Pregnancy & Delivery | Delivery | Take to Hospital
Things to Take to the Hospital
Once you are about a month away from your due date you may want to start thinking about packing your bag for the hospital. Some things I’d recommend taking to the hospital are the following:
Please refer below for the complete list of items I've discovered are good things to possibly take to the hospital. Please refer to the individual sections if you want more detailed descriptions.
Driver's License, Insurance Card, & Hospital Paperwork
Your driver's license, your insurance card, and any other hospital paperwork. You may also need to call your insurance to make sure you are pre-certified. Mine actually required us to re-call either the day we were on our way to the hospital and/or call within 48 hours to confirm we went to the hospital to deliver our baby. Remember you will need your insurance information after the birth as well so you can contact your provider to let them know to add your baby to your policy.
If you have one, then I'd recommend taking it. For my second baby I had a very simple birth plan and my number one item was to deliver a healthy baby. You may also want to note on your plan whether you want your baby to receive the hep B vaccination at birth. Other things to document would be whether you plan to take any pain medication and if so when you want to get it. If you are Rh-negative you'll want to get your baby tested and if needed you'll need to get another RhoGAM shot. If you have gestational diabetes you'll want to make sure both you and your baby's sugar is tested.
Things to Help Relax
You may want to take your own pillow (but make sure it has a different pillow case than a standard hospital one), and something to play music or watch videos. We took a million videos (since I was being induced and we weren't sure how long it was going to take) and even though I had 39 hours and 22 minutes (I wasn't counting though) before my baby was born I wasn't able to focus on anything to watch a video. But maybe for you, watching a video while you're waiting may help.
Clear Liquid Foods
Generally once you are in labor they do not like you to eat or drink anything. You may be allowed to eat some ice chips and that is usually all. For me, since they were inducing me, the day of induction I was only allowed to eat breakfast. Then based on timing since the hospital got busy with "real" deliveries, they did not induce me until 12AM the next day. Since I hadn't eaten much, they did allow me to drink some clear liquids while being in the hospital. So you may want to have some back-ups such as those instant soups where you can simply drink the liquid if they say it is ok.
Nightgown with Buttons in Front
I didn't own a nightgown before I delivered my baby but someone recommended to me to buy one and take it to the hospital. I was glad I did. It was nice to put on my own nightgown and not wear the hospital gown. It really is much easier to wear a nightgown instead of regular pajamas. If you plan to breastfeed or at least want to attempt it, it is easier if you have a nightgown that buttons down in the front. I continued to wear the nightgowns for awhile after delivery of my baby since they were easy to breastfeed him in the middle of the night.
You may also want to bring a robe, slippers (or flip flops, crocks basically your favorite slip on shoes), and socks. I was also advised to take my own towel but the hospital had plenty of towels and I didn't mind using them.
Don't forget to take some of your bras and also some nursing bras if you plan to breastfeed.
I would take old (note the word "old" not your favorite pairs) underwear unless you want to wear the hospital's paper ones. You may want to take enough for several days although your spouse or other family members may be able to go home and pick up more for you later.
Bra Pads & Panty Pads
You may also want to take some bra pads and panty pads(although these were provided at my hospital). You may want to make sure you have a supply of these ready at home.
Going Home Outfit
While in the hospital I stayed in comfortable clothes but I did change into my old maternity pants and a nice maternity top to go home. Generally, it is still most comfortable to put on your maternity clothes to go home. Don't be upset if you aren't immediately fitting into your pre-baby clothes.
We ended up stopping at both my office and Erik's office (to introduce our new member of the family) on our way home so I was glad I had on a nice outfit.
You may want to take some beauty products (makeup, soap, lotion, stretch cream, deodorant, chap stick), hair products (shampoo, conditioner, brush, comb, hair dryer, barrette, headband), and your toothbrush and toothpaste. Don't forget some for your spouse as well. Some of the items may be provided in your hospital room but it is nice to have your own just in case. When I was able to move around I enjoyed freshening up with my own products.
If you wear glasses or contacts make sure you take both. Generally if you have a C-Section you are not allowed to wear contacts so you will want to have your glasses.
