Birth Center Out of Hospital Bag Checklist

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What to Bring to an Out of Hospital Birth in a Birthing Center

It seems the internet is flooded with hospital bag checklists. It is actually really hard to find great lists of what to bring to a birthing center if you choose to have your baby that route.

Birthing centers are becoming more and more common even here in the US. In 2015, 16,000 women chose to have their babies in a birthing center, according to an article by CNN. And that number rose to 20,000 shortly after.

So this post is going to walk you through what you should bring and what you should have on hand if you are choosing an out-of-hospital birth for your baby.

Don’t forget to download the free printable checklist below!

what to pack for an out of hospital birth

**This post contains affiliate links to items I own and love and am confident will benefit you immensely! You can read the full disclosure here.**

Realistic Birth Center Checklist

The internet is inundated with long extravagant lists of what you need to pack in your hospital bag for labor and postpartum. I’ve had 2 in hospital births and definitely overpacked the first time (who doesn’t though?) and was much more prepared with what I actually needed the second time and STILL overpacked!

But that’s because baby girl came only 30 minutes after we checked in! Eeek! Had we been there longer we would have used more. Heck I didn’t even get the change out of my tshirt before I was holding my baby.

However, this list is a bit different than your typical hospital bag checklist.

What if you choose to have your baby out of a hospital?

Which by default would be in a birthing center. I don’t think anyone really chooses to have their baby in any other random places like in a cab.

Your needs will be a bit different for giving birth in a birthing center.

Prenatal nutrition and fitness feels like a mystery to many of us. I mean your doctor hardly even touches on that area at all.

And yet, we now know that what you eat and how active you are while pregnant directly affects your baby’s genetic outcome, turning on and off certain genes based on your nutrition and fitness!

How’s a mom to know what to eat, what not to eat, and how to safely exercise to have a fit bump-only pregnancy and grow the most healthy baby possible through her diet and exercise?

There is this new ah-mazingly extensive, detailed, and easy to apply 2-part prenatal nutrition and fitness course called The Perfect Pregnancy Plan.

It’s created by a Personal Fitness Trainer who’s also certified in Nutrition and Lifestyle During Pregnancy and it breaks down EVERYTHING about prenatal nutrition, has tons of amazing recipes, and even has a full 40 week workout plan that addresses all your prenatal needs from pelvic floor, to diastasis recti, to prenatal backache.

If you have ever wondered about anything related to prenatal diet and exercise, the Perfect Pregnancy Plan is exactly what you need.

Have you chosen a birth center to have your baby?

Many women with low-risk pregnancies seeking a more natural childbirth are choosing to have their babies in birth centers.

And I am soon to be one of them!

That’s right, for my third baby I have decided to use a birthing center as opposed to a hospital.

Why I am choosing a birthing center for my third labor and delivery.

I have 2 kids already. One just turned 9 and the other is soon to be 4. 3-year-olds love their mommy, and mine is no different. She is going through a super attached phase where I can barely even hand her off to my husband most of the time without a meltdown.

My doctor had given me the option of 2 local hospitals to pick from for the birth of my third little girl. I was actually really excited to write out a huge list of questions to ask the nurses at each and make the best choice of where to have our new baby for myself and my family.

When I hit my third trimester it was time to call those hospitals and make my choice! As I went down my list of questions with the charge nurse my spirits began to sink. Lower and lower.

“Well it’s ok,” I told myself. “I have another hospital to call now.”

The answers I got from the second hospital made me feel even worse.

the milky mama's postpartum plan breastfeeding diet and exercise plan

Why I ultimately chose to have an out-of-hospital birth

My #1 problem is that my kids (or not even 1 kid) could stay with me overnight in the hospital postpartum. And they absolutely require you to stay 1 to usually 2 days.

That meant I would have to send my crying screaming toddler down the hall with my husband, who would be really stressed out by that, home to “sleep” and return in the morning after what I’m sure would be a horribly difficult night.

She has never spent ANY time away from me. She is a highly sensitive child, and she doesn’t cry and dismiss things the way other toddlers can. She’s never been able to.

“There’s nowhere acceptable for your kids to sleep. Plus that time is for you to bond with your new baby and get sleep, not be worrying about your other children,” I was told by the nurse.

Are you kidding me?

I absolutely could never send my crying toddler away and then push her out of my mind while I “bond” and “sleep.” If that makes weird then so be it.

My second huge turn-off to the hospitals was the lack of being able to move around. Due to needing nearly constant fetal monitoring, despite having a perfectly normal low-risk pregnancy. I was told I would have to at least remain right near the hospital bed in the best circumstances.

