Packing for the Big Day.
Sometimes there just isn’t enough time to grab everything. I’d suggest bringing just the minimal items. A duffle bag or a small carry on with just the essentials is ideal.
What to put in your hospital bag.
Toiletries. Think of when you’re traveling. Small travel sized items make for more space. . Chapstick if mom’s lips get dry. Peppermint oil if dad can’t handle some of the smells in the room. Gum to freshen the breath. Keep in mind; mom can have a heightened sense of smell. Try to avoid drinking coffee or eating something with garlic or onions. I would also suggest a couple of extra towels. Not every facility has hotel quality towels. The hospital will provide items needed after birth for mom. So no need to worry on bringing those items with you.
Birth Preferences. Just a tip on this, some military facilities are not keen on birth plans. If they are provided, I would suggest using one they give to you. Ask for one a birth plan format at one of your appointments or pick on up if you’re taking a class on base. Otherwise, if you desire to create your own. Keep it simple and sweet. Research and put what is most important to you for your birth. Use bullet points or find a fun format. Don’t hand over a detailed 5-page book. It probably won’t get read.
Comfort Measure Items. What is going to help mom stay relaxed? Maybe some music, essential oils. I would suggest putting a sign on your door if you plan to utilize essential oils. Someone could be allergic. Check out what your hospitals policy is on this. Flameless Candles, real candles are not allowed. Bring a back massager, or a birth ball. Ask beforehand if they provide those. Bring a doula; she’s a great comfort measure item.
Small Snacks. Some hospitals are catching up on the idea of mom eating during labor. You can research more about this here to understand the who, what why. Even if mom does not desire to snack, dad or birth partner may get hungry and may not have access to food.
Camera. Sometimes parents choose to hire a birth photographer to capture the moments. If that isn’t something you’ve done and plan to take photos yourself, ask the nurses what is allowed to be photographed or if they have a policy on that. Especially when it comes to taking live video. Most places won’t allow it. Be sure you are using your own camera.
Change of clothes for dad/birth partner. If mom is getting in the shower, she may need your support. There’s nothing worse then wet jeans or clothes that can’t be changed right away. You also never know how hot or cold it will be in the rooms.
Extra pillow or blanket. Truth be told, sometimes when the base hospitals are full there's a tendency to not have extra items on hand.
Your Birthday Suit. Or a labor gown will do. Did you know it is not required to wear the hospital gowns? A mom is more than welcome to wear what she has. Just keep in mind it needs to be something easily removable. Don’t wear your fancy Victoria Secret bra either. Be prepared for anything you wear to get bodily fluids and possibly meconium on. Or you can just wear your birthday suit. It’s too darn hot most of the time to stay clothed anyhow.
What to bring but leave in the car.
Small air mattress or military issued cot. Not every hospital will have a nice comfortable place to sleep. So if dad/birth partner is planning on staying with mom, at least have something you can sleep on and be somewhat comfortable.
Boppy Pillow extra pillows or blankets.
Other electronic devices and chargers.
Clothes for long-term stay and the baby bag. The hospital will provide diapers and the traditional hospital baby layette. I'm sure you've packed some really cute outfits to dress baby. So after spending some time skin to skin, have someone go down and grab the baby bag.
Car Seat. You won’t need this until you leave the hospital.
If you have other kids joining.
Prepare a backpack for them with a lot of things to keep them occupied.
I would also suggest having someone in place to pick the kiddos up.- Especially if an emergency was to arise. The hospital is not responsible nor provides someone to sit with your children if something changed. You may also want to check with those policies as some military hospitals may have a limit on who can be in the room. It's always good to have a plan B in place.
I hope this helps. What other suggestions do you have?