It is nice to take some nursing bras. They also sell nursing bra tank tops which I really liked. I didn't think to take these to the hospital so my mom had to run out to Target and find some for me while I was there. It is one less thing to worry about if you already have them bought and packed.
If you plan to breastfeed or at least are considering it, you may want to take some accessories with you to the hospital. You can check with your hospital but generally you can rent a pump machine at the hospital. I did and my insurance covered the cost of it (you may want to check what your insurance covers if you're concerned on cost). That way you don't have to take your own machine. It may be more sanitary to leave your machine at home. You may need to pump to try to help your milk come in or to help if you become engorged while in the hospital. My hospital also provided storage containers to store the milk and they stored it in a special refrigerator.
It is nice to take some breastfeeding accessories such as breast cream (like Lansinoh) and nipple shields. You may even want to take things like a breastfeeding cover. People like to visit the new baby especially grandparents and if you're like you me you may not want to be feeding your new baby in front of family members without a cover. (P.S. Don't be afraid to politely ask people to leave if you would like some privacy. Remember to do what works best for you and your baby.) You may want to take your boppy pillow to help assist with breastfeeding although when sitting in a hospital bed, the boppy pillow doesn't work as well as when you are sitting in a chair.
You will also want to take some breast pads (whether you are or are not breastfeeding) as you may have some initial leakage.
The hospital generally will provide bottles, nipples, and formula if you need it for your baby. I didn't take any of my own stuff the first time. I planned to breastfeed and introduce bottle feeding once I established breastfeeding. The hospital encouraged me to introduce a bottle earlier as at first it didn't seem like my son was getting enough breast milk. He took to the bottle immediately although unfortunately that may have hindered our breastfeeding process. I was able to establish breastfeeding after discovering some tips that worked well for us, and I was able to breasfeed him for six months. With my second baby, I wanted to exclusively breastfeed and I did not use any bottles while in the hospital. (I did take my own bottles and formula just in case though.)
You may want to check with your hospital if it is ok you bring in your own bottles. You will want to make sure they are sterilized prior to bringing them to the hospital and make sure they are stored in a clean location once you are there. Also, make sure you have all of the necessary accessories for the bottles, including nipples. The main problem with bringing your own bottles would be cleaning them after use so I would coordinate with your hospital.
Like bottles, I did not take any of my own formula the first time. To be honest, I had not thought about what type of formula we would feed our baby before his birth. Fortunately, the hospital did provide formula.
If you decide there is a certain formula you want to use for your baby then I'd recommend taking it to the hospital so you don't have to later transition your baby from one formula to another. The transition can be hard on your baby's digestive system if you have to keep transitioning to different formulas.
CAMERA & OTHER ITEMS
Camera or Video Camera
You will want to make sure you have everything you need to capture the special moment such as a camera or video camera. You may not want the video camera during the delivery but shortly afterward it may be nice to capture the very first moments. Our camera is able to take video as well and Erik actually captured our son's first cry. Since I ended up with a C-Section and didn't get to see much at first, it was nice being able to watch the video later.
Don't forget the batteries, charger, and memory card for the camera!
You may want to have some snacks on hand for both you and your spouse for after the delivery. Generally, once you are in labor you are not allowed to eat anything (so make sure your spouse eats somewhere you can't see him.) See the clear liquid food for more information.
You may want to take some fresh fruit, crackers or dried fruit for after the delivery of your baby.
List of Friends to Call/ Email
Don't forget to have the list of friends to call or email after the birth. Everyone is always anxious to hear the wonderful baby news. You may also want to decide ahead of time how you are going to share the news. Many people send a picture of the new family (usually with Mom, Dad, and Baby) out in an email. Make sure you have your cell phone (with charger) and possibly a laptop if you have one. Many hospitals have wireless internet you can use.
We saw a unique way to send the birth announcement by creating a mini video of pictures. Please refer below for our video birth announcements.
Some health insurance carriers require you to call shortly after the delivery to make sure your baby will be included on your health insurance policy. So check with your health insurance policy before the birth to make sure you know who to contact about this.
Notebook or Journal
You may want a journal to write down some of your first thoughts or simply to record your baby's schedule, when she eats, sleeps and goes to the bathroom. The hospital gave us a form to fill out to record those items so they could keep track of how the baby was doing. I continued to document my baby's schedule up until he was over a year.
