As the end of your pregnancy and the birth of your baby nears, it’s time to make the final preparations. By now, you’ve probably finished (or are close to finishing) the hard part of prepping – e.g., assembling nursery furniture, stocking the nursery, and switching to a baby-safe laundry detergent.
Next step is to pack your hospital bag so everything is ready to go when you need to depart your home for delivery. This is one of the most important to-do items on your third trimester to-do list. Keep it ready to go – either by the door or already in the back of the car – that way you’re ready to go whenever your baby is.
Keep it basic, as you don’t want your belongings crowding up a small hospital room, and focus on the essentials. If you have extra stuff you want to bring, consider storing it in a separate bag so it can stay in the car until you need it.
When to Pack your Hospital Bag
- High risk or twins – 35 weeks
- Everyone else – 37-38 weeks
- No later than 38 weeks just in case!
Take your hospital bag to your last few check ups just in case; you never know when your doctor might send you to the hospital or keep you after and appointment.
How Long to Pack For
Keep in mind the anticipated length of hospital stay when packing your bag:
- Vaginal delivery – 1-2 days worth
- C-section – 3-4 days
Essential for Mom
- Important documentation: photo ID, insurance information, birth plan, etc.
- Toiletries and personal items: eyeglasses/contacts, hair ties, travel size products, medications, etc.
- Cell phone and charger with long cord (for those far-away plugs!)
- Pregnancy clothes: maternity bra, nursing pads, nursing gown
- Regular clothes: comfy pants and shirts, nonskid socks, a warm sweater in case you get cold, and a going home outfit
- Ruinable cotton underwear (that’s still comfy)
- Nipple cream
- Snacks: non-perishable healthy snacks, cash for vending machines
Optional for Mom
- Entertainment: light reading, ear buds, tablet
- Soft bath towel so you don’t have to use those rough hospital ones
- Cheap flip flops for the shower
- Hair dryer
- Relaxation tools such as lotions for massages, heat packs for sore muscles, etc
- Your own heavy duty pads (if you don’t want to use the hospital’s
- Comfy pillow for sleeping
- Approved and already installed infant car seat or travel system.
- Going home outfit, including seasonal dress such as jackets and gloves for colder weather
- Nursing pillow
- Diapers and wipes
- Receiving blanket and swaddle blankets
For Significant Other
- Cell phone and charger
- Change of clothes and comfortable shoes
- Toiletries (can share shampoo/conditioner/body wash with mom
- Entertainment: laptop, books, etc
- Comfy pillow and blanket for sleeping
For Siblings & Pets
Make sure you have arrangements that can be flexible and available at the last minute such as family members and close friends for kids and pet or boarding facilities for pets.
All Things Considered
If you are going to the hospital for your baby’s birth, know that all the necessities can be provided by the hospital. Because of that, there’s no reason to stress out about your bag – it’s not a requirement, but it can provide some much needed comfort if the right items are packed. Think of things that make you comfortable at home, such as comfy clothes, warm blankets, and your own toiletries, and bring those along for the ride.
P.S. – also consider keeping a trash bag and old towel in your car. If your water breaks, you can protect your car’s seat by first placing the trash bag for liquid protection, then the towel for absorption.