what to pack in hospital bag

Birth Intentions, Birth Prep Aids, + Hospital Essentials.

August 21, 2019

Considering Azelie came 4 weeks early, I started scrambling over the weekend to pack a bag this time to be ready to go! (The braxton hicks are already starting. Yikes!) As I am learning more about the perspective and narratives surrounding birth in our culture, it is no surprise I was under the impression it was as simple as choosing to have an epidural or not. After sharing more of my experience about healing from past birth experiences to prepare for this one, so many of you had some encouraging tips and resources I started to dive into. My eyes have been opened to how more importantly than a birth plan is preparing yourself mentally and emotionally for bringing your baby into the world. I wanted to share a few things that have helped me prepare for this birth, as well as what I am bringing in my hospital bag…

Birth Affirmations

Mental, physical, and emotional aids for birth prep:

Australian Birth Story and The Birth Hour podcasts – Sometimes it just takes listening to other stories to open your mind and perspective on birth. I listened to some of these podcast episodes, and I learned a great deal even about different cultural norms!

Creating a birth playlist – I never have done this, and yet music can one of the most calming and motivating elements in my life. It gets my mind and soul in the right place. I have been working on one to hook up to our speaker in the labor and delivery room:)

Chiropractic care – I have a chiropractic adjustment scheduled next week so my spine is aligned and body more in sync for birth. This is something simple, but getting your body physically ready may prevent some of the back pain during labor.

Birth books – An eye opening and easy read for me was You Are Superwoman. I have been going through on my kindle app at night. No matter what type of birth we have, it is true that we aren’t often given the accurate perspective or even confidence in our abilities due to what we are or aren’t told throughout our lives. Highly recommend this book. Also reading stories from Ina May Gaskin’s book was super encouraging.

Birth Affirmations + Prayer – I have been using the Simply Balanced Maternity Wellness course throughout my pregnancy, and reading the birth affirmations alone were such an incredible mental and emotional boost for me. I weave them into my prayer, putting it all into God’s hands knowing He desires good for me and my baby.

Meeting with a doula – my sister has been a doula in training, and has given me some really helpful tips for getting into the right mindset. Meeting with her eased so much of my fears just by verbalizing them, talking them through. She knows me so well, and will be such an intuitive and calming force in the birth room. I am so grateful to have her by my side this time. If you want to leave her any questions below I will have her answer them! Not everyone can have a doula or midwife by their side at birth. If you have a friend, family member, or significant other who can be an advocate for you in the birth room it can make all the difference. There were several times in the past I felt likeI couldn’t communicate the way I wanted to the medical staff because I was in so much pain. Someone who understands you, knows your birth intentions, and can be a voice for you when you need is I believe, one of the most important elements you can bring with you to have your baby;)

Birth Intentions
After Veronica’s surprise unmedicated birth, I tried to be a little bit more prepared with Max and took a water birth class. Which is actually humorous considering how Max’s birth came about and I almost delivered him in the parking lot of the hospital. Since things weren’t going according to “plan” and the pain was shocking, I was unprepared and felt the experience shocked me. Without the mental prep, your plan can end up hindering or harming your overall birth experience. So instead of a birth plan this go around, I am setting more of an intention: To accept what is happening to my body, to accept the pain that paves the way to meeting my baby, and to be open to however that baby needs to come into the world. This intention makes way for the peace I so desire for this birth, no matter what happens. I’ve already put this baby in God’s hands and I know just like in the past, He will be right by my side through it all.

After 5 births, I have come to realize how little you really need in the hospital. They give you just about everything for you and the baby! Here are the essentials I have narrowed it down to over the years.

Hospital Bag Essentials:

Robe or nursing gown for post delivery
Nursing tanks
Nursing bras – Really love this one from Avyn. The fit is perfect.
Postpartum leggings – I basically just wear nursing tanks, leggings, and robes the whole hospital stay, and the first few weeks at home!
Sweater robe
Cozy socks
Slippers – Gabe got me the ones pictured below a few years ago, and here are some similar ones.
Take home onesies and swaddle for your baby
Pacifiers if you have a preferred one for your baby
*Bag is from Nena and Co. They last forever because they are hand made, and I have used them for diaper bags and travel bags for years!

