They say you can never be fully prepared for fatherhood but that is not the case for your hospital bag. When my wife started packing her hospital bag at 36 weeks pregnant my first reaction was that I had plenty of time to pack. Fortunately for me, I was right. For those dads that put off packing their hospital bag and end up packing last minute are in for a long, uncomfortable hospital stay. Keep in mind that your length of stay in the hospital can vary and being prepared for any duration will make all the difference in your visit.
Must Pack Items:
Car seat and car seat base - make sure your base is correctly installed in your car ahead of time but leave your car seat in the house until you leave for the hospital. It is recommended that car seats are replaced in the event of an accident
Wallet, ID, insurance card - this one should be pretty obvious
Comfortable clothes - hospitals are notorious for inconsistent temperatures so be sure to pack comfortable shorts, joggers, shirts, and a sweatshirt
Post birth clothes - hospitals now offer awesome newborn photographers for your baby and family. Make sure you have an outfit that doesn't make look like you haven't slept in days (even if that's the case)
Extra socks and underwear - for those of you that normally travel with one pair per day, why take that risk this time?
Comfortable shoes - you're going to be on your feet a lot, you'll appreciate your shoe choice
Toiletries - toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, travel soap, etc
Towel - a shower will be a must for everyone's sake. Just be sure to time your showers accordingly as mom won't be able to take a shower right away
Pillow and blanket - many hospitals will provide this but we all know we sleep better with our own
Snacks and drinks - you may not have time to run to the hospital cafeteria and the last thing you need is low blood sugar. Also, pack some of moms favorite snacks and drinks for after the baby is born. Overpack on this category
Phone and other device chargers
Optional but highly recommended:
iPad or computer - be sure to download some movies or shows ahead of time
Streaming device for TV - hospital TV is terrible, a streaming device to plug in the TV is a major luxury
Headphones - no one wants to hear what you're listening to
Power strip - outlets can come at a premium and the nurses prefer that you don't unplug the medical devices to charge your phone
10 foot phone chargers - mom will forever love you if her phone is fully changed and in reach in her hospital bed
Reusable water bottle - this is a marathon
Push present for mom - all depends on your budget but this should be something thoughtful that shows your appreciation. Think jewelry, a spa treatment for after her recovery, a luxury robe or pajamas, etc. You know her best but try to avoid the gifts that clearly benefit you too
Extra newborn outfit - realistically the baby wardrobe will be handled by mom but she has a lot to worry about. If she forgets it, you'll save the day
Diapers, wipes, and other baby essentials - these will be provided by the hospital. Get your moneys worth on this, once you see the hospital bill you won't regret it
With the hospital bag packed you'll have the easiest part of the process completed. What's next will be more challenging but you can be confident that you have everything you need and can focus solely on helping mom through it. It's an amazing experience that will go by fast - just be sure to be as helpful as you can and pay very close attention to your comedic timing.