pregnancy, preparation for birth, Uncategorized

Packing Your Hospital Birth Bag

One of the questions I am asked most often is, “What should I pack to take to the hospital?”

I have heard many great suggestions from students and clients about the things they’ve found most useful to have in their hospital bags. I have also heard often that many mothers find they’ve “overpacked”, not using half of the things in their bags. In general, my response to the question of what to pack is, “Don’t stress about it. You can always ask the hospital staff for stuff you forget or send someone home to pick things up after baby arrives.”


 (image courtesy franky242)

However, those notorious nesting instincts make many of us feel the urge to have a definitive list to check off in order to feel truly prepared.

clipboardchecklist (image courtesy Stuart Miles)

So, without further ado, here is “The List”. Please feel free to add your own necessities in the comments section!

-Any toiletries you need for your own comfort. (Face cleaner and moisturizer, lotion, shampoo, cosmetics, hairbrush, toothbrush, toothpaste, deoderant)

-Lip balm (this gets its own spot on the list because it can also be used as a labor comfort device!)

-Bed pillows in bright cases which won’t be confused with the white hospital pillows

-Medications and supplements

-Robe, sweater, or sweatshirt

-Slippers/slipper socks/socks

-Pajamas with easy breastfeeding access or other comfortable clothes such as yoga pants and nursing camisoles

-Breastfeeding support pillow (I love the My Brest Friend pillow for nursing support. The Boppy isn’t as sturdy for this use but it does make a great pillow for sitting on to avoid pressure on sore bottoms after birth.)

-Any labor coping tools you plan to use. This could include massage tools, tennis balls, rice sock, yoga ball, massage lotion, affirmation cards, focal point, meditation mandalas, battery-powered “candles”, essential oils and diffusers, music players or speakers, etc.

-Snacks and beverages for labor and postpartum (Your hospital “doesn’t allow” eating and drinking during labor, you say? Check out this article for evidence-based information on making a choice about if this is a beneficial policy for your needs.)

-Camera, plus extra batteries or charger

-Phone and/or laptop chargers

-A couple of changes of clothes for baby (including something special for photos if these will be taken in the hospital)

-An outfit for you to wear home from the hospital (Maternity clothes are still the best option for fit and comfort immediately postpartum.)

-Breast soothers (Soothies or other brand) and nipple ointment (lanolin and coconut oil are both popular choices.)

-A white noise machine or app to drown out some of the constant noise of the hospital.

-An empty duffel bag in which to carry home supplies and gifts you receive while in the hospital.

Hospitals generally provide many of the care items you will need for immediate postpartum comfort including witch hazel pads for soothing hemorrhoids, ice packs, large pads and mesh underpants, stool softener pills, cooling spray for a sore perineum, perineal wash bottles, etc. You can also take many of these things home with you; just ask your nurses what’s available.

Packing for Partners

Partners will want to pack their own bags for comfort during labor and the postpartum stay. This should include many of the same items listed above, with the obvious deletions! A button down shirt that can be worn during skin to skin time with baby is also nice to have in the bag. They may also find it handy to have the handbook from your childbirth education class and/or a copy of The Birth Partner by Penny Simkin.  Or, this great cheat sheet.

I would love to hear from you if there are other “must haves” for the bag. What were the things you were glad to have on hand? Were there items you found just took up space?

doulas, preparation for birth

There IS an “I” in BRAIN

Many childbirth educators, doulas, and healthcare advocates like to use fun and memorable acronyms for reminding clients and students about the process of informed decision making.   Some educators send their students to the BAR to learn about the Benefits, Alternatives, and Risks of different tests and interventions.  Others encourage plenty of BRAN in the diet, adding the N for “Not now/Never”.  But, here at Dandelion Birth Services, where Information and Intuition go hand in hand, I prefer to teach my students and clients how to use their BRAINs!  That means, as a good birthcare consumer, you’ll check in with your self and your care team on the following points before making a choice about a procedure:

B What are the Benefits?

R What are the Risks?

A Are there Alternatives?

I What does my intuition tell me about this?

N Can we wait on this?  Can it happen Not now or Never?

Brain Art

The “I” for Intuition is a very essential part of the process.  We each deserve evidence based answers in order to make healthy choices.  But evidence only takes us so far.  After all…  “I” am not a statistic.  “I” am not a research study.  “I” am not a percentage on a chart.  “I” am the one with the unique perspective of head, heart, and experience inside me.  “I” am the parent of my child.  “I” am the best expert on me.

So, take the time to research your options and understand the science behind them.  But don’t leave out the very important step of listening in to what your inner voice is telling you.  Do you know how your intuition speaks to you?  Is the voice quiet or strong?  What are some ways you’ve found to help you get in touch with your intuition?