During my last pregnancy, we were so unprepared in this department. I had kind of started putting a bag together, but there were maybe only diapers and baby clothes in it. When the time came for labor, I progressed pretty quickly. When we realized that we needed to leave to the birth center, my husband was the one who had to scramble around, getting everything together while I gave him instructions on what to bring in between contractions that were maybe 2-3 minutes apart. We hadn't even installed the car seat, so Ryan just threw it in the car to install after the baby was born. Yes, it was hectic. On top of that, there was an insane rainstorm going on the entire time I was in labor. Read all about Gwen's birth here!
We've learned our lesson the hard way, so I'm determined to be prepared this time! I thought I'd share the things I've put into my bag for this time around-.
For your baby:
1. A swaddle blanket
2. Pajamas- I only packed one set of clothes because I'm certain that we'll be doing a lot of skin-to-skin snuggling while at the birth center. This is just an outfit to drive home in. I packed something that could be unbuttoned in the middle to make room for the umbilical cord clamp if need be.
3. Pacifier- Not really sure if we'll use this so soon after he's born, but it may be useful, so I'd rather have it than not. Gwen never took a pacifier! So we'll see how this little guy reacts to one. I realize that most hospitals have pacifiers for newborns, but if you're birthing in a birth center, you should probably bring your own.
4. Cute outfit for newborn photos- this one is definitely not essential! But usually, women will spend at least one night in the hospital and have time to do a "fresh 48" photo session with their photographer. So if that's your plan, don't forget the cutesy garb. Upon further thought, I'm not sure that we'll do too many photos at the birth center, but I'm packing this just in case I feel like a rockstar after birth.
5. & 6. Wipes and diapers. Hospitals and birth centers should have plenty of these, so I wouldn't be worried about packing too many/too few.
1. Comfy undies and a nursing bra- You'll definitely be given a couple of pairs of mesh, disposable underpants at your hospital/birth center, but if you think you'll need some extra coverage, a pair of old undies may come in handy. If you're going the breastfeeding route, a nursing bra is obvious. I've packed my trusty, soft, "old faithful" bra that I used 80% of the time when Gwen and I were in the thick of our breastfeeding relationship. If you're a first time mom and don't already have a trusty nursing bra, don't worry about it yet, and just pack a cheap one from Walmart of Target for now. Just make sure to get one that's supportive! Because if you're anything like me, your ladies are gonna feel like melons after your milk comes in.
2. & 3. A comfy outfit to go home in- I packed a long, flowy t-shirt and Lula Roe leggings (they so sooooofffftttttt). I know that I'm gonna look about 5-6 months pregnant after giving birth so clothes that fit and aren't maternity will boost my confidence a bit.
4. A robe!- I'm excited about this one because I didn't have a robe last time and I really could've used one. I gave birth au naturel and stayed that way for the majority of our stay at the birth center. At the end of the day Ryan was like, "Uh... are you going to put some clothes on, yet?" Hahaha.
5. Slippers- Will I actually use these? I don't know. I'm not really a slippers person unless the floor is freezing, which doesn't happen too often in Arizona. I'm bringing 'em just in case!
(I realized I spelled toiletries wrong in my photo above! I'm annoyed by it, but I'm more lazy than annoyed, so it shall remain unfixed...)
1. Nursing pads and Lanolin- Pamper your breasts! Stick those cotton pads in your supportive bra and slather your areolas in lanolin! Your breasts are in for a rude awakening.
2. Essential oils- These may be used more so during labor. I've packed lavender to relax, peppermint to wake up, and Breathe to just remember and breath! All are doTerra brand.
3. & 4. Travel sized toiletries- I went ahead and just bought mini sizes to make my life a little easier. Soap, lotion, deodorant, toothbrush, tooth paste, shampoo, and conditioner.
5. Makeup remover wipes- Because who knows if I'll have leftover makeup on my face from the day before? It certainly happened last time.
6. Hair styling tools- Another thing that's not absolutely necessary, but would be nice to have if you're planning that "fresh 48" photo session.
7. Under eye patches for bags/dark circles- Another thing that would be nice for taking photos because you won't know what time your labor will start and end (first time moms may be in labor for 12-24+ hours), so you may look exhausted afterward.
8. Small bag of makeup- Let's not go crazy.
9. Razors- This is last on the list because I doubt that I'll use it, but thought it still might be nice to have "just in case I feel like a rockstar" after birth and my legs might look noticeably hairy. I don't doubt this will happen because shaving your legs while 8-9 months pregnant is no easy feat. Plus, it'll be winter, so that'll give me less reason to shave ;)
10. I forgot to include this in the photo above! But hair ties! Bring 'em. Especially if you've got lots of long hair. If your hair is too short to put in a ponytail or braid, a headband would be a nice alternative to keep that bothersome hair out of the way.
Pack some food! Especially if you're going to a birth center and there's no cafeteria. I've packed a couple of protein bars and a huge bottle of water. I'll probably get a drink with electrolytes to pack as well because it's important to stay hydrated and fed while laboring. If you've been instructed to not eat in the hospital, just sneak some food. Seriously. Well, unless you're a high risk patient! But otherwise, I just think it's mean to keep a pregnant woman from eating, especially when she needs it most. There's my two cents.
And of course, bring your camera! Document this awesome occasion in which you've powered through! Even if it's just the camera on your phone, have someone take a photo of you with your new baby. Don't worry that you still look swollen or your hair is a mess. You'll be glad to have those photos.
It's important for your birthing partner to pack a bag as well! Make sure they pack these things:
-phone and charger
-snacks for themselves
-bathing suit (if you're planning to have a water birth)
-a change of clothes
What have you packed in your hospital bag to make your labor and after birth experience a little easier?
All photos taken by Photography Hill.