When it’s finally time to meet your baby, you want to be ready to leave your home and get to the birth center quickly.

We never know how long labor will last, and your postpartum stay will only be about four hours. Still, it’s helpful to have certain items with you when you arrive at the birth center.

Also, keep in mind that packing your bag for labor and birth at San Francisco Birth Center is a little different than it would be for a hospital birth.

So what should be in your birth bag?

We’ve put together this list of must-have items that we recommend for birthing parents and their partners.

And with the help of our clients, we’ve included some nice-to-have things, as well as suggestions for items that you can leave at home.

Must-haves for your SF Birth Center bag

1) Car seat

You need an infant car seat to take your baby home. Our advice is to install it no later than 37 weeks. When you’re trying to leave the birth center after your baby has arrived is not the ideal time to be wrestling with a car seat.

Here’s a pro tip: Have your car seat installation inspected before the baby is born. There are many sites in San Francisco that offer inspection. You can search for one here.

Not to spoil the rest of our list, but the car seat is truly the only item that you absolutely need. For example, if you’re out somewhere and your water breaks, don’t panic. You don’t have to go home and pick up your bag before coming to the birth center. As long as you have the car seat, we can provide everything else you’ll need.

2) Comfortable clothes

During labor, you might choose a birthing gown, but wear whatever you’re comfortable in. If you think you’d like to have a water birth, you may want a swim top or sports bra, although it’s certainly not required. Pack swim trunks and a change of clothes for your partner, too!

When leaving the birth center, the most important thing is comfort. Sweats, leggings, maternity clothes, pajamas — whatever makes you feel most comfortable to ride home and then snuggle into your own bed with your new baby. Just make sure your going-home clothes are not what you wore during labor.

We also suggest slippers to wear home, and San Francisco Birth Center client Christine DeSimone had a great recommendation for time in the car: “A very soft cushion or rubber donut to sit on.”

3) Clothes for the baby

Bring whatever you want to take your baby home in. Our only ask is that you choose something with pants, so you can easily buckle your baby into the car seat. SF Birth Center client Sara Louise Gabriela suggested a long-sleeved, footed sleeper.

Sometimes bringing a couple different sizes, maybe one newborn and one 0-3 months, is a good idea. Every once in a while, we welcome a baby who doesn’t fit into newborn clothes.

Also, don’t forget a warm blanket!

4) Food

Bring some healthy snacks for both you and your partner to eat during labor. High-protein foods are great for endurance, but bland carbohydrates can be good, especially if you’re nauseous.

After the birth, we recommend a victory meal, something warm and filling.

5) Beverages

Drinks are important, too. Of course, water is always good, but bring something that has calories and minerals, like coconut water or an electrolyte drink.

These beverages can provide a wonderful energy boost during labor and after birth when your body has done such hard work!

Nice-to-haves for your SF Birth Center bag

1) Tokens of home

We think San Francisco Birth Center is a really comfortable place to be. We designed it that way and hope you will find it relaxing and home-like.

However, we realize it’s not your home. You might want to bring what we call “tokens of home,” or things that make you feel more at home at the birth center. Some examples are pillows, blankets, and photos.

2) Toiletries

Christine also suggested “basic toiletries like a hairbrush, toothbrush, moisturizer, or whatever you need to feel ready in the mornings.”

She also recommended a Depends-type undergarment, for your trip home. We agree adult diapers are helpful, especially for the immediate postpartum hours and days.

3) Other accessories

Does your hair bother you if it falls in your face? Pack hair ties or a headband. Do you wear contacts or glasses? Pack your case and solution for contacts, and don’t forget your glasses.

Other common items clients include in their bags are a nursing bra or tank, phones, phone chargers, and sometimes cameras.

Christine had another suggestion that we thought was very helpful: Throat spray and lozenges. “I’d screamed so much during labor that my voice was hoarse and scratchy,” she shared. “Having something to soothe my throat, after it was over, was a godsend.”

4) Music

We love when folks make a playlist for labor, birth, and the immediate postpartum time.

For labor, choose some up-tempo tracks if we need to get things going. It’s also great to have relaxing songs as soothing background music.

At San Francisco Birth Center, we have speakers you can connect your device to.

What you can leave at home

At San Francisco Birth Center, we provide you with many supplies and essentials. Below is a list of things you don’t need to bring to the birth center, although if there’s a certain type or brand of product you like, you can pack it. And it’s not a bad idea to have some of these at home.

·      Oil for perineal massage

·      Diapers

·      Wipes

·      Mesh underwear

·      Pads

·      Peri bottle

·      Dermoplast, if necessary

Are you interested in learning more about our services at San Francisco Birth Center? Sign up for a free Meet the Midwives Info Session! You can ask questions and tour the birth center.