Hospital Bag / Birth Center Essentials:
What to Pack in Your Bag for an Out of Hospital Birth
When I delivered H, we were totally unprepared. I was going in for my ‘routine’ bi-weekly round of IV fluids to combat the dehydration that I was dealing with thanks to my Hyperemesis Gravidarum, when the OB on call told me I wouldn’t be going home and would be induced that evening due to low blood pressure and the contractions I was already having. I totally freaked out, because we had nothing ready to go – the nursery was in shambles and we had nothing packed for the hospital and delivery bag!
Because of this, I pulled up the first Pinterest list I could find, sent it to the Hubs and told him to throw whatever he could in a bag and meet me at the hospital, because we were meeting our son earlier than we had anticipated. That sweet man literally went home and packed me a bag big enough to last almost a month at the hospital, and you know what? We barely used any of it! We were there for 3 days (4.5 if you include the IV and induction time as well), and the hospital supplied us with so much stuff that we barely opened the hospital bag he had packed!
This time around, I spoke with all my midwives and asked other local moms who had their babies at the midwifery what they brought with them to get myself ready, just in case I deliver early this time. This is everything my midwives and other experienced moms suggested I bring to the birthing center for our out of hospital birth!
(I’ll make sure to come back and update this list once baby Bear arrives to let you know what I personally found useful and useless to bring with us to the Birthing Center for labor and delivery!)
The biggest benefit we saw to letting me labor and deliver at a Midwifery clinic / Birthing center was the fact that the average amount of time women and families are there is a fraction of how long we would stay in the hospital. My personal Birth Center has an average time of 4 hours postpartum that they allow families to go home – FOUR hours. Not DAYS, but hours.
That means you get to sleep in your own bed, in your own sheets, in the comfort of your own home. Because you won’t be spending much time in the Birthing Center after baby is born, just pack for what you think you might need during labor. No need to pack for a long weekend away, just a long (or not so long!) evening.
I love my BabyMoov Traveller Diaper Bag ($88 at Amazon, $90 at BuyBuyBaby), because it’s a great size to hold all my labor and delivery necessities – not too small, so I can still fit all my snacks snacks, but not too big that I feel the need to cram in extra stuff. The Traveller Diaper bag is perfect to use as a hospital bag (or out of hospital in my case), but a huge benefit is the longevity of use you’ll get out of it, as well as everything that it comes with.
What to pack for baby:
- 2 sets of baby clothes: Because we’re leaving the sex of baby Bear a surprise until delivery, we are bringing two gender neutral outfits, a ridiculously adorable black and white romper from Rad Revolution Kids, and a backup outfit, just in case.
- 2 baby hats: This is definitely seasonal, as a summer baby more than likely does not need a cap to keep his or her head warm. Since baby Bear is due right as the cold is starting to set in, we are bringing two different hats, just in case I deliver late at night and the temperature drops.
- 2 – 3 newborn diapers: Once again, because we aren’t anticipating being at the Birth Center very long, we aren’t anticipating needing very many diapers. Realistically, we’ll probably only end up using 1 or 2, but it never hurts to have a backup!
- 2 – 3 swaddles / baby blankets: I was only going to bring one swaddle with us, until my midwife reminded me of how glorious meconium is, so we quickly decided to bring two instead! We are bringing the aden + anais Silky Soft Swaddle trio in Midnight to wrap up baby, because I love the breathable bamboo blend that is extra soft on a newborn’s skin, and the generous sizing means it can be used as a blanket, swaddle, and more.
- Properly installed Car Seat and Base: a Birth Center is just like a hospital, and won’t let you leave with your baby unless they see you have a properly installed carseat ready to go that will fit your infant. We just ordered a Maxi Cosi Mico Max 30, which I’m hoping will be here in time to use for baby Bear, but if not, we have our Britax B-Safe from when H was born that we’ll use.
Please please please remember to have a certified car seat technician install it and show you how to install yourself – fire and police departments have been known to give incorrect information since they don’t have to go through the same trainigns. Also make sure your carseat is clean and still in great condition, with no broken pieces, and not expired especially if you’re using it for a sibling.
What to pack for Mom:
- Comfortable clothes for labor: One of my least favorite parts about a hospital birth? That “gown” they make you wear… ugh. It’s flimsy, it’s cold, and it just sucks. This time around, I found Dressed to Deliver, and ordered a Heather Grey 3-in-1 Birthing Gown ($65). I have already worn it to a few of my Midwife appointments to test a few of the features, and love how comfortable and useful it is. It’s made from a super breathable bamboo blend thats anti-microbial, anti-bacterial and stain resistant and is incredibly soft against my sensitive skin.
