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Today, we’re going to discuss all the things to prepare before delivery of your first baby.
There are so many things to consider: from knowing a good list of items required during delivery to more mental and emotional things to prepare before giving birth. Not to mention expecting the unexpected and knowing when to go to the hospital in labor.
Hopefully, this complete guide will help you feel better with your preparation before delivery.
While you can never totally prepare for it all, there are a few things you can do ahead of time so you have all your labor essentials & delivery needs!
In this complete guide of things to prepare before delivery of a baby, we’ll cover:
Part 1: Packing Lists for the Hospital
- Packing for delivery
- What to bring to hospital for baby
- What to bring for Mom’s recovery in the hospital
- What to pack for Dad or another overnight guest/ helper
- What you might NOT need to bring to the hospital
Part 2: Preparing for Labor & Delivery
Part 3: Preparing your Home & Life for Baby!
- Baby things to buy before birth to keep at home
- Preparing your home before giving birth – cleaning, organizing, etc.
- What to expect the first few weeks
Disclaimer: It’s okay to be unprepared.
No matter how diligently you read & follow my entire guide, you can never fully prepare for your first baby. Honestly, you’ll learn a lot as you go!
I was actually totally UNPREPARED for our 3rd baby. In the middle of the night, 3 weeks before my due date, I started experiencing a trickle that wouldn’t stop. I wasn’t having contractions closer than 10 minutes apart and they weren’t getting any closer together. Because of that trickle though, I decided to drive myself to the hospital. My husband stayed home with our other 2 kiddos because we didn’t want to call Grandma in the middle of the night if it was a false alarm. (You’d think you’d know when to go to the hospital during labor with your 3rd baby, but I just wasn’t sure!)
Sure enough, it was go time! I called him at 3:00 am and asked him to pack our bags, call his mom, and get to the hospital.
2 days later, we went home with our new baby… after making a quick Target run for newborn diapers and some little boy newborn sized jammies. Oops!!
It was actually no big deal, and it makes for a good story!
So while I hope this post is helpful as you think about what things to prepare before delivery of your baby, just remember, babies don’t actually need that much. If you end up high-tailing it to the hospital with a record breaking labor time, it’s okay.
Childbirth doesn’t look like an Instagram influencer’s feed & the only thing that matters is a healthy baby & momma. Someone can always do a quick Target run for you. Try to relax.
But hopefully, you’ll have some time to prepare. So, let’s dive right into all the things you’ll want & need to prepare before giving birth.
Part 1: Things to Pack for Delivery Checklists
I’ll provide 4 checklists below: labor & delivery, postpartum recovery mom, dad/ overnight guest, and baby! I will also tell you what you DON’T need to bring to the hospital when you have a baby because they actually give you a LOT while you’re there.
Here’s what to bring to hospital for labor:
- Wear comfy clothes – you’ll change into a gown shortly after arriving
- Extra ponytail holder if you have long hair
- Phone & charger – it might be a while
- Slide on sandals and/ or socks – they might get ruined so bring cheap ones. I prefer black because there’s so much messy fluid everywhere… haha it just shows on everything less if you’re in dark colors.
- Chapstick – my lips were ALWAYS excessively chapped during labor & postpartum recovery. Not sure why!
When I go to pack for labor, I put these 5 things in their own side pocket so I can use them during labor.
TIP- Most hospitals don’t let you eat much because of the risk of vomiting and choking during emergency anesthesia. So I highly recommend eating a HUGE snack right before you go in. (I forgot to eat before labor with my 3rd and I was SOOOO hungry during labor!!)
What to bring to the hospital for postpartum recovery (mom):
- Toiletrees – Hairbrush, toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant.
- Really comfy loose fitting pants or robe – I never wore a robe. I always wanted loose fitting yoga style sweatpants with an elastic waistband. Go with a dark color because of the aforementioned messy fluids. Haha! Some people prefer a robe for easy on/ off in the bathroom.
- Makeup remover & makeup if that’s your thing – I use these Norwex body cloths to take off makeup and wash my face with just water. They’re super gentle and exfoliating and it makes me feel like a new person! I love dabbing on some moisturizer, mascara and chapstick at the least too. Obviously you don’t have to impress anyone because, hello, you’re giving birth! But after a couple days of feeling super gross, it felt great to just wash my face & freshen up a bit.
- Nursing tank and/or bra. If you’ve never had a baby before, bring one of each. You’ll figure out what’s comfy for you. You definitely don’t want anything restricting or white. You’d think that’d be obvious, but white seems to be all the rage in the trendy postpartum clothing guides. Navy and black are your friends right now, I promise!
- Lightweight zip-up or sweater. Your hormones will go CRAZY during the time you’re in the hospital, and that might affect your body temperature! Snag something cozy that is easy to cover up your nursing tank with if you’re cold or quickly take off if you start sweating profusely. Haha!
- Your own pillow
- Spray for down there – our hospital always provided some, but I like this stuff just in case! And if you don’t need it in the hospital, you’ll likely want it at home.
What to Bring to the Hospital for Baby: Packing for Baby Checklist
- Car Seat – the law requires you to have a properly installed carseat to leave the hospital with a baby in a car!
