Hospital Bag Checklist: What to Pack for Hospital Birth

Hospital Bag Checklist: What to Pack for Hospital Birth

Not sure what to pack for hospital birth? These are the absolute essentials to add to your hospital bag checklist!

We’re just sharing the absolute musts that moms say they are glad they added to their hospital bag checklist before the baby came.

Trying to think of what to pack for hospital birth can be overwhelming, especially if you’re a first-time mom. So let’s ease that stress so you can relax while you wait for your little one’s arrival instead of getting hung up on the hospital bag checklist.

Over 20 moms gave us the inside scoop on what they thought were the most important things they packed in their hospital bag, and what they wish they would have added to their hospital bag checklist and missed. And of course, I add my own 2cents.

Use your own judgment too. This list is full of suggestions, but if you know you have worn a robe and absolutely hate them, then maybe skip it and get a comfy cardigan instead (that’s what I did). Plus, I’ve included some affiliate links, so if you purchase anything from this list I get a small commission at no extra cost to you.

The Essential Hospital Bag Checklist:

  • Insurance info
  • Birth Plan (extra copies)
  • Essential Oils (there are awesome PMS blends that helped me with lower back discomfort during birth)
  • Comfy Outfits (Pregnancy yoga pants, soft t’s, and warm socks were my go-to)
  • Robe or Sweater (I loved having a big comfy cardigan.)
  • FridayMom Peri Bottle (So much nicer than the peri bottles they give you at the hospital)
  • Pads and/or Mom Diapers (The hospital will usually have some for you, but if you have a preferred brand or style, then bring them)
  • Breastpump (If you don’t have one, check out Aeroflow where they help you get one for free from your insurance.)
  • Haakaa (Catch all the liquid gold leaking out while you nurse on the other side)
  • Lanolin
  • Facewash, Body wash, Shampoo, Conditioner (and one mom also recommended a detangling spray because you’ll probably be too tired to get all the knots out. The hospital usually has this stuff there, but you might prefer your own.)
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Lip gloss or chapstick
  • Water Bottle (The hospital will have cups, but I liked having my own water bottle that could hold much more water.)
  • Nursing bra/tank
  • Slippers
  • Hairbands, Headbands, and Bobby Pins
  • Hairbrush
  • Phone
  • Charger for Phone (One mama made the awesome tip to get on that is extralong so it can reach where you need it to!)
  • Favorite playlist (My hubby played a specific birth playlist for me and it definitely helped me out a ton!)
  • Noise-canceling headphones (So you can tune out all that’s going on and focus.)
  • Skincare and Makeup (I didn’t bring a lot, but I did like going through the routine of some basic skincare to feel more like a human again after that first postbirth shower)
  • Your own towels, pillow, and blanket (Some mamas just can’t get comfy with the ones at the hospital)
  • Snacks (Pro-mom tip so you have fuel for late-night nursing sessions)
  • Going home outfit for you (I usually pack my favorite pregnancy outfit that is comfy. You’ll still need to wear your pregnancy clothes for a while.)
  • Going home outfit for the baby/ies (I always chose a comfy sleeper.)
  • Extra newborn clothes for at hospital (Sleepers with zippers are my fav)

Did we miss anything? Share with us what was on your hospital bag checklist! Comment below with your best tips on what to pack in hospital bag.

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When Your Birth Plan Changes

When Your Birth Plan Changes

Birth is complicated, and it’s so common for your birth plan to changes. But the fact that curveballs are bound to come your way during birth is the biggest reason you NEED a birth plan.

When I was pregnant with my first, I had an extremely detailed birth plan, and that birth plan totally changed. Thrown out the window. But I don’t for one second regret creating it.

I cried during my childbirth, but not because of pain. No, I had been dealing with a lot of pain for about a week.  I was crying as I was getting an epidural. 

Ever since I saw Ricki Lake’s documentary, The Business of Being Born, I knew I wanted a natural childbirth. I was dead set against birthing in a hospital.

