Packing your birth bag can feel like a daunting task. What do I really need? Will I need endless amounts of underwear? What does the hospital supply? And what if I get hungry...?
When it comes to packing for labour there isn’t a whole lot that is needed, much of the essentials are provided and available at the hospital or birth centre, such as linen, pillows, hospital gown, wash cloths, disposable underwear (yep, throw away undies!), pads, and you’ll have access to a water and ice machine, microwave and fridge (be sure to mark all your food with the laboring person’s last name and room number).
It is worth noting that most hospitals and birth centres only have a limited supply of what we call ‘luxury’ items such as pillows, so it is worth bringing a couple extra pillows (or other 'necessities' for your comfort), in particular if you can only rest in a well engineered pillow fortress!
Here’s Spectrum's absolute essential things to pack in your birth bag (click here for a full birth bag packing list, and keep your eye out for a unique packing list for postpartum and for your support partner)…
During labour, a whole lot of clothing isn't necessary, the hospital provides a hospital gown, disposable underwear, and pads, but hospitals can get cold! The most important items to bring is a house coat or warm sweater that opens in the front, which will keep you nice and warm and still easy to take on and off. Slip on shoes are also key (make sure shoes or slippers are roomy for any swelling).
Out of all the toiletries you'll pack, the two that as doulas we don't leave home without is lip balm and hand moisturizer. Hospitals and Birth Centres can have very dry air, and these two items are pure gold - if you do forget lip balm, colostrum is the best lip balm and available well before labour!
If you've hired a labour doula, they often have many tools to help provide comfort, however, it is worth providing items that can help you get some rest and to help have some control over your environment, such as an eye mask and ear plugs, which easily can make a light and noisy place dark and quiet.
Smart phones are great for labour. They become an all in one: camera, music player, and of course - a phone! Just remember your charger!
Hospitals have rules around eating during labour, but it is worthwhile to bring some easy to digest food for both you and anyone who is coming to support you. Good options include dried fruits, nuts and seeds, easy to heat soups, crackers, and pureed fruits and smoothies.
There you have it! Now get packing!
If you’ve got some great packing tips, or some packing related questions, let us know by writing a comment, we would love to hear from you…!
The Spectrum Doula Team