I sent out a mass plea on facebook about a month before my due date asking for opinions on what to include in the bag I packed for our hospital stay. And ohhhh the opinions came in. A lot of it was helpful and a lot of it was overwhelming. Like all parenting advice, everyone reeeaaaallly believes in their own opinion. And why shouldn’t they? It worked for them.
But there are some things that just need to be learned through your own experience.
Adding to the clatter, here is a taste of what I experienced, for better or worse:
Things I Loved Having With Me:
- My own nightgown and bathrobe. It seems strange writing “nightgown” because other than your grandma, who wears them anymore?? But for the all-important easy-access without sharing too much visually, it was the best. I felt comfortable being in my own clothes rather than the awful hospital gowns and when I finally had to change (in order to get an epidural), my bathrobe helped lessen the blow. I felt decently covered most of the time- enough for me, anyway.
- My eye mask and ear plugs. I honestly did not get any sleep while at the hospital, but these helped more than I can say. I only got to wear my ear plugs on the first night, before I had to listen for a crying/hungry baby, but it really helped push past the noise of all the monitors. The eye mask was MAGICAL and gave me SUCH respite from the harsh lights of the hospital. Whether the overheads or the unbelievably bright honkers of the monitors, that eye mask was life. Probably my favorite thing I brought along. The Professor brought his along, too, and was able to pass most of the first night undisturbed. This was super important for both of us so that he would have the energy and focus to champion me through labor (which he totally did).
- A handful of movies that inspire or chill me out. This may not seem necessary to the majority of you readers, but movies are my music. Music pumps me up but really doesn’t chill me out. Movies do. I’d much rather have a movie on in the background than music. To be specific, I brought along Little Women, Pride and Prejudice, and Cinderella (the live action version). Those soundtracks, amirite?? I only got through Cinderella since I spent the majority of my active labor walking the halls or groaning on a birthing ball, but it was a special thing for me. Neil put on Cinderella after I got my epidural and I slept through most of it, but Little Miss was born before the end of the movie and has a strange affinity for “Lavenders Blue” now. Not sure what it is, but I swear that song chills her out from her worst fit, if only for a few brief moments.
- Another fun fact: I walked down the aisle at my wedding to “Aeon” which was the song they used in the first trailer for Cinderella. That movie just has a really special place in our family!
- Medications I was taking and any pertinent medical information. This is a pretty common sense thing, but just to be clear.
- A fan. This was also life, when I couldn’t wear my ear plugs. We initially decided to bring it because I get super, super, super hot when I’m doing ANY physical work at all. The Professor initially suggested it (and I was really hesitant), but he convinced me that labor and delivery were going to be much like a workout and I was going to be grateful to have something to cool me down. Honestly, I can’t believe I hesitated to begin with- I’m walking on a treadmill as I’m typing this and while it’s only been 30 mins, I’m SO HOT already. So I really should have known. With the unexpected epidural, however, I didn’t end up getting too hot (I didn’t feel the work until I was pushing), but the ambient noise of the fan was THE GREATEST, from the moment I started laboring until we went home 3 days later. I felt so silly having him bring it in, but I am SO GRATEFUL. It masked the busyness and noisiness of the hospital and made me feel more at ease.
- My own pillow. This doesn’t even need an explanation.
- Flip flops. I bought a pair of $3 flippies at Old Navy the day before our induction and I’m so glad I did. Having something easy to slip on and off when I moved out of or back into bed was wonderful. I read somewhere that they were especially important if you were moving around after your water broke (#leaking) but mine didn’t break until after I was stuck in bed. But they were really easy to clean or throw away) after we came home.
- Personal Hygiene Products. My own shampoo, conditioner, soap, toothpaste, lotion, and makeup. When I could finally shower after delivery, these things made me feel normal again. At least from the shoulders up. Everything else was legit strugglebussing. But cleaning my skin and my hair and my teeth and putting a little bronzer and chapstick on was really refreshing for me.
- A nursing tank. This was suggested to me by several women and it’s one of my favorite post-birth items. Nurses and lactation consultants were constantly coming in after E was born and it was nice not to be totally bare from the waist up when nursing. Like I said, a lot is happening with your body after baby arrives.
- Chapstick. Ohhhh, buddy, do those bad boys get chapped after heavy mouth breathing for 12 hours.
- Phones and chargers. For me and the Hubs. Boyyyy did we need them! Bonus: all our playlists were on spotify, and we used them a lot during delivery and the days following.
- Essential Oils Diffuser (and oils for labor and delivery). The one we brought was little enough to sit on the bedside table, but big enough to do its work. Every time a nurse walked into our room they commented on how nice the room smelled. I initially diffused lavender with cedar wood (for labor) and had a few others packed, but once the babe arrived we stuck to just lavender for relaxation. It was lovely.
- Cute Outfit(s) for Baby. I didn’t know the hospital would show up to take newborn pics, and I’m really glad we packed something precious for her to wear, even if it was a little big. And the weather ended up being much, much warmer than we anticipated, so I was extra glad we had packed 3 different outfits- 2 for cold weather and another on the off chance it would be super warm when we went home. It was super warm.
Things That Were Meh:
- Socks. I thought my feet would be a lot colder than they were. I ended up only wearing socks for the first night and then I suppose the warmth from my heart heated up my little toesies, because I most definitely did not need them again after that.
- The Bradley Method Technique. This labor book was mostly for a reference for my husband during the hard parts of labor, but since my body wasn’t responding to labor after 12 hours and I had an epidural, we never got around to actually using it.
- Water bottle. I used this for sure on our first night before the actual induction, but I didn’t really drink anything after the contractions started that night- all the way until delivery. And when they wheeled me onto the Mama-and-Baby floor they had this magnificent (and HUGE) cup with a fabulous straw waiting for me. I barely even had to sit up to use it. And I was so parched I had my nurses refill that sucker every 30-60 minutes for the last 2 days I was in the hospital. It’s still what I use on my bedside table during nighttime feedings. Seriously, I can’t wax poetic enough about it.
- Snacks. I didn’t eat anything during labor (obvs), and there were so many people who offered to go get me things or bring things to me after the babe arrived, but these were really beneficial for The Hubs.
Things I Definitely Did Not Need #overpacker:
- My nursing pillow. The hospital had some available, but I was so nervous about breastfeeding I never asked for one. I had superhuman arm strength for those first few days (#stress) and didn’t feel the shoulder and neck burn for at least 2 weeks.
- My pregnancy pillow. I, like many women in the last month of their pregnancies, was not sleeping super well at home. I figured the hospital bed would be less comfortable than my own bed (it totally was) so I thought bringing that C-shaped angel would help. I don’t even think we remembered to bring it in at all.
- My own undergarments. I received a lot of opinions on this topic, specifically, but for me what the hospital gave me was good enough til I got home. There’s a lot of stuff that happens with your body post-birth and I didn’t want to sacrifice any of my personal belongings to them. I didn’t mind the mesh Vicki Secrets at all.
- A book. <–WHAT WAS I THINKING?? It’s not a hotel stay, friends.
- Journal. Again, what was I thinking?? I had NO idea how little time I would have to myself.
- Tucks’ Medicinal Pads. I used the crap out of these once I went home, but the ice packs the hospital gave me were so fabulous (and large) I didn’t crack open the container once.
Things I Wish I Had But Didn’t Bring:
- Nothing. I’ve been wracking my brain to come up with something for this list, but I honestly can’t. Overpacker probs? Or not…
I’m sure there are a few more things I could add to this list (and you could, too!), but these are the big ones. I’d love to hear from you! What kinds of things were the greatest for you from your own hospital bag? Comment below!