12 Hospital Bag Essentials

As birth workers, we see a lot of hospital bags and a lot of birth situations. Some things we see over and over again so we start to suggest to clients that they add them to their birth bags. Keep the essentials in your bags like clothes for you, phone charger, toiletries, and some items that bring you comfort like a pillow and blanket from home. Now that you have your essentials covered, here are the 12 things our doula team thinks you need to add to your hospital go-bags:

Overflow drain protector for the standard bathtub because the sound of draining water while you're trying to relax in the tub isn't relaxing. It's a common annoyance we hear from laboring people in the tub. If you are hoping to snag the water birth suite, bring a drain protector just in case you don't get the room you desire.

Oil diffuser and your favorite oily blends. My favorite blend right now is jasmine and orange. It's good for anxiety. Most people enjoy lavender during labor but you can get creative. When using aromatherapy in labor remember not to put anything on your skin because if you decide you don't like the scent it will be really hard to get it off your skin. Most birthing places carry aromatherapy, but it can take them awhile to get it to you and you may not like what they are offering.

Other oils you may want to pack include:

  • Frankincense is a great scent to help calm anxieties

  • Citrus (orange, lemon, lemongrass, grapefruit) is great for a boost of energy

  • Peppermint can provide energy and relief from nausea (this one can also be used post birth, drop a few drops in the toilet to help you pee)

  • Clary Sage can help strengthen contractions if diluted and put onto the skin or can be used to help clear emotional blockages along the way, it could be a great one to get out of the fear tension pain cycle

Snacks & Electrolytes. You can get electrolytes from sources like sports drinks and coconut water. My favorite electrolyte drink mix is Jigsaw. When you are purchasing snacks for your labor bag you want to add a variety of things like: complex carbs, fresh fruit, protein, and something for a quick burst of energy like a honey stick.

Some of our favorite snacks are:

  • Cliff bars

  • Granola

  • Nuts & seeds

  • Oatmeal

  • Dried fruit

  • Applesauce pouches

  • Crackers

Newborn and a 0-3 month outfit for baby, why two sizes? Because you never know how big your baby is going to be. Even those late term ultrasounds aren't always accurate. You are only in the hospital for 24 hours after a vaginal birth, so you don't need to pack too much, you will be spending most of your time skin to skin with your new babe.

Headphones can be a great technique to keep you in the zone and keep people from asking you questions without first paying attention to if you are in a contraction or not. If you are planning on listening to hypnosis tracks from a Hypnobaby or Hypnobirthing class this is a great way to get into your hypnosis.

Bluetooth speaker can boom your favorite Tik Tok birth dances for your own viral labor dance OR a more chill playlist you created on your own. Not interested in making your own list, checkout Bright Earth's playlist on Spotify.

A meal for you when baby has arrived. Nothing is more disappointing than everything being closed for business when it comes time for you to eat a full meal after birth. Pack a warming meal for after birth and bring it to the hospital. You can store it in the fridge there and there is always a way to heat your food. If everything is closed and you forgot a meal, you will be enjoying a cold lunchmeat sandwich that they have prepared on the labor floor. While it may be the tastiest sandwich you have ever eaten because you just performed the most amazing stunt ever, you will enjoy it more if you pick something that you actually like.

Afterease for the contractions that come and go after birth. White willow bark is another option to add to your birth bag.

Cooler and container for placenta if you are planning to keep your placenta then you need some things to keep it in good condition before someone picks it up. It cannot stay with you in the hospital. If you want to learn more about placenta encapsulation, click here.

Heating pad or rice heat pack heat can be really comforting in labor in coping with contractions or back pain. At the birth place they will have heat packs available as well but they may not keep the heat as long as one that can be plugged in or a rice pack.

Massage ball/massage gun/tennis ball pick your poison! There is something for every budget here. A tennis ball can be used to apply pressure to the lower back to help cope with contractions and the same goes for a massage gun or massage ball. These are also great tools to use on hips, glutes, and legs to help keep everything loose and ready for pushing.

Comb or TENS Unit these tools are masters of distraction. Grabbing a comb helps to distract from the contraction. A TENS unit sends small electrical impulses to the area put the pads on. What is nice about the TENS unit is you can adjust the intensity level.

Don't forget the bag! I love a nice large organized tote as a labor bag, but you can totally use a small suitcase or your go-to travel bag for overnight stays.

BONUS: Things you don't need to pack

Your birth place will have a lot of the items listed below, so no need to add extra weight to your bag.

  • Diapers & Wipes

  • Postpartum healing supplies like padsicles, mesh underwear, pads, peri bottle, sitz bath salts

  • Swaddles

  • Electric pump

  • Feeding pillow

  • Bottles

  • Pacifiers

  • Formula (if you plan to formula feed)

Tell us in the comments what you are putting in your birth bag! If you are packing your bags after this post, tag us in your stories or posts.

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