BHealthy Blog

How to Prepare a Hospital Bag and Day After Checklist

Buffy Michelle Maynard, MSN, RNC-OB, APRN, NP-C
Family Nurse Practitioner, Labor and Delivery

As your delivery date starts to approach, you will probably have many questions. Do I have everything I need for labor? What if I forget my favorite sweater? Will I be hungry while waiting in the delivery room? These are all valid concerns. Whether the big day comes as planned, or unexpectedly, you will want to make sure you’re fully prepared and have everything you need for a hasty exit out of the house and into the car. Baptist Health recommends preparing a hospital bag during your 8th month of pregnancy, as it is possible that you could go into labor any time after the 8th month.

With all of the pressures that come along with preparing for labor, you don’t want the hospital bag to be one of them. Preparing ahead of time and avoiding extra stress is a key element to a happy and healthy delivery process.

Get ready for tomorrow, today

Pick a day that you have some free time and prepare the essentials. Every person varies on what they may consider to be ‘essential,’ but at Baptist Health we hope that this list helps remind you of a few important items you may need in order to make yourself feel comfortable, confident and ready to take on labor. Pre-registering will also ensure that you encounter less paperwork when you come into Baptist Health. 

15 Essentials for mom:

1. Photo ID and Insurance Card 

First and foremost, you want to make sure you can show the hospital proof of identification, as well as a form of payment for all hospital related expenses. If you’ve planned ahead and pre-registered, you will save a lot of time.  It is also a good idea for your significant other to bring their photo ID if you plan to sign a paternity acknowledgement.

2. Birth Plan

Print a few so the doctors have an easy visual to refer to when planning your delivery needs.

3. Room items

It is common for women in labor to bring a device that plays a saved selection of music just for their labor and delivery experience, as well as a room diffuser with special oils or aromas that bring soothing and relaxing thoughts and feelings while they progress through their labor. It is also common to bring pictures of loved ones who can’t be there for the special event and door signs that display the theme of the baby’s room. Most hospitals and staff welcome flameless candles, plug ins, special blankets, pillows, diffusers, lightening, birthing balls, massage materials and music. Make your labor room special to you!

4. Smartphone and Charger

For so many reasons: Easy access to the time, (it can be easy to lose track of), to contact relatives and loved ones, document the day, etc. Often, FaceTiming or Skyping is permitted with a loved one. Check your hospital and physician’s policy on photography and videoing during the delivery.

5. Slippers or socks 

Hospital floors can feel quite cold on bare feet. Bring a pair of soft, comfortable socks or slippers for walking on the tile and for keeping warm in your hospital bed. Make your shoe choice easy. You might prefer some type of slip-on shoes such as flip-flops, or house shoes. Sometimes women’s feet swell after delivery, making putting shoes on nearly impossible.

6. A comfortable pillow, pillowcase and blanket

Your hospital will provide you with these, but you may feel more comfortable with your own items.

7. Nightgown 

Bring your own nightgown to sleep comfortably during your overnight stay. If you plan to breastfeed, chose a front-open style gown.

8. Snacks and change for vending machine 

You might feel hungry between meals, so bring non perishable snack items along with a water bottle – maybe extra for your partner or husband. Baptist Health provides room service from 6:00 am to 6:00 pm and you can order as many snacks as you wish during those hours. We encourage you to bring gum, mints or jolly ranchers for labor. Labor typically brings nausea and decreased digestion and most physicians request that you limit your intake to only ice, gum and a hard candy once active labor has been declared.

9. A change of clothes 

Bring lightweight clothing to change into after labor. Include a comfortable nursing bra, a sweater, clean underwear and a pair of slippers or flip-flops.

10. Toiletries

Lip balm, moisturizer, a toothbrush, your favorite conditioner, shampoo and body wash are all items that will help you feel refreshed. The hospital has some of these items, however, they will probably not be as comforting and refreshing as your own!

11. Notebook and pen

Baptist Health will provide you with a comprehensive informational handbook, but the doctors and nurses will also give you a lot of information before leaving the hospital, you or your spouse may also find benefit in having your own notebook to make a list or a note that you could look at and refer to later.

12. Items for your spouse/partner 

Bring a few extra items to ensure that they won’t miss a moment of their child’s birth. Snacks, a water bottle, a blanket, their pillow – all of the essentials!

13. Camera

Whether it be a smartphone or a DLSR camera- record the first few moments with your baby. You will cherish the memories for a lifetime.

14. Don’t forget about your fur babies!

Make plans for your pets. Plan ahead and leave a key for someone to be able to get into the house to let them out, feed and water them, and tidy up for you if needed.  

15. If you have school age children

Plan ahead so that you have someone who can pick them up from school or the house to ensure their safety while you are laboring. Often moms stress the most about who to call since they are stuck at the hospital. Keep your list of contacts close and make sure your children know the plan as well as the schools they attend.

5 Essentials to pack for your newborn baby:

1. A soft blanket 
Newborns are very susceptible to the cold so be prepared to bundle your baby in a soft, warm blanket.

2. Socks and booties 

Keep your baby’s feet warm with socks or booties, and mittens. Or plan on placing socks on your babies hands. Newborns have fingernails and they often scratch their face very easily immediately after birth.  Their nails are very soft while in utero, once delivered they begin to harden. Typical clipping is not recommended as the very tip of the finger, under the nail, is clear and very easily goes unseen and gets clipped or bitten off by the parents. This tends to cause a lot of bleeding and even more guilt from the parents. Therefore, putting the mittens or socks on your baby’s hands will prevent scratches on their face.

3. Going-home outfit

Look out for the weather temperature ahead of time. To stay on the safe side, bring warm clothing such as mittens, a hat, and a sweater. For colder conditions, be sure to pack a heavy jacket or even a snowsuit.

4. Picture outfit

Baptist Health has professional photographers who come in and offer specialty pictures with you and your baby in the room. If you have a special outfit, blanket or other props you’d like in the pictures, be sure to bring them with you.

5. Car seat

Although you may be entering the hospital with just yourself, you’ll be leaving with an extra person in your arms. Don’t forget a seat for your baby’s first car ride. It is a good idea to bring the car seat up to the room the morning after the baby is born. This gives you time to adjust it to your baby and for it to warm up to room temperature. A car seat sitting in a car for long periods can leave it too hot or too cold to place your new baby in right before discharge. Make sure you have read the manufacturer’s directions and installed the base of the car seat properly prior to arriving at the hospital. Most facilities require you to bring the car seat up the day of discharge for you to place your baby in and and for the staff to inspect that it is adjusted properly to your newborn. Most every car seat needs to have the shoulder straps on the lowest setting and no need to purchase anything extra for your car seat.  If it does not come with shoulder or neck pillows then they are not recommended for use with the car seat. Know how to use your car seat and how to adjust it. You do not want this to delay your discharge or take time away from bonding to read and learn how to adjust your particular car seat.

The Baptist Health staff wants to help ensure that you feel able and ready to take on this big day. We suggest that you leave your bag near an exit door, so when the time comes to leave for the hospital, you won’t feel stressed trying to find it.

Paperwork is the last thing on your mind when you’re in labor. Plan ahead by pre-registering for your delivery at Baptist Health.