Hello! I'm Suzannah, a serious DIYer and mom of two little ones. Follow along with my DIY fixer upper house renovations, sewing and crafty projects, real food recipes, and de-stressing goals.
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Hospital bag packing list - if you're planning a homebirth

As I shared in Otto's birth story, we planned a homebirth. Around week 34 our midwives gave us a tote bag of essentials, plus a list of things to prepare at home - towels, clothes for the baby, etc. But I wanted to be prepared in case we ended up going to the hospital, too. I did some reading on what to pack in your hospital bag... but most of the tips felt foreign to me since our birth plan had been for a homebirth since day 1. I wanted to put together this list for others planning to give birth at home, but planning just-in-case with a backup hospital bag!

First, the challenge with any hospital bag is there are overnight essentials that you use every day and only have one of--eyeglasses, for example. So I guess you just have to remember them before you go, and add them to your pre-packed bag. It is even harder to remember these things if you transfer in the middle of a homebirth, since you will probably be farther along in labor! I transferred 15 hours in when my contractions were multi-peaked, about 3 minutes apart. How I remembered to tell my husband to pack my eyeglasses, I have no idea.

The other challenge I faced is I knew I needed things like baby blankets and clothes, for either scenario. I put my favorite baby clothes and swaddle blankets in the birth kit box for at home, and secondary ones in our hospital bag. Then as we transferred, I had to remember to ask Jason to grab the cuter clothes from the birth kit and put them in our bag! So, I recommend having two sets that you like of those things for after baby arrives.

Okay, the list! Here is a checklist for packing a just-in-case hospital bag if you're planning a homebirth.

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Hospital Bag Checklist for Homebirth Plan

This list is split into two. One, things you can pack weeks ahead of time in a suitcase and pack away. The others, things you'll still be using (or might want in your homebirth kit) and so will need to write down or refer back to in case you do transfer.

Pack ahead

  1. Nursing-friendly super comfy clothes (I wore these bra tanks nonstop the first few weeks... and at the hospital! So easy to just pull a strap down, and the elastic band held the soothing nursing pads in place.)
  2. Snacks. We put some RX Bars, etc. in the hospital bag plus some in our snack basket in our kitchen so we'd definitely have them wherever we were.
  3. Extra shampoo, face wash, etc. I'm not too picky about using a different shampoo/conditioner every once in a while, but the hospital shower had NONE. I wish I had packed a couple travel sizes like the ones I have leftover from nice hotels!
  4. Secondary homecoming outfit for baby. I had my favorite one in my homebirth kit but a backup in our backup bag.
  5. Coconut water or whatever you bought for labor (buy the non-refrigerated cartons). If you get an epidural you can't have solid foods but they'll offer you juice, "broth," or jello (they even had a sugar-free jello-type snack at my hospital... eesh), but I wish I'd had our nice coconut water I bought for laboring at home!  Might as well pack one in your bag and keep one in the pantry.

Pack right before leaving

  1. Phone charger. Really don't want to forget that!! If it helps, keep one in an obvious place when you're not using it, like by the door, before your due date. It could come in handy there in a homebirth, too.
  2. Basic overnight stuff--hair elastic, lip balm, contact lens stuff and glasses if you wear them, toothbrush, etc. Keep all of this stuff packed together in a zipper pouch or something so you can use it every night, but can easily grab it if heading out the door.
  3. Makeup if you wear it. Same, keep it all in one pouch for easy packing.
  4. Clean underwear for both partners!! 
  5. Shirt, socks, maybe gym shorts for your partner. I packed most of those but Jason only had his jeans and wasn't too comfortable with all the cat naps he took, or sleeping the 2 nights after.
  6. Yoga pants or sweats and maternity tee for the way home. I was SO excited to be done with  maternity clothes so I didn't bring any of my panel jeans or anything, but still looked about 5 months pregnant when we left. I wore sweats under my belly like I'd been doing up till the due date, plus a hoodie and maternity top.
  7. Nursing bra. Buy 2-3 before your due date (I went up one cup size from my pre-pregnancy size) and pack one in your just-in-case bag. I recommend something like a sports bra style like this for the first few weeks in case you ever have to leave the house.
  8. Wallet--duh, but MAKE SURE it has your insurance card in it!

Things I didn't need

Also wanted to share some things I definitely didn't need! I saw these on multiple lists and no way did we need or have time for them (and we were there 2 nights). Save the space in your bag!

  1. Movies, magazines, etc. I mean, we used our phones plenty ;), but we did NOT have time for any of this kind of entertainment. We were sleeping or talking to doctors/nurses the whole 30ish hours I was laboring there, and then talking to Otto or nurses after he came.
  2. Pajamas. Who has time?! I had already labored so much at home that by the time I got to the hospital I was in the bed basically the whole time, laboring and after baby. I wore underwear (then the hospital-provided mesh underwear) and a bra tank, that's it. It would have been a big pain to move any extra to put pants on.
  3. Soothing stuff for you and nipples. The hospital gives you a lot of these. If you want to bring your all-natural versions you can, but I didn't worry about it and one less thing to worry about is very good in this situation!
  4. Diapers. Again unless you're set on using an organic brand from day 1, you can just use the hospital's. They will change baby's diaper a million times anyway and will give you the rest of the package.

I hope this has been helpful. Best wishes on your journey into motherhood!

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