The Baby/Mama Bug-Out Bag: What To Pack

The baby/mama bug-out bag.

Every new mom-to-be will have one.  Maybe two.  Maybe….4?

We’ve all seen them in countless movies and TV shows with the rush to get out the door when baby is coming, but what really goes in that magical bag of tricks?  What necessities should we pack and what don’t we need to pack?  If you do an internet search, there are literally hundreds of mom blogs and pregnancy sites full of advice and lists and when I was nearing my due date the first time around, I read as many as I could. I stressed over it, worried I would forget something important with this sense of urgency like I was going to some remote outpost on the moon and would never return, so I better not forget my hair clips or I’d never see another set in my whole life and where I’m going they don’t even know what deodorant is, so I should make sure that’s packed, as well.

The check lists you find online only increase the anxiety by saying things like, “you HAVE to make sure you bring xxx because you will feel lost without it.”
Really? I’m going to feel “lost” without my shampoo? I’m pretty sure I will retain the exact knowledge of my whereabouts should I accidentally forget to pack my shampoo.
Seriously, soon-to-be mamas… It’s not that hard.
Bottom line; when packing your bag, the first thing you need is to get a grip. You don’t need to pack like you’re going to mars, so the first thing you need is a list of what you don’t need to worry about.

Here are a five things you really don’t need to worry about NEARLY as much as all those articles make you think you do:

Don’t worry about..

#1- Forgetting things- No matter what they are.  Don’t have an anxiety attack over forgotten items.
Chances are, your hospital is no more than 20 miles from your house and you probably have a friend or someone who could run by your house and pick something up for you, should you need it.
If that’s not an option, there is likely a drug store, mall or super market nearby that has the item you need, whether it be a hair scrunchy, face wipes, deodorant or a set of pj’s.

#2- new baby clothes
When I went into labor with my daughter, I didn’t know we were gong to meet her that day and I didn’t have anything with me. I was super bummed that I didn’t have her cute “first car ride home” outfit and I stressed a little until I remembered we don’t live in 1822 and it wouldn’t take a 3 day trip on horseback to get home.  I called my mother who then picked up her outfit on her way to the hospital. Done deal.

#3- labor music
It’s a fancy, trendy thing to do these days to create a “labor playlist” to help motivate and/or calm the laboring mother through the birthing process. I created this amazing playlist for the birth of my son, it was literally 12 hours long because I figured that was the average length for first time labors and I don’t want to run out of music. I spent all this time stressing over it, building it, setting up each song to lead into the next in ways that made sense, I created it like it was going to be a treasured keepsake that took hours and hours and guess what? He was 3 weeks early and after 4 hours of sitting in a temp room, they pulled me in for a c-section because he was breech. Never even got the lap top out, let alone bothered to turn it on. Oh well.

#4- stuff to do
Okay so, I cannot guarantee you that you won’t need stuff to do because it depends on your labor. For me, laptop, smart phones, novels and games were just a waste of space. Obviously they are just for the many, many moments of waiting while in labor to be ready enough to begin pushing, but during this period, you should really be sleeping and resting and once the baby is there, all that stuff in your way will only take away moments you could be having staring at the new amazing person you just made. Don’t swallow up any of those first precious hours checking your Facebook feed or playing an online game. I guarantee you whatever is going on online, it’s not as important as connecting with your baby.

#5- Baby book
Again, this is one thing that you probably think you need to bring, but really- you don’t.  You want it to put the foot prints and the hand prints at birth in and you want to be able to write all the information with your new-mom shaky hands to make it that much more special.  You want your nurses and your doctors to sign the book like celebrities autographing a program because that will mean something awesome later.  You can think of a thousand reasons to make sure you have it with you at the birth, but you totally don’t need it.  Why?  Because they invented loose-leaf paper a few hundred years back and you can do ALL OF THIS on regular paper, or the ones provided by the doctor and simply insert them into the book in the appropriate place.  I actually taped my loose papers with some of these mementos into my son’s baby book nearly a year later.  WHEN it gets into the book is not what makes it special.  It’s the fact that it is in the book at ALL that makes it special.

#6- (Okay, I know I said 5, but this one is important) Fancy birthing clothes
A new trend is to wear special birthing clothes that are cute, stylish and make you look adorable while giving birth. Because really… who doesn’t want to be pretty while they’re pushing out a 7 pound human being?  They cost anywhere between $40 and $200 for a birthing dress or fancy scrub-like clothes with easy access tummy area and halters or straps that tie for ease of IV lines.  I wanted one SOOOOO BAD! (Ridiculous, I know)  My darling husband bought me the one I wanted in basic black (because I thought the white or any other color would probably be really gory) and I was SO excited to have it with me!  When I got there, they weren’t sure they would admit me because I hadn’t dilated enough, so I waited to change until I knew for sure.  Then…. I forgot until JUST before it was time.  I felt bad that he’d spent the money on it only to have it sitting there in the suitcase going unused.  It was completely unnecessary.  Oh, and the birth went just fine without my cute birthing dress.  I didn’t even feel ugly without it.  Go figure…

Okay.  So now that we’ve established that you really don’t NEED all that stuff, here’s another list of things you might not have thought of that would be really awesome to have with you:

#1- Light, loose powder.  My personal favorite is Kama Sutra Honey Dust.  Not for any kinky reason get your mind outta the gutter.  It’s very light, airy and wicks away moisture better than anything else on the market.  Dust a little under your breasts and your tummy, on your thighs, armpits and your neck and not only will it give you a rush of yummy scent that makes you smile, it also feels awesome for hours because it resists and wicks away moisture.

