The following list of everything I packed for the hospital and everything I wish I should have. I hope this helps guide you for when you pack your hospital bag; consider the season you are giving birth in and the hospital because each hospital and country will have different specifications.
First some general packing tips:
Pack 3 different bags:
The first with things you will use during labor and birth;
The second for what you and your partner (if they are allowed to stay) will need;
The third is all you will need for the baby.
I left bags 2 and 3 in the car throughout labor, and once we moved into our room, my husband got the rest. This way, it will be easier to have access to what you need at the right time, and it will allow you more mobility.
You should probably pack your bag or make sure you have everything ready between weeks 34 and 36.
Contact the hospital where you will be giving birth. They usually have a list of things that they recommend bringing and, in some cases, things that are even mandatory to bring. For instance, my sister-in-law just gave birth in a hospital in Italy, and they required her for three pairs of mittens for the baby. This changes from place to place, so always try to confirm what are the hospital policies.
Packing your bag can be a great distraction, but it can also generate anxiety. Although I had everything ready and spent weeks preparing, we forgot one bag in the apartment, and my husband had to go later to get it. I ended up not using about half the things I brought anyway. Don't worry too much; at the end of the day, ALL YOU NEED is you.
BAG 1: Labor and birth
ID, Insurance, and Mutterpass
Birth Plan: In German hospitals, you have to register in advance, so bring your birth plan when you register, so they have it in your file, but it doesn't hurt to have extra copies with you.
Push playlist: Dad was in charge of music, and it had different types of songs for different moods. I found this helpful and relaxing. It was something to keep my mind on. It is also great that I am transported back when I hear some of those songs. Our hospital had a Bluetooth connection in every birth and delivery room; ask your hospital what will be available.
Bathing suit and a towel: You will need a bathing suit if you plan to have a water birth or use water as a pain relief strategy. Try to get a two-piece that you can put on and off easily, and go for something thin that will dry fast. I also chose a strapless one because I didn't want the straps to bother me.
Flip Flops and/or slippers: you want something that you can easily put on and off.
Snacks: You might not want to eat during labor, but it will be great to have them if you do. In hospitals, they usually have a vending machine that won't provide healthily and snacks that provide energy. Try going for nuts and granola bars. If you are in Germany, you can find Traubenzucker candy that will give you tons of energy and good taste.
Drinks: I just drank water during labor, and I wish I would have brought my water bottle with a straw. We also had isotonic drinks that I know my husband appreciated.
Lip balm: Your mouth gets parched because you breathe through the contractions, so bring a lip balm that you love.
Hair tie and hairband: The last thing you want is hair on your face, so bring whatever helps you keep your hair under control.
Massage or Tennis Ball: If you have back pain during labor, a ball can help relieve some of that pain. Click here for a video that will show you and/or your partner how to use them.
Toiletries: Both for you and your partner. Usually, this would be in your second bag, but if your labor is long, you might want to freshen up. I had them with me just in case. Bring the things you use daily. Unless you have a 10 step skincare routine, then simplify. But it is important to have the things that make you feel good, and you are familiar with.
Anything you can think that will help during labor, such as:
A pic of the ultrasound to keep you focused
Birth ball if your hospital does not provide one
BAG 2: For After Birth
The hospital will provide disposable underwear, pads, ice packs, lanolin, breast pump, and nipple shields if you require them.
Three Nursing bras: I used them throughout the pregnancy because my boobs kept getting bigger, and this way, you don't have to buy pregnancy and lactation bras.
Three Nursing-friendly PJ's: The looser, the better. You don't have to wear maternity PJ´s; anything that you can button down will work fine.
Robe and/or open cardigan: Whatever makes you feel comfortable to walk around in your PJ's.
Comfy top and maternity leggings: To go home in. Bring clothes that fit when you were about 6 months pregnant.
Lactation pillow: Ask your hospital if they provide them, and if you have a car, bring it and leave it there. It is not essential, and it takes a lot of space in the room.
Towels: For me, it was unbelievable that the hospital doesn't provide towels, but apparently, it is very normal. Bring towels for the shower and for your face and hands.
For healing and care
Perineum Cold Packs: You can get them on Amazon, and I will cover this in the postpartum essentials post, but for now, know that they are a fantastic idea.
Postpartum healing spray: I used the Natural Birthing Company Bottoms Up Soothing Spray that I got from Amazon. It is important that it has lavender and Witch Hazel.
Peri Bottle: Any will do. I know Frida Mom has one that is supposed to be great, but I bought the cheapest one on Amazon, and it was more than enough.
Three pairs of underwear and socks.
Comfy sweatpants to sleep in: People come in and out of the room, plus dad might have to take the baby to get checkups or run to get something you need, so it is more comfortable than a PJ.
For Partner to worry about
Camera: Because printing phone pictures are just not good enough. Make sure you have battery and memory space!
Charging cables: Try to get a long charging cable and a plug with more than one USB port. Hospitals tend to have only one plug available, and it's usually in the most uncomfortable place.
Documents required for registration: Check what you will need and have everything ready. It may change depending on your situation. For example, we had a letter from my embassy stating that we use two last names in my country. In the end, it wasn't required, but we had heard sometimes this can be a problem, so we wanted to be covered.
BAG 3. Baby
The hospital will provide clothes, diapers, wipes, etc.
Going home outfit: Bodysuit, onesie, socks, hat, and sweater. Go for clothes that are easy to put on. You are just getting used to this tiny human, so don't overcomplicate things with a million buttons and bows.
Muslin blankets: These are lifesavers, and I used them for everything from swaddling to covering the car seat if it's windy on your way out.
Depending on the season, a thin or thick blanket.
A stuffed animal: When time passes, it is tough to remember how tiny they are when they are born, so taking a pic with a cute teddy will give you a reference.
Car seat: I know you don’t put this in your bags, but it's something you have to think about when preparing for the hospital. Make sure you have it installed and ready. We did practice runs with a teddy bear, and It still was hard.
If there is anything, you think the list is missing, help another mom-to-be and leave it in the comments below!