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#27: What to Pack in Your Hospital Bag for a Natural Birth



As you prepare for the arrival of your little one, it's essential to have everything you need packed and ready to go for your place of birth. In this episode of the Mindful Womb Podcast, we are talking all about what you need to have in your hospital bag to be prepared for an unmedicated birth.  

In this episode, we dive into the following:

  • What to pack in your hospital bag and why

  • How our mindset plays a big role in our birth prep


Listen to the podcast now:


As you prepare for the arrival of your little one, it's essential to have everything you need packed and ready to go for your place of birth. Whether planning a hospital birth, birth center birth, or home birth, you’ll want to have the essentials packed and ready to go. Just because you might be planning to birth at home doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a transfer bag packed. This is the last thing you would want to worry about during labor.  Packing a hospital bag/ transfer bag can seem overwhelming, especially when you have a lot on your mind as you prepare for labor and the arrival of your newest family member. But don't worry; we've got you covered. In this episode we are going to cover the items to consider packing in your hospital bag for a natural birth experience and WHY.


And an important side note… all birth is natural but what most people mean when saying “natural birth” is an unmedicated vaginal or lower birth. So I will be referring to unmedicated birth as opposed to natural throughout this episode.


Comfortable Clothing

During labor, comfort is key. Pack comfortable clothing that is easy to move in and won't mind getting dirty. It’s proven that wearing a hospital gown has negative psychological effects, 

  • Sense of being unwell

  • Loss of control

  • More vulnerable and exposed 

  • heightened their sense of feeling both emotionally and physically vulnerable


so I recommend wearing your own clothes or purchasing a birthing gown online. There are many great options for comfortable birthing gowns with snaps up the back and along the shoulders that are more comfortable than a hospital gown. The key is wearing things that are easy to get in and out of and easy access for nursing ((hence my recommendations for snaps along the back and across the shoulders). Some great clothing options include loose-fitting tops and a robe or cardigan to keep you warm. Keep in mind it’s normal to be leaking fluids during labor, you may choose to let that happen freely, the hospital usually offers mesh underwear and a pad, some folks will purchase dipers of the equivalent for a home birth to not have to worry about leaking 


Birth Plan


If you have a birth plan WHICH I HIGHLY RECOMMEND YOU DO…, bring three copies with you to your birth location. A birth plan will help your care team understand your preferences and help you have the birth experience you desire. There can be nurse or doctor shift changes during labor, so having extra copies to share is very helpful. I highly recommend creating a birth plan and discussing your preferences before you go into labor. A birth plan is a communication tool between you and your medical provider. An effective birth plan lies in how it's implemented, not the sheet of paper. You can find out more details about creating and effective birth plan in episode 21 and grab a free birth plan template at clearlightbirth.com/birth-plan (I will also link in show notes)


Snacks and Drinks

During labor, it's essential to stay hydrated and fueled. Pack snacks and drinks that are easy to eat and provide energy. Some great options include fruit, granola bars, trail mix, honey, and drinks with electrolytes like coconut water. Some hospitals discourage eating during labor, contrary to the most recent evidence. Eating during labor is a question of bodily autonomy and should not be decided by you or hospital policy. I will be providing more information about eating during labor, great snacks for labor, and how to advocate for your right to eat throughout labor in a future episode.


Comfort Measures

Consider packing items that will help you stay comfortable during labor. This may include a pillow, a heating pad, essential oils, and a comb for counter pressure or other tools to help you relax. Typically hospitals and birthing centers will have birth balls and peanut balls so that’s typically not something you need to pack but worth confirming that they are available the the place you are going to give birth,


Don't forget to pack items that will help support you during and after labor. This may include a nursing pillow, and nipple cream. Having a large water bottle with a large straw can also be helpful. Drinking from a straw helps relax your jaw and makes it easier to drink from different positions.


Music or Audio

Bringing your favorite music or audio can help create a calming environment during labor. Consider packing a portable speaker, headphones, or a meditation app to help you stay focused and relaxed.


Items to Create an Ideal Birth Environment

Our environment plays a large role in our overall birth experience. There are a lot of things you can bring with you to set the tone and make your environment as calm and relaxing as possible. These include electric tea nights or twinkle lights, a diffuser or essential oils, and pillows or blankets that remind you of your home to set a calming mood. Check out more about the birth environment by Listening to episode 4. How to Optimize Your Birth Environment for a Blissful Birth


Toiletries

Pack toiletries to help you feel fresh and clean during your hospital stay. This may include toothbrush and toothpaste, deodorant, face wipes, and lip balm (trust me, the lip balm is key). Remember both you and your support person will need to pack toiletries. Most common items forgotten: toothbrushes and lip balm!


Clothes and Items for Baby

Pack clothes for your baby to wear after birth, including a onesie, socks, and a hat. Make sure also to pack a blanket to keep your baby warm. And of course, make sure you bring a car seat and already have it installed and checked by your local fire department.


Nursing Supplies

If you plan on breastfeeding or chestfeeding your baby, it's important to come prepared. Bringing your pump, nursing bras, nursing pads, nipple cream, and some storage bags for expressed milk can be very helpful. Your pump can be used during labor for nipple stimulation, a natural induction method, and a technique to help labor progress. Also, if your baby needs to go to the NICU, you can hand express and learn to express using your pump. Most hospitals and birth centers will have a medical-grade pump on hand, but it's great to get support from lactation support staff on how to use your pump, get the right flange size, and feel comfortable using it before leaving your birth location.


MOST IMPORTANT THING TO PACK IS YOUR MINDSET 



Hospital Bag Checklist (the essentials):

Remember, this list is just a starting point. Think about what will make you feel most comfortable and calm during your hospital or birth center stay. Pack whatever items you need to help create the birth experience you desire. And most importantly, trust in yourself and your body's ability to give birth. You've got this!

  • Lip balm

  • Your own toiletries (plus those for your partner)

  • Slippers or no skid socks

  • Glasses (contacts can be tricky if you need to look for your solution etc.)

  • Nursing Bra (2)

  • Nursing pads

  • Pump

  • Clothes you plan to birth in

  • Phone Charger

  • Snacks

  • Bathrobe or comfy clothes for post labor

  • Maxi pads, Underwear, and diapers

  • Going home clothes for you and baby

  • Car Seat

  • Warm blankets for baby's ride home

  • Photo ID, insurance info, 

  • birth plan (3 copies)

  • Small Cooler (if keeping your placenta)

  • Blanket

  • Headband, hair wrap, or ponytail holder

  • Headphones

  • Pillow from home

  • Breastfeeding/chestfeeding pillow

  • Cozy sweater or fleece

  • YOUR MINDSET


 

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