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Packing for Labor & Delivery in 15 Items or Less

In 2010 (3 years ago!) when I was pregnant with my son, I struggled to figure out what on earth I should put in my bag for my stay at the hospital. When the day finally came I, like most first time moms, walked in with copious things in tow (luckily we left the car seat in the car!). I had spent a lot of time poring over lists I found online, but most of those things remained in the bag until we unpacked at home. Now with #2, I’m hoping to keep it simple.


How can you avoid looking like such a noob? First, know the hospital you’re delivering at! There is more than one option in Reno and each mother/baby area is structured a little differently. The basic difference is between the LDRP (labor/delivery/recovery/postpartum) structure and the LDR (labor/delivery/recovery) with separate post-partum area. In an LDRP, you remain in the same room throughout your stay, whereas in an LDR, you stay through approximately the first hour after delivery and then transfer to a separate post-partum room. The best way to learn about the unit’s setup is to take a tour or attend birthing classes at your delivery location of choice.

Knowing the hospital set-up can affect not only what you pack, but how you pack. Do you want a single large bag or a couple small, easy-to-carry bags? Depends if you have to move them multiple times, right? No matter the setup, one of my main recommendations is to pack things for labor and delivery separate from things you will need for post-partum. It will save your loved one from having to toss around your post-partum panties while searching for your iPod. It’s crazy how little you can get away with during your actual labor. I swear by these 15 items OR LESS.

1. Lip Balm. Bring your favorite, don’t settle for whatever someone happens to have on hand. Lanolin is awesome for this, but honestly I have yet to meet someone without a preference.

2. Have your ID and insurance card easily accessible, in an outside pocket or wallet.

3. A camera with charger, extra battery, and multiple memory cards are ESSENTIAL! Phones and chargers are essential, as well.

4. If you wear glasses bring them. Even if you think you’ll want your contacts, have the glasses on hand in case.

5. Pack a GOWN if you don’t want to wear a hospital gown, but consider that it WILL get very dirty. Check out something like “pretty pushers” which have openings for monitors etc., or something flowy like a kaftan.

6. Don’t forget flip-flops or slippers.

7. Birth Plan. Make sure you have discussed your plan with your provider and they are on board. Let the nurse taking care of you know what is important, but know that your provider is the one giving the orders.

8. Consider having your support person bring a bathing suit and extra comfortable outfit; if you are able to shower during labor it is nice to have your support person standing close by.

9. Makes sure to bring a focal point like a favorite stuffed animal or a picture.

10. Bring your home pillow (in a crazy case)!

11. An iPod or music player with soothing playlist and/or a…

12. Calming scent to help get you through those contractions. Do remember, no flames or incense though! Practicing relaxing with these things around you before labor will make them more effective during. Have you looked into Hypnobabies? Even if you plan an epidural, the hospital can be a challenging place to relax and having something soothing and familiar can help take the anxiety down a peg.

13. If you have any particular cultural traditions bring the things you need; if you’re Jewish that may be a copy of a specific blessing in Hebrew.

14. Nursing pillows are also helpful for a comfortable first latch!

15. Decide how you’re sharing the news. Make sure you have contact info for everyone who needs to know immediately after the little one arrives, then designate one person to SHARE the news for you so that you can focus on those first moments with your new little.

Another consideration is to bring something to say, “thank you” to everyone who helps bring your little one safely into the world. I’m not saying to spend a bunch of money on treats or gifts,  but just the simple act of remembering to say, “thank you” goes a long way. You’d be surprised how rarely nurses hear those simple words. If you really want to bring treats they are definitely welcome, as are things like fruit and veggie trays 🙂 Definitely feel free to send us a copy of your birth announcement too, we love to see babies grow!

As far as “after-care” goes, hospitals provide peri-care supplies including terribly fashionable mesh underpants, ice packs, witch hazel pads, dermoplast and gargantuan pads so there’s no need to have those things handy just yet. Post-partum packing can be a little more extensive, and we’ll break that down another time.


About Jamie Schnell

Jamie Schnell
Jamie Schnell is an RN and full-time mommy to three boys. Her husband, Adam, keeps track of all the stuff that she can never remember where she had it last, and she loves his geeky-wonderfulness. He is definitely the best daddy. Jamie has a BA in English to accompany her BS in Nursing, and recently completed her Master's in Nursing, Family Nurse Practitioner track. Jamie loves reading, writing, crafting anything and everything, green beans, having little parties to celebrate life, coffee, camping, cooking, spa days, Cheetoes, naps, and just being outside.

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