Labor and Delivery – What to Pack

mother and ChildI have many good friends who are becoming moms this year. It’s super exciting to share in the joy and watch their families expand.

This veritable baby fever has inspired this post about what to pack when you go to give birth. I fully realize that each birth is unique and special, and in Ottawa we have the option of giving birth at home, a birthing center, or at a hospital. For most straightforward births the mom is in and out within 24 hours. Trickier deliveries or C-sections might mean a hospital stay of two to five days.

So what on earth do you bring? There will definitely be pictures and let’s not forget that you’re packing for the baby too! I agonized for weeks over what to pack. I unpacked and repacked my ‘go bag’ so often that I was having nightmares about it! One thing I kept focusing on was that special hospital picture depicting me, a tired and proud mother with her adorable newborn. So I of course brought too much make-up and hair products. I kept focuing on those glam mommy blogs and movie moments. I realize now that those photos are not typical reality. And to be perfectly honest, how your make-up and hair look will probably not be  your priority. Holding your precious newborn will be. So I’m here to say – give yourself a break. Glamorous pictures of you and your baby can be arranged later.

And that’s the end of my rant. Below is the guide. I’ve based it on my personal experience and interviews with my lovely mommy friends. I hope you find it helpful.

Momma (The star of the show until the baby arrives)

You Need:


  • Comfy maternity clothes to wear home. You will be about the same size as when  you were 6 months pregnant leaving the hospital although some women leave bigger because they swell (if you swelled during your pregnancy this is a good indicator to pack bigger clothes)
    • Comfort is key – ignore those glam mommy beauty blogs for this one and trust me.
    • If its winter you want loose sweat pants and your comfiest pair of undies.
    • If it’s summer then I suggest a floaty dress and comfiest pair of undies
  • Speaking of undies – I recommend getting the Always brand Overnight Super Heavy Flow maxi pads.
    • Even if you have a scheduled C-section, you will need pads or an adult diaper
    • The hospital will provide you with a ‘sanitary napkin’ of some sort. They are apparently awful. Bring your own
  • 3-4 pairs of socks (Feet and hands get surprisingly cold during this experience)
    • One old pair to wear during delivery that you don’t mind throwing out (I will spare you the details of why)
    • One slipper-esque pair for recovery
    • One fresh pair for wearing home
  • Stretchy cotton nursing bra (no under wire)
    • nursing pads
    • even if you don’t plan to breast feed you will need some sort of bra and pad that will support and flex with your ballooning chest.


  • Hair bands, barettes, and ties (simple enough for your birthing partner to help you with)
  • Your favorite shampoo, conditioner and soap.
    • The first shower you take after giving birth is an insanely gratifying experience. Bring products that have soothing comforting smells or are hypoallergenic for the baby
  • Hair brush
  • Hair Dryer (optional to use it)


Make-up. I brought WAY too much make-up and I honestly don’t think I put any on. Choose unscented or lightly scented products. A lot of women get annoyed by smells when they are laboring so its best to keep things light and simple. Consider bringing:

  • Hand cream
  • Face cream.
  • Light powder foundation
  • Tinted lip balm
  • Make-up remover
  • Face wash
  • Pre moistened face cleaner
  • Deoderant

Optional items (Remember: Right now you have an incredible little person who desperately wants to be held by you and hear  your heartbeat while they snooze. The photos can wait!)

  • mascara
  • highlighter
  • blush


  • Coconut water (if you get an epidural it is one of the few things you can drink while in labor – and you will need the electrolytes and hydration)
  • Water
  • Wholesome snacks (for after giving birth – see the birthing partner suggestions)
  • Cozy towel (Hospital towels are small and crappy)
  • Your phone and charger
  • Toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash


  • A book … if you have time to read you should be using that time to sleep! (seriously)
  • Contouring kit
  • Hair straightener
  • Perfume
  • Jeans (you might have lived in maternity jeans while you were pregnant but trust me, denim and a healing body do NOT mix)
  • Eyeshadow or eyeliner


Husband/Birthing Partner or Coach

They Need:

  • Snacks (water, juice, trail mix, sandwiches, fresh fruit, cheese, etc. – wholesome stuff that will not give them bad breath)
  • Phone
  • Camera
  • Chargers (for the phone and camera!)
  • Full change of clothes (just being in the room can be messy – I will spare you the details)
  • Extra sweater
  • Deodorant
  • Pre moistened face cleaner
  • Towel
  • Toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash



They Need:

  • Diapers (bring at least 3-5 – hospital diapers are usually pretty terrible, and the little one will probably need a change or two before you’re home)
  • Car Seat (seriously bring it with you to the labor room)
    • in Ontario the nurses check that the child is secure in the car seat before you leave (good plan is to install the car seat around 37 weeks or before … not when you’re already in labor)
  • Sleeper with feet x2
  • Scratch mittens x2
  • Newborn hat/toque
  • Soft blanket (for snuggling)
  • Receiving blanket (for cleaning messes)
  • Diaper cream
12 hours after my daughter was born my husband took this picture of us sleeping. It was unplanned but I still love it because it's real.
My husband took this picture of us sleeping in bed at home 12 hours after my daughter was born. It was unplanned and spontaneous. It’s not glamorous by any stretch, but I still love it.



— Missy


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