What To Pack When It's Go Time

Congratulations you! You’re almost to the finish line and ready to meet your wee bambino. We know these last few weeks can seem interminable, but we promise that the day will come, so it’s time to get ready.

Both of my pregnancies were planned C-Sections that happened right on schedule (don’t hate me - I don’t know what labor feels like), but I packed my bag a few weeks ahead of time just in case the boys wanted to make an early appearance. Wishful thinking on my part, I suppose. At any rate, I suggest starting to gather the things you’ll most want when you enter your final month of pregnancy. I also suggest making a checklist of what you want so that in the event you go before you had a chance to pack everything, you can hand the list over to your partner, mom or bestie and they can do it for you.

Everyone has their thoughts on what you’ll want at the hospital. I’m going to boil it down to the essentials for a quick overnighter, along with what you’ll want if you’re staying a bit longer. Something you should know: I’m a light packer. Even for a 4 month trip through Asia, I only had a carry-on bag and a small backpack. I apply the same philosophy for packing for the hospital, so you won’t find a lot of outfit changes or extra “just in case” items here. If you really need it, send your partner out to get it for you.

Essentials for a One Night Stay

  1. Phone/Camera (and Chargers too!) - you will want to capture the moment, obviously. You can also play your favorite music and amuse yourself with your go-to apps. You’ll also want to email everyone you have ever met and tell them about your new arrival. Don’t be shy in sharing - people LOVE baby news. New life gives us all hope and joy.
  2. Toiletries - most hospitals provide soap, but little else. Do yourself a favor and pack your essentials. This is what’s in my toiletry bag: toothbrush, floss and paste; facial cleanser, eye cream, moisturizer; a good hair brush and a hair band; deodorant; body lotion; lip balm; hand cream. You might prefer to bring your own maxi pads too, because the hospitals are pretty gross. Bring the most absorbent ones they make.
  3. Make-up - I was not one of those people who looked oh so cute after giving birth. I looked more like the Wicked Witch of the West. My morale improved immediately once I put on some make-up.
  4. Comfy pajamas and robe. The hospital gown is tolerable for a night, but after that, it’s annoying and demoralizing. Pack in a pair of pajamas or at least a pretty robe that will make you feel human again. Choose a pair that is sleeveless or with short sleeves so that there’s room for the IV, and make sure the fabric is not too precious - you will be leaking fluids from all directions. Also, if you’re having a C section, think about a pair that enables easy access to the incision site, because doctors and nurses always want to look at it.
  5. Granny panties. Stock up on a pack of big undies that will fit the giant maxi pad that you’ll be wearing the next week or so. Don’t get too delicate with them - they will likely get trashed. Making a baby is messy business. The “underwear” the hospital provides is like something out of our nightmares. Some moms actually prefer to wear Depends for the first few days. We won’t tell if you won’t.
  6. A nursing bra. If you plan to nurse, having a soft and comfy nursing bra with easy access can be a life saver. You might also like to bring nipple cream, though the hospital can usually give you a small sample to get you through your stay.
  7. Comfy going home outfit for mama - most of us will still look pregnant after giving birth, so DO NOT bring your pre-pregnancy jeans. Even Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, had a “mummy tummy” for a few days. The key to looking and feeling good when you leave the hospital is to pick your favorite comfy dress or romper from maternity and bring it with you. We recommend something that is not too form fitting (that cute baby bump is not as cute once the baby is born) and that is on the casual side. A great striped maxi or t-shirt dress is perfect. I like a dress or romper vs. pants, because if you end up having a C Section, sometimes pants irritate your incision. If you are nursing, bring a piece that is nursing friendly. Don’t forget the shoes!
  8. Adorable going home outfit for baby. This is a major photo op, so bring your favorite sweet little outfit for baby and snap away!
  9. Car seat. They won’t let you leave the hospital without it, so make sure your partner has it covered. This one really shouldn’t have to be on your list of responsibilities, but you might as well just get used to having EVERYTHING on your list of responsibilities.  

If You’re Going to Be Staying A Bit Longer

There are just a few more things I would add when your stay will be longer. I suggest either (a) packing these just in case; or (b) setting them out together in an obvious place so that your partner can grab them and bring them to you:

  1. Your kindle or iPad. There is some down time at the hospital (though not as much as you might think), so it’s helpful to have a little something to keep you entertained.
  2. Additional toiletries. True story: I don’t wash my hair very often. Since I had a planned C Section, I washed it and blow dried it the night before so that it would last a good 3 days, but by Day 4, I needed to do the whole routine. So, I packed shampoo, conditioner, styling lotion and my hair dryer. I wish they would have a blow dry service at the hospital, but I am lazy that way. A girl can dream!

That’s it! What did we miss? Anything you took that you can’t imagine doing without? Share your wisdom with other mamas in the comments section.