Toiletries – dry shampoo, deodorant, makeup remover wipes, toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo…that’s about all I will use!
Lip balm – my lips get super dry during pregnancy and labor so this is a must!
Heating pad – you can use your own heating pad for the post birth cramps no one prepares you for. They get more painful with each baby so the heating pads can be a lifesaver. I got one like this on ETSY years ago that had aromatherapy scents inside.
Diffuser + Oils – I have a few go-to oils (Peace & Calming, Joy, Lavender) that immediately relax me and help set a peaceful environment, so totally worth bringing to the hospital. I’ve been diffusing it at night already so my memory will instantly recognize and go into relaxation mode in the labor room.

Roller bottle labor blends – (got the labels from etsy)

Roller bottles for labor and recovery – I have a few I have packed for the labor that I know we will use:
Stress Relief/focus blend – (10 drops valor, 10 drops peace and calming, 10 drops Stress Away) to rub on wrists and spine as labor starts to combat anxious thoughts and relax the mind.
Belly blend – (10 drops Clary Sage to every 10 drops fractioned coconut oil.) Rub on uterus area through contractions. It helps regulate contractions and also what I will use postpartum to help uterus go back into place.
Happy blend – (10 drops Joy, 10 drops Lavender, 10 drops Peace and Calming, fill the rest with fractioned coconut oil ) The scents that help mood boost or relax – it really is your preference. It can be as simple as smelling this roller bottle that can be incredibly calming and boosting!
Hormone balance/ Postpartum anxiety – (Equal parts Ylang Ylang to equal parts fractioned coconut oil.) This time I want to start combating baby blues and anxiety right away so planning on using this blend by rubbing on feet, spine, and over the heart a few times a day after birth.
Deep Relief Massage oil – Gabe or my doula can use this for muscle tension, aches, and soreness relief during labor.

My doula sis will also have some birth supplies as well that I don’t have to worry about bringing!

Gabe is in charge of the following:
Phone chargers
Camera/video + battery
Snacks or food for both of us – anyone else crave fries and a milkshake after having a baby? 😉
JBL speaker for music
His own change of clothes and pillow for staying the night!

Whether you are having a planned c-section, epidural, or unmedicated birth, the hospital really does have everything you need for you and the baby. Don’t worry about the diapers (for you or baby -lollllz), creams, and pads. Just bring your essentials that you think you will use in the time you are there.

Something I read recently in You Are Superwoman is that we are so quick to share our hard birth experiences, but it isn’t often we share the positive experiences! It’s okay to be disappointed and even have fears surrounding births. I obviously have, and it seemed to get worse over time. So I want to end this post with an opportunity for you to share a positive birth experience with everyone reading. I would love to uplift and encourage any new mamas to be. Please keep my family in your prayers as we get ready to welcome this new little one. I appreciate it so much!

Leave a Comment

  • Charlotte

    So glad you have the support of your sister doula! We used Doula for both of our childrens births it it made me feel safe and supported which was key to me relaxing and embracing the process and had both babies without pain meds in a hospital setting (i like being able to move around). My last baby came rocketing into the world so quickly I delivered and started cracking up about how wild the previous 30 min were🤣 enjoy your joy baby…heard that’s what some drs call 3+ babies and I love it ❤

    • Yes I am so thankful – wishing I would have had the same with the rest of my births! Yours sounds like my Max story – he came in about 45 minutes!

      • Charlotte

        Yep! I was induced at 41+1 and once things got going it went from me watching Netflix hanging out on a yoga ball wondering if the cramping I was feeling was actually labor starting around 5:30pm to holding baby girl around 7ish. 🤣

  • Chelsea M

    I heard of bad stories and even watched a few YouTube videos of first time birth stories. I learned from friends that I could be there in the hospital for 24+ hrs before having to push for almost 4…well not the case with my baby! I stayed home and labored until my contractions were 5 mins apart. This was only about 6 hours. When I arrived at the hospital it was 3 AM and I was told my water was not present (oops! I must have leaked!) and I was already 4.5 cm. They admitted me immediately and by 11 AM I had my baby with only one hour of pushing! What I didn’t know was that when it’s time to push, you only push when you have contractions…so when I heard previously that some people push for 4 hours I was really anxious about how my body would handle that. Fortunately, for my first baby it was only one hour of pushing (30 mins of actively pushing during contractions). It all happened so swiftly and peacefully. I know this is not the story everyone gets, but I’m thankful for this platform to share my positive story to maybe help out another expecting momma. I was anxious about all the what if’s, but God had his own plan and it was so much better than I could have imagined!

