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Packing your Hospital Bag… from a second time mom to first-time moms. I highly recommend that you go on a hospital tour for your own delivery room and contact other moms who have been through their systems. I am sure that there is plenty of overlap, however, I know that different hospitals have different standards for what they provide you as well as your insurance, yaddah, yaddah.
This post is directed more toward moms who are delivering at RiverBend Hospital in Eugene, Oregon. That is where I had my first son and where I will deliver my second, so my experience is limited to this facility and what they provide when I reference what to bring.
How to pack your Hospital Bag
The Main Organizing Roster:
So I am a second-time mom, taking my second trip to the hospital in January, not July as I did my first birth, so there are a few inherent adjustments for weather accommodations. I took a lot of unnecessary stuff with me (us) the first time and I will reference those items here too. Some I didn’t need at all because the hospital already gave them to us or I just didn’t even need it/didn’t think to use it because we were so distracted.
I like to think that I had a fairly “average” experience so this post should accommodate a lot of soon to be moms. I began counting contractions with my stopwatch at 2:00am and our son was born at 11:17pm for a total of 21 hours and 17 minutes in “labor”, which us second-time moms all know is really broken down into stages for what LABOR actually is. So not bad! I had an exemplary experience with my nursing staff and doctors at RiverBend. It was an amazing 21 hours to experience and I often look back on it as if it were my Championship day, just the absolute BEST experience of my life. I have been told that I should write a blog post about those 21 hours, but honestly probably never will because they are intimate, special and incredibly private between my husband and I. Our relationship forever changed on our son’s birthday and those details are just for us know and cherish. If you think you love your husband a lot going into that room… I hope you share the bonding that we now have when we left it. He is my ultimate teammate and I have never looked at him the same way since.
There were a lot of unknowns going into your first delivery… will everything work out right, will the labor be fast or short, how long will it take you before needing to push, will I need any help medically to induce or exactly WHAT IN THE HECK IS GOING ON DOWN THERE! So for the first baby, we prepared for everything… I will start explaining my bag in order as I packed it from 2:00am needs on, until we left RiverBend 3 days later (check your insurance for how many days you’re allowed to stay in the hospital, or what is required, it will change the way you pack!)
A big unknown is obviously when your contractions will begin, and where you will be. Your water could break in the middle of a restaurant, you just don’t know… When you get to be 36 weeks (or sooner) I started carrying my bag with me everywhere I went, like a mom diaper bag. I had it in my car so that no matter where I was, I had it on me for an unpredicted trip to the hospital.
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Right on top of my bag, I put a change of clothes that I wanted to wear to the hospital. If my water broke I would need them anyway or if we were sleeping at home, I knew what to throw on. I also highly recommend jumping in the shower if you can when your contractions aren’t too close together yet. It was very nice to be clean all day before delivery, so just a tip there! You’ll see later in my Essentials bag that I packed shower items for at the hospital too….
If there was an item NOT in the bag because it either wouldn’t fit or I was going to be wearing it every day up until the hospital I put a post-it note in the bag that said what it was so if I needed to yell “get my bag” to someone they would look in and see they needed to grab some other things. This time around it is my maternity coat (January due date) and my gray Ugg Boots so I am warm heading to the hospital.
If you’re out and about you’ll have it on you anyway, but if you’re leaving from home, and in a hurry, DON’T FORGET YOUR PURSE! That will have your ID, Insurance cards, and money!
Records & Birth Plan
Right on top of my bag when you open it you’ll see an envelope that has my OB Records in it. This has all of your prenatal history and OB’s notes about your pregnancy in it. PRE-REGISTER AT THE HOSPITAL! Call this number for RiverBend: 541-686-7166 and pre-register now if you have not yet! This is where you give them all of your insurance information weeks ahead of time so you aren’t held up in the hospital. They can even give you an estimated cost of your stay and how much your insurance is covering. When you are admitted into the tiny little “admissions” room where they determine if you are staying or going back home, you will hand (try not to throw) this envelope to them. They put it in your file for the remainder of your stay so that whoever is caring for you over the next few days has all the details in hard copy format.
