When it comes to packing your labor go bag, it can feel overwhelming! There are so many things you think you'll need or want and how do you pare that down so you're not dragging eleventy-billion bags into the hospital or birth center with you?
Enter: Your Friendly Neighborhood Doula! Having given birth twice myself, I know exactly how it feels the first time you're about to go into labor and you feel like you need to pack everything plus the kitchen sink. I packed so much extra stuff that I never needed, never used, and just ended up getting in the way.
So here are the things you should definitely bring (and a few you definitely don't need to)!
One of those maxi skirts that fold over at the top. Grab one from your local thrift store if you don't already have one. Cut it off at or just below the knees. These skirts are SO MUCH MORE COMFORTABLE than the hospital gowns you'll be provided. Plus, they offer a lot more coverage when you're walking the halls with your doula or partner, doing squats and lunges in front of pretty much anyone. And they can easily be slipped off or up when it's time to deliver your baby.
Your own towels. I cannot stress this one enough. Regardless of if you delivery vaginally or surgically, you do not want to be drying off with sand paper (which is basically what those janky towels amount to). Bring your softest, cushiest, most delightful towels (and maybe a towel turbie thingy). I promise, you'll thank me later.
Your own pillows. The hospital pillows are usually filled with bean bag beads and are wonderful for keeping between your legs during labor as they form to your body. But after you deliver? You're gonna want alllllll the comfort. And the hospital pillows aren't super comfy for sleeping (but they'll come in super handy while you're breast/chest feeding, if that's your plan).
Now for the biggest thing you don't need to worry about:
Newborn diapers and wipes. Those come pre-loaded with the baby from the hospital so don't worry about bringing your own. Baby will be spoiled AF by the hospital staff in terms of required gear.
BONUS INFO FOR YOU AND YOUR PARTNER:
Swimsuit and shower shoes. If your hospital or birth center has a tub or shower for you to use during labor, I highly recommend the use of water therapy for pain management. It's very likely that you'll want company and/or support in the water. While you'll probably be very naked, your partner doesn't need to be but he/she/they can wear swim gear in the tub and shower with you (the shower shoes will offer extra traction so your partner can physically support you in the safest way possible).
Postpartum peri bottles, Tucks pads, and Dermaplast. Talk to your recovery nursing staff about taking some extra Tucks pads and Dermaplast home with you. They typically won't have any issue giving them to you and it's one less thing you have to worry about as soon as you get home. Make sure you take at least two of the peri bottles with you when you leave to go home. Not only are these going to be a life saver for cleaning your very swollen and tender junk at home, they are perfect for spraying saline rinses on your nipples if/when you get clogged ducts. Trust me on this one.
So there you have it. The things you need that you probably haven't thought about, the one thing you for sure don't need, and a few extra tidbits for your partner. Now pack that tiny bag and get ready to meet your baby!
Micah is a birth doula.& photographer and a prenatal yoga instructor based in Fort Worth, TX.