Our Bags Are Packed…

Actually the bags have been packed for a few weeks.  We are currently in week 40 (5 days and counting to the supposed due date) and babies normally make their appearance at any time between thirty-seven and forty-two weeks.  Since this means that your baby can come at any point during a five-week window, I figured it would be better to be safe than sorry and started to get things together in week 36.

After reading many suggestions for “what to pack” from a variety of resources, here’s my take on what to pack for your labor, delivery and postpartum experience at the hospital.  You might have heard about “packing a bag” for the hospital.  However, it seems to me that you will need a lot of stuff and it won’t fit in one bag — you will need labor gear, personal items, clothes and other “essentials” for mommy (pre- and post-delivery), personal items, clothes and other “essentials” for daddy or coach (pre- and post-delivery), and things for the trip home for the baby (or babies if you are fortunate enough to be having twins or more).  As you will see below, that’s a lot of stuff.  Thus, I decided that multiple bags for specific purposes might be more appropriate and efficient.   Maybe it’s the type-A in me, but this just seems rational and practical since hospital delivery and postpartum rooms vary in size, resources provided, and restrictions.  In addition, each experience will last different amounts of time depending on the ease of labor and type of birth.  Finally, there is only so much one daddy (or coach) can carry in one trip.

Here is how I chose to organize all of our supplies for the hospital trip (with input from mommy of course).

  • What to pack in the car for the trip to the hospital
  • What to pack for mommy and daddy (or coach) pre-birth
  • What to pack for mommy, daddy (or coach) and baby post-birth

We ended up with two main bags, one for pre-birth and one for post-birth (contents to be discussed below).  We also have a separate camera bag, but that is only because we got a brand new digital SLR with video capability from Santa last Christmas and I though what a great way to test it out.  That said, it’s definitely possible to get your camera gear into one of the other bags if you plan to use a small handheld camera and/or smart phone.   Finally, I’m also taking my courier bag with shoulder strap that acts as my portable office (to include my laptop, iPad, pens, paper, journal, Golf Digest magazines, etc).

Before you get to the actual bags, don’t forget to pack for the ride to the hospital.  Though contrary to what Hollywood movies seem to suggest, chances are that a woman’s “water” (more accurately, a woman’s membranes) isn’t likely to “break” (more accurately, rupture) before labor begins.  In fact, less than 15% of women have their water break and need to be rushed to the hospital.  That said, it does not hurt to be prepared, especially if you recently purchased a new car in preparation for the bundle of joy that will soon be heading home and you want to protect the interior.  Therefore, you might want to pack a towel or two (that you don’t care about) and a garbage sack to cover mommy’s seat in case Hollywood is prophetic.  Believe me, I realize how controversial this might be for the mother-to-be.  When I suggested this to my beautiful bride her stare burned holes through my chest.  I thought she was going to rip my head off.  I simply reminded myself that it might be the hormones talking and explained that it was nothing personal and that being prepared for the unexpected would give me peace of mind during the trip to the hospital.  I figured this was reasonable since I would have plenty of other things to worry about during the car ride to the hospital (like the safety of my loving bride and our little bambino) and I would need to be in a state-of-mind to provide calm, loving support to my wife on the big day.  I still don’t know if she is buying it, but at least she has forgotten about it by now — one of the only times I actually was glad for “baby brain.”

Pre-Birth Bag

Once you have figured what you will put in the car in case of accidents, start stocking your pre-birth bag.  You will have things in here for both mommy and daddy (or coach).

For Mommy:

  • Identification – Picture ID and insurance cards (actually, mommy might want to bring her purse, if so, make sure that these items are included in her purse and/or wallet).
  • Communication devices – cell phone (smart phone) and chargers.
  • Things to Soothe – lip balm (lots of it for dry/chapped lips), massage oils/lotions (consider unscented because women’s senses can be extremely heightened during labor), tennis ball or massager, sugarless candy or lollipops (for quick energy and to keep the mouth moist), a plastic bag with two washcloths (can get wet and use for cold or warm compresses as the need arises), hand fan.
  • Things to Freshen Up – face wipes, body wipes, birth & baby spritzer, toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash, breath spray, dental floss.
  • Entertainment/Diversions for a long labor – iPad, Kindle, iPod or MP3 player and necessary chargers, magazines, books, deck of cards, etc.
  • Clothes/Accessories – something comfortable to wear (e.g. PJs, nightgown), socks in case mommy’s feet get cold, comfortable slippers with non-skid bottoms or flip flops, hair clips, scrunchies or hairbands (if mommy’s hair is long), single use panties if mommy (or daddy) are fond of mommy’s typical panties.
  • Snacks – mommy’s snacks will be limited, and must be approved by your practitioner, but having some light snacks, easy to digest snacks on hand can be helpful for long labor.
  • Favorite Pillow – at least one with a pillow case that is easily identifiable.
  • Mementos – such as family photos (if you think these will help mommy relax) or others items for inspiration.

