Published on June 12, 2023 at 13:58

Packing a hospital bag is an important and exciting step for a pregnant woman, as she prepares to meet the little being who has been growing inside her belly for the past nine months. In order to live out the final moments of your pregnancy with complete peace of mind, planning is key, because it's hard to predict when your baby will decide to show up!  

The essentials list

To make your stay in the hospital as pleasant as possible, you need to think not only about the mother's comfort but also that of the baby and the supporting parent. Since emotions and nerves often run high at a time like this, it's a good idea to list all the essentials you'll need for the big moment of childbirth. 

Contents of a bag for Mom

In Mom's suitcase, the essentials are:

  • Loose, comfortable clothing
  • Pyjamas
  • Suitable underwear
  • A robe
  • Socks (light and warm)
  • Slippers
  • Absorbent sanitary towels
  • Hygiene products (toiletry kit)
  • A hot water bottle
  • Nursing pads
  • A nursing pillow
  • Snacks
  • Books or magazines
  • Electronic devices (tablet, cell phone) with charger
  • Health insurance and hospital cards
  • Pregnancy follow-up documents provided by the doctor
  • Vaccination booklet
  • Birth plan (if applicable)
  • Insurance documents (hospital expenses)
  • Medication to be taken (if necessary

Contents of baby's bag

For your baby's bag, the essentials are:

  • Pyjamas
  • Diaper covers
  • Socks
  • Little mittens
  • Diapers
  • Wet wipes
  • Washcloths
  • Bibs
  • Blankets
  • Hats
  • Pacifiers (if desired)
  • Hygiene products (mild soap, wipes, moisturizing cream, zinc cream or barrier cream (diaper rash));
  • Clothes for leaving the hospital (appropriate for the season)
  • A car seat (mandatory for hospital discharge)
  • A car seat cover (depending on the season)

Contents for the suitcase of the supporting parent

The essentials in the supporting parent’s bag include:

  • Comfortable clothes
  • Pyjamas
  • Indoor shoes
  • Hygiene products (toiletry kit)
  • A pillow
  • Blankets
  • A camera
  • Electronic devices (tablet, cell phone) with charger
  • Entertainment (books, magazines, music, crosswords, etc.)
  • Food and drink
  • A water bottle
  • Cash and change (coffee, snacks, parking, etc.)

Download the list in printable format

Of course, these lists are simply suggestions. You are free to modify or add to them as you see fit. The items listed above are also subject to change according to the season; for example, lighter blankets or clothing will be needed in summer, and warmer clothes are a must in the winter. 

The ideal time to pack a hospital bag

The third trimester, which begins at the 28th week of pregnancy, is the perfect time to start packing for your trip to the maternity hospital. In fact, it's better to get a head start and be prepared than to be thoroughly stressed if you have to go to the hospital earlier than expected.

A few practical tips

The route

Since the parents' place of residence is not always close to the hospital, it can be a good idea to look at the route in advance (well before the birth!) to not lose time when the baby is ready to come into the world.

A tour of the hospital

Many hospitals organize maternity visits to familiarize parents with the place where their baby will be born and provide information on the hospital stay. This is an ideal opportunity for parents to ask questions and learn about the essentials provided by the hospital (bottles, milk, diapers, wipes, etc.).

Hospitalization time 

It's important to know that hospital stays aren't usually very long, depending on how the delivery goes. In the event of natural childbirth, the hospital stay is between 24 and 36 hours after delivery. If the mother needs a Caesarean section, the hospital stay is 36 to 72 hours after delivery. For all other situations, the duration may vary.

Older children

When you're in your last trimester, and this isn't your family's first baby, it's important to have a plan.  Ask someone to look after the older one(s) when the big day arrives. Ideally, the supporting parent will stay with Mom at all times. It's best to choose someone you can trust who is familiar with the routine, such as grandparents or an aunt or uncle.

In addition, think of a plan A and a plan B (and sometimes C-D). If Grandma doesn't answer or the contractions start sooner than expected, have someone "nearby" on hand to take over. Also, have a little reminder on the fridge with essential information: health insurance card information, medication routine if applicable, important phone numbers, etc. 

It goes without saying that the arrival of a new family member is a life-changing event for the older child. This may lead to undesirable behaviour in response to the situation. It is important to welcome the child's emotions and answer their questions using simple, age-appropriate words. In addition, including the older child in the preparations and trying to maintain a familiar routine can help ensure a smoother transition.

Pets in the house

Many have pets. They are often part of the family before the arrival of the children. After the baby's birth, it's a good idea for the spouse or a family member to bring a piece of clothing with the baby’s scent for the animals to smell before returning home with the newborn.

With your mind at ease and your hospital bag by the door, all you have to do is calmly wait for the moment when your baby is ready to meet you.

Enjoy your pregnancy!

Text written in collaboration with Vie de Parents

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