#2- A headband that stays on, but doesn’t pinch your head.  Keeping your hair away from your face seems to be one added annoyance no one needs ANY time, but especially NOT when giving birth.  I mean really, when you’re trying to focus on bringing a human into this world, you don’t want to have to deal with getting a mouthful of hair or getting stuck to your neck, or just being generally annoying.  You also don’t want to get stuck with something tight on your head that will give you a headache and a pony tail will probably be annoying for lying back in your bed.  The best solution I could come up with was a fabric headband that fit snug but not too tight.  Worked great.

#3- Phone charger.  If you have a real camera you likely won’t need your phone, but chances are, and especially if your phone IS your camera, you’ll want a way to charge it. Nothing is more of a bummer than wanting your phone to take a video of your sweet new baby doing something amazing and not having a charged up phone to take the video.  I recommend you invest in an extra and leave it in the car until the day comes, just in case because you know you’re gonna be taking the “new baby selfie” as soon as you look cute again.  😉 *edit* – another thing about your phone; make sure you’ve already completed any and all updates and that you have plenty of space left on your phone for a zillion videos and photos. The WORST THING EVER is to get in there and ready to take the billion dollar photos and realize your phone won’t take them until you delete half your library.

#4- Your favorite lip goo.  During the process of labor, you get tired, dry and you will likely wish you had something for your lips and the “here you can use mine” just doesn’t seem to cover it in a time of need.  Whichever is your favorite, make sure you have it, at least one extra.  If you are a Carmex person, a Blistex or a Chap-Stick person or a Bert’s Bees person… just make sure you have the one you prefer just in case that is the ONE thing they don’t carry at the store closest to you.

#5- Your favorite socks.  Okay so this is a totally silly one, but if you’re having a hospital birth, you will quickly find yourself completely void of all personal, personality.  You take your jewelry off, your make up off, your clothes and you replace it with the anonymous hospital equipment in an anonymous hospital room.  It’s pretty boring.  So you can bring some awesome, flashy, cute thigh-high or knee-high socks with you to give you a splash of color, humor and personal touch.  It’ll bring a smile to your face and it’ll get a giggle out of your nurses and doctors.

So, that’s that… There are a few other things you might want to keep on a list to have with you – Driver’s License, ATM/Debit card, a little cash, a brush/detangler spray, hand lotion of your choice (because the hospital’s usually kind of sucks), deodorant, things to put your hair up and keep it out of your face, your choice of comfortable maxi pads (because you will have to think about that again now that the baby is here.. sorry, bummer, I know), toothbrush, refreshing face wipes, your own snacks for you AND your birthing support team so you don’t have to buy them in a vending machine, some comfy pj pants and maybe a nursing tank top or two.

Other awesome things to make sure you pack with you-  A sign to put on your door that says you prefer to breastfeed, asking nurses not to offer baby a bottle or a pacifier at anytime and to consult with you PRIOR to supplementation of any kind, a copy of your birth plan if you have one, and a list of things you want to make sure you don’t forget to talk about or do when you are there, such as – “make sure you get the nurse’s name and write it down so you can send thank you cards”,”don’t forget to tell the nurse not to put in the eye drops after” and “don’t forget to do a hand/foot print of the baby on a piece of paper for the baby book”.

For baby, you might want to make sure you have a Boppy (or nursing pillow of your choice), a few onsies, some fun socks and a hat.  You will probably want to bring the “going home” outfit, but seriously- don’t lose your mind if you forget any of this.  Someone will bring it to you.  Trust me.  Oh, and if you’re picky about diapers and don’t want to use the ones the hospital provides, make sure you’ve got a new box or your cloth of choice with you. You might also want to bring the diaper bag if you have one.  All the other fun accessories won’t really be necessary if you are delivering in a hospital because they will have most of them provided for you, but if you are a stickler for specific brands, you’ll need to provide them and you will be sad if you forget.

And one last thing- for those of you with a significant other, husband, wife, birthing partner or bestie who is by your side through all this… bring a surprise just for them.  It doesn’t have to be a big deal, just something small and awesome, it’ll surprise the heck out of them and really let them know that even though the birth experience is largely between mother and child, you deeply, truly need and want them to be part of that experience.  It can be anything from a special “husband pillow/blanket”, a little bag of their favorite goodies and junk food, a keepsake of some kind, whatever.  Just something to let them know you thought of them and on this day, when everyone around you is focused on your comfort, you care that they are comfortable and feeling loved, too.

Ultimately, we all have our “must have’s and for some it’s make up and a lap top, others a birthing ball and some energy room spray, (Oh yeah! Room spray is awesome, hit me up personally if you need help with this!!) or even just some lip gloss and a nighty.  Figure out what matters most to you and make sure you have it when you go, but don’t worry if you forget it or don’t have it.  Your birth and your experience meeting your child, blossoming into the mother you will become and making a new human being… really and truly does not need accessories.

No matter what you bring or don’t bring with you, make the experience your own by supporting yourself- knowing what you want out of your birth experience and not allowing anyone, not even someone with letters after their name, to take that experience away from you.  Every birth and every pregnancy is different and every mother has the right to begin her journey on solid ground, knowing she got what they needed, when she needed it with a feeling of confidence and empowerment.  Remember the moments, capture them in your mind’s eye AND your camera lens.  Be there, soak it all in- breathe deeply and drench yourself in the deliciousness of it all, the pain, the beauty, the profound wonder and even the fear… be there, in those moments and let yourself be washed new with them.  Your life is about to start over and you will begin again as a new thing, a new kind of person and whether you’ve done it once before, never, or five times before, each experience is new and each version of you after it is over is new, too.

Never forget, no matter what stuff you have or what you forgot, all you need is what is already within you.

Happy baby making!


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