Packing Your "Go" Bag

You are entering your third trimester, or maybe you are already in it.  Nesting has started kicking in.  You begin to realize that baby will be here before you know it.  A little bit of panic sets in; I haven't packed my "Go" bag yet!  Maybe you've never packed one before or it has been a while since the last time you had to think about it.  What do you even include or what DON'T you need?  This will be my second time packing a "Go" bag for a hospital delivery and boy have I learned a lot!  Since I am an over-packer, I found that I packed enough for a week long stay.  I am sure the hospital staff thought I was preparing for a nice family vacation to the Bahamas...I wish!  The hospital actually provided way more than I anticipated.  This time I am going to try to pack way less by following these 5 tips below.

  1. Pack your bag by or around the 7th month

    Labor and delivery is so unpredictable, so having your bag ready early ensures that you are prepared when it's "go time".  
  2. Don't overpack

    It is so easy to get sucked into the "what if I need this" aspect of packing.  Before you know it, you have enough packed to hike the Appalachian Trail in it's entirety.  The hospital provides a lot of items that you may not realize.  I found that I did not use much of what I had packed for myself and baby the first time around.  I lived in my hospital gown and found pants to be a hassle with the number of times my awesome nurses had to come in and check on my bleeding and such.
    - Items you may find that your hospital provides include the following: 
    1. Cheap toiletries, thin towels, and hair dryer
    2. Pacifier
    3. Formula
    4. Breast pump to rent
    5. Nasal aspirator
    6. Newborn hat, swaddle blanket, shirt
    7. Diapers and wipes
    8. Gown and non-skid socks
    9. Pain medications as well as prescriptions and vitamins that you normally take
    10. Peri bottles
    11. Mesh undies and maxi pads
    12. Pillows and blankets
    13. Meals
  3. Separate your belongings into separate bags that you can bring in as needed.

    1. Labor and delivery bag

      - Picture ID, insurance documentation, important documents, and birth plan
      - Eyeglasses, if you wear them
      - Robe, non-skid socks, or slippers if you prefer not to use the ones provided
      - Relaxation and comfort items such as music, your own pillow (covered in a patterned pillowcase), affirmation cards, photos/images to focus on, things to read, tennis balls or anything else you plan on using to relieve pressure and pain
      - Chapstick and hair ties
      - Hard candies
      - Camera and cell phones with chargers
      - Bathing suit for partner if you plan on using a labor tub or shower and want you partner to get in with you for support; a change of clothes
      - Snacks for partner
    2. Hospital stay

      FOR MOM:
      - Going home outfit
      - Toiletries (travel size)
      - Notepad and pen
      - Nursing or regular comfy bras/tank tops; Nursing cover, if desired
      - Snacks
      - Cell phone and charger
      - Night gown if you plan on changing out of the hospital provided gown
      FOR BABY:
      - Receiving blanket to tuck around baby on your drive home; heavier if weather is cold
      - Paci if you are planning on using one and have a specific brand in mind
      - Nursing pillow
      - Special items for photo ops
      - Going home outfit
      - Snacks and entertainment
      - Medications or vitamins
      - Pillows and blankets if don't prefer to use what the hospital offers
      - Toiletries (travel size) if planning on showering at the hospital
      - A change of clothes or two
      - Cell phone and charger
      - Nurses gifts, if you plan on giving those out
      - Sibling gift, if you plan on giving big bro or sis one
    3. Leave in car

      - Carseat that has been correctly installed and inspected
      -Diaper bag filled with essentials that you will need once you have left the hospital
  4. Leave empty space in your bag!  

    You will find that the hospital will send you home with lots of disposable items that you've already opened and are currently using.  Some may send you home with extras if you ask.
  5. Pack a "Go" bag for your older children

    This will help if they need to spend time at a family or friend's house while you are away

If you'll be birthing at a birth center, your "Go" bag should look very similar, but the items that the birth center may provide could be very different from what a typical hospital would provide. Make sure to ask your birth center provider(s) what to expect so you don't feel ill-prepared!