10 Essential Items for Your Hospital Bag

Smart packing is in the bag.

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If you're planning a hospital birth, pack your bag three weeks before your due date. These 10 essential items will help you have a better birth experience:

1. Birth Plan (if you have one)

It's best to keep your birth plan short and sweet, and to really think through a few key questions which will help you communicate your wishes. Try our template for a birth plan here, because "winging it" doesn't always work for childbirth.

2. Extra Undies and Extra-Absorbent Pads

You're going to need these after delivery. It might also be helpful to pack lidocaine spray or witch hazel pads (to relieve pain from tearing).

These items, and others, should also be on hand when you return home: Postpartum Care Kit for New Moms.

3. iPod or Other Device for Playing Music

There is nothing better for shifting your mood than playing the perfect song. Having music in your toolkit could save the day.

4. Camera

Plus, fresh batteries, your phone and phone charger.

Use these tips to take some great photos of your main attraction.

5. Nursing Bra

Check out our favorite picks for nursing bras and other nursing essentials in our Registry Guide. Plus, the best ways to prevent and treat sore nipples.

6. Warm Socks

Hospital floors are cold! You will be thankful you packed these.

7. Nightgown

If you don't want to wear the hospital one, you'll need something of your own.

8. Toiletries—Including Lip Balm

Hospitals are dry, and pregnancy has already taken a toll on your skin. Be prepared!

9. Going-Home Outfit for Your Baby

When it comes to newborn clothes it's best to keep it simple and stick with the basics.

10. A Tube Sock and Three Tennis Balls

This is a natural way to help keep back pain at bay during labor.

Stuff the balls in the sock, tie a knot in the end, and ask your labor partner to roll the sock up and down your back. You can also stand against a wall with the sock between your back and the wall and press into the balls to help relieve tension.

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