In fact, my number one choice was to birth at home, but if that didn’t work I would go to a birth center that was unattached from a hospital.

Well, needless to say, from the very beginning, it didn’t go quite as planned.

This is my birth story, and I’m going to tell you why I still think it’s important to have a birth plan, even if it doesn’t go as expected.

 

My Birth Plan

Let me start by telling you my preparations.

I chose my care provider carefully and settled on a local midwifery that had both a freestanding birth center and connections to a hospital so they could accompany me to the hospital if I would need to be transferred in case of an emergency. It seemed like the best of both natural and medical options to fall back on. 

I read some of the most influential natural birth books out there. I watched natural birth videos. I hired a doula. I took the Hypnobabies course to help with natural birth. I made a birth plan. I even set up a plan for having my placenta encapsulated.

There is no one else on the planet aside from maybe a doula or midwife who was as prepared as I was for my natural childbirth.

Maybe I would even be one of those lucky women who had an orgasmic birth!

But Birth Plans Change

The problem is… Birth is not math. There’s no magical equation to ensure that it works out perfectly every time. In fact, it’s almost guaranteed that at least one thing will not go as planned.

That’s life.

Since birth is the process of bringing a human life into this world it only makes sense that you’re going to be thrown a curveball here and there.

I started having contractions early in the week of November 16.

At around 11 pm they would start and go all night but never get close together or rhythmic and would end when the sun came up. By Thursday I was pretty sure I was in active labor. So I went in to have my midwife check me, and I was 2-3 cm and 100% effaced.

Throughout that and the next night, the contractions would come and go, giving me no more than 15-30 minute stretches of sleep. Oh, and did I mention it was all back labor? Yeah.

My doula worked with me on various techniques to help get the baby into a better position to hopefully speed things up and get the pressure off my back. None of it worked.

Late Friday into early Saturday morning I again had the contractions get pretty close and consistent, 3-5 minutes apart for over an hour. So I called the doula and midwife and we headed to the birth center. 

I had progressed to 5-6 cm so we stayed, but guess what… By the time the sun came up, my labor had stopped again. 

At this point, I was exhausted from not sleeping all night. So my midwife gave me a sleep aid and sent me home to rest. The hope was my body just needed to recharge to take on the big task of pushing this kid out. So I was able to sleep most of the day, but again the contractions picked up over the night and ended in the morning.

It was now Sunday morning. We made a trip to the hospital just to get hooked up to some monitors and make sure the baby was doing well after all this stress, and yes she was doing great. Again I went home after some discussion about potentially breaking my water if things didn’t progress soon.

I got home. Showered and took another sleep aid, but less than an hour later I woke up to the most intense contractions yet.

My doula came over and we decided to head to the birth center. I had decided that either this was the real deal or I was going to go ahead with the midwife breaking my water because I was totally exhausted. 

Luckily we got there, and just when the midwife walked into the room to break my water, it broke on its own!

 

Managing Discomfort During a Long Labor

Let me pause right here to give a big shoutout to Hypnobabies, a program that teaches moms how to have a pain-free childbirth.

If you don’t know what it is, it’s a self-hypnosis/meditation technique that is used to have comfortable childbirth.

It wasn’t easy and I wasn’t comfortable for every minute of this birthing process because it was so start and stop, but without Hypnobabies, I would have been begging for an epidural on Day 1 instead of being able to naturally progress as far as I did.

Eventually, I did start making progress after my water broke, but once I got to 9cm it stopped again… I felt like I was so close and wasn’t ready to throw in the towel and head to the hospital yet. But after still a few more hours and no more progress, I agreed to go to the hospital for pitocin.

Now that I am a mom of three, I can look back on this first birth and think based on the many birth stories I have heard since, that if I would have held out just a little longer, maybe I would have starting progressing again on my own. But at the time I was a first-time mom and I was less sure of myself and my ability to natural birth a baby.