I can wear it now as a maternity gown, because it has an empire waist (which is also great for if you have to have a C-Section), but I can also wear it during labor and delivery, as well as postpartum! The Birthing Gown has snaps that go down the abdominal area for ultrasounds, doppler readings, fetal monitoring, etc, and has back snaps as well in case your OB needs access for epidurals or IVs. Additionally, it opens up to allow for easy skin-to-skin right after baby is born and breastfeeding, and is easy to slide on and off depending on how you choose to labor.
Use code “shynnz15” to save 15% off at Dressed to Deliver!
- Comfortable clothes to wear home: Because I’m planning on laboring in the tub most of the time, I will realistically be in a nursing bra when things start happening and I start transitioning, so I want to make sure I have clean and dry clothes to wear home. I’ll either wear the Dressed to Deliver Birthing Gown, or I have the softest Plume Classic Pajama ($88) set from BelaBumBum that I’m bringing as well. The two part set has a button up top, which means easy nursing access, and the fabric feels like butter against my skin.
- Extra pairs of dark colored underwear: childbirth does crazy things to your lady bits, and trust me when I say the darker the color of your underwear, the better. Big ole grannie panties are the way to go for postpartum! It’s the only way you’ll be able to fit the hugenormous pads you’ll need, or you can always bring a few pairs of adult diapers as well. I’m going to try a few different styles this time to see if I like the adult diapers better for post part than the huge pads!
I had no idea how much bleeding and clotting occurs after childbirth, and sometimes it happens faster than you can change yourself, so having a few backup pairs isn’t a bad idea!
- Nursing Bra(s): I am bringing more of a sports bra style for the actual birth, but am bringing a back up nursing bra in case that one gets too wet from the birthing tub. Bras are small enough that it’s silly to stay in a wet one, and I hate the feeling of wet clothes on my skin. The two that I love and am bringing with me are the Belly Bandit Bandita Nursing Bra ($47) as well as the Cake Maternity Cotton Candy Seamless Racerback Nursing Bra ($53).
- Socks / Slippers: because nobody likes having cold feet, and a great pair of comfy slippers makes me feel at home. Make sure to grab a pair of slippers that are darker in color, just in case, but they will be great to have on hand if I need to get outside to go on a walk or to slip on after I’m done with the birthing tub. Socks wise, I love the fuzzy spa socks for extra comfort while laying in bed too!
- Toiletries: I’m just going to bring the basics in case I feel the need to freshen up, like face wipes and a toothbrush, but I’m definitely skipping the shampoo / conditioner / etc.
I am bringing extra hair ties, and a hair band / turban to keep the hair out of my face, as well as several tubes of different flavored lip balms, because Burt’s Bees gives me a little extra pep in my step, but I have a more soothing lavender and shea butter one that I might prefer at the time. My lips get really dry during pregnancy and labor, and when my lips are dry I get really irritated (I blame the hormones), so I like to keep a few on hand.
What to pack for your significant other:
- Comfy clothes: my husband is bringing a pair of basketball gym shorts, sweatpants (only because it’s gotten pretty cold at night the last week), a tee shirt, and a zip up hoodie. Realistically, he’ll be wearing the shorts and tee on the way to the Birth Center, so really the only things in my bag for him will be sweatpants and a hoodie.
- Swim trunks / Bathing suit: I’ve mentioned that I plan on spending a lot of my time in the birthing tub, so if your partner / significant other is up for being in the water with you, definitely have them bring something they can get wet and change out of once baby is born!
- Toiletries: we won’t be there long enough for him to need deodorant or anything like that, and my husband isn’t a chronic tooth brusher like myself, so while I didn’t personally pack anything for him, your partner may want to bring something.
- Essential Oils and Diffuser: I recently got hooked on doTERRA essential oils and have been researching the best oils to use during the third trimester and labor and delivery like crazy. I have my favorite home made mixes and oils in my bag, including Black Pepper, Clary Sage, Lavender, Peppermint, Wild Orange, Marjoram and Aroma Touch. I will definitely be doing a follow up post afterwards on what I found to be most helpful!
When I told my midwives that I had started using them, they strongly suggested I bring my oils with me to help with different stages and transitions, and they even have an extra diffuser I can bring so that I don’t have to bring my own, which is awesome!
- Music that you may like to listen to during different stages of labor. I made a few playlists on Amazon Prime Music of different tempo music so we can easily change depending on what I want to listen to.