For Daddy/Coach:

  • Essential Paperwork – Birth Plan (have several copies on hand if you are using one) and hospital paperwork for mommy (I figure the daddy/coach should be in charge of these items since mommy has other priorities to worry about).
  • Bribes – goodies for the nurses and staff who will be taking care of mommy, daddy and baby during the labor, delivery and postpartum process.  You might consider having approximately five small care packages so you can provide to “helpers” with the birth plan when you arrive and to others that come and go throughout the process (I hear many nurses like chocolate).
  • Things to Take Notes – pen and pad, or a pregnancy organizer or journal.
  • Something to Time Contractions – a watch with a second hand or any digital timer (e.g., the stopwatch function of the “Clock” app on an iPhone works great).
  • Communication devices – cell phone (smart phone) and chargers, pre-paid phone card or calling card (in case cell phones are not allowed or service is spotty).
  • “Who to Call” List – mommy and daddy should discuss this list before the big day arrives (especially who actually needs to be called versus those who can get a text or email, who needs immediate attention and who can wait a day or two).
  • Gear to Record the Process – camera and/or video equipment including extra batteries, chargers, and memory cards.
  • Entertainment/Diversions for a long labor – iPad, Kindle, iPod or MP3 player and necessary chargers, magazines, books, deck of cards, etc.
  • Things to Freshen Up – face wipes, hand sanitizer, toiletry essentials, breath mints and/or spray (daddy/coach should try NOT to eat foods with a ton of garlic and/or onions on the days leading up to the due date).
  • Clothes/Accessories – something comfortable to wear (think layers because daddy/coach might get cold and/or hot during the process), comfortable shoes,  “pajamas” (if planning to stay over night), bathing suit (if mommy wants some company in the shower during labor), knee pads (these can be useful if daddy/coach ends up kneeling to give mommy massages, of course hospital pillows and folded towels can also suffice).
  • Snacks – nutritious, non-perishable foods that are easy to pack and eat (e.g., bars, nuts, trail/snack mix).  Avoid foods with distinct odors (reminder: mommy’s senses will be heightened and the last thing a daddy/coach needs is for her to think of you as the “smelly garlic person” during labor).
  • Beverages – daddy/coach could be in for a long day/night and needs to be hydrated and alert in order to provide support and care for mommy.  Bring some of your favorite non-alcoholic beverages (e.g., sports drinks, juice, tea, etc.) that can be easily added to ice.
  • Beverage Containers – two sports bottles with lids/straws, one for mommy and one for daddy/coach.  Water and ice should be accessible at the hospital and you will be the server.
  • Medications – think allergy meds, ibuprofen, and any other prescription meds daddy/coach might need.
  • $$$ – daddy/coach might need money/change for parking and vending machines (it is safe to assume that you won’t be able to use credit/debit cards in all cases).

Post-Birth Bag

After you have put in some effort on your pre-birth bag, get to work on your post-birth bag.  You will have things in here for mommy, daddy/coach and your new little bundle(s) of joy.

For Mommy:

  • For Her Vision – remember to pack eye glasses if she needs them.
  • For Her Comfort – comfy robe, PJs and/or nightgown that opens for breastfeeding.  In addition, think layers in case she gets warm or cold (e.g., t-shirt, sweatshirt, hoody, or sweater, sweats or yoga pants).
  • For Her Privates — 2-3 changes of underwear (that are suitable for wearing maxipads; can also consider single-use disposable panties), Maxipads (favorite brand, extra absorbent), Tucks medicated cooling pads, Sitz Bath Spray, Feme Pad blue-ice packs and/or 6 ziploc gallon-size freezer bags (that daddy/coach  fill with ice) to ensure more comfortable body-forming ice packs than the hospital will probably provide.
  • For Her Belly and Back – postpartum support belt (e.g., The Belly Bandit).
  • For Nursing – Nursing bra(s)/tank(s), nursing pads, nipple cream.
  • For Her Feet – socks/slippers as mentioned above, flip flops/sandals that mommy doesn’t mind leaving at the hospital.
  • For Beauty and Hygiene – essential toiletries including shampoo/conditioner, body wash, face wash, deodorant, moisturizers (including stretch mark cream), hair brush, hair dryer, hand mirror, makeup and any other essentials.
  • For Going Home – loose-fitting comfy clothes (this outfit should fit as if mommy is approximately 5-6 months pregnant).
  • Entertainment – if you packed appropriately for pre-birth, you should already be taken care of here.
  • Snacks – trail mix, soy chips, bars, and other healthy treats to keep mommy from starving when the hospital food isn’t doing it for her or for in-between meal hunger cravings.
  • Beverages – consider bringing mommy’s favorite sports drinks (e.g., red, blue or purple G2 in our case) and some cranberry juice (consider bringing a few individual bottles instead of the big jug).  The hospital might let you store these if they have refrigerator space or you can use your sports bottles with ice as needed.