I also add in a copy of our Family Birth Plan. If you have not yet written your birth plan, or do not know what it is, RiverBend offers some great advice for their patients including downloadable worksheets! I used their format, along with some other blog resources to write mine. You can see that my format is a bit different. Also, because I’m hyper-sensitive about making sure my birth plan is followed; I laminated a neon paper colored copy and prop it up in the delivery room for all nurses to see right by my head. This way when they come to introduce themselves to my face before diving under my gown I know they have to see it.
If you do this make sure that you sprinkle it with all positive language and encouragement, as well as messages of trust so that they don’t feel bombarded. After all, they are actually the experts on your birth, not you, and they really, truly DO want your requests met so you have a pleasant experience! They are used to seeing birth plans and try to accommodate anyway so no need to write it in a threatening or demanding tone. That just sets everyone in a bad mood. I put random jokes throughout mine so I knew they were reading word for word when I heard them chuckle.
Now for the goods…. Packing the bag:
I sorted everything into zipper bags (love these and use them for our diaper bag too) accordingly to the “STAGES” we expect to go through. These are reused zipper pouches that come with curtains or sheets when you buy them. I always hang on to them and even ask my family to keep theirs for me. They work great in the diaper bag or when I organize my wedding planning! I put the first stage in the middle and stacked/packed the bags backward in order of occurrence so that anyone could navigate the next need (husband!) The first bags needed being most obvious and right in the middle visually.Here is a comparable set of bags. You can use the big ones for your hospital bags and the smaller ones for your diaper bag!
My first bag is for LABOR
Here I included these things:
As soon as you get admitted into the room where you will deliver you’ll want to change out of your own clothes (especially if you’re bundled up for weather) and get more comfortable. You probably noticed a lot of leopard print, which is sort of my thing I guess, so I wanted to feel as personal as possible and surrounded by my comforts in this stage of my life, not only my stages of labor. So yes, make it all about you on today! The next few weeks, month, years will be about the baby… You may even start to wonder if people still know YOUR name 😉 Our son’s nursery theme and EVERYTHING was about giraffes, though, so I did put on some of those fingernail sticker polish in giraffe print (not leopard as I usually would) for my “Rally Nails” the nurses called them! It was a fun little twist in the delivery room.
EARLY LABOR: There is potentially a LONG time where you are still going to be in Early Labor (6-12 hours sometimes) where you might need to do things to promote progress downstairs. I preferred to walk around, which I did not want to do in a hospital gown since theirs have the boobs cut out for breastfeeding. I put on my tank top and robe, nothing else since they are constantly checking your progress below… and my slippers. I also bring my Nike flip flops because they are so thick and padded for your aching feet on the floor if you’re going to leave your room. It is actually quite funny to leave your room in the Labor & Delivery wing because you’re just pacing around the hallway (in agony) passing other moms in labor doing the exact same thing, so no waving or smiling at each other required… pure empathy! During the hours of Early Labor, your nurses will continue to check in on you and ask what they can do to help or if you want to do anything differently to obtain that next centimeter.
I highly, HIGHLY recommend getting in the hot bath tub which gains major progress and is pretty relaxing all things considered. My first trip to the hospital I brought a bathing suit for this… HA! HA! You might as well leave your modesty down at the registration desk by the parking lot! You’re so willing to do the next thing for that centimeter and as fast as you can that you won’t bother to put on a suit! Plus, all those nurses are seeing it and touching it ALL DAY there is really no point in setting up road blocks for them, same goes for pants. This was one main reason I did not allow visitors into my Labor Room! Nobody needed to see me like that but the professionals and my husband…
I also brought a bunch of sweet smelling room sprays that they said would relax me on the internet like eucalyptus and rose water… again never had the opportunity to use them and there was really no point in breaking out the spa treatments. You can’t put any essential oil in the bath water for sanitation reasons if your water has broken and you certainly can’t light any candles! (I never brought in candles) but what I did bring in was a nice lotion that was a scent that does calm me down. I could really only put it on my own arms but your husband can use it for a foot rub!
