Fair warning: this post is for moms, moms-to-be, and men of stout constitutions who want to prepare for the big event: a new baby. There will be “womanly talk” happening about labor and delivery that you might want to tune out. It’s not for the faint of heart, guys.
I thought I’d give you a glimpse of what we have prepared for the labor and delivery and the hospital stay. Now, having done this labor thing a couple of times before, and realizing what is important and what isn’t, I’m feeling pretty confident that labor and delivery and the hospital stay boils down to three important things: good snacks, pain management (as in ALL THE MEDS), and bringing some comforts of home.
I started packing around 34 weeks and am just now finishing up at almost 39, so I’d recommend starting early. There are many odds and ends that need to be bought, or found buried in a linen closet, or prepared that take a little while.
Here are our three bags: mine and baby’s are a matching Vera set gifted by my lovely mother-in-law, and Tom’s is a ratty old book bag because, well, MANLY MEN DON’T CARRY THEIR UNDIES IN VERA BAGS. Or, at least that’s what our rather testy conversation about it revealed.
Baby’s Hospital Bag
Baby girl’s bag was a fun one for me. I have two boys, so buying all the girly bows and do-dads was so much fun! Here’s what I have for her:
- Three, yes, three purely fun and frou-frou hats (The white one is embroidered with her name! I got that here: https://www.etsy.com/transaction/262870160 )
- A binky case and my favorite brand of bink, plus another one. Side story, each time I have a baby, the nurses tell me not to give my babies a bink because of nipple confusion. With all due respect, and knowing full well that I have zero nursing training, I completely disagree. I know babies’ instincts are to nurse, and we do a whole lot of that, (poor, poor nipples are not going to remember that “uncomfortable” feeling since it’s been three years since I’ve nursed last. Ah, well, that’s why good pain meds features so highly in my own bag) but I REFUSE TO BE USED AS A BINKY. Sorry for being shouty. It just hurts those first few weeks anyway, so I get a little passionate when my coping method is questioned. Moving on.
- Mittens to keep baby’s long fingernails from scratching her face, and socks because hospitals are cold and also because my mom will give me disapproving, and not-so-quiet noises about keeping baby warm.
- Vaseline and hand sanitizer. The Vaseline is to put on little one’s bum because meconium is NO JOKE and does not come off easily. Layer the stuff on liberally. The hand sanitizer for visitors (aka my boys) who, ahem, might not have done the most thorough job of washing up before holding their sister. The hospital might even provide these, but I am delivering somewhere new this time, and I’m not taking chances.
- An Aden and Anais swaddle that I’m way too excited about. Those were not a thing when I had the boys, and everyone raves about them. Also, another blanket and a really soft burp cloth set that my friend, Sara, gave us as a sprinkle gift.
- Then there’s the outfits. SO, so fun to pick these out! I’m only bringing a few things, but they are carefully chosen. One is her going home outfit, one is a sleeper that will probably go over that going home outfit because it’s still like Antarctica where we live even though we’re into spring. The last one is a sleeping gown that is realistically the only thing I keep my babies in for the first couple of months. These things are made by “People Who Know Things” obviously because they are so easy to change a baby without disturbing them in the middle of the night. I didn’t learn about them until a few weeks after having baby number one, and I could have kicked myself.
- A bow in case she has hair. My heart!
- A pretty floral robe that makes me feel better. That whole comforts of home idea is real. Putting on a robe instead of a hospital gown, once I’m feeling better, really lifts my mood. I got it here: https://www.etsy.com/transaction/256771293
- Below that are two nursing tanks (Target brand is my favorite). I don’t even bother with a nursing bra for a few weeks because – ouch.
- My 31 toiletries bag and make up bag in front of it – tip: bring two travel size bottles of body wash if you use it. The last two hospital stays opened my eyes to having to share one bottle and I got all shouty again when we ran out. Hospital bar soap is just not the same.
- In the toiletries bag is a gallon size bag filled with the meds I mentioned that can make or break you, not to be dramatic or anything. Here’s the list: Dermoplast (get the blue bottle, not the red, which has alcohol) obscenely large overnight pads, Tucks, Colace, Tums, Advil, nursing pads and soothing gel pads, a nipple shield, and antibacterial wipes. These are all essential. The nurses have most of this and will give them to you freely, but I hate having to wait on something like a nipple shield, or sometimes Tom needs an Advil because it’s really hard to be a labor coach. Ha. I made myself laugh. Anyway, there is one more essential med that I talk about later: padsicles.
- A warm sweater in case it’s cold in the room.
- Snack bag! Trust me, get this ready well in advance. In it: Lara bars for me, Cliff bars for Tom, jolly ranchers for laboring, gum for laboring (it helps, just trust me), and some candy bars for a well-deserved treat. Before we leave for the hospital, I’ll also cut up a couple of oranges and bring some bananas. It totally stinks not to have fresh fruit and I’m downright hangry after laboring. The hospital’s Subway just doesn’t cut it.
- Two pairs of loose yoga pants and two long nursing tops to go home in. You’ll want them to be big because some (Read: most) do not leave the hospital in our pre-pregnancy jeans. That might take a few months, or, ahem, never.
- The floral bag has a pair of flip flops for the shower and a pair of slippers for the room in it.
- Not pictured, but really important: a Boppy, my favorite blanket, and padsicles. Oh, you’re unfamiliar with these? Let me open your eyes to more good meds. The “recipe,” if you will, can be found online (Thank you, Pinterest) but, basically, just buy a bottle of plain old witch hazel and pour it over a few of the mega pads. I put mine in a large casserole dish to do this. Put them in the freezer after soaking them and, when frozen, take them out and put them in a big freezer bag and back into the freezer. Keep at home until you get back from the hospital, and then use them often. They will be 100% worth it, I promise. The witch hazel is soothing and helps reduce swelling and pain from stitches. Pair one with the Dermoplast spray and it takes away a considerable amount of pain. Oh, the things we women go through.
Tom’s bag is typically man-ish and has just the necessities i.e. hoodie, sweats, toothbrush. But that bag also has the electronics, which are vital. We bring: a wireless speaker to play my labor playlist, iPad, phones, DSLR camera, and all the charging cords. Also included are dollar bills and change for parking and vending machines. Oh, and he’s in charge of bringing a tennis ball to help with my notorious back labor. I’ll let you guess if that’s packed in the bag yet…
So, am I missing anything? Any tips or more ideas? What did you bring to the hospital to make your experience better?