As a first time mom I did a lot of research. A lot of research. What to register for, how to write a birth plan, pre-baby to-do’s, and what to pack in your hospital bag are just a few of the things I stayed up late Googling. The hospital bag is a relatively minor thing in the grand scheme of childbirth but having the right things with you can really make a difference in how comfortable you are at the hospital or birthing center, especially if you wind up with an extended stay. I made a few mistakes, one of which was not packing my bag early enough, so I thought I’d compile some recommendations for those expectant mamas out there.
Things I packed and shouldn’t have :
- A hairdryer. Yup, a hairdryer. I’m a working mom of an active 10-month old and can still count on one hand the number of times I’ve had the time to dry my hair since my son was born. I’m not quite sure why I thought I’d have the time or the inclination at the hospital after giving birth but bless my heart. I’ll just leave that one there. Try not to laugh too hard.
- A breast pump and its (many) accouterments. I spent the better part of the first few weeks of my son’s life breastfeeding. I didn’t break out the pump until he was over a month old. Many lactation consultants actually advise that you avoid pumping until you’ve established your supply or unless recommended by your doctors (for example, if your baby has a medical issue at birth, trouble gaining weight, etc.). It was a lot to schlep around and I never touched it.
- Pillows and towels from home. Both were recommended in my research. The thought being that it would be comforting to have a slice of home with you – your own pillow on your bed, your own towels for that first shower. Appreciation of a good pillow implies that there is sleeping going on, which usually isn’t the case when you have a newborn. Towels – eh – the hospital ones were fine, it’s not like I was lounging around in my towel for more than 5 seconds. I should have left both at home – didn’t use ’em, didn’t need ’em, and they took up a lot of space.
I was so, so glad I packed:
- Snacks. I’m a firm believer in the general life lesson that you will never, ever regret packing snacks! By the time we got to our room after the birth of our son, it was approaching midnight. On Christmas Eve. The hospital cafeteria was closed and so was pretty much everything else in town. I was so glad to have some healthy stuff to munch on (plus my sister-in-law’s famous Christmas cookies!) after having made it through 20 hours of labor subsisting on ice water with a splash of ginger ale.
- Slippers. I bought a cheap pair of backless and fuzzy slip-ons at Old Navy and it was one of the smartest things my pregnant self ever did. I thought my 40-week pregnant feet were swollen until I saw my feet right after giving birth. Thankfully I had my slippers or I would have been walking around barefoot/in socks for two weeks until my feet returned to normal size.
- Treats for the maternity ward nurses/doctors/staff – individually wrapped blue and pink chocolate covered Oreos, to be exact! All credit for this one goes to my amazing, I-hope-I-can-be-as-wonderful-a-mom-as-her-someday mom. I had visions of baking warm chocolate chip cookies and/or making Pinterest-worthy goody bags for the nurses that would soon be taking care of me. In reality, my mom took this on and I am so, so grateful for her help. Through my birth experience, I developed an undying love and appreciation for maternity nurses. The ones I had were that special (Melinda at Norwalk Hospital – I’m looking at you)! They really are otherworldly creatures and I will never forget all that they did for us.
- An empty tote bag or small duffel bag. If you take one tip away from this post, let this be it. We left the hospital with loads of stuff that the nurses were all too happy to offload – diapers, wipes, diaper creams, pads, ice packs, you-name-it-we-got-it. You’ll need a place to put it all.