- Tablet with Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Video in case you’re in the mood to watch a favorite movie or TV show, or to keep your kiddo(s) occupied if they’re in the room with you. I’m not sure if I’ll be in the mood to watch anything, but my iPad is small enough to fit in my bag, and it’s what I’ll be streaming my music from anyways!
- Anything to make the room more “homey” while you’re there: I am going to be brining our family quilt, because its been through everything with us and is a very comforting physical thing for me to hold onto, but my midwives told me that some people also like to bring their favorite pillow, a certain scented candle, etc. Being in a comfortable environment helps with being in a safe mindset, so they recommend making yourself at home!
- Hand mirror: my Birth Center has these for us, but I would love to be able to see baby being born into this world this time around. A hand mirror that you can bring into the water or hold on the bed with you is an easy way to accomplish this.
- Camera, battery, and memory card: even though we hired a birth photographer, we’re going to be bringing our camera just in case! I want those first moments after we’ve had a chance to bond captured, and I would love to get some of myself and my husband first meeting our rainbow baby! We brought one to the hospital with us for H’s birth, but it turns out we forgot to charge the battery AND left the memory card at home, so we were left with taking pictures on our phone.
- Phone charger: this seems really obvious, but you’d be surprised! And no one wants an almost dead phone to have to deal with!
- Cooler for placenta: obviously, if you’re not doing placenta encapsulation, this isn’t relevant, but we’re keeping my 10qt cooler in the trunk of our car right now, just so we make sure we don’t forget it. The placenta has to be handled pretty quickly after birth if you plan on saving it, so this is pretty important and would be terrible to forget!
To Eat / Drink:
- Beverages: my Midwives specifically mentioned that while water is fine, I will probably want to bring something with electrolytes (and some sugar!) to keep up my energy. They suggested drinks like Gatorade, Coconut Water, Naked Juice or Apple Juice, and I’m also going to bring some ice chips, since they are my current favorite thing ever.
- Easily digestible snacks and food: Key words here: quick, 1 to 2 bites. I am bringing a few different types of foods that were recommended to me because of the ease of eating them in between contractions. Protein is important, but so are simple sugars! Once again, my Midwife specifically said that simple sugars are awesome to ingest for a little extra burst of energy as well.
I’m bringing some power oat bites, dried mango, dates, a few different types of granola bars, a fruit and nut mix, trail mix, fruit leather, grapes, strawberries and some cantaloupe, and I might pick up some other miscellaneous fruit to add in the next few days.
It seems like a lot, but if this is a late night labor, theres a very slim chance that any stores will be open for anyone to grab me something that I have to have in the moment, and the Birth Center has a huge refrigerator that we are welcome to store everything in. One thing to keep in mind – not just how the food will taste going down, but how it might taste coming back up! Labor does crazy things to our bodies, and my midwives suggested staying away from anything too acidic for that reason.
- Popsicles: these knock out several birds with one stone – popsicles are easy to eat, come in single serve sizes, are easy to digest, and are a great source of simple sugars, but most importantly, are heavenly to eat when labor is causing you to have a hot flash.
- Jolly Ranchers and gum: with my labor with H, I wanted something slightly sweet *but not too sweet* that I could suck on, and I went through an entire bag of Jolly Rancher hard candies. The same goes with mint gum, so these are two personal choices I know I enjoy when I’m feeling nauseous or not hungry, but they both give me a little boost.
To Have Ready for the Return Home:
(this is the list my midwives suggested to have on hand for when we get home and settle in)
- 1 rapid read digital thermometer that has an underarm or forehead reading.
- A good supply of pads (make sure they are SUPER + absorbent, and extra long – trust me)
- Arnica tablets and / or Ibuprofen
- Bach’s Rescue Remedy or Dermoplast. I’m actually going to be trying out Earth Mama Angel Baby’s Bottom Spray this time to see how that helps with soreness afterwards, because of all the rave reviews my mommy friends have given it!
- Peri bottle: which will become your best friend for any type of bathroom use for weeks postpartum.
- Cold pack (or bag of frozen vegetables) to put on your bottom after birth
- Newborn Diapers
- Tucks pads and / or Witch hazel
And because I’m just the sweetest, I created a FREE Birth Center Supply List that you can print out when you’re ready to start packing your Out of Hospital Birth Bag! Just click on the image below, and hit “print”!
What about you? What did you bring with you to the hospital or birth center? Was there something you forgot that you wish you had with you? Or something you definitely didn’t need?