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  • annamarie33

It's Showtime: Your Birthing Essentials Checklist


You have been waiting for this day since the moment you found out you were pregnant. Now it is here. You are going to meet your baby face to face. But before you leave for the hospital or birthing center, you need to pack. You will be in the hospital from 1-4 days depending on whether or not you end up delivering vaginally or have any complications. For this reason, you want to make sure that you are comfortable during whatever length of time that you spend away from home. We have put together your birthing essentials checklist to help you be prepared.



1. THINGS YOU NEED TO BRING FOR YOUR BABY


Car seat

Before you can take your baby home from the hospital or birthing center, you need a car seat. If your hospital is as strict as mine was, your baby isn't leaving the hospital until you can demonstrate that you know how to get your baby in and out of the car seat. They also observed the installation in the car to make sure that my son wasn't going to tip over at the first turn. My son was a 4 lb. preemie when he took his first car ride. I am going to tell you now that they don't make car seats for 4 lb. babies. We had to find an insert that would give him extra support and keep the straps from going over his face. So if your baby comes early, add that to your shopping list.


If you can get a car seat that snaps into your stroller that will be handy, as you DO NOT want to wake your sleeping baby while removing them from the car seat when you get to your destination. Your baby will not take the disruption lightly. Expect an hour or more of unsettled crying as your reward.


Diaper Bag Packing List

You need a diaper bag. I am going to say that again. You need a diaper bag. While you can put your baby's swag in your own bag, it is better to have it separated from your things for easy access especially for longer stays.


Going home outfit

Of course, you want a darling outfit for your baby to wear on their first day out in the world. Likely, you will only need this outfit. Even if your baby stays at the hospital for a couple of days if either of you need more care, your baby will mostly just live in their hospital-provided diaper. My preemie son was in the NICU for 12 days. We ended up ordering speciality preemie clothing that would accommodate the number of wires and tubes attached to his body. We were going to need them for when he came home anyway. You don't need to bring a beanie because the hospital will provide you with one.


Drool bib In order to keep your baby clean, make sure that you have a drool bib around their neck most of the time when they are awake. Baby's digestive systems are not fully developed and you should expect unexpected spit up multiple times a day. I would pack 4 of them since you won't be able do any laundry while you are at the hospital. Burp cloths

Speaking of spitting up, feeding, regardless of if you are breastfeeding or not, takes gear of their own. Let's begin with burp cloths since every meal ends with a burp that may or make a mess when produced. Bring 4. Baby feeding supplies

If you are breastfeeding, you will need a privacy drape when your baby is enjoying their meal. This can be a nursing cover or a baby blanket. The downside of using a blanket is that it gets hot under the covers which is far from ideal. Be sure to bring spare nursing pads/nipple pads because once one of your breasts gets going, the other one will join in as well. If you will be pumping at the hospital, you will need a bandeau with holes in it for hand-free pumping. Otherwise you need to hold the doohickeys in place while you are pumping which gets old really fast. I believe I bought mine at the hospital when I purchased the components. Otherwise, you can order online weeks before you are due so you have it on hand when your baby arrives.

Regardless of whether or not you are breastfeeding, if you want another human to do the feeding, bring at least two bottles. Your hospital will likely use their own, but you will need yours when you are on your way home. You can pump your breastmilk at the hospital and bank the milk, if you have an extended stay. The hospital will refrigerate it for you, label it with your baby's name, and make sure that your baby gets fed from your supply if you are not up to feeding overnight. I ended up renting the pump that used for the year that I breastfed my baby. It was designed for heavy use and saved me a lot of money. You can purchase your own accessories if you are squeamish about using components that other moms have used.


If breastfeeding is not working out for you, the hospital will provide formula. If you have your heart set on a particular brand, bring several days supply just in case you or your baby requires a longer stay at the hospital. You are likely to get samples when you go home.

Pacifiers You can take advantage of your baby's Sucking Reflex between meals with a small collection of pacifiers. The hospital will give your baby one or two. I would keep 2 spares in the diaper bag as they will sometimes end up on the ground and disappear. Much to my chagrin, my fussy baby refused to keep them in his mouth so I never needed more than the 2 that came home with me from the hospital.

Baby blanket Lastly bring a baby blanket. Hospitals can be chilly. A small snuggly blanket to put over you and your baby when you are doing skin to skin contact would be a delightful way to bond with your baby.


Diapers & wipes

You won't need them if you give birth in a hospital. The hospitals will have all that you need. You are likely to go home with some samples as well. If you have your heart set on a eco-friendly brand or cloth diapers, you will need to bring your own. I would bring at least 8. You will go through around 8-10 day. If you stay longer than 24 hours at the hospital, you can have someone bring you more from home. I would check with your hospital's policy about cloth diapers before bringing them. If they allow them, you will need to store the soiled in an air-tight container because they can be stinky.



2. THINGS THAT YOU NEED TO BRING FOR YOURSELF


Even the best birthing experiences are uncomfortable. You can help offset this discomfort by bring things from home that with make you feel better.


Eyeglasses, contacts + supplies

If you need contacts or glasses to see, bring them with you. Likely you won't be popping in your contacts daily if you have a longer stay in the hospital, but you will want to put them back in when you leave. You will want to wear your glasses once you get to the hospital. Make sure you bring your contact storage case and saline solution.


