Facebook is awesome. I love that I can reconnect with people I haven’t seen in years and awkwardly know the minutia of their lives. Such is the case with a girl I went to day camp with all through elementary school. I haven’t seen her or her twin sister in almost 15 years, but I know she is currently packing her hospital bag for her first baby.
I sent her a mildly nosy message congratulating her and giving her some of my advice about hospital bags. With being on bed rest for 2 months, I had too much time to search the internet for hospital/diaper bag articles and checklists. I agonized over it and wound up bringing two bags full, plus my purse. Way too much stuff. I should note, I was in labor for 15 hours and wound up having an emergency C-section, at which point I was moved from my huge glamorous birthing suite to a teeny weeny recovery room with no room for anything extra.
So here is Molly’s Hospital Bag Minimalist List, in no particular order.
- A robe. I bought myself a thin, belted robe with pockets from Target for Christmas. Best. Decision. Ever. First of all, I had something new and pretty to wear even though I was in a hospital and bloated like a beached whale. Secondly, since I was breastfeeding, the nurses had me wearing a hospital gown backward so that I could whip it open whenever my babe needed to nurse or a doctor needed to poke around at me. With the robe, I could tie it around my waist and go out into the hall without feeling like I was going to flash anyone. At home, I used it basically every day for the first two weeks when I couldn’t stand anything touching my C-section scar.
- A nursing bra and tons of nursing pads. Even if you aren’t breastfeeding, when your milk comes in you are going to want a bra to keep the ladies in and pads to soak up all the leakage. I did not bring a sleeping nursing bra (basically a sports bra that has easy access to the milk factory), which may have been more comfortable than the underwire one I brought.
- A dress for yourself. If it’s winter, bring a pair of leggings or yoga pants for underneath. But there is no telling what size you are going to be or if you are going to want anything closely touching you from your waist to your knees. I brought a maternity sundress from Target (can anyone guess my favorite store? Bueller?) and it worked wonderfully.
- Adjustable sandals to wear home. Due to the meds I got cranked through me while having my emergency C, I bloated so much during my days at the hospital that I almost couldn’t bend my knees. It was insane. There was no way I was ever going to get my feet into any shoes that I owned. I sent my husband home to bring me a pair of old soccer sandals from high school that had a velcro latch and I maxed those out with a pair of hospital socks. Unless you are a celeb and the paparazzi is going to be snapping your photo on the way out of the hospital, it’s OK to sacrifice fashion for comfort. In fact, that’s always okay. You’re a mom.
- A few sleepers in newborn and 0-3 size for your babe. I was told that the hospital would provide diapers, blankets, and outfits for baby. I packed a newborn size and 0-3 month size going home outfit, thinking how darling he would be. And then while I was walking around in labor I saw that the other babies in the nursery were all wearing cute little outfits brought from home under their teal-and-maroon-striped hospital blankets. I didn’t want my little guy to feel left out! I didn’t want people to think I was a neglectful mother! Ack, not even born and I felt inadequate. Husband also brought me several changes of outfit so that my Bug could fit in and feel socially accepted.
- A binder for paperwork. If you have a birth plan or something specific you need done, bring it in a binder with pockets on the sides. You will be handed so much discharge paperwork/advice papers/memorabilia you will want to save, so have this available so everything makes it home uncrumpled and is in one place. Also throw a few pieces of paper in there and maybe a pen to record things you want/need to remember. And make a list of those ‘must-have pictures for baby’s first day!’ from that Pinterest thing because trust me, you will not be thinking of those.
- Your wallet. Carry a few extra $1 bills or quarters in there for snacks in the weeks leading up to your delivery so that when your husband is whining that it’s 2am and the baby woke up to be fed and he is starving you can send him down to the vending machines to buy some snacks for himself and grab you a thing of Oreos. Also keep your insurance card and ID in your wallet at all times now, just in case.
- An extra phone charger. Just go buy an extra if you don’t have one. You will be on your phone constantly, texting pictures of your little one and arranging for when people will come to visit the new babe. If you have a smartphone you might spend thirty seconds playing a game before your baby wakes up to eat, a nurse comes in to check on you, a doctor comes in to poke at you, a visitor stops by, or you pass out from exhaustion.
- And finally (and I hope obviously) an infant car seat. Bring it inside the day before you are bringing your little one home so that you can size it with a nurse watching and so the temperature isn’t too hot/too cold. The hospital will probably give you a little crocheted hat to keep your babe’s head warm, but if the weather is at all cold (or if it is super hot and you will have the A/C cranked up) bring an extra blanket for in the car.
