What to Really Pack for Having Your Baby at the Hospital
Having a baby? Congratulations. I am sure you are fraught with every emotion in the book at every second. As a veteran (laughable) parent, I would like to share my wisdom of what you should and should NOT pack for the hospital for the big day.
You should pack:
- A phone with a charger to share pictures and Facebook updates. Yes, I realize you should be focused on your little cherub and you will, but they are also so cute. Plus they sleep like a bajillion hours the first day. Also, you may labor forever and a day. Which leads me into the next…
- A tablet, book, game, whatever you can to keep distracted. Especially if you use this modern marvel called an epidural. You won’t have too much pain until active labor, but you will have a boatload of time (most likely). Bring something to keep you busy.
- A flask. No, kidding on this one. You can drink while breastfeeding, but it is too frequent in the first days (you have to wait for it to leave your system to go on a bender). Coconut water or a special juice you like could be extremely helpful though. They will give you the cup of all cups for breastfeeding. I don’t know what magical powers it has, but it is like the crack cup for a nursing mama. Take it home and treat it well.
- A microwave heating pad. You can even make your own with rice if you are the crafty sort or have any energy left at this point in the pregnancy.
- Nice toiletries such as shampoo, conditioner, soap and deodorant can make you feel a little less “oogy”. And yes, you will feel pretty gross. Find something that will at least make you smell better than you feel. Remember, don’t overdo the scents and no perfumes, baby will thank you.
- An outfit for baby to wear home. You can bring a few just in case the bundle projectile poops or vomits, but hopefully you will snuggle up skin-to-skin most of the time. Dads should do this also. Plus, after the baby is here, any resentment incurred during labor toward your SO for doing this to you will dissolve and everything he does will make him look like the best father ever.
- An outfit for yourself…Maternity but larger. They neglect to tell you that you might be larger post baby. Especially if you had IV fluids. I swished (literally) as I walked for a week postpartum. Most hospitals will give you crazy-large mesh undies…take them. If you bring your own, make sure the entire cast of Game of Thrones could safely parachute off a flying dragon using only one pair.
- Get the car seat properly installed and checked. So, this may not be something you can pack in your overnight bag, but the car seat must be installed before you leave. A ridiculous number of people install them incorrectly, it’s easy to do, and/or have things that are sold to be in the backseat, but shouldn’t. Ask the hospital where there are checks in your area far before going in. Babies can surprise you, do it early.
Do NOT pack:
Remember, you are the mama. If you feel like you might need these things, go with your gut. There will be so much advice, but ultimately you know best for you and your growing family. So, take it all with a grain of salt, or butter, or sugar…whatever your weird craving may be right now.
- Diapers and Wipes. Take everything they you offer you at the hospital. Sneak a few into your bag early so you need more. They will charge you and you will reach your out-of-pocket. Take the free stuff. You already pay insane premiums for those overpriced poop catchers, might as well take advantage.
- Nipple cream. Ask the nurses if it is not already provided. Again, you are already going to pay either way.
- Food. Unless you have a super awesome snack that transfers well, use the free meals provided. Send family on a food run. Eat real food. Save some for late night feedings. You will be up at least every three hours either feeding or pumping. As much as it sucks, it does help establish the milk supply which is vital if you plan to breastfeed.
- Receiving Blankets and swaddles. These will be provided by the hospital. Take them home. Take anything not locked down.
- A fancy robe and/or hospital gown. I mean, you can, but things are flowing like Niagara down there for a while, and better to dirty up the hospital’s stuff. They are charging you about a college tuition just to be there, yes, insurance helps, but you pay for that too. Soak in, quite literally, and enjoy the lack of laundry. Save the gown for when guests come to your house later.
Nursing bra. Before the milk comes in, it’s your call. I got a bit sweaty in the under-boob area, so I could have gone for some girls’ support. Milk (other than the few drops of liquid gold), doesn’t usually come in until after you leave. Think painful swollen watermelons attached to your chest that quite literally become milk projectiles. Lactate on that, anyone getting near me or my baby in my postpartum state. Plus, your size will change…a lot.
Sweater. You may all of a sudden be cold without your attached furnace. Just make sure it isn’t your nicest sweater as it will be covered in fluids from you, baby and nurses.
You’ve Got This Future Mama!
There is little reason to worry about what you pack. Most of the time, relatives feel a bit useless and awkward anyway. Giving them an errand to run and get something as you need it might actually help break some of the tension and stress.
The truth is, the visit will fly by. In the beginning, you’ll be doing a little thing like birthing a child. Either you will have an epidural and will be completely paralyzed from the waist down or you will be in searing pain. Either way, material needs are not really a thing. Then there will be the most wonderful and amazing thing you have ever done in your whole life staring back at you. Staring at that precious bundle will be all you need in life until they learn to talk back. Then you’ll be packing their bags to stay with the grandparents.
Anything else you suggest taking or leaving at home? Please feel free to help a mama out in the comments.
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