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Packing the hospital bag has become a kind of ritual for soon-to-be Moms and we’re all wondering if we’re packing the right things. Now if you’re giving birth in the United States you’re going to be provided with most of the important after-care things you and baby need, so you don’t need to worry about packing perfectly but it might not be the quality or type of options you’d prefer (not to mention it might show up on that infamous hospital bill). I was lucky the first time around that my husband is a doctor so he had some insight into what the doctor wants to see before they will discharge you from the hospital, so I knew what my after-birth goals were if I wanted to get out there quick. I knew I had to get out of bed and walking as soon as I could and I knew I had to have my first poop so I made sure I stayed on top of my pain-management after my scheduled c-section and packed laxatives and raisins. Everything else was a matter of trying to imagine what I might want.
For baby no. 2 as of the writing of this post, she is head down, so we are still planning to try for a vaginal delivery but I’m still packing a lot of the same things that I did last time because you never know what could happen. So here’s what I’m packing this time around:
1. Kindred Bravely Labor and Delivery Gown – Some women have really strong opinions about bringing their own labor and delivery gown and will tell you how they didn’t even care who saw them naked. They’ll also say that it doesn’t make sense to bring a gown that’s going to get covered in blood and other various fluids. I really liked having my own gown when I delivered Rigel, it made me feel a little in control of something and feel much more comfortable than I would have felt in the hospital provided gown. When looking for a gown look for one with lots of access points for things like fetal monitoring, stat monitors, and for epidural placement.
2. Secret Treasures Sleep Nursing Bra – I plan to wear one of these nursing bras during labor. I wore these when I nursed Rigel and found them to be very secure while still providing lots of easy access and being cozy for sleeping. The thought of my already awkward ladies flopping around during labor is a bit too much for me.
3. Secret Treasures Lace Trim Nursing Bralette – This nursing bralette is for when I go home or possibly for the Fresh 48 photos, depending on how I’m feeling. I like these because they provide a little more security without being too restrictive and potentially affecting breast milk supply as it comes in.
4. Made By Design Firm Pillow – An inexpensive firm pillow that you can use to lift up those wimpy pillows that they provide at the hospital. You could always bring your pillow from home if it makes you feel good but just know that it may get funky stuff on it.
5. GU Energy Nutrition Energy Gel – If you think of labor like running a marathon (really an ultramarathon) then you deserve to have something of sustenance but most hospitals have a no solids policy, which means that you’re left with ice chips and whatever you ate before you left for the hospital. These energy gels are basically just carbs in gel form that should be easy on the stomach. Each packet is about 100 calories and I’ll suck ‘em down if I start feeling a little hungry.
6. Anker MagSafe Power Bank – While I do plan to take an extra long power cord for charging my phone sometimes it can be hard to find an outlet in the hospital room. This way I won’t be stuck to a wall and if I need to keep my phone going I’ll still have juice. One of these power banks usually offers between 1-1.5 charges.
7. Frida Mom Upside Down Peri Bottle – I used this after Rigel was born even though I had a c-section. My belly was still very distended and I could not really bend over or get my hand around it in order to clean myself when I went to the bathroom. It’s also a much easier peri bottle to use than the one that is provided by the hospital, so I’m packing it again.
8. Senna-S Laxative – A lot of women worry about the first poop after having a baby and depending on your delivery and what kind of medication you received you may find that things feel a little backed up. The hospital will usually offer colace by itself which isn’t always as effective. I didn’t end up needing to take this after Rigel even though I packed it because I also packed raisins but I’m still taking it just in case.
9. Sun-Maid Raisins – After Rigel was born and I was back in the postpartum room I started eating raisins, I did this because I wanted to make sure I got around to pooping as soon as possible. I also drank a lot of water. Sure enough, even though I was on some intense painkillers those first 24 hours after a c-section that next morning I used the bathroom. It was still the scariest poop ever but it happened and the next day I was discharged from the hospital.
10. Threshold Performance Bath Sheet – I was still pretty big after Rigel was born between the swelling from surgery and all the excess fluid they pumped me with, so I was very glad I had packed this oversized towel. I recommend a dark colored towel, last time I took a gray towel, this time I’m packing a red towel, just in case anything funky gets on it after that first shower. I love that I can totally wrap myself in it almost like a bath robe and that it’s a million times softer than anything they offer you in the hospital.
11. Room Essentials Wash Cloth – I also pack my own washcloth because again the ones they offer you in the hospital are not very soft. You may find especially if you end up with a c-section that you feel tender in certain places so the last thing you want is a rough wash cloth to clean yourself up with.
12. Enqli Postpartum Ice Pads – I didn’t need to use anything like this last time around so I’m not sure how I’ll feel about them yet but I plan to only pack a couple of these for the trip home from the hospital. You squeeze them and they get cold and also act as a pad. I got these because they were a little more affordable than the Frida Mom ones and because I’m just not sure what direction I’ll want to go in as far as caring for the undercarriage at this point.