ACTIVE LABOR: Little things really annoy me when I’m under duress. My hair drives me crazy if I’m already irritated, so I brought headbands for Active Labor as well as a surplus of hair elastics, clips and bobby pins. DO NOT get a haircut with bangs right before your due date. They will be in your way and look messy in all your pictures unless you contain them. My hair looked bad enough! Chapped lips need obviously attention so you don’t claw at them all day if you’re a picker when you’re irritated. And BREATH MINTS are an absolute MUST! I pulled these babies out and put them right next to my bed so that if a doctor came in with coffee breath I just handed him the can with a smile when he asked, “How are you doing?” Also, they are for your husband and anyone else who will be in your face all night. Breath mints are more advisable than gum because people chew gum loudly and that drives me crazy too!
Next bag is for BABY
After all of your hard laboring, you have this amazing, naked, little bundle placed on your chest! The best trophy you’ll ever receive after winning your championship battle! But, he is naked 😉 The nurses will take him after awhile, clean him up and then you’ll get him back to carry him with you over to the Mom & Baby wing of RiverBend. They will put a diaper on him and do their incredible, ninja quick swaddle on him, which we still haven’t mastered, and he’ll be asleep (hopefully) while you’re wheeled into your next room to start your stay. Check your insurance for how many days you’re in the hospital! Before visitors come in and want to see him you’ll dress him in something adorable.
I am packing for this baby in January:
- 4 Short sleeved onesies (hopefully less than one per day)
- 2 long sleeved onesies
- 2 pairs of socks
- 1 fleece sleeper for coming home
You’ll be in the hospital a few days and I have seen many blog posts about what to bring for your baby that say, “A receiving outfit and a going home outfit.” There is no way your kiddo is only going to wear two things in 3 days! Between poop and spit up alone you might need to bring more! The rooms are obviously temperature controlled so he shouldn’t get cold, but still, bring enough, at least one per day for him to live in. Riverbend provides ample blankets for swaddling and they are even heated! Two pairs of socks are plenty, those don’t turn over as high as the onesies. I am also bringing his diaper bag to the hospital for traveling home, which has more outfits in it if necessary and our more special receiving blankets from family and friends.
The fleece full sleeper is for going home in January. He’ll be put into the car seat so I can’t swaddle or bundle him, which means the warmest option is the sleeper. **Wipes: Riverbend doesn’t do wipes, they have these little gauze squares that you have to wet in the bathroom, not efficient, so I bring my own.
Next bag is Mom EXTRAS
So while you’re passing around your well dressed newborn to visitors for the next two days, don’t forget about yourself! You probably don’t want to be wearing that hospital gown with the boob holes cut out when your father-in-law comes to visit. Wear those nursing tanks! In this bag, which I called Extras, in case of a c-section (which lands you in the hospital another day or even two) are clothes for mom to wear in the Mom & Baby side of the hospital.
- 1 Nursing Tank
- A pair fluffy socks
- A pair short socks
- 4 reusable nursing pads
- 1 box of candy 😉
With the Nursing Tank I’m already wearing the one I wore into the Hospital from my travel outfit, and then I have the one from the delivery room. So yes, there is only one in this bag which actually makes THREE in the room to change around. I bring a pair of fluffy socks to wear around the room when visitors are here and I’m getting up. Then I bring a short, more thin pair to sleep in. Your feet may have different needs than mine, pack accordingly! 😉 Your job as “Mom” in this Mom & Baby room for the next few days is basically to stop bleeding and be a food source. You will get nifty, little mesh undergarments and the, most gigantic feminine products you have ever seen to help with this part, so again, you’ll see that I have brought NO pants… you won’t wear them!
The room is temperature control AND the amazing nurses bring you heated blankets! I swear every time you see a nurse it’s like they’re a Christmas Elf! You’ll be starting to breastfeed and learning the hang of if, which can be messy at first. I prefer the reusable nursing pads (bought on Etsy or Amazon) to wear between feedings instead of the gauze pads they give you or the disposable ones. They provide you with nipple cream, Lansinoh brand, but if you want something else you can bring that for yourself. And then, not to say that the naked little trophy you get after labor isn’t enough at all, but if you’re like me you have been avoiding all things “bad for you” during pregnancy… This little token of gratitude to yourself can be a lot of different things! Check for moderations though if you are breastfeeding! I’ve seen star bucks mocha shots and sodas brought in too for this little mom reward! Bottlecaps are my favorite.
