Hey, there mama! This blog post has me so reminiscent, thinking back to packing my hospital bags, especially for my first VBA2C. This is SUCH an exciting time – you’re going to meet your baby soon!
There are so many lists out there with hospital bag suggestions, but this is your ultimate checklist for your VBAC birth. We know all the feels and fears when preparing to TOLAC, so we created a list of things specific to your VBAC birth and recovery.
Before we get too far down the preparation road, remember that your baby’s due date is more of an estimation than anything. As VBAC mamas, it’s normal to get nervous or anxious at the end of our pregnancies. It’s so much easier said than done, but try to relax and enjoy these last few days and weeks of your pregnancy. It’s very common to go past 40 weeks and still a safe option for VBAC. Even though that post-date time period is an emotional rollercoaster, trust that your body and your baby know exactly the right time to start labor. Here’s a great blog post on going past 40 weeks.
Now, that being said, it’s wise to get your bags ready in that 37-38 week time frame… just in case! It can be a really great thing to do when you’re feeling excited, when you get that feeling of nesting or as a distraction when you’re feeling a little stressed or nervous in those final weeks of your third trimester.
Below you will find our suggestions for the basics and extras for your VBAC labor & delivery experience, recovery & postpartum, essentials for your birth partner and last but not least, a few things to pack for the baby. You can find all of our favorite items listed below (and more) on our What to Pack for the Hospital list on Amazon.
- Photo ID and an insurance card
- Phone, tablet and other chargers (extra long cords or portable chargers are even better since outlets are few & far between in hospital rooms)
- Birth plan, 2-3 copies (click here to learn what to include in a VBAC birth plan)
- Comfortable clothes for laboring in
- Slippers, slip-on shoes or shower shoes (some VBAC mamas who are particular about their towels may want to bring their own towel, too)
- Toiletry bag, toiletries, including contact cases & glasses
- Lip balm or Lip mask (it never hurts to have more than one since they tend to get lost)
- Hair ties / Headbands
EXTRAS FOR VBAC LABOR
(also referred to as TOLAC or trial of labor after cesarean)
LABOR COMFORT & TOOLS
- LABOR GOWN – You don’t need to bring your own, but changing into my own clothes helped me feel comfortable and in control, which can certainly help labor progress! Several of our team members used this particular one. They found it very useful because it has an opening in the back for an epidural (if you decide to get one), adjustable straps for immediate skin-to-skin & breastfeeding and is super comfy. I’ve witnessed time and time again that bringing your own gown can make a huge difference during labor. Full Disclosure, you may just want to throw it away after labor given all the stuff it will be covered in.
- SWIMSUIT TOP & BOTTOM – It may sound silly now, but if you think you might like to labor in the shower or bathtub, a swimsuit can be the most comfortable thing to wear (by the way, it’s totally ok if you don’t want to wear any clothes!). I wore bottoms that tie for three of my labors, and the nurses thought it was genius + super easy for cervical checks!
- IV COVER – If you’re someone who doesn’t love the idea of wires, needles or an IV, you will adore using this to cover everything. This one is actually a dog bandana, but it works perfectly! Add your own positive message for a little extra encouragement while hiding some of the medical stuff.
- LABOR SOCKS – It’s nice to have socks for walking around the labor room, and these are super fun. A friend of mine really loved these for her first VBAC and these for her second.
- EYE MASK – This can be really helpful in early labor (as well as during your stay after baby arrives) for blocking out the hospital room lights and accessing your inner peace and calm. Plus, it has pressure-free comfort for extra coziness.
- LABOR COMB – Gripping a comb can be a really great comfort measure during contractions.
FOOD & DRINKS
- CUP WITH STRAW – This was weirdly life changing for me during labor. My husband would bring me my cup of ice water, and it was so much easier to drink it through the straw. I used this one, but many VBAC mamas swear by their Stanleys.
