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The Birth & the Hospital

Your big day is finally here! With so much to do and so little time to do them, we’ve put together some helpful checklists, must-haves and quintessential essentials to make your trip to and from the hospital as smooth as possible.

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What's in your birth bag?

When prepping for the hospital, some people tend to pack like they're moving to another country. Other people might only bring along their husbands. Either of those extremes is probably not the best idea, so, with that in mind, here are a couple of checklists you might enjoy. Take a look — there might be something we've thought of that could be useful for your big trip.



So — what do you want in your Birth Bag?



The basics: you've probably already thought of these, but...

  • Admission forms/papers
  • Baby name book
  • Camera and/or video camera
  • Film and tapes
  • Cash
  • Phone/phone card
  • Charger for your phone (don't forget this one)
  • Gift for a sibling
  • Health insurance card
  • Pregnancy/birth reference book
  • Birth plan (if you have one)


Additional items to consider for labor:

  • Birth ball
  • Facecloth from home (maybe with a distinct color or pattern, so it doesn't wind up in the hospital laundry)
  • Hot water bottle
  • Lollipops and hard candy (for dry mouth)
  • Lotion and/or powder (for massage)
  • Massage/aromatherapy oils
  • Tennis balls (for back massage)
  • Watch or stopwatch (with a second hand for timing contractions)


Additional items to consider for the comforts of home:

  • Books/magazines
  • Small cooler with drinks and snacks
  • CD/audio player
  • CDs
  • Extra pillow (maybe with a colored pillowcase, so it doesn't get into hospital laundry)


Additional items to consider for your partner:

  • Change of clothes
  • Snacks
  • Reading material


Additional items to consider for after the baby arrives:

  • Address book
  • Baby book
  • Thank you cards/notes
  • Large bag to bring home gifts and hospital supplies
  • Phone number list


Additional items to consider for clothing:

  • Bathrobe
  • Loose, comfortable outfits
  • Nightgown
  • Nursing bras
  • Nursing pads
  • Slippers
  • Thick socks
  • Underwear


Additional items to consider for personal care:

  • Barrettes/hairbands (ponytail holder)
  • Body soap
  • Brush/comb
  • Contact lens case/lens supplies
  • Dental floss
  • Deodorant
  • Earplugs
  • Eyeshade
  • Facial soap
  • Glasses
  • Lip balm/ChapStick
  • Lotion
  • Makeup/cosmetics
  • Maxi-pads
  • Mouthwash/breath mints
  • Prescription medications you're taking
  • Shampoo/conditioner
  • Toothbrush/toothpaste


Additional items to consider for the baby:

  • Approved car seat
  • Diapers for the trip home
  • Going-home outfit
  • Hat/cap
  • Receiving blankets


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Packing for the Hospital: What to Take

I wish I’d remembered to bring: "A hair elastic. I didn't pack anything to keep the hair out of my face during labor, which is funny because I keep hair clips and elastics everywhere at home. Must have been pregnancy brain!"

I’m glad I remembered to bring: "My fluffy bathrobe," says Tracey B., a mom of one in Hartford, Connecticut. "Being in my own robe at the hospital was comforting. And it was nice to look decent with family popping in and taking pictures.”

I wish I’d remembered to bring: "Slippers. The hospital socks they give you with the little nubby things are so scratchy, they twist all around on your feet, and are just blah!"

I’m glad I remembered to bring: "My pedicured toes!" says Lisa B., a mom of two in Phoenix, Arizona. "With my first, I’d look at my toes while I was pushing and thinking, ‘Wow, I hope no one notices my feet.”

I wish I’d remembered to bring: "Dried fruit, a tasty way to get my digestive system to start moving again."

I’m glad I remembered to bring: "Extremely large underwear. Huge!" says Stephanie C., a mom of one in Dallas, Texas. "After you give birth you have to wear a gigantic pad, and the hospital’s mesh undies aren’t that fabulous."

I wish I’d remembered to bring: "A sleeping mask, or even a scarf to wrap over my eyes. They tell you to rest once you have the epidural, but all the flashing lights and activity keep you awake."

I’m glad I remembered to bring: "Wet wipes," says Lauren G., a mom of two in Little Falls, New Jersey. "I was very sensitive after giving birth, and wipes were way better than toilet paper."

I wish I’d remembered to bring: "My favorite lotion. The hospital soaps and sheets are on the rough side and it can get chilly, both of which cause dry skin."