I think that’s why I chose to get an epidural and pitocin. It felt more certain than continuing to wait, and wait, and wait.

99% of birth is a mindgame. You can handle the discomfort, but the battle you’re really fighting is in your mind because it gets scary at times. That’s why even though my birth didn’t go exactly as I intended, I still totally support having a well though out birth plan because it helps you visualize what might happen so you are as prepared as possible.

It’s also why the Hypnobabies techniques were so helpful. When I was in the zone with them, I felt great physically, emotionally, and mentally.

Choosing a New Plan

Since I wasn’t getting my natural birth center birth and I was a bit afraid of how the pitocin would make me feel, I opted for an epidural.

We got to the hospital by 9pm on Sunday night and had the pitocin and epidural running by 10 pm. It still wasn’t until 5am that I was ready to push.

This kid apparently didn’t want to come out at all.

My uterus must be super cozy. My midwife and I actually discussed the possibility of going to a c-section if I wasn’t ready to push by around 5am, but luckily I was! 

The pushing was super hard work, but my daughter came into the world at 6:54 am Monday morning. 

Even though the baby and I came through this healthy and happy, it took me a while to really deal with the fact that my birth wasn’t the natural birth I had planned.

I did everything right! But my body and the baby just had other plans.

 

So, why do I still think it is so important to have a birth plan? 

I can now say that I am happy with the decisions I made during my birth because even though it wasn’t my ideal birth, I was well informed. I had thought through all the possibilities beforehand and knew what my options were. I wasn’t really thrown by the change of plans because I had planned for a change of plans as a possibility.

I also had a team and partner I trusted to help me make the decisions, and choosing that team was part of my initial planning when creating a birth plan.

Having a birth plan is so important for women to use as a way to think through all the things that could happen during birth and make a plan for them. The birth plan isn’t just about outlining your ideal birth.

It’s also about deciding when and how you will make hard decisions if they come up, and giving your care providers a clear sense of how you want them to interact with you.

Even if you are having a c-section or a hospital birth with a planned epidural, I still recommend this.

Also, it isn’t just about the birth itself, but the time directly after the birth. It sets up your expectations of how your baby will be handled, and I don’t know about you, but I don’t want anyone else deciding what happens to my baby directly after I just did all that work to bring her here (assuming no major emergency).

So I’m going to leave you with a quote because no matter whether you have a birth plan, don’t have a birth plan, had a picture-perfect birth, or it was a hot mess. This really sums up how I would love for all women to approach their birth.

“Women, don’t ever apologize for your behavior or choices during birth. When you OWN your experience and take pride in your journey, you help other women do the same thing. No matter how you did it, you just brought a human being into the world! The world should be kneeling at your feet.” -Lauralyn Curtis

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My Twin Birth Story (Hospital Induction, No Epidural)

My Twin Birth Story (Hospital Induction, No Epidural)

My twin boys just turned 2 today, and it felt like the right time to share my twin birth story.

This is the twin birth story of Sebastian Charles and Maximus James.

When I found out I was pregnant in Early 2017, I was so excited to plan a totally natural water birth. My natural birth plans were thwarted with my first birth when it took forever and a day, ending me up with a hospital birth.

But at our 20-week ultrasound, that plan was AGAIN tossed out.

As soon as the ultrasound tech put the wand down on my belly, my husband made a comment that there was a lot of stuff in there! A few seconds later she clicked the button next to fetuses with the number 2 and said: “there’s two in there!”

I was simultaneously shocked and not surprised at all. Maybe a little voice spoke to me or maybe it was my mother’s intuition, but I knew there were two babies. I even told my mom to expect twins before the ultrasound. And I also wasn’t surprised when we found out both were boys. I knew they would be.

But even though in my heart I knew it, it’s a totally surreal experience to have those hunches confirmed. 

