Since I’m a list maker by nature, when it came time to pack my hospital bag, I scoured my pregnancy books, dug through the internet, asked for suggestions from every mom I knew, and wrote the longest list known to womankind.
As I stared at my packing list, I began to realize most of it wasn’t necessary, Instead it was fueled by misconceptions about what my time in the hospital would be like.
While every mom has a different delivery experience, I want to share the items that made my list to help you decide what’s best for you.
Most hospitals won’t let you walk around barefoot (and you probably won’t want to). Bring easy slip-on shoes like hard soled slippers or flip flops. You may also want non-skid socks to keep your toes warm.
Nursing Bra & Breast Pads
As soon as your placenta is delivered, your body’s estrogen and progesterone levels drop, and the level of prolactin—the hormone that causes milk production—rises. While the amount of milk you produce right after delivery may not be high, your breasts may begin to leak colostrum, so breast pads (and a comfortable nursing bra) are imperative.
Phone & Camera
You will definitely want to contact relatives and take some photos, so don’t forget these technology essentials or their chargers. You may also want to list out who to contact and how. While there aren’t hard and fast etiquette rules about revealing personal news on social media, nothing can spoil the beauty of your child’s birth more than a loved one being upset by learning the news from Facebook instead of a personal phone call.
Your body has just spent nine months rearranging itself to allow your baby enough room to grow, so you’ll probably still look and feel five months pregnant for a while—and that’s okay! Since you’ll spend most of your recovery time sitting or lying in bed, you’ll want comfortable pants with an elastic or drawstring waist. If you’re nursing, you’ll need tops with stretchy necklines or easy access. These postpartum experiences in the hospital are some of the main reasons I began designing nursing clothes; I wanted to create clothing that would help new moms look and feel amazing.
Infant Car Seat
The hospital won’t let you leave without making sure the car seat is properly installed. Visit safercar.gov to find out more about choosing and installing the best car set for your child.
Nice to Have
Sometimes I wonder if I could have made it through my labors without the right soundtrack to guide me through. Music was most essential during the early stages of labor and helped me surround myself in a calm and peaceful atmosphere. We played the most beautiful birth track non-stop for our entire hospital stay and through the first few weeks at home. Now, when I hear any of those songs, it brings me right back to those moments when we welcomed our baby to the world.
Snacks & Drinks
Since the hospital will provide you with an abundance of food, from fruit cups and Jell-O to chips and sandwiches, bringing food is not an absolute essential. However, if you’re the sort of person who feels bad about troubling a nurse to bring you a muffin in the middle of the night, it’s good to have a few things packed. I was happy to have items like granola bars, oranges, coconut milk, and Gatorade.
If you tend to be the hostess at any gathering, you may also enjoy having a treat to offer your visitors and the hospital staff. During the early stages of labor at home, my husband and I made red velvet cupcakes to pass the time. We brought them to the hospital, and the nurses loved them, even though we ran out of time to frost them!
You’ll want to rest as much as possible while you have the added support of hospital staff members to help you with your baby. If you struggle with insomnia or have difficulty drifting off to sleep, a few comforts from home can go a long way. Bring your pillow and a favorite soft blanket, or ask the hospital staff for extra pillows and a heated blanket. Ear plugs and a sleep mask to block sound and light can help you catch some sleep during the day. Download an app like Relax Melodies to give you nature sounds or ambient noise.
Delivery or Nursing Gown
Some hospitals require you wear the delivery gowns they provide. If yours doesn’t, consider getting a special labor and delivery gown to maximize your comfort and confidence. After delivery a nursing nightgown might be a good choice, especially if you have a C-section. This type of sleepwear will allow easy nursing access while keeping potentially constricting waistbands from bothering your incision.
The hospital will give you an ample supply of stretchy, thin, gauze-like, underwear, and I sing their praises for the first few days postpartum. Since I wasn’t moving around much, they kept my pads and ice packs in place well enough, and since they’re disposable, I never worried about ruining them. However, when you’re ready to ditch the mesh undies, you’ll want a few pairs of soft and stretchy recovery panties.
Leave At Home
Things to Do
As a mom-to-be, I was worried that all that time in the hospital would bore me. I imagined playing cards with my husband, reading books and magazines, writing in my journal, doing Crossword puzzles, and watching movies to pass the time while waiting for my baby to arrive. There’s not a lot of “down time” in the hospital. You’ll spend plenty of time on your phone updating loved ones, and you’ll have a steady stream of healthcare professionals, friends, and family.
Most moms won’t need to pump while in the hospital, and if they do there’s likely a top-of-the-line Medela pump available upon request.
Numerous Baby Clothes
My husband and I spent most of our hospital time skin-to-skin with our son, and many hospitals won’t allow your baby to wear anything other than hospital provided clothing until you’re preparing to go home. Since it can be a bit challenging to get body suits and special outfits on newborns, look for a kimono style outfit you can easily wrap and snap around your baby. It’ll be special just because your baby comes home in it.
You may feel naked without your staple jewelry, but your hands may swell during labor, making rings very uncomfortable. I had better peace of mind knowing these items were safely stored at home.
Pads & Diapers
You’ll want to have these items for you and baby at home, but the hospital will cover your needs during your short stay. If you ask, they may even send you home with extra supplies. My lactation consultant gave out hydrogel breast pads and tubes of lanolin that were perfect to fit in the diaper bag.
The hospital staff is more than accommodating with the essentials but know yourself and what you need to feel comfortable as you catch up on sleep, absorb information about the road ahead, recover from your delivery, and bask in the beauty of the new life you’ve brought into the world. Your time in the hospital will fly by faster than you think, and before you know it, you’ll be heading home with your new little family.
Be you bravely,
(Note: Our giveaway has ended, but we'd still love to hear your thoughts!)
WIN A LABOR & DELIVERY GOWN FOR YOUR HOSPITAL BAG!
To celebrate the launch of our brand new delivery gown, we’re giving you a chance to be one of SIX LUCKY MOMS who’ll receive the Bravely Labor and Delivery Gown to pack in their hospital bags!
When I started designing nursing and maternity clothes, I knew without a doubt that creating a beautiful, comfortable, and useful labor & delivery gown was a must. So I’m thrilled with the gorgeous gown we’ve just launched. With the comfort of your favorite t-shirt and doctor & doula recommended functionality and accessibility, this is a labor and deliver gown like no other.
The Velcro front opens completely for skin-to-skin contact immediately upon delivery and allows easy access for baby monitoring, ultrasounds, epidurals, and C-section incision inspections.
Snaps along both shoulders provide convenient breastfeeding & IV transition. Our gown also includes two large pockets for any essentials you want readily available.
Since it doesn't have snaps along the back, moms will be comfortable while lying in bed and won't experience “drafts” or unexpected flashing.
Whether for yourself or a friend, these birthing gowns are a must have on your registry, in a hospital bag, or as baby shower gifts.
How to Win:
- Comment on this blog post (What did you bring? What are you planning to bring?)
- LIKE our Facebook Page
- LIKE the Giveaway Announcement on Facebook
On May 26, 2017 we’ll randomly select SIX lucky winners who’ll get to pack the gown in their own hospital bag!
This giveaway is not associated with Facebook. Prize fulfillment will be done by Kindred Bravely. Contest ends at midnight on Thursday, May 25th. Winners are responsible for contacting Kindred Bravely to claim their prize within 48hrs. Open to US residents only.
Congratulations to moms Jerry-Stacie Morton, Sarah Prüfer, Kassandra Marie Martin, Noelle Lynn, Yolanda Aldridge, and Stephanie Robinson!