So you have your perfectly packed bag all ready to go, but what about those items you use every day that you are unable to pack in advance?!?!
Don't Forget...Things to Grab on Your Way Out the Door...
Wallet. With your ID, insurance card, and a little cash in case you want something from a vending machine or have to pay for parking.
Infant Carseat. This should already be installed and ready to go. Make sure the car with the carseat comes to the hospital with you!
Put on a super plus pad. My water broke before I left my house, so it seemed the sensible thing to put on a pad. Even if your water hasn't broken, it could anytime so I'd recommend this simple precaution. You can put towels/plastic on your seat in the car too.
Your Birth Plan...
It's good to think about the type of delivery you want and services you want yourself and your baby to receive ahead of time. This should be discussed in detail with your partner/birth coach so they are aware of your wishes in case they end up being in charge of decision making. BabyCenter has a nice article and printable. Give a copy to your doctor around 36 weeks and pack a copy to take with you.
Clothes for You...
Nightgown. I recommend a nightgown with breastfeeding access over other types of pajamas. I may be extra partial to this because I had a c-section, but it was easy and comfortable. My blue set is very similar to this Motherhood Nightgown and Robe.
Robe. Especially if you have a c-section, a robe is essential for walking the halls after surgery. My sister-in-law was up and dressed the day after her vaginal delivery. If you have a regular delivery, you may not need a robe.
Socks. At least one pair with grips on the bottom. I didn't use them for my June delivery last time, but I'm delivering in March this time so they are going back in the bag.
Flip Flops. Last time I just wore them, but I expect to wear shoes this time so I'm packing a pair. Make sure they are comfortable for wearing to walk in the halls and that you are okay getting them wet if you want to wear them in the shower.
Granny panties. An optional item. Why is it that the c-section scar is exactly where the waistband of every pair of underwear you own hits?!?! I had to send my mom to the store to get high-waisted underwear for me last time after I went home. In the hospital, they give you mesh underwear which I recommend wearing and which you can definitely wear home. The hospital will also supply you with sanitary pads. You only need to bring them if you don't want to use the ones provided by the hospital.
Clothes to wear home. I packed a long tank top and a pair of low-rise maternity leggings. Then I felt like I should have something nicer, why I don't know as I won't likely wear it, but I also packed a comfortable black jersey skirt, black nursing tank, and black and white nursing shirt. If you want dressed-up pictures of yourself in the hospital, pack what you want to wear! (Keep in mind you will still be in maternity clothes.) All my hospital pictures from last time, I'm wearing my nightgown and robe and I'm good with that.
Clothes and Items for Baby...
Sleepers and Onesies. I packed 2 of each. My first son pretty much stayed in his diaper on my chest throughout our hospital stay. Baby will need a sleeper to wear home, no matter what season you are in.
Nail Scissors and/or File and/or Mittens. For grooming those long nails and preventing face scratches.
Blanket. For the drive home (if it's cold) or for pictures. The hospital will give you as many white receiving blankets as you need. You don't need to bring swaddling blankets unless you want a picture with a specific one.
Hat. An optional item. If you want something fancier than the pink, blue, and white had the hospital provides. Personally, I think the hospital provided hat is a great fit! So stretchy and soft!
Nursing Bra. At least one. I recommend the stretchy type bras for your hospital stay, I have these Motherhood Clip Down Nursing Bras in two colors and sizes. I used them for sleeping (under a nursing tank) throughout my 15 months of breastfeeding. I have more structured nursing bras (these Cake Lingerie Nursing Bras) which I wore during the day.
Nursing Pads. Reusable or disposable, it's best to have a few sets just in case. (See my discussion of them in my Breastfeeding Post.)
Nipple Balm. (Not pictured). I actually did not use this in the hospital last time, but as it quickly became a breastfeeding staple item for me, I'm bringing it along. I like Honest Organic Nipple Balm.
Hot Packs for blocked ducts. I waivered on packing this item. My son ate like crazy when I was in the hospital and I did not have blocked duct issues until months later. I packed these Booby Tubes just in case.
Bottom Balm and/or Spray. I purchased these Earth Mama products before I found out baby #1 was breech. I'm packing them in case I end up having a VBAC delivery. I've heard them highly recommended for vaginal deliveries.
Pack as if you are going on a trip and you're not sure what the amenities will be. You're not staying long so I'd only bring travel size of everything.
But don't forget! Moisturizing lotion and lip balm. Eye drops if you tend towards dry eyes. Hospital air is very dry.
Make up. An optional item. I packed a few cosmetics last time and never took them out of my bag. I won't bring any this time. But again, if you want dressed-up pictures, you may want to bring some. I'm lucky that my husband does photo editing because I can always have him fix a red spot or blemish.
Books/Magazines/Cell phone/Tablet and device chargers.
Camera. My husband is always in charge of this.
DVD's. If you have Netflix or movies on a Tablet device, that is an easy option. Most hospital rooms still have DVD players. I pack a small travel CD case (ha, those were the days right!) with some movies.
Food and Drinks...
An entirely optional category. The maternity center I used offered a menu I could order off of any time of the day and the hospital had a large cafeteria open during the day.
Coconut Water with Pineapple. My personal favorite! Great for hydration and if you want a change from regular water.
Prunes. Especially if you have a c-section, dried prunes are delicious and very effective at getting your bowels moving.
Yogurt or other snacks. Whatever you like. Hospital food tends to be heavy. They tend to have a fridge full of jello. If you want something else, bring it yourself.
And Finally Some Things I Leave at Home...
Labor Gown. Maternity center gowns are usually pretty nice by hospital gown standards! They are specifically designed to work during labor and delivery. You can even use a second one as a robe to get full coverage over your back.
Breast Pump. Hopefully your baby is all the pump you need! But should you need to pump, the hospital pumps are much better quality than any home pump and the kit they make you buy to use with their pump is relatively inexpensive (around $30) and will bill to your insurance. If you really end up needing your pump, someone can go home and get it for you.
Breastfeeding Pillow. Hospital beds are typically adjustable and come with an unlimited supply of pillows. I didn't use my breastfeeding pillows until I was home.
Your Pillow. The hospital has tons.
Towels. Same as above. The hospital will supply all you need.
Hair Dryer. Only if you're going to be doing your hair.
A Book on Newborn/Baby Care. That's what the maternity center staff are for! Ask them, or just google it.
Diapers and Wipes. Although I'm partial to specific brands, I'll use what the hospital provides during our stay.
Pacifier. A "no" item if you are breastfeeding anyway. The hospital will provide a pacifier (free of charge) if you need one.
I always feel more in control (ha!) once I have my bag packed!
Is there an item you considered essential which is missing from my list? Please share!