This is a new series of posts where I’ll cover what I brought in my hospital bag, what to expect in the hospital postpartum, and my favorite (and necessary) postpartum items.
Starting off the series is “What I brought in My Hospital Bag”. Read on to see what items I used and when. Hopefully all the pregnant ladies find this list useful. To all the mamas who’ve been there, let me know in the comments what was the most necessary item in your hospital bag.
For my first birth I used my gym bag and it was cumbersome for Joey to carry on his shoulder in addition to his bag and the birthing ball. This time, I used my carry-on luggage bag with wheels so it was easier to maneuver.
Things I Used During Labor
Birthing Ball and Manual Pump
In my first labor, the entire L&D department only had one birthing ball floating around so I was lucky that I brought mine. For my second birth, they had a few in different shapes and sizes so I actually didn’t use mine. I like to labor on the ball so it was super important for me to bring mine just in case. One tip: bring the ball in semi-inflated so you can fit it in your car and your partner has less to blow up at the hospital.
Comfortable Waterproof Slippers
As soon as I got into my room, I changed into my flip flops. Birth is a beautiful but messy time and I didn’t want to get my nice sandals dirty. It really grosses me out to think of walking barefoot in the hospital. If you don’t have some already, grab a pair from Old Navy (they’re usually less than $5).
Hair Brush and Hair Ties
Giving birth is a serious workout. You’ll be tired, sweaty, and irritated. Putting up my hair out of my face is the second thing I do as soon as I get to the room.
My main coping mechanism while giving birth consisted of a bunch of different breathing techniques. Nearly all of that breathing was some variation of in through my nose and out through my mouth (horse lips*!) Breathing like this for hours dries out your lips like crazy. I asked my doula and Joey for my lip balm countless times.
Gatorade and Coconut Water
Staying hydrated during labor was key for me. If you’re not drinking enough liquids that’s an automatic IV in your arm. I brought a couple of bottles of Gatorade and coconut water and had Joey ask for some ice and a straw. Pro tip: definitely ask for a straw. When you’re in labor, the extra effort to hold a cup and tilt your head back is enormous. Joey would just put the straw to my lips and I’d drink.
Food and Snacks
This might be different for your doctor but mine encouraged eating and drinking during labor in order to keep up my strength. I kept it simple and just brought protein and granola bars. Any one-handed and easy to eat snack will work.
Joey and my doula took photos and videos. These are once in a lifetime pictures and I love looking back on all of them. I may consider hiring a professional photographer if we decide to have more children.
Things I Used Postpartum at the Hospital
Soft Bath Towel
Hospital towels are small and scratchy. Bring one of yours so you feel some comfort with your first postpartum shower.
This included a bar of soap, shampoo, conditioner, toothbrush, toothpaste, face wash, lotion, q-tips, contact lens case and solution, eyeglasses. Basically anything you’d normally bring when you’re staying the night somewhere.
Robe, Clothes, Baby’s Outfit
I wore my sleep nursing bra, the hospital gown and my soft and comfy robe during my stay. I didn’t bother wearing any of my own clothes (aside from a bra) while in the hospital because I didn’t want anything to get blood on it. If you decide to wear your own shirt and are breastfeeding, make sure it’s nursing friendly! You’ll be feeding a lot from the beginning.
I always packed a going home outfit for myself but I always ended up just wearing the clothes I arrived in. If you do pack clothes, make sure they’re loose and about 6 months pregnant sized.
If your partner is packing their own bag then you don’t have to worry about this. If your husband is like mine, pack a spare outfit and undies for them in your hospital bag.
I let my babies stay in the hospital outfits until it was time to go home. It was always easier to change diapers while they’re wearing the provided long sleeve shirt. I also didn’t have to worry if they soiled the clothes since I could request another shirt. Once it was time to go home, I changed them into their newborn sized Sleep ‘N Play pajamas. Make sure your baby’s going home outfit has pant legs. You can’t bring them home in a swaddle or sleep sack since they need to be buckled properly in their car seat.
Postpartum Meal and More Snacks
After giving birth I am ferociously hungry. My parents are saints and have brought me In-N-Out after each birth (with a milkshake of course). On top of that I’m breastfeeding so I’m always thirsty and hungry. I brought some snacks but not nearly enough and was often asking the nurses for more graham crackers. I’m lucky my mom brought snacks too and she left those for me to eat. Don’t do what I did, prepare and bring lots of tasty food. You’ll be eating at all hours of the night and day. If you’re not a plain water person, pack or have someone bring you your preferred beverage. Gotta stay hydrated to make that breastmilk!
Also, bring some change for the vending machines. If you run out of snacks or want some candy or a special drink it will come in handy.
I always anticipate not having enough electrical outlets so I bring a travel sized power strip with me. I also brought a phone charger (my husband and I use the same kind) and a backup battery. I brought the backup battery so that I could still charge my phone if my husband was using the wall charger. Pro tip: bring an extra long charging cable so you can use your phone in bed while its charging.
I brought my favorite nipple cream, Earth Mama Organic Nipple Butter, and Lansinoh nursing pads. I also brought my favorite breastfeeding book from La Leche League, The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding by Diane Wiessinger. After failing to breastfeed my first born, I read and studied this book in my last trimester of pregnancy. I also watched YouTube videos about laid-back breastfeeding and getting a good latch. After a few bumps in the beginning, I’m successfully nursing my second baby!
When you give birth in a hospital, all of the disposable items in the room are yours to take. I brought one of my foldable totes to take home all of the diapers, wipes, pads, mesh underwear, and other postpartum items.
We had the infant car seat base installed since week 36 and the car seat in the car from week 37. Make sure you really read the instructions for your car seat on proper car installation and how to secure your babe. I highly recommend the Car Seats for the Littles website and Facebook group and the Car Seat Lady website.
Please watch this 8 minute video on securing your newborn in a car seat. Protect your baby by using the car seat properly. It’s only 8 minutes long. For the sake of your baby, it’s worth watching.
Here’s a link to a condensed version of the video: https://youtu.be/REbyw_6mbnI
A few key points:
- Regardless of your car seats weight and height limits, it is illegal for a baby in California to be forward-facing before the age of 2.
- While rear-facing, the shoulder straps should come from below or at the babies shoulders.
- The chest clip should be at armpit level.
- Tighten the correct amount by doing the pinch test. You should’t be able to pinch any of the strap at the shoulder. If you can pinch the strap, it’s too loose.
Things I Brought But Didn’t Use
I brought Depend’s underwear and pads but I ended up just using the mesh underwear and maternity pads during my stay.
Next in the Series
Stay tuned! The next post in this series will cover my favorite postpartum items.