- SNACKS – Discuss your eating & drinking options with your provider and make the right decision for you. It’s important to remember that labor is a marathon, not a sprint, so fueling yourself throughout can prove to be extremely helpful. Focus on snacks that you find easy to digest and give you protein, carbs and quick sugars. If you have gestational diabetes please consult with your provider to see what snacks would be the best for you during labor. In general, you’ll want things that are easy to pack, store and munch on like…
- CANDLES – Most hospitals don’t allow actual candles, but these flameless candles are a safe way to create a perfectly cozy ambiance, allowing you to turn off the bright hospital lights. Twinkle lights are another really great option for both labor and for your stay afterwards.
- MASSAGE OIL – Your birthing place may have some, but you can always pack your favorite. Your doula or partner can offer a back or foot rub, which might just be exactly what you need at a certain point in labor. Remember, sometimes smell can affect us differently in labor, so ask your doula or partner to expose you to a small amount first. Also, this lotion comes with a massage roller ball which can be so, so helpful for back pain or other target spots!
- ESSENTIAL OILS – Essential oils aren’t for everyone (and be sure to check with your birth place to find out if they allow them). However, even some slight aromatherapy can really help in the labor room. You can diffuse them to make a sterile environment more relaxing or place a few drops on a wash cloth for quick relief. Here are some suggestions…
- Peppermint for nausea
- Lemon for energy
- Clary sage to help progress labor
- Eucalyptus for feeling stuffy or tired
- Frankincense for getting re-grounded
- Lavender for calming stress
- WIRELESS SPEAKER – You can help create your perfect environment by having music during labor and afterwards during your hospital stay. I definitely recommend making a couple different playlists – one for when you need calm and some inner peace and another when you need to find strength + energy. Check out our Spotify playlists to get you started.
- FRAMED PICTURES – Placing pictures of kids, pets, family & friends around the room makes it that much more personal and homey, which helps you feel even more relaxed.
RECOVERY + POSTPARTUM
- DUFFEL BAG – Make sure you have a bag packed to keep all of your essentials for after delivery. You may even want to keep this in the car and have your partner grab it when you get moved out of labor & delivery.
- ROBE / COMFY PAJAMAS – Your hospital stay is a time for rest and recovery. Be sure to pack things that are easy to get on and off, easy to nurse in and comfortable to sleep in.
- NURSING BRAS – I have a few favorite nursing bras, but bring something to the hospital that’s soft and comfy, like these sleep bras.
- NURSING PILLOW – You may or may not decide to use one, but these can be super helpful in figuring out your favorite nursing position, especially right away. This has been my all-time favorite.
- TOILETRIES BAG – Hairbrush, toothbrush & toothpaste, deodorant, facial cleanser, makeup, etc.
- Any medications or supplements you or your partner take
- Comfy clothes & shoes to go home in – You may still feel about five months pregnant, and you may also feel really sensitive in some areas. Pack clothes that just feel good to be in like some joggers and a cute nursing top or a comfy dress.
FOR YOUR PARTNER
- Change of clothes for a few days
- Pillow / blanket
- Slip on shoes or shower shoes
- Snacks or change for vending machines / money for cafeteria
Your birth place will most likely have a good assortment of blankets, diapers and more to get you started, but you probably want to bring a few things of your own, too. We also know there are so many places to buy baby accessories, and you’ll probably receive many wonderful gifts before baby arrives, but we linked a few of our favorites.
- Diaper bag
- Swaddle blankets
- Outfits in a couple different sizes (premie, newborn, 0-3mo)
- Diapers + wipes
- Nail clipper
- Announcement accessories (letterboard, welcome sign)
- Baby accessories (headbands, hats, mittens)
- Carseat (we like this carseat / stroller combo)
- Carseat cover (this is my favorite for winter babies)
You can find all of our favorite items listed above (and more) on our What to Pack for the Hospital list on Amazon.
One last reminder as you prepare for your time in the hospital… it can feel overwhelming to research, buy, collect and pack everything you think you need to have, but always remember that what you will most benefit from is following your intuition + having a supportive birth team. And what your baby needs most is you. Everything else is a bonus.
You’ve got this, mama.
We’re so grateful to be on this journey with you!
Don’t forget to join our Facebook community, follow-us on Instagram, check out our Parents VBAC and HBAC Education course and give our podcast a listen where lots of incredible women share their VBAC journeys.