I’d pack it about week 36 and then just put it in the corner for peace of mind. Also, if you do it around that time, you can add/subtract probably if you get the urge.
For me, we used the hospital bag after delivery, not before. Obviously, time spent at hospital varies depending on your plan and what actually happens.
- How long do you plan to stay? Insurance covers 48 days from the time you deliver. You could request to go home at 24 hours if you have a reason to, but I wouldn’t recommend it.
- How long do you plan to labor at home before going to the hospital? You can’t really know the answer to this question b/c you don’t know the pace at which your labor will progress. Standard protocol is to call if your water breaks, or if your contractions are 3 minutes apart, lasting 1 minute each, for the last 1 hour. All that being said, you may be at the hospital much longer, or much shorter than you’d expect.
Required to go home from hospital:
- Just an installed car seat. – I would recommend installing it before you think you really need to just to check it off the list of concerns (week 36ish.) However, during the 2 days after your delivery that you are there, you can also send your partner to the car to go figure it out during downtime if it did not end up happening. No need to panic. If it isn’t installed, just make sure you bring it with you at least. (Note: Hospital staff is not allowed to touch your car seat for liability reasons.)
Highly useful, recommended:
- For Mom:
- Pump. If you plan on pumping, and you’ve never pumped or breast fed before, then I’d bring it with you. The hospital staff does not care if you know how to pump if you tell them you plan to breast feed.
- Some snacks (trail mix, grapes, bananas, bars..)
- The official hospital policy at Northwestern and many hospitals is no eating during labor and only ‘clear liquids’. Since I labored at home for 24 hours it wasn’t even an issue by the time I got to the hospital. However, I was told that people eat all the time and ask for forgiveness later. You likely will not be eating a meal anyways, just snacking in-between for sustenance and energy.
- A water bottle with a straw
- You may not want to be tipping your head back and unscrewing a lid to drink your water when you’re uncomfortable.
- A comfy light weight robe for after your delivery
- Your own robe is nice b/c it’s probably more comfy. It’ll be easier for when you may try to breast feed in the first 48 hours, and nurses will keep coming in/out to do physical checks on you so a robe is easy access. If not, you’ll just be in the hospital-issued gown the whole time. So not a big deal, but nice to have.
- For Mom plus partner:
- Birth plan – Hospital staff will not necessarily ask for this. It is mostly for you and your partner’s peace of mind. Prep your partner or support people to have and answer questions that are important to you. Otherwise, whatever is standard procedure is what will happen. That’s the worst case, not so bad.
- Basic toiletries
- Toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, some face wash, whatever routine stuff you need
- You may choose to take a shower based on how you feel. There is one in your room for you if you or your partner choose to take one.
- Change of clothes since you’ll be there for 2 days:
- For mom – something very loose and easy to slip into to get home. Don’t bring leggings/tights because you’ll probably still have a giant pad or ice pack in your hospital issued underwear at this time. Something like a t-shirt dress is what I would recommend.
- Electronics and chargers. You’ll have more downtime than you think when you are just laying there wondering how you got there in-between naps and nurses coming in.
Nice to have / optional – literally everything else
- Sandals – If you don’t want to be barefoot in your hospital room
- Your own labor hospital gown – This is super optional. Benefit is just that you are more comfortable and your entire backside isn’t exposed. If you do labor and deliver in it, you won’t be wearing it again for the subsequent days b/c it will be gross so then you are back to either a hospital gown or robe anyways.
- Bra – You don’t really need to put one on while you lay in bed post delivery. I wouldn’t stress about it at the hospital.
- Baby picture stuff – A professional photographer will offer to take pics of the baby for you to buy at the hospital and you have the option of taking a few pics with the baby too.
- For parents – If you have the energy, you may be interested in looking nicer for a minute.. or not.
- For baby – The hospital will give your baby generic clothes to wear. If you want them to look cuter than that, bring something.
- Sleep stuff – eye cover, ear plugs, pillow, anything you really need to sleep regularly to help you get rest. It may not matter b/c you will be so exhausted. Partner may want to bring a sweat shirt or something in case they’re cold in the room sleeping next to the bed.