It did mean a change of birth plans though. The midwifery and OB/GYN I go to only does twin births in the hospital, and the actual birth takes place in an operating room. 

Not exactly the relaxed water birth I hoped for, but I was happy with the practice and didn’t want to change providers, so we agreed to hospital birth in the OR. Not my intended birth story, but c’est la vie, I was thrilled to be having TWO babies. 

This was my second birth using Hypnobabies (a form of hypnosis used for comfortable childbirth click here to learn more), and in my first, I had used the Hypnobabies techniques to stay pretty comfortable for most of my birthing time, which was very long as I had prodromal birthing time stretching out over a week.

I planned on a birth center water birth for that one too, but I did end up consenting to both an epidural and pitocin at the hospital in the end because I was exhausted. Luckily when it came time to push, that part went smoothly!

My recovery from that birth was easy and quick, but since that birth didn’t go as planned, I wanted to do everything I could to try to make my twin birth as close to natural as possible. 

Beyond research I’ve done that shows the risks involved with epidurals, I also know people who have had very bad experiences with them. So even though it worked totally fine for my first birth, I was hoping to avoid one for the twin birth.

I had an extensive list of birth preferences and newborn care preferences because I wanted to be as prepared as possible. I am a big advocate for having a thoroughly researched birth plan that you discuss with your birth team. There might always be a change of plans, but ideally a birth plan helps you think through those twists and turns too, so you can give birth as stress-free as possible.

With a few fairly minor changes, my doctor and midwives were on board with my plans. 

I simplified my birth preferences when discussing it with nurses at the hospital to just a few basic goals though:

  1. These babies come out of my vagina
  2. No epidural or other medication that isn’t necessary for medical reasons
  3. Delayed cord clamping
  4. Skin to skin and breastfeeding for the first hour (at least)

If I was able to accomplish these four things I would feel like it was an awesome birth. And guess what… I did them all!

The toughest decision I had to make during the pregnancy was whether or not to induce.

Some studies show an increased risk of stillbirth after 38 weeks with twins. The risk is not huge, but my doctor felt it was greater than risks of induction. My midwives were kind of on the fence but wouldn’t go against the doctor’s recommendation. 

I did eventually agree to induction, but pushed it to the end of the 38 weeks and scheduled it for October, Friday the 13th. (Lucky, right? lol.)

When that day actually came I was pretty surprised I was still pregnant! In the days leading up to it, I had tried tons of natural and at-home methods of inducing, even two rounds of castor oil. Plus I had been having early birthing signs for weeks! 

But my boys were way to cozy to come out. 

So at 9:52am on the 13th I was at the hospital with an IV of pitocin.

When I arrived I was at 2cm and 70-80% effaced. We didn’t do a foley bulb or any addition medication. Just the pitocin with fluids. Within a few hours I was on the maximum dose of pitocin. 

During this time I alternated between hypnobabies tracks (which are kind of like guided meditations) and napping. Over the course of that day and night I had a few times where I felt like I was heading into my active birthing time (in case your wondering… I like using “birthing time” because it’s in line with Hypnobabies teachings, which were sooo helpful for me), but each time it fizzled out. 

The good news was I was very comfortable this whole time. In fact the most uncomfortable part was my monitors on my belly kept falling off or stopped picking up two babies and would both pick up one. So every 20-30 minutes or whenever I moved the nurses would have to come adjust them, which took 10-20 minutes each time. 

But all of them were amazed at how calm and relaxed I was even with all the poking and proding plus pitocin.

At one point I had a doctor doing an ultrasound plus 4 nurses trying to get the monitors on my properly.  A lot of the time I would just tell them I was going to listen to my tracks and would be asleep, but do what they needed to do. So I didn’t even really notice them. 

The other difficult part of this for me was not being able to eat. The hospital policy was only clear liquids, and while I may have bent those rules a little, I didn’t want to overdo it. So I was really hungry half the time. 