I’m glad I remembered to bring: "A pair of comfy pants to go home in," says Desiree W., a mom of one in Las Vegas, Nevada. "You’re larger than you think you’ll be when you leave the hospital, but I felt fine in soft, elastic-waist pants."

I wish I'd remembered to bring: "An iPod. It would have been a way to deflect family who dropped by to chitchat. I love them, but it was like, Look, I’m in labor here!”

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Hospital Games

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What to Pack for Dad

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Mom-Approved Hospital Bag Checklist

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What Makes A Delivery Go Well

See why these women’s birth days went so right—and pick from their tips to help make your own labor less...laborious.

Tune out. "When I delivered my twins, I brought an iPod loaded with my favorite songs, everything from indie rock to Johnny Cash hymns. Best decision ever. It was like bringing my best friends into the delivery room to comfort me like only they knew how."
—Angela Vincent, mom of four, Los Angeles, CA

Take a breather—lots of them. "I took prenatal yoga, and that allowed me to have a very successful delivery. I was skeptical at first but through relaxing and deep breathing I was able to work my way through each contraction without letting the pain make my body too tense to do its job. Using these techniques, I had three labors that were drug- and intervention-free."
—Jackie Kaufenberg, mom of three, Olivia, Minnesota

Cool off quick. "Ask for an ice pack to put in your underwear immediately after delivery to reduce swelling and pain. I didn’t get to use this technique myself because I had a C-section, but I have prescribed it to thousands of patients, and it helps!"
—Dr. Jennifer Gunter, M.D., author of The Preemie Primer

Hit the shower. "I tell everyone I know to take a warm shower during labor. I’ve done it myself through three natural deliveries. It helps you to relax and feels wonderful."
—Katie Bulger, mom of three, Clarksville, Tennessee

Sit up. "After I had an epidural, my nurses adjusted the bed so I was sitting completely upright with my legs down on a little stool. The nurses explained that this would allow gravity to help with the labor. I went from six centimeters to ‘We can see the head’ in about an hour and a half. I guess mom was right when she told me to sit up straight!"
—Mindy Airhart, mom of two, New Orleans, Louisiana

Get to know the team. "The practice I attended made sure to introduce me to everyone on the staff through the course of my pregnancy, down to the nurses. When I arrived for my delivery, the on-call nurse was one that I’d already met. That made it so much easier and more comforting. If your doctor’s office doesn’t do these meet and greets, ask them to."
—Darneisha Calixto, mom of one, Washington D.C.

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5 Truths about Labor You May Not Have Heard

Hee-hee-hee…huh? You’ve seen the birth class video and practiced your breathing, but there are still some things about labor that might surprise you (in a good sort of way). Moms deliver the real deal.

1. The best patient advocate is you. "The person administering my epidural just wasn’t getting it right," recalls mom of one Elizabeth Deveney-Frazier of Cohasset, Massachusetts. "I could feel the needle, feel the pressure—all the things they say you aren’t supposed to feel. I spoke up and requested someone else. You can’t worry about being that patient when it’s your well being and your baby’s."

2. You can’t control your baby’s arrival, so relax! "I had this long list of things to get done right up to my due date, and I had it in my mind that I would finish," recalls Marie Alfonso, a mom of one in Brooklyn, New York. "Then my water broke during a staff meeting, which wasn’t part of the plan!" Try to have tasks finished up well before your due date. The more well-rested you are when you go into labor, the better.

3. Labor: the toughest job you’ll ever...sleep through. Contrary to what you may have seen in the movies, labor isn’t all agony, all the time. "After my epidural, I had a completely pain-free labor," says Marina Daly, a mom of one from Tampa, Florida. "The entire process was 10 hours long and I spent it napping and watching the Food Network. The nurses actually had to wake me up when it was time to push."

4. You can always change your mind—and meds. "Both my mother and mother-in-law told me natural childbirth was a beautiful thing, so I gave it a try," says Lorra Brown, a mom of two from Ringwood, New Jersey. "At first I worked through the pain with breathing and relaxation techniques, but hours later, I went for the epidural."

5. Bonding can happen anytime. "After I had a c-section, I couldn’t hold my baby right off and was worried I’d missed my chance to connect with him," says Lynn Whitlock, a mother of two from Minneapolis, Minnesota. "A few hours later the nurses brought him to me, and there was that click. The delay didn’t matter—it was still a great moment."

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