For Daddy/Coach:

The Daddy/Coach might have the luxury of going home while mommy and baby sleep if the hospital is close, but I recommend being prepared if that’s not the case.  So consider packing the following:

  • Things to Freshen Up – toiletry essentials.
  • Clothes – bring at least one change of comfortable clothes.
  • Entertainment – if you packed appropriately for pre-birth, you should already be taken care of here.
  • Snacks – see recommendation for mommy.
  • Beverages – consider bringing your favorite sports drinks, energy drinks or other non-alcoholic beverages of choice.  Daddy/Coach will also need to re-hydrate and stay hydrated.  As mentioned for mommy, consider brining a few individual bottles instead of big jugs because the hospital might let you store these if they have refrigerator space or you can use your sports bottles with ice as needed.
  • Baby Book – for recording everything (if Daddy/Coach wants to lug it or Mommy wants it to be lugged).
  • Something to Celebrate With – Consider having an ice chest in the car with champagne (or sparkling cider) for celebration.  Daddy/Coach can also check with the hospital in advance to see if you can bring a bottle with your name on it and have them store it in the hospital refrigerator.  Don’t forget the “glasses” (e.g., plastic stemless “flutes” by Govino work well).

For Baby:

  • An Installed Rear-Facing Infant Car Seat – though Daddy/Coach might have time to sneak away after the baby is born and install it when mommy and baby are napping, just install it before hand so you don’t have one more thing to worry about after the baby is born.  This also allows Daddy/Coach to get some practice installing it at home, when not under pressure, and get it checked by the local police or fire station for correct installment (if you so desire).
  • Receiving Blanket – you might get one from the hospital, but better to be prepared with one of your own.  You might want to coordinate it with the baby’s going home outfit.
  • Outfit for the Ride Home – one kimono or stretchie, one t-shirt, one pair of booties, one hat (beanie).
  • Heavy Bunting or Blanket – in case it’s cold!
  • Nail Trimmers or Emory Board.
  • Diapers – diapers will probably be provided by the hospital, but bring along a couple just in case.  If using cloth diapers, bring a couple along with a couple diaper pins or Velcro diaper covers as well (hospitals typically use disposable diapers).

What NOT to Bring

As you can see above, you will have plenty to bring with you for the big day.  Here’s what you do NOT need to bring to the hospital:

  • Jewelry.
  • Lots of cash or other valuables.
  • Medications for mommy – the hospital will need to administer any medications for the mommy-to-be.
  • Excessive amounts of diapers – see “Diapers” in “For Baby” section above for what to bring for the baby.
  • Breast Pump – you will not need your own at the hospital during your stay.

I realize that this is a lot to take in and I’m guessing that we won’t need all of it.  However, we don’t know what will actually happen during labor and delivery.  Though everything is going well now and we are assuming a vaginal birth, who knows what will happen at game time.  For example, a C-Section might be necessary, making our hospital stay at least twice as long compared to a “routine” vaginal birth.  In addition, my dad taught me to always be prepared and I’d rather be safe than sorry.  Once again, it’s that peace of mind thing.

The good news is that packing multiple bags and separating them for various functions will allow you to store what you don’t’ need during labor in the car.  That way, Daddy/Coach will only need to bring in one bag when you arrive at the hospital.  As time allows, Daddy/Coach can go out to the car to retrieve other bags/items as necessary.  Or at least, that’s our plan.  Remember, these are my thoughts based the best information available to me.  We won’t know what is actually needed and how well our preparation works until we go through it for ourselves.  So please check back in after the birth of our bambino and I’ll provide a post-game recap of how it went.

In the interim, I’d love to hear readers’ thoughts, comments, reactions to what I’ve proposed here.  I’m especially interested in getting feedback from others based on their real world experiences.

Until soon…and thanks for listening.


  1. Are you going to the hospital in a U-Haul?

    Bring a toothbrush & call it good. Your phone or iPad will be awesome too. Don’t assume any appropriate sizing for Mommy’s clothing – ever! Hospital wont let Sara eat – she will be begging for ice chips & they might let her have a small spoon full, might. Instead they will be pumping her full of iv fluids & you think there is swelling now! Wear the hospital gown – dont ruin your own clothes. Love the ice chest in the car idea – don’t know how long any champagne will last in a hospital fridge….what that was yours? Oh, sorry – I thought we were lucky & got that last one…. Leave your baby bucket in the car when you check-in, you will have time to get it later & they take up space. Baby Book at the hospital? Im going to punch you. Don’t sit on the ice too long – word. Love all your thoughts & ideas you have beat Eric in 1 paragraph & you have many posts!! Love u e!! Enjoy! Safe speedy delivery! God Bless!

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