Birthing Bag Must-Haves
Everyone likes to be prepared when it comes to having a baby; whether that means taking educational classes, decorating the nursery, or stocking up on diapers and newborn clothes. One thing most people put at the top of their to-do list is to make sure the birthing bag is ready to go for when their new bundle of joy decides to make their grand entrance into the world. We compiled a list for the ultimate bag to help you be totally prepared for whatever you might need during your birth!
Before we dive into what you might want to include in your bag, it’s important to note that it’s best to have the bag ready to go and in your car no later than 37 weeks. You won’t know for sure when your baby will arrive. Even if you have a planned induction or cesarean you could go into labor sooner than you expected, so in the spirit of this post it is always good to be prepared in advance.
Birthing Bag Must-Haves:
1. Important Documents
Plan ahead and make sure you have all of your information and documents filled out and ready to go for the big day. These documents should include your insurance card, paperwork from your care provider or birth place, pediatrician’s information, a copy of your birth plan, and driver’s licenses for both you and your partner.
It’s best to have at least 2 very comfortable outfits for you to wear during labor, after labor, and then on your trip home. Everyone feels comfortable in different clothing so whether that is a sports bra, a nursing gown, a robe, or something else, whatever you decide to wear while giving birth is entirely up to you. And don’t forget about your partner and your newest addition when packing! Add in a change of clothes for your partner and a couple of outfits to choose from for the baby. Also, if you are thinking about having a water birth, your partner may want to pack a swimsuit so they can hop in the tub with you.
Everyone has their phones on them pretty much 24/7 but a charger is a common forgotten item. We suggest having an extra charger that stays in the bag so you won’t stress about needing to remember it before you can head to the hospital or birth center. You may plan on just using that phone to take pictures, but if you’ll also be bringing a digital camera you’ll want to be sure you have packed its charger and a new memory card for all of the adorable pictures that you are about to take!
4. Nursing Essentials
If you will be breastfeeding, you’ll want to include a nursing bra, nursing pads, and nipple cream. If you’ll be delivering in the hospital, we suggest packing one or two nursing gowns as well to make breastfeeding easier during your stay. You have the option to wear the hospital gowns, of course, but many moms feel more comfortable in their own clothes. Nursing pads, whether they are disposable or washable, will be extremely helpful for leak protection as your milk comes in within the first week after the birth.
5. Postpartum underwear and pads
Depending on the amount of postpartum bleeding experienced, some women prefer to use large pads in their own underwear and other women would rather use disposable underwear reinforced with a pad. Your comfort is key!! Whatever kind of underwear you choose to use, you will need some heavy duty pads during the first couple of weeks postpartum. Buy the largest size you can find! You’ll want to be comfortable and not worry about leaking or problems with absorbance.
Pack all of your usual toiletries like a hairbrush, toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, body soap, facewash, makeup (if you’d like), lotion, etc. Don’t forget a few extra hair ties. You can never have enough! A good tip is to pack travel sizes of all of the above items to save space. You also might want to throw in some face wipes and dry shampoo in case you aren’t feeling up for a full shower after the birth. It will feel good to freshen up after the hard work of labor!
7. Snacks and Drinks
Everyone’s birthing timeline is different. Sometimes labor can last a full day – or even longer – so you should consider packing some snacks and drinks. Your partner will be thankful for those as well! Depending on where you are delivering and your individual circumstances, there may be times where you aren’t able to eat or drink. Those packed snacks can be enjoyed after the labor instead. Pro tip for hospital-birthers: be sure to have extra cash or change on hand so you can take advantage of the vending machines.
If you are choosing an unmedicated birth, during active labor you likely won’t be able to concentrate on much else, but if you have chosen an epidural you may be comfortable enough to want to read a book, watch a movie on your tablet or laptop, or play a card game with your partner. Consider packing those sorts of things in your bag! No matter what sort of birth you have planned, bring a device for listening to music. Some women like to use headphones to better focus on their favorite songs, but other women don’t like the feel of them on while in labor – pack them just in case. A soothing playlist can be a great distraction tool during contractions, and you can listen to music or podcasts after the birth to pass the time as you recover.
9. Comfy pillows and blankets
This isn’t a necessity, but a lot of women like to have their own pillows and blankets around them while they labor. Having something familiar can help you relax and feel more comfortable. Your partner will probably appreciate them, too, when it’s time for bed.
10. Gifts for other children
If you are going to be second-time parents, you may want to consider packing a gift for the big sibling. This can help them feel like they are a huge part of the experience. It can ease any anxiety they might be feeling about your growing family. You can get some examples here.
Your bag may not end up including all of these items, but your thoughtful consideration of what might be most useful to you will help you feel more prepared, which in turn will help you to feel relaxed and ready to give birth!