. And if you wear glasses or contact lenses, bring those too.

Entertainment: As we mentioned, labor can last for days. You’ll be preoccupied a lot of the time, but you could also have plenty of downtime. Just in case, gather a book, magazines, a tablet, portable games, knitting supplies, or anything that entertains you and your partner.

Snacks: You might want to come prepared with some of your go-to snacks and maybe your favorite water bottle. You may not have access to a fridge, so things like peanut butter crackers, nut mixes and protein bars can all provide much-needed energy. Some people are restricted to clear liquids like juice, broth or Jell-O, especially after a cesarean birth. Bring your favorites, just in case! And if you’re giving birth at a hospital, bring cash for the vending machines.

A pillow and blanket: If you’re particular about your pillow, you can bring one from home. Packing a soft blanket isn’t a bad idea, either.

Electronics: You’ll want to have a charger with a long cord for your cell phone and tablet if you’re bringing one.

Baby items: Hospitals and birthing centers typically provide diapers, wipes, and baby blankets, but it’s okay to bring your own. You’ll definitely need something for your baby to wear on the ride home — as well as an outfit for any cute pictures you have in mind. We also recommend a baby blanket and hat if you live somewhere cold and your due date falls in the winter. You might also want to toss in baby nail clippers or a nail file since newborns often come out of the womb with long, jagged nails. And don’t forget the car seat if it’s not already installed.

Remembering to pack all the right things can seem overwhelming, but if you plan ahead, it might give you some peace of mind heading into labor. You may not end up using all these items, but if you do, you’ll be glad you packed them.

Check out our Hospital Bag Checklist!

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