Once we got to 6am Saturday morning (nearly 24 hours later), I asked if we could take a break from the pitocin so I could eat, take a shower and rest for an hour or so. The midwife was fine with that because as long as it wasn’t TOO long we could pick right back up with the pitocin.

I ordered a huge breakfast, had a shower, sent my mom and husband home to shower and rest for a little, and prepared myself to start again. 

My midwives were all great about basically leaving me alone and keeping cervical checks to a minimum. I think besides when I first got there I was only checked once more in that 24 hours. They were really following my lead on how I was feeling. 

I don’t remember exactly at what time they checked but at some point I was at 4cm. We agreed that once I got to 5-6cm we might break my water if I wasn’t more active by then. It was just kind of a waiting game at that point. 

But I never got past 4cm, and around 8-9pm on Saturday my midwife suggested we just go ahead and break the water. I agreed. I was ready to either stop for a while for another break, or move forward with a new plan, a new birth story again.

So I went with the new plan. 

Since she was breaking my water anyway, she also attached a monitor to Baby A’s scalp. I thought this would be so uncomfortable, but compared to the belly monitors falling off and having to be readjusted all the time, it was so much better!

It helped me have more freedom of movement.

I was able to really get on the birth ball and walk around to help encourage the baby to get into position. He had so far been floating around in the right area, but not fully engaging. I tried all I could to get him into position before that, even having my chiropractor come to the hospital to adjust me!

Once I did all we could think of to get baby into position, I decided to try to rest.

I’m not sure how long I was laying down, but around midnight or 1am, I started to feel some activity. I didn’t want to get my hopes up, but this felt promising!

My mom and doula were with me, but my husband was at home. I had sent him back to get some rest because I didn’t know if anything was going to happen that night. By 2 am I was pretty sure it was the real thing, and I told my mom to call him back.

Things happened quickly then! 

It’s so crazy because I’ve read a lot of birth stories, and I have researched a lot about birth, but your rational mind at some point goes into the background.

I started doubting myself and was worried that I was wrong and this wasn’t the real thing. I ended up crying hard for about 15 minutes because I was so emotional, but just letting myself cry between the pressure waves felt good and let me release my fears. 

At this point, I thought I was in transformation and would soon be able to push because I wasn’t getting breaks between the waves. I had stopped listening to my Hypnobabies tracks (which isn’t recommended), but was using other self-hypnosis techniques to stay calm and relaxed.

Oddly, I also would sing the first line of the Beatles “Let it Be” in my head through every super intense wave. 

I wouldn’t say I felt comfortable during this period of time, but I was calm and felt pretty confident. I felt a lot of pressure and intensity in my back, just like I had with my daughter, who was posterior. 

There were times I didn’t know if I could really do it and wanted to ALL the drugs, but I love a good birth story and after reading sooo many, I knew that many times when you feel like you can’t go on is when you’re almost there.

I don’t know at what time exactly but at some point, my midwife said we should move to the OR, but my husband still wasn’t there yet!

He got there just as we were about to get wheeled back!  

Having to be on my back on an operating table was the worst part, and by the time we moved over there I had regressed by a cm. So I had to wait for a little to push, and then when I did start my midwife helped me by holding my cervix out of the way. 

At the beginning, I could tell I wasn’t really ready to push, but it gave me something to focus on, which helped. I asked my husband to play a playlist of my favorite songs in the OR while I pushed.

I pushed my babies out to the sounds of the Beatles, James Taylor, Van Morrison and others. 

After I was pushing for about 30 minutes I actually started feeling the urge to push and could feel that I was making progress. I don’t know exactly how much longer I had to push, but it was less than 30 minutes. 

At 4:29am Sebastian Charles (Bash) was born! He was covered in vernix, barely made a peep, but just looked at me intensely and started rooting to nurse almost immediately!

While I was focused on him, the nurse and midwife gently pressed on my belly and guided the next baby into position. I gently pushed at my own pace for a little bit until I felt like I wanted to push him out. 