- Cotton one piece jammies – honestly, you can get away with just 2 of these!
- Going home outfit – if that’s your thing
- Socks – we always used these in place of mittens to cover up baby’s hands so they wouldn’t keep scratching themselves in the face. Socks seem to stay in place better than baby mittens.
- Baby nail clippers – newborn’s fingernails can be so long! Ask a nurse to help you if you’re nervous to cut the nails.
- 1 Cute blanket – we had a cute blanket for all our kids in the hospital. It made for fun photos 🙂
What to bring to hospital for dad when having a baby
- His own pillow & possibly a blanket – the hospital bed situation for the non-patient is typically even less comfortable than the patient’s bed situation
- Comfy clothes
- Phone & charger
- Water bottle & snacks
- Toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant – we were never that far from home, so my husband usually left for an hour or so to shower & change at home.
Things the Hospital Might Provide for You When Having a Baby
Important Note: Depending on where you’re located, the hospital will likely provide a lot of your essentials. If you’re not sure, call over and ask whether or not they provide each of these things. All the hospitals I’ve delivered in (in the midwest of the USA) have provided these items. What’s provided definitely varies by healthcare system and by country. These are all things you will for sure want.
I put links to each item below in case you live somewhere where these items are not provided.
- A huge water bottle with a straw that is constantly refilled for you with ice water!! (You will likely be SO thirsty during labor, delivery, & postpartum recovery.)
- Disposable underwear – ask your nurse for some extras as you’re packing up to go home. Trust me! These come in handy those first few days at home… you’ll probably use around 10-20 pairs.
- Enormous pads for those sexy disposable undies – just telling it like it is
- Nipple cream – you take it home with you; the hospital size was always enough for me for the first few weeks at home too.
- Peri bottle – take this home too.
- Newborn diapers & wipes – usually provided; Pampers Wwaddlers are our favorites for newborn size! After newborn & size 1, I switch to Huggies, Costco, or generic brand. Whatever is on sale.
- A little hat and blanket – you might have your own cute ones you want to bring for fun, but usually the hospital will provide them.
Thanks goodness for all of these wonderful inventions.
Random Related Item: I love love love Cj’s butter for baby! It smells amazing and it’s taken away every weird rash our kids ever had. Plus it’s safe for baby’s skin too. Highly recommend – a large container will last a LONG TIME.
Part 2: Preparation for Giving Birth
Labor and Delivery
Keep in mind that the months leading up to birth can already be stressful on their own so allowing yourself a bit of grace and time to prepare for your upcoming labor is important as well.
Prepare Mentally & Emotionally for Giving Birth
No matter how much you’ve prepared for labor, there’s certain to be a curveball or two thrown into the mix. We’ve had a variety of birth experiences between our 4 kiddos… We’ve used a midwife and an OB. We’ve tried natural labor and the epidural-as-soon-as-possible route. One baby got stuck and had to be vacuum suctioned out. I even had an in-home delivery lady come do my appointments for a few months with one baby because of a weird insurance mishap. My sister-in-law tried 4 epidurals and none of them worked for her. I had 4 and they were all amazing!
All that to say – you can try to plan and study and read, but there are things that you’re going to have to deal with on the fly as well.
For these times, be flexible. Not everything will go perfectly on the day you’re giving birth but a positive attitude going in will help. Trust your body and mind. You were designed to do this. Try to keep worry out and trust the process. Billions of women have given birth before you – it’s not a medical problem, it’s a totally natural normal thing. And soon, your little one will be here!
The top 6 things I tell first time moms to keep in mind before going into labor are:
- Get some rest if you can – your body is going to do a lot of hard work soon.
- Start eating and drinking because they often don’t let you eat in the hospital until the baby is born (and it could be a lonnnnnng time!!)
- Labor might be slow. It could be many hours (or just a few) before labor picks up speed!
- You may feel like you should “know,” but like I told you, I truly wasn’t sure if I was going into labor with my 3rd baby. Haha and I’d already done it twice before. It’s okay to not be sure.
- Braxton hicks feel like the real deal, but they are less “rhythmic.” The real contractions feel more like a wave than all over tightening. If you’re having contractions, lay down and try to sleep for a couple hours. Braxton hicks contractions will go away after a while and come back as you get active again. The real ones will become so frequent and painful that it’s hard to move.
- Take deep slow breaths, and remain calm mentally!
How can I prepare my body for labor?
Getting into a mindset about going into labor is important. There’s no doubt that labor is going to cause a lot of stress and pain on your body. The sooner that you can acknowledge this, the better.
Even if you’re hoping to get an epidural (which I’m a huge fan of!! haha!), you want to prepare in advance for physical pain. Here’s why:
- There is often at least an hour or more of painful contractions before you get the epidural. Unless your labor is moving at light speed, there will be contractions at home, paperwork to check in, getting settled in your room, getting an IV in, and 30-60 minutes of getting enough IV fluid. Oh and you might have to wait for the anesthesiologist. Having some breathing strategies to work through the pain for all of that will be helpful.