I’ve labored constrained to a bed before, I know how horribly restrictive and painful that becomes. I’ve also tried to stay at home so long to avoid being in the hospital too long that my baby came 30 minutes after I was checked in.

I felt so upset and defeated, and yes I cried. Oh, those lovely pregnancy hormones.

There are more options other than in hospital births

I never considered an out of hospital birth until that point. I wanted the security of knowing that if anything should happen to go very wrong, we were already in the hospital.

But all I could foresee was this birth being a horrible experience for everyone in my very close-knit little family.

I had to find another option.

So I stumbled across a nearby birth center and knew that was it.

  • I didn’t have to stay for days postpartum.
  • There was an option to labor and birth in a tub if I wanted to.
  • I could move around freely and still have baby kept a good watch on with a doppler.
  • My children could be at the birth center, sleep if they needed to, and leave with me when we were are ready.
  • There are safety procedures in line for if something does go terribly wrong.

I could finally see this being a wonderful experience for us all.

Yes, my toddler will still probably be upset she can’t have mommy when she wants to while I am laboring, but she won’t be removed to the point that I see her having a traumatic experience that may make her resent the birth of her sister.

So making my decision, I set off to find out what the heck you bring in an out of hospital birth bag!

the perfect pregnancy plan

The Birth Center Bag Checklist

I’ve put together my checklist for you. And created a printable version! Because as I stated before, there just is not enough birth center information online!

After I have my baby I will come back and update the list. Perhaps add to it, or maybe take things away.

Things for labor:

  • Birthing gown (the hospital is going to give you those thin ugly patient ones, but at a birthing center you bring your own! And all the birthing gowns available on Amazon are so cute you will love picking out your own!)
  • Bathing suit or sports bra (If you are laboring or birthing in a tub and still feel a bit of modesty)
  • Dark-colored skirt
  • Hair ties
  • Brush
  • Light snacks
  • Drinks
  • Honey Sticks
  • Chapstick
  • Lotion
  • Bathrobe
  • Sandals
  • Dark-colored socks
  • Slippers
  • Massage oils
  • Essential Oils
  • Soft Foam Roller
  • Crystals
  • Magazines or books
  • Playlist

Let’s go over some of these goodies for my birth center bag in more detail! Why they are important and made it on my super realisticly sized list!

First of all, I plan on heading to the birth center as soon as I know I’m in active labor. With my second baby I went from 3 1/2 to 10 cm and birthed a baby in 30 minutes. So to be sure we’re there in plenty of time we plan on heading in early! That’s why I have things like a magazine and books on my list, just in case I’m in early labor still.

I also have multiple playlists built for this reason too. I’ve been reading and practicing Hyponobirthing (super excited to try it out!) for this labor and have a playlist of songs suggested by that Hypnobirthing book by Stephen Halpern, written in frequencies proven to help women with managing pain and being feel more relaxed.

But if I’m not at that place yet and ready for those super relaxing musical tracks, I also have a playlist of music I find soothing and fun like reggae, as well as a playlist with mellow-ish rock. I doubt I’ll even get into the last one, but you never know. It’s what I’d listen to if I wasn’t in labor, so maybe it will help to distract me in early labor. I recently became an Amazon Prime member (totally hooked now between getting spoiled to get everything I order in 1 or 2 days, tons of free movies to stream, AND free music to stream!) and am using Amazon Music App for my playlists.

A hairbrush, hair ties, chapstick, and lotion are essential to your comfort while laboring. They are tiny simple things you don’t want to forget! All that breathing you will be doing to cope with contractions is going to leave your lips super dry. And personally, if my hands are dry and I don’t have lotion it makes me slightly irritable. You want to be as serene as possible to focus on the task at hand!

And what about the clothes you will need for laboring in?

I plan on wearing a mix of my super-cute birthing gown and my bathing suit top or sports bra in the tub. The skirt is to slip on and off as needed if I still feel modest. I know eventually caring about that disappears at some point during labor but I’m typically pretty modest so want to have something to slip on the bottom between going into and out of the tub if I’m warm. On the flip side, my midwife told me it’s really nice to have a bathrobe on hand for the same reason, but in case you feel chilly! I love this maternity robe which is perfect for postpartum as well!

Birth centers also usually have a shower available to labor in, which can be very relaxing as well. That’s why you should have a cheap pair of flip flops on hand. And don’t forget a pair of dark-colored socks that you don’t mind throwing out for if you get chilly.