With 2-3 big pushes Maximus James (Max) was born at 4:46am. 

Bash was 6lbs15oz and 19in. Max was 7lbs2oz and 19in.   

I had only a small 1cm tear that didn’t even need stitches. 

The most challenging part was birthing the placenta and then the midwife and nurse pressing on my belly after birth. The risk of hemorrhage is higher with twins so they were pretty aggressive with it. Not gonna lie… that sucked.

It wasn’t the birth story I planned on originally being able to tell, but for having a twin birth induced in a hospital I think it went as perfectly as it possibly could have and I am insanely proud of myself and my little boys. 

Postpartum was also an amazing time. I had tons of emotions for the first few days as expected, but it was a much smoother transition than it was with my daughter, even though I had two newborns at home!

Breastfeeding was pretty easy since I was experienced after nursing my daughter for 2.5 years, and I had a ton of support including my husband, mom, mother-in-law, and two postpartum doulas. I was about as spoiled as a new mom could be for the first few weeks.

I also really attribute being able to have a mostly natural twin hospital birth story to using Hypnobabies, and highly recommend them to all expecting moms. (Learn more about Hypnobabies here)

My twin birth story is something I always cherish and remember.

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100 Word of the Year Ideas to Live Your Best MomLife

100 Word of the Year Ideas to Live Your Best MomLife

2019 is winding down, and preparations for 2020 are already underway for many. Instead of a resolution, have you thought about trying one of these word fo the year ideas? I love these 100 word of the year ideas you can use as a way to guide your intentions, goals,...

20 Mom Memes We Can Totally Relate To

20 Mom Memes We Can Totally Relate To

Sometimes you need some inspiration, and sometimes you need to laugh. These are mom memes we can all relate to whether they're funny, true, serious, or silly. I don't know about you, but on those tough when that I just need a little distraction from the chaos of...

15 Quotes for Following Your Dreams

15 Quotes for Following Your Dreams

Dreaming of accomplishing some big goals soon? These quotes for following your dreams will keep you going when you need some inspiration.   Need some inspirational quotes for following your dreams? When you are setting big goals for yourself, you'll inevitably...

Stomach Bug? Try a Smoothie for Flu that’s Toddler Approved

Stomach Bug? Try a Smoothie for Flu that’s Toddler Approved

Need to get some nutrition in your little one ASAP when they have a stomach bug? Try a smoothie for flu that is delicious AND nutritious. A few years ago, when my daughter who was then a toddler had the stomach flu, I jotted down this post to give other moms some...

What is Hygge, and Why Moms Need to Know About It

What is Hygge, and Why Moms Need to Know About It

For many of us, Winter is fastly approaching, bringing with it a feeling hibernation. Time to snuggle in and get cozy, and get acquainted with what is Hygge. My kids and I love spending time outdoors. We like hiking and playing in our backyard. When the weather is...

5 Steps to Forming Habits for Busy Moms

5 Steps to Forming Habits for Busy Moms

The only thing that might be as hard as quitting an old habit, is forming habits you want to cultivate. These 5 steps will help you start new habits, and actually keep them. This last year I have been extra committed to making some improvements in my life. I didn’t...

5 Things I’ve Learned from 5 Years of Motherhood

5 Things I’ve Learned from 5 Years of Motherhood

My firstborn recently turned 5 years old, and it has been a bit of an emotional roller coaster. But I now feel like I've crossed some threshold in motherhood, and would love to impart the bits of wisdom I've accumulated to you. These are five of the many lessons I've...

25 Christmas Bucket List Ideas for Moms

25 Christmas Bucket List Ideas for Moms

Need ideas for your Christmas bucket list? These are the 25 things I chose to add to ours this year, and am sharing to give you a bit of inspiration. But before we dive in... What is a Christmas bucket list? Simple. It's just a list of activities you want to do during...