Hospitals and birth centers provide most of what you need during your brief stay. It will be helpful to have a birth kit for you while you labor at home, and another bag to take with you to the hospital or birthing center. You will have to take home everything you bring, and oftentimes they will provide you with a bag of diapers, plenty of pads, and sample sizes of babycare items. Consider preparing the below items.
When you feel contractions are coming regularly, you may want someone present with you to do the dishes, take out the trash, change the cat litter, and otherwise remove adverse smells from your home. This is an opportune time to take a warm bath (if your mucous plug is still intact) or a shower.
If contractions start at night, try to stay in bed and doze between them. I know it’s exciting, but you are starting a marathon and need your rest! If you absolutely cannot stay in bed, go into another room, use the dimmest lights possible, and start an audiobook or a movie. Give yourself permission to rest and refrain from timing each contraction.
Do call your birth companion or doula, and if you want to arrive at the hospital or birth center soon, call them and inform them you will be in within the next day or so. If you specifically want a room with a tub to labor in at a hospital, let them know so they can try to reserve it for your later arrival. It’s important to telephone, not just text or email, your birth companion, so they can hear your voice and contractions themself and help judge how soon they should arrive.
in your at-home birth kit
- snacks to keep you hydrated and fueled
- pre-cut fruits and vegetables
- cheese or yogurt
- bread, plain baked goods, or noodles (premade)
- bone broth
- nutritious beverage, like water, coconut water, electrolyte beverage, or switchel (I like the First 40 Days recipe)
- beverage container(s) with straw(s)
- if you don’t usually eat spicy, vinegar-y, or citrus-y foods, refrain from doing so now as you will likely vomit and have diarrhea as your body prepares for delivery
- what’s comfortable to labor in?
- what’s comfortable to wear to and in the delivery space? what is easy to clean? (this will likely get bodily fluids on it)
- the shoes you will wear to walk into the delivery space
- birth ball, if desired
- candles or fairy lights
- affirmations cards or display items
- timer, for someone other than you to time contractions (This is a good free timer available for iphone)
- simple videogame on phone or favorite book to distract yourself between contractions. If you or your partner are a baker and in early labor, you might make a birth day cake to enjoy in a few days. Otherwise, this is an excellent time to marathon your favorite series.
Note: this is for daytime if you absolutely can’t sleep!
- favorite air freshening material (spray, essential oils, flowers, fresh baked cookies)
- any items for cultural practices – special tools, books, religious items
- photos of beloved family distant or departed
- favorite pillow and blanket
- if you already have them, yoga bolsters and pillows may be helpful for different comfort positions. You could also be creative with couch cushions.
in your delivery bags
one for you, one for your partner!
- nursing bra
- nursing pads
- go-home clothing for you and baby
- comfy socks (consider non-slip)
- underwear you don’t mind getting stained
- bathing suit for partner to get in tub with you
- toiletries for both of you – pack separately
- hair brush
- travel shampoo and conditioner
- lip balm
- skin care – do you have a favorite, comforting lotion?
- hair ties / scrunchie
- contacts, if desired
- nail clippers and nail file – you don’t need them until you need them desperately
- coconut oil – paint your baby’s butt with it after every diaper change to make meconium poops a breeze to clean
- favorite snack, for when the kitchen closes or you need some comfort food
- favorite blanket
- favorite pillow in non-white pillowcase (to easily differentiate)
- book you don’t mind losing or an ebook
- notebook and black ink pen for documents
- phone charger
- glasses case
- anything partner needs to best support you (a pillow for them, any duplicates on the list)
Hold off on reusable pads until you go home unless you have a strong need to be as environmentally friendly as possible. It will be one more thing you’ll have to do immediately postpartum, and one more container to have to pack up and take home. I give you permission to use the disposables for a couple of days until you get home.