You may have noticed a trend with things being dark-colored. Labor is messy, birth is messy, and really it stays messy for a couple of weeks after too. You want as many things dark-colored and disposable as possible!

Don’t forget to bring things to eat and drink during labor!

Light snacks that you can eat quickly between contractions are perfect. Think healthy energy bars, real fruit popsicles, fruit, honey sticks. You don’t want to eat anything greasy, spicey, or too heavy. You DO want to eat things with healthy carbohydrates to give you a burst of energy.

Be sure to drink during labor! Bring your favorite healthy drinks. Waters, juice, tea, soda water, etc.

And lastly, I have massage oils, essential oils, a soft foam roller, and healing crystals in my birth bag. My massage oils consist of a special blend of oils that I’ve been using for weeks to prepare my perineum in order to avoid tearing in childbirth! The blend of oils is very healing and soothing so it doubles as my massage oil. My essential oil arsenal for labor consists of: lavender, peppermint, clary sage, and frankincense.

I’m bringing my soft foam roller because I’m using it a lot right now to ease severe pregnancy aches and pains I have especially in my hips. I get a lot of myofascial relief from simply rolling on it, so I want to be sure it’s on hand if I need it.

And lastly my crystals. Crystals have been used for hundreds if not thousands of years for their healing abilities for mind, body, and soul. I’m new to using crystals for healing, but I’m willing to try for an easier childbirth! My collection includes crystals specifically known to create an easier labor and delivery like the midwives stone!

Things for Your Partner for Labor

  • Swim Trunks
  • Magazines or books
  • Tablet or other entertainment
  • Snacks

Your guy is pretty easy. He needs some entertainment, swim trunks if he’s coming in the tub with you, and some snacks.  If he wants a change of clothes or any toiletries that’s up to him, it might be nice. Personally I don’t expect to be there too long with how my labors tend to go.

pregnancy diet and prenatal workout

Things for After Labor and Delivery

  • Makeup
  • Stretchy dark-colored pants
  • Nursing bra
  • Loose top where the ladies are readily available
  • Hoodie
  • Postpartum padsicles
  • Disposable mesh underwear

Your time in a birth center after labor and delivery is a far cry different than your postpartum time in a hospital. Hospitals typically keep you for a minimum of 24 hours postpartum, up to 3 days. This number varies by state. In a birth center, you are typically only around for four to six hours after birth before you are released home to truly relax and bond with baby!

Because you are there for such a short time in comparison to a hospital birth you won’t need to bring as much for postpartum or for baby.

You will want a full change of clothes including dark-colored stretchy pants (you will still have a belly after birth), a nice nursing bra that is comfy, functional, and actually cute like this one, and a nursing top or some stretchy shirt where it’s really easy to whip the ladies out. They will be out on demand for a long time, your wardrobe better get used to it! You’ll want a hoodie / sweater for if you get chilly too.

Your birth center may supply big postpartum pads and giant disposable undies to hold them up, or they may not. So find out and bring some and stock up on more for home! You will need these pads! Nothing else is sufficient for the first couple of weeks. Remember, messy. Your goal is to contain and dispose of the mess, and big postpartum pads and giant disposable panties do just that! Bonus points if you have the time to turn your postpartum pads into healing and soothing padsicles too. They are beyond amazing.

Things for Baby

  • 2 outfits that are easy to open and close
  • hat
  • 4 disposable newborn diapers
  • 2 swaddle blankets
  • Carseat already installed

Now baby doesn’t really need too much at a birth center. Remember, you’re probably only going to be there 4-6 hours postpartum. 2 warm outfits (baby has been in a nice cozy belly forever, keep them cozy), a hat, 2 swaddle blankets (just in case one gets dirty, merconium is no joke), and a carseat that’s already installed should be fine. I’m bringing 4 disposable diapers too. I like to use disposable for the first 2 weeks while baby is sooo tiny before switching to reusable diapers.

Download the free Printable Version NOW! Birth Center Bag Checklist

  • if you love this post you’re going to adore my other blog The Perfect Pregnancy Plan! It’s got tons of pregnancy nutrition, fitness, and tips!

Birth Center Bag ouy of hospital birth Checklist

Wrapping Up a Birth Center Out of Hospital Birth Bag

So what did you think of this list for a birth center birth? Anything important you think I missed? I feel that this checklist is super realistic! You won’t overpack and will still have absolutely everything you need for your comfort throughout labor.

What did you leave out, what will you add in? I’d love to hear more about it in the comments below.

More Pregnancy Resources from Vigor it Out

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