    • Isn’t it crazy how many stories we can hold onto that are negative? It really is empowering to have your own positive experience! Keep sharing it with new mamas. We all need to hear that it doesn’t have to be scary:)

  • I have been following your blog silently since Azelie was born and wanted to let you know you have been a continual inspiration to me, especially now that I have recently become a mama too. I’m sure there are many other silent lurkers like me! Your sincerity, grace, opemindedness and sweetness is evident in all of your posts. Sending lots of love and all the best wishes to you as you welcome this new baby to your beautiful family. I wouldn’t categorize my own story as either wholly negative or wholly positive. There were low lows and high highs through the whole thing. The best parts: my husbands unwavering support of and advocacy for me through every minute, the sound of his voice as he spoke to our child the first time, the support of the incredible nurses, feeling the squirmy baby on my chest right after the baby was born, and the relief of the epidural after the first 16 hours without it.

    • I appreciate you taking the time to leave such a thoughtful and kind comment. Thank you so much for reading these past few years, and for these encouraging words! I got teary reading because when I think of the moments I shared with Gabe after each baby…they really were some of the best of our marriage. x

  • Can’t wait to see this sweet babe! And I have those same slippers – love them.

  • Working at the hospital where we decided to deliver was an easy choice for us. I am extremely comfortable there and would trust the NICU team with my baby and the ICU team with myself if the worst case scenario happened. One of the best experiences was being a part of a baby friendly hospital. Once the baby is born, they do not leave your side unless going for a circ. This means pediatrician visit, first bath, everything happens in the room. It made me feel like I was an active part of the ENTIRE experience
    even though post section I was stuck in the bed. The lactation nurses came even for my second birth just to make sure I did not have any questions (amazing what you forget in 7 months!). It was an amazing experience. I was worried as a planned section that I would miss out on what so many women talk about and are revered for but I had my own amazing experience that I wouldnt change! Congratulations sister. Prayers for a peaceful and healthy delivery and LOTS of self love post delivery!

  • Christina

    Thank you so much for sharing. I mostly wanted to read this for the hospital bag suggestions but I came away with so much more! Your birth intention is exactly how I have been feeling but unsure how to put into words. 💞

  • I had heard mostly negative experiences about inductions, but at 41 weeks I was okay with just about anything! Thankfully mine went beautifully. My body responded well to the Pitocin, the epidural worked quickly and completely and I felt so safe with the anesthesiologist. I only had very minor first degree tears thanks to a doctor who made great decisions as I was pushing. It was such a calm day! I can only hope that all of my future births go as smoothly!

  • I love the idea of a heating pad as I requested one with my first and the nurses were like “huh??” I did end up getting one, but would love to have my own. How do you hear up the rice kind at the hospital?

    • Hi Maggie! Our hospital had a little room down the hall that offered a microwave and place to make tea and such, so Gabe would stick it in the microwave there with a half a glass of water and heat for a minute. I think most hospitals have at least a cafeteria for family members to use that have a microwave, but they would have to do it for you probably vs. the nurses.

  • Ashley Smith

    O this is such a wealth of info! Thank you! You are so prepared in mind, body, and soul! How beautiful! I will tuck this post away as a resource for my upcoming future ☺️. Daily prayers for you and your family!

  • Best of luck. Birth is a miracle and a blessing, no matter how it happens. I love that you have experienced birth 6 times, and yet you are still learning, growing, embracing the anxiety and unknowns, and open to what’s to come. As much as we prepare, each one of these babes come into the world in their own way. Something that helped me so much with my third birth was thinking of how my baby and I were doing this together. All of the pain I was feeling was just helping me to meet her and helping her to do her part! It’s a productive pain and the more I allowed it, embraced it, breathed into it, and accepted it, the more I was able to work with her to bring her safely into this world. Imagine how scary it must be for those little babes! Oh, and doulas are a God send! Sending love and prayers!

  • My third baby birth was a great experience as my epidural was given early following the start of an induction – allowing me to relax and even nap over several hours. I feel like this gave me the strength to push her out (which took longer due to her unexpected larger size – 9.5 lbs.) – I am so thankful for a great anesthesiologist. Prayers for a safe and good experience!!