13. Power Beats Pro by Dre earbuds – I don’t know about some of you but music is super helpful to me through tough things. I figure if it can get me through a hard work out then it can probably get me through labor. While I do have Air Pods that are great and have fantastic battery life I think I will probably want to use my Power Beats more because they are less likely to fall off during any movements.
14. Depends Fit-Flex Underwear – There’s all kinds of varieties of Depends underwear that would work, as well as the Always Discreet line of disposable underwear, these are just the ones that I happened to find easily. I really liked wearing these to leave the hospital because I felt like I was not going to have any accidents on the way home and they did not bother my incision after Rigel. So I’m packing them again and will use them to go home regardless how the little Miss arrives.
15. Kindly Yours Nursing Sleep Dress – I like to pack at least two jammies for after I get out of the labor gown because you never know if your stay might get extended by a couple days, due to things like baby being jaundice or you needing a little extra observation. This sleep dress will be something I’ll wear for the first night after baby girl arrives, it’s dark so it can have accidents happen to it and is super soft.
16. Secret Treasure Satin Sleep Shirt – The other jammie that I pack is usually a little fancier and pretty and that’s the one I wear for any Fresh 48 pictures we might want to take in the hospital. This sleep shirt kind of matches the vibe of Sugar Cube’s little welcome swaddle and head band, so hopefully we’ll look cute.
17. Secret Treasure Women’s Soft Robe – You’re going to want a robe of some kind. I had light ones when Rigel was born since he was born in the summer but this time I’m packing a soft cozy one. A robe is great because if you’re not quite ready for jammies while things are settling you can still cover up a little quickly with something when the nurses come in to check in on you and baby every 20 mins.
18. Earth Mama Nipple Butter – We all hope for that easy magical latch right after baby gets plopped on our chest but sometimes it doesn’t go that easily. Between baby adjusting to earth and your boobs trying to switch on the hose, things may get rough. I used this nipple butter during my breastfeeding journey with Rigel and it was honestly my favorite of the three I tried (plus it was great for lubrication while pumping).
19. Medela Nipple Shields – Rigel had a high palate so latching didn’t come super easily to him, especially in the beginning when babies rely mostly on what they feel on their palate and much less on any sensations on their lips or tongue. For this reason I’m packing nipple shields in case baby girl struggles with figuring out that there’s a nipple in her mouth like her brother did.
20. Lansinoh Signature Pro Double Electric Breast Pump – The hospital usually has breastpumps that they will offer you if you want to start pumping right away, they’re usually hospital grade Medela pumps. I’m bringing this pump (I have 6 between electrics and manuals) because the flanges are really gentle feeling and the pump can be battery operated in the event I can’t get to an outlet easily. With Rigel I struggled with getting my supply in so I’m going to do as much as I can this time to avoid that.
21. Enfamil NeuroPro Ready to Feed Formula – Most hospitals will have formula on hand to offer to baby in the event baby is not feeding from you but if you don’t want to wait or you want baby to have a specific formula then it might be a good idea to pack your own. Rigel ended up leaving the hospital a little juandice since he literally was getting nothing from me breastfeeding (I started to finally get colostrum on day 5), so I want to do what I can to avoid that this time.
22. Dr. Brown’s First Feeder Bottle – I looked for the nipples that go with the ready to feed formula but couldn’t find them in small packages so instead I ordered these little bottles. They’re intended for preemies but full-term babies don’t eat much the first couple of days and the small nipple on these little bottles prevents creating too much nipple confusion or dependence on bottles.
23. Earth Mama Perineal Spray – A lot of women swear by things like Dermablast but I worry about that maybe being too much on my sensitive bits so I plan to start with this spray and if I find I need something more aggressive then I’ll try something else. I have however heard good things about this spray and had planned to use it when I was pregnant with Rigel. Here’s hoping I finally get to test it this time.
24. Prettygarden Two-Piece Outfit – I gave birth in summer last time and since I knew I was going to have a c-section I packed a flowy dress for my going home outfit. This time I’m hoping for a vaginal birth and will be giving birth in the autumn in Pittsburgh so there’s a good chance it might be chilly. I’m wearing this loose two-piece set which should also work in the event that I need another c-section because it’s super stretchy, high rise, and soft.
As far as personal toiletries that’s going to depend on the individual but things that I like to have with me are face wipes, in case I’m too tired or weak to get to the sink to wash my face. I also like to pack both shampoo and dry shampoo that way depending on my energy I can still get my hair looking kind of decent. It’s also nice to have some sort of tablet with you in case the tv choices are not great. Also, don’t forget some kind of chapstick because that hospital dry air will have you looking like a dry, salted fish.
The most important thing is to not overthink too much as you near the end of pregnancy. You’ll probably be just fine if you forget some things. The adrenaline after having baby will likely carry you through those couple of days in the hospital. Remember you can always ask your nurses for things to make you more comfortable, they’re there to make sure that your transition to baby earthside is as smooth as possible. Let me know in the comments if there’s anything special you plan on packing in your hospital.