Hospitals and birthing centers provide most of the essentials you'll need for the birth of your baby. But there are some things they don't provide, and other things you might want to have with you. Here's a comprehensive checklist of things to pack in your overnight bag.
- Car seat for baby
- Two extra pillows--labeled with your name
- Mini cooler for juice, popsicles, cold packs, etc.
- Birthing bag
- Insurance information and any paperwork you will need
- Reading materials
- Copies of your birth plan
- Robe and slippers
- Clothes for delivery, if you don't want to wear the hospital gown
- Several pairs of socks
- Birthing ball (if the hospital doesn't provide them)
- Unscented oil or lotion for massage
- A focal point, good luck charm, or other reassuring item
- Eyeglasses or contacts and supplies
- Lip balm
- Nursing pads
- Hair accessories
- Juice boxes, low-sodium electrolyte drinks
- Camera supplies (don't forget the charger, film and/or extra batteries!)
- Book, magazine, TV listing guide
- Snacks for mom after delivery
- Nonalcoholic celebration beverage and cups
- List of phone numbers, to call and announce the birth
- Cell phone (many hospitals allow usage in restricted areas)
- A calling card and/or coins for the pay phone (if cell phones are prohibited)
- Your baby book, for footprints
- Baby blankets
- A special blanket for the "official" first hospital picture
- Toiletries for mom
- Baby nail clippers or emery board
- Baby wipes
- Soap for baby's first bath (if you prefer to use your own)
- Going home clothes for mom (elastic waist, nursing bra, roomy top)
- Going home clothes for baby
Pack your bag at least three weeks before your estimated delivery date and attach a note with safety pin listing items to be thrown in at the last minute. If your partner plans on staying with you, make sure your partner packs a bag, too.
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Liza received her bachelor's degree in health promotion and education from the University of Cincinnati and is pursuing a master's degree in nurse midwifery. She is the proud mother of one daughter.