Nursing bras

If you are planning on breastfeeding, you will need 2 nursing bras if you are staying 1-2 days at the hospital. If your milk comes in while you are at the hospital, likely you will leak milk on the bra while breastfeeding. The second one is a back up in case your first one gets soiled.


Comfortable clothing packing list

You will need pajamas because you will be spending the night. A robe, slippers or slipper socks will make living in the hospital more civilized. If you spend more that one day at the hospital for any reason, you will likely only be wearing a hospital gown so you won't need multiple changes of clothing. However, you want to bring comfortable clothes to wear on the way home. If you are having a C-section or end up having one, you don't want any pressure on your stitches. Something that you can pull over your head would be best.


Adult diapers

You don't need to bring underwear because you won't be wearing any while you are at the hospital. When your water breaks, it keeps going because you body continues to produce amniotic fluid. The hospital will have you lay on a wee wee pad like the kind that you use to train your puppy in order to catch the liquid leaking out of you. Once you give birth, you will be shedding all of the tissue inside of you even if you had a C-section. It all has to come out and it will take days. The hospital will give you the thickest pads you have ever seen and weird mesh disposable underwear to hold them in place. However, you can pack adult diapers that will be more comfortable at least for the ride home. You don't need to be weird about it. You will find it better than the monster pads the hospital gives you.


Things to keep you entertained

Bring your phone to stay in contact with your people and to send baby pix to friends and family. You want to bring a long phone charger or extension cord because the outlet won't be anywhere near your bed. Bring a bluetooth speaker to play your playlist during birth and to listen to podcasts or audio books during the long hours spent postpartum. Bring a book or a journal to record your experiences.


Creature comforts

Hospital pillows suck. Bring your own. You will be much more comfortable. In addition, bring your own hand and bath towel preferably red or black (to hide blood stains) with which to dry off. The hospital ones are scratchy. If you are lucky enough to have a partner or doula that will give you a massage during labor, bring massage oil. Essential oils are also a nice addition to your birthing suite or recovery room to cover the odor of antiseptic cleansers.


Snacks & drinks

Bring snacks. A lot of snacks. I arrived at the hospital at 1am. The kitchen was closed. Even though the nurses said I could have food whenever I wanted, I didn't get any food until 8am. I was beyond starving. It had been 12 hours since my last meal. This made me feel food-insecure for my entire 7-day stay at the hospital. It is better to have too many snacks than not enough because you don't get to control when food arrives. As far as liquids are concerned, you will have access to all the water and weird sugary beverage that the hospital will supply. If you have something that you like to drink to stay hydrated, bring a supply with you.


Toiletries

You will want to bring your toiletry bag. This can include shampoo & conditioner, comb or brush, hair ties or headband, toothbrush & toothpaste, make-up remover, lotion, lip balm, deodorant, and medications that you are taking.



3. THINGS THAT YOU NEED TO BRING FOR THE HOSPITAL


You will need your ID & insurance card in order to register at the hospital. Have your OBGYN's, Midwife's, or Doula's phone number(s) handy to contact them when your water breaks. The hospital will want your pediatrician's contact info. Make sure you bring that. If you have your records from latest prenatal appointment, that is a nice-to-have especially if your OBGYN is out of town like mine was. This will help the hospital get up to speed. If you have a birth plan, bring that as well.



4. THINGS THAT YOU NEED TO THE BIRTH CENTER


Like at a hospital, you will need your ID & insurance card in order to register at the birthing center. Have your OBGYN's, Midwife's, or Doula's phone number(s) handy to contact them when your water breaks. If you have your records from latest prenatal appointment, bring that with you to help them get up to speed. If you have a birth plan, bring that as well.


Clothing

Unlike a hospital, there is no expectation that you will be staying overnight. The items that you bring are different than at a hospital. Since you won't be hanging out in a hospital bed, you will need birthing gown as you will be walking around while you are in labor. Pants aren't going to be a wise choice when you are constantly leaking. Besides people facilitating your baby's delivery are going to need to check on the progress of your baby and they need easy access to the baby exit. Slippers with rubber soles, as well as flip flops or non-skid socks are a must because the floor will be wet. A swim top would be appropriate for a water birth. Your birthing buddy will want to bring a swimsuit as well.

Bring your robe to wear to keep you comfortable before and after you give birth. Bring a change of clothes and a nursing bra. It is unlikely you will want to put on the clothes that you came in wearing. Bring thick pads and underwear or adult diapers to catch all of the afterbirth that gravity will draw out of you.


Snacks & drinks

Most birthing centers don't have a snack bar. Bring foods that you like to eat and drink because you don't know how long you will be there.


Nice things to have when giving birth

Bring a bluetooth speaker and playlist. If you are lucky enough to have a partner or doula that will give you a massage during labor, bring massage oil. Essential oils are also a nice addition.


Toiletries

You will want to bring your toiletry bag. This can include shampoo & conditioner, comb or brush, hair ties or headband, toothbrush & toothpaste, make-up remover, lotion, lip balm, deodorant, and medications that you are taking.



5. THINGS TO BRING TO HELP YOU DOCUMENT THE DAY


You will want to remember this special moment and be able to share with friends and family. Bring your phone, camera or video camera. If the hospital or birth center allows one person who is dedicated to taking photos or videos, it is better than your partner who should be focused on you and not on taking photos. Bring your phone charger or battery pack because you labor can take a long time sometimes.



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