Want to Know What to REALLY Pack for the Hospital?

Photo credit: Tess Watson

Here’s my official list I share with everyone…
FOOD. Hospital food is awful and they feed you at set hours. You will be hungry ALL THE TIME (you just birthed a human!).

Ensure (check with your OB). There’s no reason you shouldn’t have calories during labor. Easy way to get some sustenance without going against doctors’ antiquated orders to withhold all food.

A water bottle that won’t leak, that you can keep in bed with you. Much easier than having to keep that stupid tray table nearby and actually move your poor, abused body to reach it. You can pour water from the measured cups the nurses bring you so they can still keep track of your intake. If your bottle has ml or oz markings, it’s even easier.

Clothes that are easy to nurse in, but you won’t mind taking pictures in. In dark colors. You will bleed like a murder victim postpartum (no one ever prepared me for THAT!). It is much less horrendous if you’re wearing a stretchy black nightgown vs a light blue hospital tent.

Slipper socks. Hospital floors and bathrooms… Enough said. (Dark colors again – you’d be surprised what ends up on your feet the first few times you stand up).

Rubber bands and comfortable headbands. Hair in your face is damn annoying during labor. And postpartum sweat hair looks better in a headband.

Cameras/phones/chargers/laptop or iPad. My oldest wouldn’t have left the hospital with a name were it not for my laptop and the Internet. It’s also easy to upload pictures to friends and family if you bring your gear.

Cosmetics. If you’re normally a makeup queen and you don’t want 11,000 pictures looking like complete hell, bring whatever you normally use. If you’re concerned about those 1st photos: Model In a Bottle. Hand to God it works and I credit it for keeping me human while delivering my kids.

Toiletries. Shampoo/conditioner/soap/face wash/brush/contact lens solution and case/toothbrush and paste/hair brush. Even the “fancy” hospitals tend to not have anything beyond hospital hand soap in the shower. Color me shocked when I had my first. My hair was even more shocked.

Chapstick. Your lips may get very dry during labor. The post partum sweating should keep you covered after that…

A nursing cover is useful unless you will be comfortable with whipping the girls out with visitors watching. You can skip nursing pillows – a lot of fuss when you can get extra bed pillows from the nurses and haul a lot less in/out of the hospital. And also skip nursing pads – your milk won’t come in for a few days and, if you should be early and leak, the hospital will happily give you some.

Cute baby outfits to take baby home in. Don’t bring just 1 – you may have a diaper disaster and baby may be too big/small for standard newborn size. The hospital will provide basic babywear, a hat, and swaddle blanket for your stay.

Postpartum Clothes. Comfy, stretchy outfit for you to go home in. You’ll be in the hospital mesh underwear with the huge pad (like Depends size) and you will still look approximately 7 months pregnant, so take that into account when choosing clothes.

Oh and remember to take off your rings when you get to the hospital! Your hands will swell from all the fluids in the iv’s and you don’t want them to cut off your rings. Wear a necklace if you don’t normally so you’ll have somewhere safe to keep them until you de-puff.

The hospital will provide diapers if you’re not doing cloth and will give you ones to take home. The little gauze wipes they have are gold. Get as many as humanly possible. They’re hard to find elsewhere and $$$$ when you do track them down.

Take home an extra (or two) perineal bottle so you’ll have one for your 2nd bathroom or for when you leave the house. That thing is your BEST FRIEND.

I packed the most valuable items at viability (24 weeks) and taped my “grab it” item list to the top of the bag so I (or my husband) wouldn’t have to think about where to find things when it was actually go time. I was unexpectedly hospitalized at 32 weeks during my first pregnancy and was so glad I had a bag and list for DH to follow so I wasn’t trying to think about what I needed in a stressful situation!

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