It is a good idea, and even obvious to pack a small bag of essentials for your overnight stays in the hospital, no matter how many days. Or, as I suggested before if you’re not home when you leave, it might be great to take a shower while you’re waiting in Early Labor. I prepared my essentials kit for both: in case I need to shower at the hospital and for staying because you definitely WILL be showering at the hospital when you get into the Mom & Baby wing!
Phase One: Showering- I spoil myself a little bit here too (also because I don’t want to deprive myself of some things the weeks leading up to labor) and buy myself new stuff, or splurge stuff since hey, I’m having a BABY, after all, I deserve it!
For Showering at the RiverBend Hospital I packed:
In another auxiliary bag (keep reading) I also bring a towel. There are obviously other toiletries included too for post shower and stay including toothbrush & toothpaste, deodorant, chap stick. Your first shower option, being when you arrive at the hospital might be a great time to spruce up for the doctors before labor begins if you haven’t showered in a few days (which happens when you’re 40 weeks, it’s just so much work!) The Intuition razor, if you haven’t ever used it is great for this! It eliminates a whole step for bending over since you really can’t see anything southern anyway! This razor is much more efficient to use as you blindly attempt to reach your legs. Plus, people are going to be close to you, you’re going to be sweaty in active labor, so you may as well give yourself a clean fresh start to relax your nerves and feel comfortable in your own skin.
The showers at RiverBend are really the whole bathroom with a curtain, to keep water off the toilet… so if your contractions are close, you may have your husband stand in there with you to catch you or hold you up during contractions! Post delivery, as a new mom, your first shower experience will be humiliating… You can’t feel your legs to stand up, the nurse basically does everything while your husband holds you up, then he carries you back to bed because you can’t really move your legs, much less hold yourself up… or speak a clear sentence. This is why you bring along your Nurse Gifts (see later Post!)
A few other random essentials that I bring along:
I wear Contac lenses which they sometimes say you have to take out if they are the hard kind, but I requested that mine stayed in, since I don’t own eyeglasses. I then brought along solution for if/when they get dry during labor or in the middle of the night. If you have any corrective alterations be sure to pack what you need for those! (inhalers, night guards, etc that you function with daily) The Ponds makeup remover wipes are for quickly washing my face in case I am out and about on a random day, fully made up and don’t want streaky, sweaty foundation all over the place. People will be touching your face during labor to encourage, check you for fever, etc so a clean slate is awesome! Q-tips make the list because the hospital doesn’t have them and you may get something in your eye, etc.
I bring a very basic makeup kit to prepare for visitors and pictures. After going through labor you’ll want to feel as much like a human (I mean woman) as possible. You won’t be the “self” you were before, so whatever you need to connect back to reality is appropriate, no matter how many people may judge you for wearing makeup in the hospital. Screw them. There is nothing I hate more than a bad picture of me, which they ALL will be! I have a strict, STRICT rule about no social media posts from the hospital! Visitors may not have their phones out when they come in at all! Not even of the baby. He will be mine to share first if I choose to at all! Make that clear to grandparents before the big day though so you’re not barking orders or policing them in the hospital. Everyone should be happy but informed!
On your final day in the hospital they will have you sign out on a clipboard and simply say to you, “Don’t Shake Your Baby” before you walk out of the room. My husband gave high fives to the nurses, but that was pretty much it for parenting guidance…. You’ll finally have to (I mean, get to) wear pants!
In this going home bag I packed:
I will also wear again much of what I wore to the hospital 3 days ago: gray boots, maternity coat, etc since it is going to be January. My first baby was flip flops for July and a dress! When you leave you’ll still look about 6 months pregnant since your body doesn’t magically release all of that fun extra poundage you put on to support Junior. So bring some maternity pants. Also, bring big ones to accommodate that super flattering mesh undergarment and gigantic maxi you’ll be sporting for the next 3-6 weeks! Thankfully I’ll be wearing that long maternity coat all through the public areas! I’ll also wear the maternity sweatshirt I wore into the hospital over my nursing tank, but baby will need to eat again as soon as you get home so don’t bundle up your girls too much. Going outside in January I’m going to want long socks under my boots. Plus I may break these out during labor if I get too cold!