- Once in a while, an epidural doesn’t really work completely for someone. This happened to my sister-in-law with 5 deliveries. She never had an epidural that eliminated all the pain. Even after her epidural, the contractions and labor were pretty painful for her.
- Your labor might move too quickly to get an epidural! Of course, then it might be over very quickly. But still!! It gets pretty intense.
There are good chances you’ll be able to have a successful epidural, but I wanted to give you full disclosure!
And of course, some women don’t want an epidural. I labored naturally for many many hours with our first before I got an epidural. (I had wanted to try a natural birth but she was stuck sideways.)
During the second and third trimester, try some of these ideas to start preparing your body for labor.
Prepare your breathing
When you’re having contractions and in labor, breathing is going to matter. It sounds simple, but there are some strategies. Many women take some sort of LaMaze or Bradley Method type classes for learning to breathe through labor pain. I did a brief Bradley method class before our first baby, and ended up using the things I learned for each of the 4 babies (even though I ended up with an epidural for each delivery).
Furthermore, breathing during labor can keep your anxiety down and can be a good way to help you stay focused as well.
Prepare your mind
I often joke that even if you’re not ready to give birth, it’s going to happen no matter what. The sooner that you can understand that you’re strong and believe in yourself, the better birthing experience you’re going to have.
Every woman is scared of giving birth. There’s the worry of tearing or needing stitches and some women even worry about the pain of an epidural. Remember, you were created to do this. Women have been giving birth since the beginning of time.
You are strong enough to birth your child.
Believing in your ability and trusting the process from the getgo will really help your mind & body to stay calm!
Prepare your body
Exercise throughout your pregnancy as you are able. Walk often. But also, try to get as much sleep as you can and rest when your body tells you it needs rest.
Get to bed at a decent hour and allow your body the time it needs to recover. You’ll be so thankful to have a strong and rested body when you’re in labor.
Make a list of things that are important to you to have done in your home, to have added to your hospital bag, and to have figured out before you’re in labor and you’ll find that you’re prepared as you can possibly be.
Part 3: Preparing your Life & Home for a New Baby
Nesting! What to Clean Before Baby Arrives
You’re more than likely feeling the urge to “nest” during the time leading up to the arrival of your baby. Nesting usually refers to this sudden urge to get everything cleaned & ready at home, often accompanied by a huge burst of energy to do all the things.
Hey, if you get the nesting bug, go for it!! During my 3rd pregnancy, I did the whole Marie Kondo thing… to the entire house!
Don’t forget to be easy on your body during the process, though. And don’t be surprised if mid-nesting streak, you become suddenly exhausted and need a 3 hour nap. Just move that pile of clothes off the bed and nap. You can Marie-Kondo the clothes later.
Also, listen to your body & be careful! Excessive bending, pulling, and pushing big items aren’t a good idea. If you just NEED to rearrange all the furniture, wait for hubby to get home.
My #1 recommendation to expecting moms would be if you can AT ALL afford it, pay to have your house deep cleaned as close to your due date as possible. Maybe 2-3 weeks before your due date. While the cleaning crew is at your house, go get a pedicure or prenatal massage. You will be SO OVER mopping and scrubbing by then, and you will really appreciate having had that done when you come home from the hospital with your new little one!!
(Side note – when we were having babies, we were also quite broke & working on paying down debt. So I actually never did that for myself!! But some friends came and cleaned for me once & I’ve cleaned for other ultra-pregnant friends. I highly recommend it!!)
What to Purchase in Advance for the Baby
Keep in mind that you don’t need to go overboard with preparing for the arrival of your baby. You’re going to be tempted to buy a ton of cute clothes and other items along the way, but keep those extras limited and focus on the needs instead.
For bigger items, having a place for the baby to sleep and a car seat are the 2 main larger items that you’ll want to have on hand as well.
These are my 2 favorite bassinets – cute moses basket; collapsible bassinet. This is an amazing carseat and stroller system for your first baby.
If you know you’ll have 2 or more kids close in age, I’d recommend saving up for the UppaBaby system that can convert to a double stroller. Or try to find the stroller second hand (nearly impossible because people use them for so many years) and snag just the car seat brand new. (Don’t buy used car seats!!)
We loved having a plug-in swing like this for the baby too. (Battery operated ones die out quickly.)
Fun fact – You can’t leave the hospital in a car without a carseat! So, that’s literally the only item you technically “need.” And diapers. Some clothes are nice too. 😉
Besides those few items, everything else can be easily purchased along the way.
What to Expect the First Couple Weeks Home with a Newborn
I’m working on a whole separate post on the first couple weeks at home with a newborn. But the gist is, it’s a blur. With your first baby, it’s exhausting, and can be both overwhelming and so wonderful the same time. You can read all the good advice in the world and still not be prepared because it’s something you just have to live through to understand. Ya know?
Just know that every new mom goes through it. You’re not alone.
You can do it!!
I hope this comprehensive guide of sorts helps you feel more prepared for bringing that little baby home. Just remember, you were made for this. Your baby needs love & food. That’s it!
Feel free to reach out in the comment section below with any further questions or comments! You got this!!