The Last Big Baby-Prep Agenda Item: The Hospital Bag
If you’re pregnant or have been pregnant, then you know that one of the last big baby-prep agenda items is getting your bag packed for the hospital. If you’ve been there, done that then you probably have a pretty good idea of what to throw into your bag for the big event but if this is your first time around, you may be a little bit unsure as to what you’ll want and what is literally just extra baggage.
As a first-time mom, I know that I was a little uncertain as to what I would need (toothpaste), what I would want (snacks) and what was unnecessary (see below). That being said, doing some research ahead of time helped a lot. I spoke to the hospital to understand what would be supplied for myself, my support person and my baby, and asked for their recommendations on what to bring outside of that. I also read a lot of blog articles on the topic. While every hospital and every person’s needs are bound to be different, I thought I would share what items I’m glad I brought and which I’ll be leaving at home next time around.
10 Things I’m Really Glad We Brought With Us to the Hospital
Toiletries: This is probably obvious but it’s so important I think it’s worth mentioning! I’m one of those people that needs to feel clean and put together to feel focused and happy. I packed all the obvious essentials for Andy and I both (toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo, deodorant) as well as some “extras.” Believe it or not I actually took time during labor to apply dry shampoo and use mouthwash — I had been in labor for over 30 hours at that point and was desperate to feel a little more human!
Chapstick: You’re going to be doing a lot of mouth-breathing during labor – do yourself a favor and pack chapstick! I was reapplying this constantly.
Snacks: I wasn’t allowed to eat during labor (a trade-off for receiving an epidural that I would gladly participate in again) but having some non-hospital foods post-labor was a comfort I sincerely enjoyed. Plus, Andy was able to enjoy the snacks during my long labor to help keep his energy up. I would definitely recommend packing some of your favorite snacks! For me, I threw health out the window (seriously – treat yourself to whatever you want after going through childbirth) and brought chocolate covered raisins and Cheez-Its.
Baby Book: I was really glad I brought Alden’s baby book to the hospital! This allowed me to fill in some of his initial stats while they were fresh in my mind. There was also something satisfying about recording things in the moment.
iPad: Andy brought his iPad pre-loaded with episodes of some of our favorite sitcoms. While the hospital had TVs in each room, it was comforting during and after labor to have some of our favorite television shows to watch.
Phone & Charger: Most of us don’t go anywhere without our phones these days so perhaps it goes unsaid, but I’m glad I had my iPhone on me during and after labor. Once I had the epidural I was feeling at peace and actually answered some emails during labor (lol!) and also enjoyed having my phone to take photos and videos of Alden after he was born. Andy was also using his phone during the whole process to keep our family members updated.
Camera: I brought our camera and several lenses with us to the hospital and am glad that I now have some high-quality images of Alden during his first day on planet earth.
Coming Home Outfits for the Family: An outfit for each of us to come home in plus Alden’s car seat. As a general note, I’m glad I brought larger shoes for myself – my pregnancy swelling was only made worse by the IVs I was given for the epidural. I had brought a pair of booties with me and wasn’t actually able to zip them going home!
Makeup: I made a point to do my makeup before leaving the hospital. Doing so helped me feel more together and the 10 minutes it took to apply felt like a mini pampering session. To me, putting on makeup is a form of self-care so I was glad I made this a priority before leaving.
Baby Name Sign: I’m glad we brought a letter board to use as a photo prop for Alden’s birth announcement! Also, a swaddle cloth that was cuter than the ones provided by the hospital.
Things We Brought But Didn’t Need:
Nightgown: I brought a nursing nightgown to the hospital but didn’t end up using it. In many ways it was just easier to use the hospital gowns that were provided! Plus, this meant less laundry for when we got home.
Slippers: Our hospital actually provided me with new pairs of non-slip slipper socks. These were useful for walking around pre-epidural and – again – using their handouts meant I didn’t have to worry about washing my own slippers when I got home. To be honest, the thought of using my own slippers in a hospital sleeves me out and I probably would have thrown them away if I’d used them.
Birthing Ball: I was told that our hospital didn’t have enough birthing balls for the entire birthing center so I brought one in case I needed it. While I used the ball while laboring at home, by the time I got to the hospital I was over it and was ready to get the epidural as soon as possible.
Things I Would Bring Next Time:
Nursing Pillow: Alden was exclusively breastfed while in the hospital. One thing I quickly learned about breastfeeding is that positioning makes a big difference. I wish I had brought the Boppy nursing pillow I receieved as a baby shower gift as that would have helped a lot with comfort and putting less strain on my shoulder and neck.
A Motivational Photo: As silly as it sounds, while I was in labor, I found myself missing our dogs a lot and wishing I had brought a photo of them to look at.
Gum: This is one of those things that the hospital recommended bringing and I totally forgot to pack. I definitely wish I had had something to chew on during labor both to help focus, feel hydrated and freshen my breath.
Packing a hospital bag is a wholly personalized experience but I hope this post provides some insight! Never hesitate to reach out to your hospital to better understand what they will be providing to help you decide what you’ll need to bring yourself. Having a solid hospital bag will certainly help you feel more prepared for labor and childbirth but also try not to stress too much. All will be well, even if you forget the gum.