    • Anna Liesemeyer

      That sounds like my birth with Rocco! It was pretty smooth and peaceful!

  • My early labor started out so light, that my husband and I decided to still go out for our planned date night. Half way through dinner, I was in active labor and asking for the check! We went to the hospital & when I wanted to push, my water had yet to break My doctor offered to break it. This terrified me, but he calmly talked me through my options and asked my specific fears. (they broke it & it was the right choice!)

    After we met our sweet girl, I was suffering from a retained placenta, which can be life-threatening. But my provider was so calm, and assisted in the removal to make sure I had no complications. I actually didn’t even realize what had happened until the next day! (they told me, I was just so focused on baby, and they didn’t act like anything was wrong).

    Overall, everyone was calm, respectful, and let me listen to my body. I’m over here at 28 weeks, hoping for a repeat!

  • First off, love your blog and instagram. My husband and I also want to have a big family and it’s really special getting to see the inner workings of yours 🙂

    I loved my pregnancy and birth experience! We were beyond blessed with the most encouraging nurse! Upon meeting her she immediately asked me what my birth plan was cause she wanted to know how to help me throughout my labor. I didn’t really have much of a plan other than I wanted to try to go unmedicated. Little did I know that one question she asked me would be a game changer. I was so thankful that I had my husband and my nurse as my #1 cheerleaders and I was able to deliver my baby quickly and without meds. We were so sad when it was time for her to leave (when her shift was over), but she came back the next day to see us and see the baby. I will never again underestimate how much the hospital staff does and I’m now even more grateful for labor and delivery nurses knowing how hard they work everyday!

  • Great memories to prepare this bag… indeed so much not needed that you remove pregnancy after pregnancy! I also used to take a fabric to cover my pillow, which I did keep for each of my kids afterwards (to walk them around in the stroller and will give to them ultimately). Made me feel at home every time, and I used to put perfume for baby on it; now has become my favorite scent to relax after any hectic moment at work or at home…

  • Megan Swaim

    Last summer we moved to a new state (10 hours away) less than a month before Baby #3 was due. Yes, it was crazy. There were so many things outside my control/comfort zone – a new OB I had never met, a hospital we never toured, not having the support of family and friends. I just accepted that this baby’s birth wouldn’t be idea and decided to put my head down and just power through. It sounds so foreign when I type it now because it was hands-down my very best birth. It was my 3rd c-section, and they let me watch our baby be born and I got to announce that she was a girl (our 3rd!). Our doctor and nurse were so caring and our new parish family made us a meal train filled with people we didn’t know or had just met. When I look back on the experience I’m just grateful and humbled because I should have trusted God’s goodness all along!

  • I induced with my first son, and when it came time to push – – 10 minutes and my 9lb 3oz baby was here! When I began pushing with my second son, things were not moving as quickly as with my first, so I asked to stop pushing after 30 minutes. My doctor said sure, if I could do it. To me, pushing is HARD work, and I would rather let contractions and gravity do as much as possible before me. Haha. When I couldn’t wait anymore, we pushed again for 15 minutes, and my ELEVEN POUND baby boy came on out to meet us! I always encourage moms to ask if they don’t think something is good or working well. You can try different things. Or in my case, take a break!

  • Stephanie

    We have baby number 5 coming in the next couple weeks and I agree so much with all you’ve shared, from a pretty pared down hospital bag to your birth mindset being so important! I also have a doula sister, who will hopefully make it to the birth (she lives about a 5 hr drive away). I have had 4 very positive births, thanks in large part to my amazing, calm, confident doctor. She has a pretty hands off, “your body knows what to do approach” which in itself is really empowering, especially when she says it out loud to you during labor! All of my births were unmedicated and part of why I ended up loving that is because I really felt in charge the whole time. I said when I would feel a contraction coming, so I said when I was ready to push. I knew as it got closer to the end that it would be one or two more and I was about to meet my sweet baby. That helped me finish strong with each labor. I’m much less nervous about this labor and know it is in God’s hands. He will lead the way, guide us and protect us. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. They have been helpful and inspiring. Praying for a smooth labor, delivery, and transition for you. Xo

  • Chelsea Wagenaar

    I always have to have a milkshake within a few hours after delivery!! There is nothing like that first postpartum feast. Praying for your and so excited to see who this new little gift will be.

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