Are you beginning to dread baby’s birth day, or are you dreaming of that golden event when your baby greets you surrounded by those soft touches you bring from home to make it as wonderful as possible?

It’s no coincidence that many hospitals have renamed their Labor & Delivery units as “family birth centers” and have added many of the elements you’d find in your home or a comfy hotel, such as soft lighting, inviting décor, and a restful place for your partner to snooze along with you.

Experts know that stress only exacerbates how women feel pain and experience labor, while customizable, calming environments diminish anxiety and lead to better labors. Setting the stage begins with a tour of your birth facility – note the surroundings. Ask yourself as you go along, “what could I add to this to make this more comfortable for me? For my partner?”

Then start your packing list. If an emergency is taking you into labor, have at least the essentials packed and ready to grab as you head out the door.

As you approach 38 weeks, this is a great time to pack your hospital bag – your baby could be born any day now or he could take as many as 4 more weeks to make his final appearance.

Things to Pack
    • Bring a folder to organize your paperwork including ID, insurance card, hospital forms, and birth plan


    • Bring your glasses or contacts along with your prescription medication


    • A robe you enjoy wearing and don’t mind destroying, especially if laboring in a hospital gown seems drafty at best; bring a spare to relax in post-birth, and undergarments that are comfortable on your recovering body


    • Aromatherapy travel candle with a soft, pleasing fragrance


    • Your favorite snacks should be things that will not offend your senses during labor


    • Personal care products, such as your favorite shampoo, toothpaste, or hairbrush – never underestimate the power of your favorite lip balm to soothe dry lips during labor


    • Car seat installed in your car: Surprise, you can’t take your baby home without a car seat


    • Books and magazines, especially for your partner


    • Make sure the going home clothes you bring for you and your baby are comfortable


    • Something as simple as your own pillow can put you in a comfort zone


Quick List

The basics

    • Paperwork


    • Medications


    • Gown & undergarments


    • Baby car seat


    • Personal care products


    • Going home clothes


    • Baby clothes & products


For a longer stay

    • Extra clothing


    • Nursing bras & pads


    • Lanolin


    • Envelope for your records


Little extras

    • Swimsuit for water labor


    • Birthing ball or stretchy bands


    • Favorite snacks


    • Massage oil & tools


    • Aromatherapy


    • Soothing music


    • Books or magazines


    • $20 for vending machines & cafeteria


    • Cell phone and cameras


    • Your own pillow



The Association of Women's Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN) promotes the health of women and newborns.

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