I’m well aware that “what’s in my hospital bag” blog posts and YouTubes and insta captions are kind of a dime a dozen now, but I do think the reason you see so many is that the experience of childbirth and how you physically feel immediately after differs so greatly...So, I’m choosing to add my voice to the noise and (seeing as I read a whole lot of these sorts of posts in prep for my own labor and delivery) am confident it won’t be an exact replica of what you’ve already heard.
Specifically, I want this hospital bag post to be about what to pack for an induction, because, unlike when you go into labor naturally, the induction process almost always takes a wholeeee lot more time. I’m not talking hours, I’m talking days. Labor and delivery more or less becomes your home away from home, and the cozier and comfier you can feel there, the more slowly you’ll burn out from the exhaustion the birth process inevitably brings on. At least, that's how I feel. Comfort = greater endurance. I’m a big believer in this. Just think about when you decide to workout in something that's just a little too tight or scratchy. Nine times out of ten you probably get a worse workout. Labor is a workout. Come comfortable.
I’m gonna divide this post up into a couple of packing categories. Here they are: clothes, toiletries, sustenance, husband, comfort, and miscellaneous. I’m going to include what was in the postpartum section of my bag, too, because so many of those items truly saved the day for me - making those first few hours and days with Oliver significantly less comfortable and all the more special. It's also worth mentioning that we packed all of these things in our Samsonite ECO-Nu luggage, which is far and above our favorite sustainably designed luggage on the market. It's entirely made out of a fabric derived from post-consumer plastic bottles (aka ones that have been used, you'd be amazed at the number of "sustainable" brands making products out of unused plastic bottles). If you're in the market for luggage because you're preparing for labor or just because it's absolutely worth checking out.
Now, let’s dive in:
So I know a lot of people arrive at the hospital and immediately don a Johnny. I’m not about that. The cotton is kind of scratchy, they aren’t easy to move around in without inevitably flashing someone, and they aren’t cozy or warm.
Something I did before my birth that I will 100% do again for any future births is bring a cozy pajama or lounge set. Sweats can do the trick too. Labor is not a time you’ll care about being fashionable, but if you’re spending the first 30 hours no where near push time you’re sure as heck going to want to be comfortable. Look at places like Alternative Apparel or on Poshmark find an upcycled set from Gap Body or Lulu Lemon or Outdoor Voices to hang in while you're waiting for labor to kick in.
Don’t wear leggings. I repeat do NOT pack leggings. During an induction, you want loose fitting clothing for the various monitors and checks you'll have to do. After labor, you'll be wearing what can only be classified as an adult diaper. Skin tight clothing is not your friend right now. Go with loose comfy sweats or PJs.
A few other things to bring along;
Moccasins : Or slippers of any kind for when you're laboring on the delivery ward and need to get up to use the restroom or pace the halls. I was so grateful I had mine.
Boody Underwear: Alright, so it's not the most attractive underwear in the world, but the bras and undies from Boody are made out of bamboo, free of harsh chemicals and dyes, and are very very comfortable. For delivery and for postpartum, once you've graduated from the mesh underwear they give you and basically advise you to live in for a week, Boody's pieces are a good intermediary.
Socks - Labor and delivery floors can run a little cold. I was happy I had socks to wear to sleep at night in the hospital bed.
Extra pillow - They offered us pillows on pillows on pillows during my labor, but there's just something about your own pillow (with your own pillow case cover) that makes things cozier and comfier during postpartum...at least for me.
Deodorant - You may or may not have the ability to shower while you're on labor and delivery depending on your room and your pain level, so this could come in handy. I recommend an aluminum free brand like my favorite: LoveFresh.
MotherLove Nipple Cream - This stuff SAVED me. I haven't had a difficult breastfeeding journey with Oliver, but I truly think the fact that I used this religiously after every single feed for the first week made a huge huge difference. You also don't need to wipe it off before feedings which is great.
Frida Baby Peri Bottle - Including this to say I actually DIDN'T find it super necessary, considering on the postpartum floor they give you a squeeze bottle that's pretty much the exact same thing, except free. I saw this item on literally every hospital bag post I read before we had Oliver and decided to get it, but next time around I'll skip it.
Earth Mama Perineum Balm - This stuff is like Vick's VapoRub for healing after delivery and it made recovery soooo much easier for me. I found Witch Hazel Pads to be helpful too, but this stuff definitely was more strongly soothing.
Earth Mama Perineum Spray - Similar to the palm, it has kind of a cooling / slightly numbing effect. I'd use this in combination with the other Earth Mama products or when using the restroom and it for sureeee helped. I won't go to the hospital without it next time.
Witch Hazel Pads - They may give these to you at the hospital, or they may not. Have some on hand just in case.
Dermoplast - This is the first thing I sent Porter to run and get more of. Basically it numbs you completely down there, and after labor you're going to want that for a few days at the very least. I would have a couple of cans on hand if your hospital (like mine) doesn't end up giving you any.
Your Own Towel - Feel like this one is self-explanatory, but when you have that first heavenly shower after delivery wrapping yourself up in your OWN towel instead of a scratchy hospital one will make a difference and make you feel more yourself, I swear.
Own Shampoo / Conditioner - For the same reasons, as above.
Mouthwash - just a little travel one is perfect, but when you're laboring you might not be able to get up to brush your teeth as often as you'd want to. Mouthwash or mint gum can help you get a little bit of a cleanliness reboot in when you're feeling exhausted and run down.
Eye Drops - If you're a contacts wearer like Porter and I, you know that napping and contacts don't mix. Waking up with that awful dry lens feeling is just the worst....but the reality of labor (especially during an induction) is that you'll likely be having a lot of "cat naps." Having eye drops on hand so you don't have to keep putting in new lenses was super helpful (I've also found them to be super helpful with a newborn on days I don't feel like wearing my glasses but am going to sleep when Oliver's sleeping).
