Ironically enough, I’ve received three e-mails in the past two weeks asking what I took to the hospital when Ethan was born. Having given birth twice in two years, I can tell you what is necessary and what isn’t.
First off, you’ll probably want two bags – a small one with labor items that you’ll take with you into L&D. Once you’ve moved to the postpartum/recovery room, you can send your spouse to get the big bag from your car.
Make sure that your postpartum bag is completely packed and in your vehicle 3 weeks before your due date. Buy travel-size items and put a new pair of contacts in your toiletry bag so that it is fully packed. You never know when you’ll go into labor, and even though you think you’ll be able to finish packing while you’re in the first stage of labor, don’t fool yourself. I made this mistake, and George had no sleeping clothes or toiletries the first night when I gave birth to Georgie.
16-oz. water bottle
“Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth” by Ina May Gaskin
Digital camera/video camera & batteries
Pen & small pad of paper
Toiletry bag (you may want to take a shower before you move to Postpartum)
Wallet (insurance card, ID, money for vending machines, etc.)
A going home outfit (for baby) including socks & cap
The hospital will probably give you that little pink & blue striped cap. If baby is on the small side, the cap you bring might be too big, so plan on using the hospital cap.
A receiving blanket
The linens belong to the hospital; don’t take them, that’s stealing!
Travel package of baby wipes
Most hospitals use washcloths and soap for diaper changes (more economical). If you’re adverse to this, bring your own disposable wipes.
Baby nail clippers
The kid will probably have nails longer than yours; if you feel brave, clip them when baby is sleeping. Ask a nurse for assistance and they’ll show you good clipping techniques.
Binder for baby info (include 2 copies of your birth plan)
For some reason, the nursing staff seemed to take me more seriously when they saw that I was keeping all of the information in my own binder.
A going home maternity outfit w/ flat shoes
Make sure they are loose-fitting, like drawstring maternity pants & a maternity t-shirt. Don’t plan on having your pre-PG body back for awhile.
I wanted to take a walk, and having my own robe made me feel more comfortable. Wal-Mart sells cotton waffle-knit robes for under $10. They’re thin and pack easily. Pick up a dark color, just in case you bleed through your gown.
Nursing bra & disposable breast pads
Much easier than relying on cloth diapers for leakage.
“The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding” by the La Leche League
You can only watch the hospital’s CCTV broadcast of “How to Care for your Newborn” so many times.
Your own will keep your feet warmer than the no-skid socks that the hospital provides, and you’ll feel better if you decide to take a walk.
Body wash & mini pouf
Pick up a travel size of your favorite brand. You can find the mini-poufs at Wal-Mart for about $.50.
Stuff like granola bars, crackers, etc. Just in case your hospital meals are less than desirable or you want to offer some string cheese to your visitors.
List of Phone Numbers & cell phone
Some hospitals will let you use your cell in PP & R. Take a list of phone numbers for people you’ll want to call.
Eyeglasses & contacts
Things to Skip:
Check to see if your hospital will provide you with those fashionable mesh underwear. If so, don’t bother bringing your own. They probably aren’t big enough to hold the icepacks you’ll be wearing for the next week.
The hospital will give you a few disposables to take home if you ask – they may even offer. Save the space in your bag — unless, of course, you’re cloth-diapering. Then, you’ll want to bring your own.
Why mess up your own clothes? Let the hospital take care of the laundry. That said, if you think you’ll feel more human receiving visitors in your own PJs, then by all means, bring a pair.
Shampoo & Conditioner
Unless you have to shampoo every day, skip it. Are you really going to feel up to washing your hair in the hospital?
Razor & shaving lotion