The first time I was pregnant, we had planned on a home birth, right up until the end. With complications mounting, it was likely that I wouldn’t be able to labor at home much at all, let alone birth at home. But I was stubborn and determined. So I packed an ’emergency bag’ and left it at that– most of our ‘labor supplies’ were things around the house I had planned on using- like the tub and my exercise ball, and I refused to believe that I would need to bring more than that with me to the hospital if need be.
Well, lo and behold, the week before I ended up going into labor (ironically, with my water breaking, Group B Strep positive– which meant I needed to get to the hospital right away), I was refused a home birth and had no option other than to birth at the hospital. I was upset and defeated, determined to avoid a hospital stay, SO sure that I wanted to be at home.
As it turned out, despite my labor not going as planned AT all, we had a wonderful experience at the hospital. So much so, we chose it from the get-go this time around. I mean how many chances do you get to be waited on hand and foot in the first couple days after your brand new baby is born? Umm, one (per baby, at least). We didn’t have to worry about feeding ourselves, we had everything we needed at our fingertips, help with those new-parent worries like the first poop after birth (baby’s and mine, ha) and our wonderful intuitive nurse even took Sage for 2 hours that first long night so we could rest– something I had sworn I would never do, and so appreciated in those difficult, sleepless early days. We had on-call help with nursing, which Sage struggled with being so early, and I couldn’t have been more thankful for the ease of transition and abundance of help at our little suburban hospital.
Though I ended up having an awesome stay, I was definitely lacking in some of the things that, in hindsight, I absolutely could have used to make my labor and delivery easier and more relaxed (yes, that is a thing!) as well as some comfort measures for postpartum that I hadn’t even thought of. So this time around, especially with my water breaking at 37 weeks the last time, I decided I was going to be prepared. By 36 weeks I had my bags packed and ready to go (and I even pushed my husband to get his together, shortly after).
So maybe this is over-packing to some of you… but for me, this is a compilation of all the things I needed last time… and the things I wished I had. This is what we packed in our holistic hospital bags, starting with labor and delivery.
Labor and Delivery
My last labor, I was highly unprepared when it came to comfort measures, and my anxiety and fear about the unknown took over, rendering everything I had learned in my books and birth classes null, and I was stuck in a place of anxiety and pain. This time around, we smartened up– we refreshed our knowledge of natural birth with the Mama Natural Online Birth Course (HIGHLY, highly recommend!) and the knowledge, in combination with suggestions for labor positions and comfort measures was beyond helpful in preparing for a more peaceful birth.
The first thing I KNOW will be of huge help when it comes to labor, is her Natural Labor Playbook— which can be purchased separately, however is also a part of the course. It’s packed with simple advice and photo positions for comfort measures for laboring. The two things I took from this that I will be utilizing (but my wonderful hospital has available) are a rebozo (basically a really long scarf to use for positioning) and a birth ball. I used the birth ball almost the whole first half of my labor with my first, and it was hugely helpful to just move my hips around and when I was experiencing back labor.
Calm + Comfort
Beyond the birth ball and the rebozo, I knew I wanted a calm and peaceful atmosphere as much as possible during my birth– so having essential oils (with a portable diffuser) and my headphones with a relaxing playlist and recordings of birth affirmations to help me stay focused were necessary components. However, I also have a fun and upbeat playlist as well- just in case I want a change of pace! I also packed my spare phone charger so I don’t risk running out of charge!
Other essentials include a sports bra and an extra pair of underwear– I’ll go in my own comfy clothes and probably labor in them as long as possible. I don’t mind wearing the hospital-provided gown (I don’t have any desire to make a pretty nightgown icky- but some women like having their own), if my water breaks when I am there, though, I figure I might prefer my own fresh undergarments under the gown (though really, who knows!). I also packed some fun Kindred Bravely labor and delivery socks to walk around in– they’ve got grippies on the bottom with fun phrases (mine say “Keep Calm and Push On”) and they’re washable, in case I want to use them later– but if not, they’re inexpensive enough that I don’t mind tossing them. I also packed a bikini top for laboring in the big spa tub at our hospital– I also had my husband pack his swim trunks, in case I want him to get in with me.
Speaking of my husband, one of the things we failed to consider last time around was how hungry my husband would be! Poor guy was starving- he was on his way to pick us up a quick dinner from Whole Foods when my water broke and the hospital nurse told me to come in right away. So he picked me up and we grabbed snacks on the way (having contractions in the prepared foods section of Whole Foods is not recommended, by the way)- which I promptly threw up, and he ate, still starving. So I remember him begging me to let him go grab a bagel at Tim Horton’s just to hold him over and me not wanting him to leave– luckily my doula sent him away, assuring me he wouldn’t be long (it felt like forever). So this time we are more prepared. We have a bag full of healthy and not-so-healthy energizing snacks for him, as well as some electrolyte packets because labor is as long a haul for your partner, though maybe not as physically demanding, as it is for you!
For him, we packed:
-An Epic bar– for quick, filling protein
-Natural pretzel sticks + almond butter for a crunchy, fat-packed snack
-Coconut water for hydration
-Natural gummy peach rings, because they’re his favorite, and sometimes you just need a hit of sugar! 😉
-My daughter also packed him a little chocolate truffle, because “it’s his favorite”, and I couldn’t say no!
For myself, I am not able to eat or drink anything that isn’t clear once I am at the hospital, so I am hoping to get in a hearty meal beforehand. I DID pack some essentials to keep my energy up– I’m planning on drinking strong red raspberry leaf tea in early labor (as long as I can stomach it), and I also packed two large coconut waters for hydration– and some Ultima electrolyte packets in case I need something else if labor lags on. Coconut water SAVED ME towards the end of my labor with Sage, when I was exhausted just before pushing, after not having eaten for over 12 hours! For quick energy, I packed a couple of honey sticks in case I need some glucose to get me through the marathon that is labor!
I packed a small, but crucial bag of natural remedies and laboring necessities to help me through the toughest parts of birth. I am a huge fan of essential oils for their many health benefits– so I couldn’t leave home without my arsenal! I use DoTerra essential oils because I prefer their Therapeutic Grade quality, but any high quality oils will do. My last labor, Clary Sage was incredibly helpful in increasing contractions, and Lavender helped keep my blood pressure in check and calm me– this time I added a few more that I learned helpful– we’ll see what I use. I included a little ‘cheat sheet’ for my husband of what each oil could be used for, so he has a reference for when I am in labor and probably not thinking straight!
Here’s what I packed:
Lemon- for energizing and uplifting
Clary Sage- for increasing contractions
Frankincense- for fear and anxiety
Peppermint- for energizing and cooling
Lavender- for calming
Calming Blend (‘Serenity’)- for diffusing for a calm atmosphere
Tension Blend (‘Past Tense’)- for headache or neck/shoulder pain
Muscle Rub (‘Deep Blue’)- for lower back pain
I also packed a small bottle of simple massage oil (almond + avocado oil) and a spray bottle of magnesium oil, which is a natural muscle relaxant. I also packed some chapstick– because dry hospital + dehydration is not a great combo!
Of course, on the way out I will grab my phone + wallet- which has our insurance card, but we are already pre-registered at the hospital so it should be simple to head right in when it’s time! And that’s it- I don’t imagine we will need much more during the labor process, and I’m sure there is quite a bit we won’t even use– but I am looking forward to feeling prepared, this time around!
Did you pack a similar bag for labor and delivery? Anything you would add?