Please refer to the "Document" article and also please refer to this template to document a schedule for a baby 0-6 months and this template for a baby 6+ months.
- Change of Clothes
- Socks, Underwear
- Wallet with Money
- Bathing Suit
Your spouse may end up spending the night and every night with you. Initially we thought Erik may go home but he ended up staying at the hospital the entire time I was there (6 nights 7 days) since we were there 2 nights before I even delivered by C-Section. It was nice having him there and since I couldn't move around much for the first couple days (since they gave me too strong an epidural) it was essential he was there to take care of our baby. With our second baby, I was able to move a few hours after the C-Section but it was still nice for him to be there to help.
You'll want to make sure you have a few change of clothes, socks, underwear, pajamas, and toiletries for your spouse or your labor coach. Make sure your spouse remembers his wallet and some money possibly for parking and vending machines. I recently read you may even want your spouse to take a bathing suit in case you decide you want to get a shower while waiting to deliver and have him there to help support you and rub your back.
- Gift from Baby
If there is an older sibling then you may want to take some things for her as well. It may be nice to pack some diapers for her and other essentials so the caregiver of the sibling is not responsible for bringing additional things with each visit. You may want to pack some snacks for the older sibling so she has a special treat when visiting.
I also packed some toys for our son to keep him occupied during his visits to the hospital. Lastly, I bought our son a special gift which I had previously told him that when the baby arrives she's giving him some train tracks. He'd been asking for train tracks and so it was perfect timing to have it be his special gift from the baby. I actually did not take this gift to the hospital, but left it at home for his caregiver to give him during our stay at the hospital.
Installed Infant Car Seat
You are not allowed to drive your baby home if you do not have a properly installed car seat to transport the baby. I was actually disappointed that our hospital didn't check that we were putting our baby in a car seat. I was also disappointed that no one was there to show us how to strap our baby into the car seat. It seems so simple now but those first few days you aren't sure how to do it and you want to make sure your baby is safe.
We had previously went to our local fire department and they confirmed that our car seat was properly installed. To see if your car seat is installed properly and to find a certified passenger safety technician in your area, visit www.SeatCheck.org or contact Child Safety Seat Inspection Station Locator. You can call 866-SEAT-CHECK (866-732-8243) or 888-327-4236 or you could also call your local police or fire departments (NON-EMERGENCY) lines to find out if they offer car seat checks.
For more information please refer to the "Car Seat" article.
Going Home Outfit
I took some clothes to the hospital for my baby although the majority of the time we kept him in the white wrap the hospital provided. I did put my baby in some of the clothes I brought for the photo shoots to include in our introduction video. You will want to have at least one outfit that your baby can wear home from the hospital. You may want to take a newborn outfit and a 0-3 months outfit, you never know what size your baby will be.
While we were at the hospital they provided us with plenty of receiving blankets for our baby. It is simply nice to take your own blankets for the trip home. If your baby is going to be born in the winter months you may want to buy one of the add-ons to the infant carriers which is like a big snowsuit blanket that zips on the carrier to help keep your baby warm.
Generally the hospital will provide you with diapers during your stay. You may only want to take your own if you plan to use special diapers such as chlorine-free diapers or check with your hospital to see what they're providing. You may want to include some diapers in your diaper bag for your ride home but the hospital generally will give you some extras if you need them.
The most important thing to remember to take the hospital is you and the most important thing to remember to bring home is your baby. :) The above list doesn't mean you're going to have a successful delivery and an easy first couple days (it may help you be more comfortable) but overall just enjoy your miracle of life.
Hogg, Tracy and Melinda Blau. Secrets of the Baby Whisperer: How to Calm, Connect, and
Communicate with Your Baby. New York: Ballantine, 2001.
Sears, Robert W. M.D., F.A.A.P. The Vaccine Book: Making the Right Decision for Your Child. New York: Little, 2007.
Sears, William M.D.,Martha Sears, R.N., James Sears, M.D., and Robert Sears, M.D. “Bottlefeeding: Standard Formulas.” AskDrSears.com. 8 Nov. 2009.
Last updated: January 2011; February 2010