No matter when you do get to the hospital, morning or evening, you’ll have to go through that Early Labor stage where you’re just counting up the centimeters… you and your husband are going to get hungry. You can’t actually eat anything after you have an epidural, so fill up before Active Labor! I pack a bag of snacks that both my husband and I like, and enough of them to last us three days, of “snacking” not eating. You’ll get meals brought to you in the Mom & Baby wing, but not the Labor & Delivery wing. RiverBend actually has an AWESOME food court on the 2nd floor, and family can bring things into the Delivery room for your husband if needed, but when we arrived the first time it was 3:00am and the food court doesn’t open until 6:30am. Then it closes at 7:15pm. They do have 24-hour vending machines, though. Some blog posts suggest bringing change for the vending machines, but I think the snack are more affordable to bring yourself. Or perhaps you don’t need any snacks based on the time frame you’re in there, but I like to prepare for everything.
A few notes about what I packed:
You’ll notice that these are not the healthiest choices… again, spoiling myself, these are not meant to really sustain nutrients or hunger (you’ll get an IV for that, maybe) more so to keep you happy, blood sugar up and in a good mood… so I packed splurge food that makes me feel like I’m on vacation! I packed the juice that I drink whenever I’m on an airplane going on vacation, so that puts me at ease. The gum is for me if I get sick of chewing ice cubes since you don’t ingest it. It Is not recommended to chew gum during Active labor though…you’re not exactly in a great position for the Heimlich!
Pineapple juice actually serves a great purpose in that it is a natural anti-inflammatory. I pack this to take over with us to the Mom & Baby wing once I start breastfeeding and to help with recovery of all thing torn and swollen. It tastes much better when ice cold so I just had them pour it into my water cup about twice a day. Be sure to get the “Not from Concentrate” kind, though! (FYI: there are many thoughts in regard to the effects of pineapple juice on breast milk production. Please do your own research before drinking a lot of it! It doesn’t affect me in any negative ways at all!)
I also pack a completely separate, nonessential travel bag. This is my auxiliary bag that can either come with me to the hospital if we’re leaving from home or I can have a family member drop off later. I don’t actually need any of it in the Labor & Delivery wing…. These items are also sort of superfluous so you can omit this bag altogether if you’d like!
In this bag I pack:
The towels provided at RiverBend are smaller than hotel towels and if you’re showering before delivery, you’re obviously a little on the huge side still, so a bigger towel is a definite! After delivery use THEIR towels! They will come and change them out for you and give you clean ones every few hours if needed. You can imagine what those towels might look like after your post-delivery shower and what they might be covered in… you don’t want that to be your own towel. They won’t wash that for you…. I also mention in my Baby Registry Post why you might want some special MOM ONLY super soft toilet paper at home. I also throw a roll in this bag to have post delivery since the hospital toilet paper is single-ply!
Some of my absolute favorite pictures of Baby #1 are ones that I caught from my hospital bed while he was sleeping in the bassinet next to me. You might want a higher quality camera for these than your cell phone. Your phone charger: Put this on a Post-it Note and throw the note in the bag…. You can’t pack it weeks before due date because you’re using it….I have one in my car at all times so one is coming no matter what. Plus that is an easy thing to have a family member bring, and I’m certainly not going to be on my phone for the next 24 hours since I brought the real camera….
I am also a bit neurotic about Thank You cards, so I pack some and write cards to each of my nurses from both wings of the hospital. I also hope that you receive the same outpourings of random kindness from your “not so close” friends and family who spoil you unexpectedly in the hospital. We had many people send us cards and balloons that we did not expect at all! You will want to write those thank you notes right away when you’re feeling the emotions of gratitude and before you forget where everything came from!
Here is one idea for what to do with all those baby cards too…. Not only do your friends and family shower you with love and care these few days, but the nurses who ACTUALLY shower you deserve a little more recognition, I think. Their humility and graceful discretion is truly a marvel and makes you feel like you can maintain some dignity in the most uncomfortable situation of your life.
They are sincere, loving and completely understanding of your insecurities which makes me feel so grateful. If you are delivering at RiverBend I would be happy to share the names of my favorite nurses with you so you can try to request them!! Beautiful people!
For my first baby, I assembled a gift basket of small things like hand sanitizers from Bath & Body Works and Blue Chocolate Cigars which I gave to the Labor and Delivery Nurses. For the Mom & Baby wing nurses, I gave them each flower bulbs with notes that said “Thank you for helping to give him a great START” I’m not sure what I will do this year, but I’ll let you know when I think of it!
