Hospital Birth… What To Pack

There are plenty of online lists out there of what to pack for the hospital when you’re having a baby. In my 16 years of supporting women and their partners through birth, these are the things that I have found most useful. My suggestion is to find one of those lists and add a few things from this list. I have starred the items on this list that I, personally wouldn’t do without.

Music During Labor

Lots of people consider bringing music and then end up not bringing it. Music plays a couple of roles and maybe if I address these roles, you will see more value in it. First, music is energy, simply because you plug it in or charge it. Energy generates energy! A dark quiet room in the middle of the night is great if you are sleepy but if you’re in active labor, the energy that music brings, can be a powerful tool. Secondly, both labor AND music are rhythmic. Having music with you at the hospital can help you find your labor rhythm and bring you more comfort during the process. The best music for birth? YOUR favorite! Whatever you like. There is no right or wrong on this one. The only thing I would encourage you to avoid is the “babbling brook” type stuff. Often the bird in the background saying CAWWW, CAWWW is distracting. Bring something that makes you feel great when you hear it.


Big cozy pillows from your delicious master bedroom are best left in your master bedroom for comfort AFTER your hospital stay. Instead, bring a cheap pillow that amniotic fluid, blood or vomit ruining won’t bother you. Often the “extra” pillow becomes a knee pillow and can get messy. In my opinion, the BEST kind of pillow to bring is a neck pillow You know, the ones you bring on an airplane. It can be a great source of neck support during labor and after the baby comes. It is great whether you are resting in the bed or laboring in a rocking chair. It’s compact and easy to pack so stick one in your hospital bag and enjoy!

Oil For Labor Massage

My recommendation for massage oil is always any oil that you can eat. Steer clear of oils with fragrance!!! You may love the smell of lavender, green tea or cucumber melon when you’re NOT in labor but labor heightens your senses and if the smell is in the oil and it soaks into your skin and you stop liking, it is impossible to get off and can likely lead to nausea. Any fragrance that you bring for comfort should be contained so that if you don’t like it, you can seal the container and eliminate the smell.

*A “Birth” Ball

This is the one thing I encourage all of our clients to invest in. And by invest, I mean about $15.00-$20.00. Sitting on a ball that is properly inflated, can be a great way for your nurse to monitor your baby while you are upright, verses lying in bed (which can be extremely uncomfortable during contractions). Keep in mind that when sitting on the ball, your back is exposed and massage and counter pressure can easily be applied.

Food During Labor

Unfortunately most hospitals want a mom in labor on a clear liquid diet. Eat before you head to the hospital when possible. What I have found is that women who say they are hungry during active labor, take one or two bites of something and typically decide that they are not hungry. Bring some suckers or mints with you but know that you may want to spit them out when a contraction begins. Be sure to pack snacks for your partner that aren’t smelly (granola bars, pretzels, trail mix etc.) and don’t take long to eat. Psst… partners… eat that granola bar while mom is in the bathroom! If she can’t eat, you might not want to eat in front of her J

Staying Hydrated

Sure there are cups and straws at the hospital but sometimes having your own water bottle that you like to drink from, will encourage you to drink more. If the hospital you have chosen does not administer routine IVs and you are hoping to avoid one, staying well hydrated is key! Bring something with you that will make you happy to drink after each contraction and partners, help make sure she does!

*A Labor Doula

I am not sure how this one is not on EVERY list of what to bring to your birth but it should be at the very top in my opinion. Your Labor Doula is your one constant! No shift change can drive her away! She will be by your side from home to hospital to early postpartum. Through the miracle of modern technology your nurse can monitor your baby’s heartbeat and your contractions from the nurses station and your doctor or midwife can log on from home or the office to take a peak as well. Your Doula, however will be in the room with you for the entire labor and birth. She will be by your side encouraging position changes, breathing techniques, counter pressure and massage as well as reminding you and your partner of the benefits, risks and alternatives to all things birth. Use her as you birth tour guide and rely on her education, experience and knowledge to help you birth your baby with less fear and more confidence!

Most importantly…. Don’t worry about how you look walking into the hospital with all your “stuff”! You may need it all and you may not need any of it (except the Doula, of course! lol) but if you want it, bring it! It is YOUR “birth” day and YOU get to be comfortable!