You've spent months waiting for your new baby, and the preparations have been endless. There have been clothes, blankets, diapers, and cribs to buy, and the list goes on and on. You've taken classes and read piles of books and articles. Maybe you've attended a birth or watched a video or two of a baby being born. You've done everything you can possibly think of to prepare for your new little one. The due date is getting closer ... is there anything else you need to do to get ready?

There is at least one more thing. Pack your hospital bag! Since babies usually come without a lot of warning, it's a good idea to pack the things you want to have with you ahead of time. You may have plenty of time, but you never know with babies.

So what should you pack? Here is a list of must haves

  • Photo ID and insurance card, and registration forms if applicable

  • Toiletries such as a toothbrush, toothpaste, lotion, makeup if you like, shampoo and soap if you prefer your own brand, hairbrush, clips or ponytail holders if necessary

  • The hospital will provide a hospital gown and socks, but you may bring your own pajamas to wear after the birth

  • A nursing bra or two, if you are nursing, or a sports bra if not

  • Camera

  • Street clothes to wear home from the hospital (choose something you wore when about six months pregnant)

  • Clothes for the baby to wear home

  • A receiving blanket to swaddle the baby in, plus another if it's cold weather

  • Bring an infant car seat (you can leave it in the car) for the ride home. Bring along a head support for the carseat, too. Rolled receiving blankets will work in a pinch.

According to your birth plan, you may also like to have some of these additional items

  • Recorded music and a speaker to play it from your phone that has been loaded with songs you've selected to listen to during labor and afterward

  • A special focus picture, if your birth plan includes this

  • Essential oils and other massage items

  • Some people like a tube sock filled with tennis balls to provide back counter pressure

  • Your own pillow

  • Something to read

  • Snacks, including hard candies or mints if you experience dry mouth

  • Money for parking if necessary, or change for the vending machine, in case your husband or coach needs something

  • Baby book, if you would like footprints put in it - nurses are often willing to do this

  • Contact list for telling family and friends the happy news

So gather your things, and don't worry if you forget something. Your husband or other visitors can bring you items you'd like to have. Having your hospital bag ready to go will take away one more piece of stress and help provide a more relaxing birth experience. Enjoy your new baby.

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