- Having a baby is both super boring and super exciting. There is a lot of time just sitting around and waiting, whether it’s waiting for the baby to be born, or while the baby is sleeping you’ll be waiting for him to wake up. I thought I would be bored, but with adrenaline pumping and a TV for background noise, I did nothing but hold/feed my little Buggy and then sleep. I had books, a Kindle, a laptop, a camera, a notebook and pens, an iPod and headphones, as well as about thirty other things I thought I would desperately need. My hubs did use the iPod and headphones and wound up bringing that charger back with him to help block out the noise of the nighttime interruptions, but he would have been fine without it.
- Pack all of this into an extra big bag so that you have room for any swag you get from the hospital (like, all of the diapers that are left in your little cart, because they are name brand and therefore expensive, as well as a few hospital blankets so you can sniffle into them in a few months when your baby starts to crawl and you realize they are getting SO BIG, and any formula goodies/breastmilk pumping wares they send you home with).
So to sum up, in your big ol’ roomy bag you should have:
- A robe and nursing bra/nursing pads to wear at the hospital,
- an outfit for you to wear home that includes a dress and some kind of adjustable shoes,
- a few outfits for your little one to wear there and on their way home,
- a binder for paperwork with some blank paper and a pen all ready for you,
- your wallet that you probably bring everywhere with you anyway,
- your cell phone and an extra charger,
- and a carseat.
EDIT: I am making a last second addition: DEODORANT. Trust me on this one.
Voila! The recipe for a hospital bag that you don’t have to stress over. Now, I know you, reader, are a concerned parent and are probably going to Google “Hospital Bag” and read everything and make huge lists and overpack. That is perfectly okay. Just remember these necessities for baby #2 🙂
Things you don’t really have to bring:
- Toiletries. The hospital will have some for you. It’s not a four-star hotel, but they know that people are staying there for days at a time. Basics like shampoo and a toothbrush will likely be provided.
- Entertainment. You are not on vacation or hosting a tupperware party. If you are watching DVDs or bringing playing cards, you are altogether too calm and make me jealous. If you seriously get that bored, tell whoever comes to see you to stop home and get you some entertainment.
- Mood-setters. Now here, there is a controversy. Some people want to dim the lights, play a certain song, have their own fluffy pillows. Personally, I like my pillows without any of the detritus they pick up at the hospital. Again, this isn’t a four star hotel, it’s a hospital. You have your baby, you recover, you head home. If music or a stuffed animal or something is of particular comfort to you, by all means bring it. But it might get grossness on it, or you might not ever get to hear your music because your birth plan had to change for the health of you or the baby.
- Underwear/PJs. If you are doing your research, you have probably heard of a lovely thing called lochia. If you haven’t… after you have your child, you have what amounts to a heavy period for a few weeks following birth. You will wear giant monster pads because you can’t wear a tampon for obvious reasons and you will have a heavy enough flow that you will want them. So bringing your own clothes to wear while in the hospital means you are willing to just toss them afterwards because of staining (let’s face it, you aren’t doing laundry for a few days post-baby, and by then the stains will be set). The hospital provides gowns that are hideous because they are going to get ruined, don’t ruin something you already bought! And for those who are worried about how they will look… no one is going to be looking at you for a while. You just brought a baby into the world. If you don’t look perfect, that is just fine. Also, the hospital will provide these mesh underwear things. When I heard mesh, I imagined those mesh vest things that were popular a few years ago… not that kind of mesh. More like thin indeterminate fabric. Wear those. They are comfy and you can toss them without a second thought.
- Ditto for makeup… if you are putting on makeup for pictures with your babe, remember that: a) you will look like you just had a baby no matter how much mascara you put on, and; b) everyone is looking at your baby to decide who they look like more.
- Camera. This one is tough. My smartphone has a camera and I took great pictures of my babe with that. If you don’t have a good camera on your phone, you might (MIGHT) want to bring this. But that is also only if you don’t have any relatives with cameras, because everyone and their brother (but not your brother because he will be afraid he will break the baby until they are about 3 years old) will want a photo op with you and the new person you just created and they will then post the one in which you look the worst to Facebook.
Is there anything I didn’t list that you think is a must to pack in the hospital bag? Tell me about it in the comments below.