Six weeks before Greyson was born, I began packing hospital bag. I admit, it was a little early. Maybe it was the crazy-pregnant-lady-nesting that urged me to get packing more than a month before my due date. Then again, maybe it was just wishful thinking that the kid was going to come sooner rather than later.
As I grabbed my hospital bag, I sat in my room, unsure of what the hell to pack. I was sure I had about 400 pregnancy books somewhere in my house that would put me on track – if only I could have found those books underneath the mountain of baby gear and crib assembly instructions and breastfeeding supplies and so on….
I remember Googling a few articles for advice and while some of the things on the list were helpful, some suggestions were just downright ridiculous. One article actually proposed bringing a basket of goodies for the hospital staff. Umm, really? Is that expected? Don’t get me wrong – I was thankful for the great care I was going to receive. However, I could barely find the time to do anything except work, sleep, and pee; The thought of whipping up some damn homemade cookies was less than realistic.
As shocked as you may be, I decided NOT to bring any home baked desserts for the staff. And even after all my planning and research, I did end up sending my husband home to pick up some things that weren’t on any hospital packing list that I had come across.
So today, I am going to save you some time and get straight to point about what you will really wish you had packed when you finally reach that much anticipated hospital stay.
- Pads – Yup. This is the very first thing on my list. Unless you want to use a maxi pad circa 1960 that feels pretty much like sticking a brick in your undies, then I suggest bringing your own pads (and buy extra long, with wings).
- Large Undies – While some women apparently rave about the hospital provided “mesh underwear,” I have to admit that I hated them. Before delivery, I bought a pack of large, comfortable granny panties that I didn’t care about ruining and used those in the weeks after giving birth. I really wanted to include a picture of the mesh underwear, but I don’t want to scare you….
- Ziploc Bags – The hospital that I stayed in ripped open the side of a newborn diaper and stuffed it with ice for me to sit on. Between the large brick-like pad, the mesh undies, and the ice-stuffed diaper, I was a hot mess. Next time, I will bring some Ziploc bags for make a proper ice pack.
- Toiletries – I am definitely one of those people that hate going 24 hours without a shower (and sadly, motherhood sometimes puts a damper on that). I brought travel sized toiletries with me to the hospital. After two days of labor and delivery, I was finally free from IVs and monitors. And in case you didn’t already know this, having a baby is….well…messy. I was very thankful for a long, toasty hot shower.
- Shower Towel – While we are on the topic of showering, the washcloth-sized towels provided by the hospital didn’t stand a chance in covering my 24 hour post partum body, so my lovely hubby went home and brought me back a normal sized towel (and flip flops so I didn’t have to face the hospital shower barefoot – what a good man).
- Slippers – If you aren’t into rocking the halls in the socks with grips that the hospital will gladly give you, then toss your own comfy slippers in your bag.
- Wipes – Unbeknownst to me, wipes are not recommended for newborns and are generally not provided by hospitals. (I know – you’re as shocked as I was). However, I’ve never cleaned a baby’s ass without wipes, so we brought our own. Look at that – I was a rebellious mother from the beginning.
- An Old Robe – I packed a bunch of clothes for myself, but honestly, I spent the majority of my stay in my hospital gown and an old bathrobe. Whatever you decide to bring, just make sure you bring items that you don’t mind staining (yeah, sorry to be gross). Also, make sure you bring maternity clothing. Shockingly, you will still look just about as pregnant as you did around 5-6 months along. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, ladies.
- iPod or Playlist – For me, this was the most important item on my list. I chose to listen to my favorite artist on Pandora, Amos Lee, while laboring. I had been listening this all throughout my pregnancy and it really helped me to stay (somewhat) calm throughout the delivery process.
- Chapstick – If you are planning on doing all of the “heeee-heeee-whoooo” breathing, then you are going to need some serious Chapstick.
- Headbands – Make sure to have several headbands and hair ties available. You are going to want your sweaty hair out of your face when you are pushing out that baby.
- Baby Book – This sounds totally random, but the hospital asked if I had a baby book that I wanted them to stamp my son’s footprint in. I felt like a total slacker mom. Obviously, it’s not essential, but if you want the hospital to do this for you, plan on bringing the baby book along.
- Breastfeeding Supplies – If you are going to attempt to breastfeed, plan on packing some comfy nursing bras, breast pads, and nipple cream. You may even want to bring along a breastfeeding book for help. Our hospital had a lactation consultant available, but she wasn’t able to meet with us until our last day in the hospital. How convenient.
- FOOD – This is BY FAR the most important thing on this list. If you didn’t already know this, they won’t let you eat once you are in labor. Let’s just say it was a LONG few days for me. I’m not even kidding, I called my best friend and she picked up a pizza for me immediately after my son was born. I was literally starving. I might have cradled that pizza in my arms before I even held my child. Plus, hospital food is horrendous. Plan to have someone drop off some sandwiches or have hubby run out to pick up some take out.
The Obvious Things:
- Electronics – Don’t forget your phone, your iPad, or your camera plus any chargers you may need for your electronics.
- Clothes for Baby – I let our son stay in the hospital provided clothing because it was simple and easy. We did bring one cute outfit because the hospital offered newborn photos, which by the way were pretty awful and expensive. We chose a really simple outfit to bring him home in, mostly because we had no idea how to dress a newborn.
- Installed Carseat – If this item needs any explanation, you’re screwed.
- Paperwork – Make sure to have your insurance information and your ID on you. Some hospitals will let you fill out paperwork a few weeks before your due date so that you don’t have to worry about it when you’re actually in labor. Very helpful.
Things You Won’t Need:
- Diapers – The hospital will provide the essentials, like diapers. I tried to stash as many in my bag on our way out of the hospital as possible. Diapers are expensive, if you weren’t aware.
- Diaper Bag – The hospital will probably have anything that you’d be packing in a diaper bag and most likely, you’ll be heading straight home so don’t worry too much about a diaper bag.
- A Bathing Suit – One person told me to pack a bathing suit in case I wanted to sit in the birthing tub. Honestly, by the time I got to that point, I didn’t give a shit that I was sitting in a tub practically naked in a room full of people, as long as it meant that I was comfortable for a few minutes before my epidural.
- A Birth Plan – I’m against the birth plan. I totally promote being informed about your options, but your little one will probably have their own plan in mind. Try to be as flexible as possible and remember that the only thing that matters is a healthy mom and baby.
Things to Have Ready at Home:
- Advil – Lots of Advil.
- Infant Ibuprofen – If you are having a boy and he will be circumcised, you will probably want some Infant Ibuprofen handy.
- Stool Softeners – A reader suggested that I add this to the list and I totally agree. I was popping Colace like candy after my son was born.
- Pads – I’m serious about the pads. Just buy a shit ton. They won’t go to waste.
- Vasoline – Again, if you baby boy is being circumcised, your doctor may recommend applying some Vasoline onto the diaper for a few days to be sure it won’t stick to his wound.
- Pacifiers – I swore I wasn’t going to use a pacifier, but I SWEAR, it got my through my first night at home. Luckily, my son only stuck to it for a few weeks before losing interest.
- Food – Stock your freezer! You aren’t going to want to cook for a few days (or for a long time).
There you have it – the hospital bag essentials, with everything from pads to pizza. Like anything in parenting, you can prepare as much as possible but you won’t know what to expect until you’ve been through it. So good luck, keep breathing, and don’t forget your Chapstick!
Have a suggestion for an addition to the list??? Leave it in the comments below!