What to Pack for Labor


Even though Growing Generations’ surrogates have all experienced birth before, we often hear that planning for labor, delivery, and recovery for a surrogate birth feels new. As a result, we are often asked what sort of items you should take with you to the hospital for the big day. Here’s a look at the items we recommend that you take with you.

First of all, be sure to pack your hospital bag early. No one can predict when you will go into labor, so it’s best to pre-pack well in advance so you will be prepared. Additionally, you might consider packing two small bags: one for labor and one for after delivery.

For Labor

Insurance & ID: Make sure to bring your insurance card as well as a photo ID. These documents will be asked of you at intake, no matter what phase of labor you are in. Having these documents packed and easily accessible can help streamline your admission process. Many surrogates have copies of their insurance card, ID, and other important documents in her husband’s wallet as well, in case you forget your purse in the heat of the moment.

Paperwork: As a surrogate, you’ll want to have all of your paperwork with you as well. While most hospitals will probably not ask to see them, having a copy of your legal contract, birth order, and birth plan with you can make it easy to address any potential confusion surrounding your unique birth case.

Comfort Items: Many surrogates find that they’re able to relax more through labor if they bring a few items from home to the hospital with them. We suggest that you take your bathrobe, some nightgowns or a laboring gown, socks or slippers, and your own pillow.  Other surrogates bring a book, an eReader, iPad, music or their phone to help pass the time. While these items aren’t necessary, sometimes labor takes longer than expected, and you might want to walk around. For your convenience, make sure your gown has short or loose sleeves so the nurses can easily take your blood pressure.

Toiletries: If you wear eyeglasses or contact lenses, make sure that you pack the glasses and any supplies you may need, such as contact solution. Some women choose to remove contacts during the more strenuous parts of labor. Also consider packing lip gloss for chapped lips and extra hair ties to keep your hair out of your face.

Placenta Storage: If you’ve chosen to retain your placenta (and have your intended parents’ permission to do so) you will also need to be prepared to preserve the organ. The specialist working with you and your hospital may have protocol for this, but in most cases you’ll want to pack two gallon-sized Ziploc bags and a freezer picnic bag.


After Delivery

Toiletries: Make sure to have packed any toiletries you find necessary. You may want to bring a toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, a brush, and makeup. Most hospitals will provide soap, shampoo and hand lotion, but remember to pack them if you prefer your own.

Breast Care: Your body will begin to produce milk within 2 or 3 days of birth. This can leave your breasts feeling heavy, tender, and painful. To be as comfortable after the delivery as possible, bring nursing bras or bras without underwire. Pack some breast pads to help with leaks. If you’ll be pumping breastmilk, a nipple ointment or Lanolin are helpful as well.

Entertainment: The waiting period after delivery is a great chance to rest and relax. It’s a good time to read, play on your media devices, or get some extra sleep. Pack items that will keep you entertained and help you relax.

Camera: Be sure to have a camera handy, too. While you can take as many photos of your belly before birth, you’ll want to remember to seek permission to snap photos after the birth. Once the child is born, your IPs will need to give consent for the child’s photo to be taken. If they consent, taking a few photos of yourself or your children with the newborn can create lasting memories.

Undergarments: While most hospitals will provide underwear and pads for post-partum bleeding, some women may feel more comfortable using familiar items. This is up to you. Do make sure you have a supply of stool softeners and pads at home, though.

Kim Bergman, PhD, a licensed psychologist of 26 years, has specialized in the area of gay and lesbian parenting, parenting by choice and third party assisted reproduction for over two decades. Dr. Bergman has created a comprehensive psychological screening, support and monitoring process for intended parents, surrogates and donors. She is the co-owner of Growing Generations and is a member of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, the American Psychological Association, the Los Angeles County Psychological Association, the Lesbian and Gay Psychotherapy Association, and the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association. She is on the national Emeritus board of the Family Equality Council. Dr. Bergman writes, teaches and speaks extensively on parenting by choice. Along with co-authors, she published “Gay Men Who Become Fathers via Surrogacy: The Transition to Parenthood” (Journal of GLBT Family Studies, April 2010). Dr. Bergman’s is the author of the book, Your Future Family: The Essential Guide to Assisted Reproduction (Conari Press 2019) as well as the children's book You Began as a Wish (Independent Press 2019). Dr. Bergman created her own family using third party assisted reproduction and she lives with her wife of 35 years. She has two adult daughters.