Heating Pads - Having one of those stick on heat packs for my lower back during early labor was sooo nice. The majority of my labor was back labor, so when things were starting to slowly kick into gear and I was up and about still, these were amazing because I didn't have to stay in one position to feel relief.
Headphones - Large noise-canceling headphones were an item I would definitely never leave at home for subsequent births. I was hooked up to so many monitors that beeped every two seconds (at least, that's what it felt like) but having the noise-canceling feature made the whole room go perfectly quiet. Whether you're going to listen to something or just use the noise-canceling feature to get some sleep, they're way more effective than ear plugs (which I wouldn't want to be putting in and out if I were contracting anyway!).
Portable Charger - Outlets aren't always strategically placed close to the bed you could be confined to. Bringing a portable charger (or two) even if you don't end up using it (you will) won't be something you regret.
Show, Movies, Playlists, Podcasts - Load up your tablet or computer or phone with everything you could possibly watch or listen to for entertainment or relaxation for your birth beforehand. This will majorly help the time pass during early labor and early active labor....kind of feel like this one is a given.
Essential Oils - I wouldn't say I'm the biggest essential oils junkie out there, but I definitely dabble. In particular, Porter and I love lavender and the stress away essential oils. We used both religiously when we were traveling and were in rough turbulence or seas and I usually sprinkle some on our pillows if either of us is having a particularly stressful day. Putting a little of either of those on a tissue and doing some deep breaths helped a lot in calming me down during some of the more painful episodes of our delivery experience. Another favorite oil of mine is peppermint (for nausea it helps sooo much) and RC which acts as a kind of natural Vick's VapoRub and feels so nice to breathe in when you're congested or just need to do some deep breathing.
Gum - For the same reason I mentioned the mouthwash above, but it's slightly more convenient! Cinnamon or ginger gum can also help with nausea.
Coconut Water - full or electrolytes and very hydrating but not chockfull of sugar (if you buy the right brand). I had a lot of Coconut Water during my labor and had a lot on hand for when we got home from the hospital afterward. Especially starting up nursing, having the added electrolytes without the added sugar in my daily routine I think helped get me off on the right foot.
Ginger Ale - For nausea
Water bottle w a straw - The hospital will give you a big cup with a cap more likely than not, but sometimes having your own bottle is nice. Up to you!
Gatorade - For when you're done being concerned about your sugar intake and just want a hit of Frost Glacier Freeze to feel revived between contractions.
Cliff Bars - Or something like them that's easy to eat, filling, easy on your stomach, and blood sugar balancing. Porter's favorite is iced oatmeal raisin (I had some on hand for him too) and mine is mint chocolate chip.
Ritz crackers - or saltines, or chips, basically anything plain and salty. Labor can be incredibly dehydrating, so my midwife suggested having crackers or chips to help my body retain some water. This follows the same logic as marathoners having simple salted carbs on race day for energy rather than something harder to break down.
DoorDash - If you aren't wild about the cafeteria food, do not hesitate to have a food delivery service bring you something local that you love. Especially if you've been in labor for like three or four days, you deserve this (big time), and in postpartum too!! Double points if you get a little something for the nurses on your floor. They will love you for it.
Husband / Partner
Camera / Camera Charger - For allllll those baby pictures you're going to want as soon as your little one arrives.
Comfy Warm Clothes - (self-explanatory)
Sneakers / Supportive Shoes - This might sound silly, but your partner will end up physically supporting you for a lot of your labor. Most women aren't exactly light as a feather when they're nine months pregnant, so that equates to some serious work. Flip flops or shoes without traction or even nice shoes that aren't very comfortable would be something they'd immediately regret wearing.
Down Blanket / Sleeping Bag - The sheets the hospital will provide your partner with aren't exactly the coziest things in the world. We brought one cozy blanket that Porter was very grateful for. We'll definitely pack that again in the future.
Eye Mask - Your both going to be keeping really odd hours for the foreseeable future probably beginning with the day you get induced. Having an eye mask or a couple on hand for when either of you want to nap but it's the middle of the day is essential. This made sleeping when the baby slept so much easier for both of us in postpartum.
Warm Footed Onesies - Even though they're pricey, my favorite continue to be the Baby Mori onesies. I love that they have mitts built in for your to pull over your baby's hand to avoid scratches, and they're zip-up which makes a world of difference late at night. My second favorite for in the hospital would be Kyte Baby.
Swaddles - I use my swaddles more so as burp clothes nowadays, but we brought a couple to the hospital for photos. My favorites so far are by Kiin Baby.
Honestly, I'm struggling to come up with what else you might need for baby. A couple of outfits, your carseat (which can stay in the car), and your pretty much good to go. At least at our hospital, they provided everything and then some when it came to diapers, wipes, etc. I would definitely pack lightest for baby, newborns just don't need a whole lot!
I think that just about covers it! I know this is a lotttt of things, but everyone derives comfort from certain items differently so I'm sure, if you're preparing for your own labor and delivery, you can switch out and sub in certain items as needed. Also, it's worth noting that I packed my hospital bag pretty far in advance (I think when I was 35 weeks) and I was really really grateful I did. Finding out I was going to be induced early and not having our stuff already good to go, would've made the night before our induction a lot more stressful. I'm definitely planning on not ever leaving getting our bag in order to the last minute....If you have any questions or can't seem to find something I mentioned, shoot us a DM on Instagram and I'll do my best to get back to each of you....and thank you for making it through such a long post!
*Thank you so much to Samsonite for sponsoring this post. As always, all thoughts and ideas remain our own.