That is basically everything I will bring with me. There are a few things that I will not be bringing in for this trip though and here is why:
I did not bring the Boppy Pillow or any other pillows for my first delivery. We went on a hospital tour and all of the pillows at RiverBend are practically brand new. Plus, you can request that they bring you a different one… I had plenty to use for nursing and we even ended up putting some just on the floor out of the way. My husband then used them at night to sleep. You have SO MUCH crap to bring in and then take home afterward that your car doesn’t need to be full of pillows. I bought Cash a baby book (first baby) and it is still sitting there empty 18 months later because I have done everything digitally through Shutterfly. Yes, there are pages from the baby book that I replicated.
As far as the baby footprints, they don’t actually do those IN the book, on the page, in case they screw them up or blur them. They do them (and the hands) on a separate piece of paper which you add in later (or scan in) Cash had to have his prints redone twice and they sent us home with the carbon press for his hands since he didn’t cooperate in the hospital. Most baby books have pages that can come out if you want them for the hospital DO IT, but just take out the single pages and put them in a safe bend protecting envelope so you don’t have to haul around the whole book! I am also a much bigger fan of shadow boxes to hang around the house instead of a book…. just my personal preference…. See how I made Cash’s shadow boxes and used them to decorate for his First Birthday Party…
Sticking headphones in my ears for an iPod was the farthest thing from what I wanted to do and then having to constantly pull them out to talk to people…. My husband used his cell phone Pandora to play in the delivery room for everyone to enjoy and just like he and I have a special song, Cash has one too now that was randomly playing as he came into the world! We’re actually using that song and passing it down to our next son in a special way that we haven’t even revealed to the family yet! Shhh….
I read a lot of blog posts that suggested bringing in DVDs to watch during your Mom & Baby stay…. I even checked and SOME rooms of RiverBend had DVD players, but not all… Ours did but seriously, we didn’t turn on the TV… we were staring at our baby and entertaining visitors. My poor husband was awarded the remote control to watch ANY sports he wanted while he sat there feeling worthless until the next exciting poop! There really isn’t much else he can do other than hold and change the baby in the first few days.
** There are many things that should be packed into a DAD BAG too! Don’t forget about dad! My husband is a terrible reference for this though because he can literally sleep anywhere… the guy camps in the tailgate of his truck, no canopy, in the snow… he’s ridiculous. So as for what he packs to the hospital, it isn’t going to help anyone who is “normal” in their needs. When I ask him if he’s “packed for the hospital” he just tells me he’ll be more comfortable than me and I shouldn’t worry about him… He did bring a bag to the hospital for our first son, but I truly have no idea what was in it! It was small…
So there you have it! I am all packed and ready to go for baby number 2! When the contractions come I’ll either have my one tropical bag in my car with me, or we’ll toss all the bags in the car as we leave. Place all your TO GO bags in an easy to locate area of the house in case you’re sending your family members to grab them and bring them to the hospital. I prepare “Labor Portfolios” for all family members so that they know what the Hospital Week will look like. Post for those HERE. We will also host a “Sip & See” party where we open our doors to see the newborn once we get settled at home. This will help keep your visitor stays at the hospital shorter if your family knows they will get to see the baby for longer on a special day J Let them come to the hospital, of course! Those are special moments you cannot get back, but if you are tired or nursing they will be happier to leave knowing that they’ll get to see him again soon.
***As always, please refer to my About Me post for my disclaimer about all of my blog postings. Remember that I am never attempting to portray myself as an expert, these are just my humble opinions on life. I am not at all an authority on hospital bag packing, but merely like to share another way to do it. There are many ways to do many things. I am thankful to the amazing blog moms who carried me through the first pregnancy with their blogs and advice and this is my small attempt to pay it forward to the next mom! Thank you for reading!
Bonus! Home Food Prep
Read my Follow up Post and Wyatt’s Birth Story
…more great reads from Kandice…
**This post contains affiliate links and link to my other blog posts as well as other internet reference sites. My statements are not approved or endorsed by the FDA and I am not a doctor. You may take my thoughts and opinions for your own interpretation. 🙂
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