Back when I wrote about my natural birth story, I also wanted to post about the process of packing for the hospital -- which for some reason seemed monumental as a first-time mom. I'm pretty sure it's just one bag and you aren't going to Africa! I didn't get around to it, but all of my friends being pregnant and now visiting all of the new, little bundles at the hospital reminded me of it.
Around the 8th month of being pregsie, I realized that this hospital visit was really going down. I really would've preferred a birthing center or a glamping-birth in a magical forest, but since some of that isn't available in Alabama and since I know that birth complications do happen and woodland animals are no real help, I opted for the unmedicated hospital birth plan. Having the bag planned out is one thing you have control over, I suppose, so thinking about this kind of trivial thing made me feel better as I stared the great unknown in the face!
So I hit pinterest... And what did I find? Hospital check-lists with a zillion and a half items! No lie, one list includes a power strip... A POWER STRIP! I'm sorry, but unless you are married to Tom Haverford who needs to plug in his massage chair and the DJ Roomba charger, why would you need to bring that?
But yet all of the "oh, the hospitals have everything you need" comments meant NOTHING to me! So here is what I personally thought were the most essential TOP 10 hospital bag items.
But hold up, before I do that... there are two *PRE-ITEMS that are possibly more important than anything actually on the list. The first one being the obvious "carseat already figured out and installed" task and the second being the pre-shower. In those two things, I would also add that installing the car mirror and travel sound machine was awesome, and being sure to fully wash and dry your hair and shave your legs (and etc.) when labor first starts! You feel vain in the moment for that to be such a top priority, but other people told me to do it, and I'm so glad they did.
Ranking these is a hard task, but I'm going to try...
THE BIG 10.
1. "Robe, Kimono, there you go!" I was worried about being hot during and right after labor but also being cold later in the hospital room, so I brought a lightweight kimono (with a sleeveless birthing gown) and a warmer long-sleeved robe. I was really glad to have both of those options, but as it turned out, I was cold basically the whole time I was there. Also, they didn't even wait on Zack to go get my birthing gown when I was changing, but the hospital gown was fine during all of that. I hate ill-fitting, tight-necked tops, so I was really wanting my tank-style dress. But since I was actually pretty cold, it didn't matter.
*Along with this, remind your husband to bring pajama pants. Zack wore shorts to the hospital and had to quickly change, because he was freezing, too.
2. Pillows. Pillows. Pillows. Some people say that bringing pillows and the boppy is unnecessary since the hospital has so many pillows, but I disagree with that. Maybe we are just pillow-high-maintenence over here, but having to sleep on the dad-couch or the hospital bed is made SO much easier by your comfy pillow from home. The boppy is a little less essential since they can give you hospital pillows for propping up baby, but breastfeeding especially required so many pillows! Also, can we talk about the ouch-factor of your booty? Trying to get in comfortable positions is a serious task. I also read somewhere to not bring your home pillow in a white pillowcase, so it doesn't get lost with the rest... so that's smart.
3. Bras > Undies. In the joyous world of birth, underwear is nothing really to consider. I did appreciate those boy short-boxer type undies after the fact, but the TMI-truth here is that you are going to be wearing those hospital mesh-things, and there just isn't any getting around it! For nursing, sleeping, for uncles and granddads dropping by unannounced... focus on finding the comfiest bras and nursing tanks that you can.
4. Shower Sandals! Two types of sandals were my bffs at the end of pregnancy: my adjustable knockoff birkenstock-style slip-ons and my fabric/yoga mat flip-flops. Sad story, but I actually lost my knockoff Target birks at the hospital (accidentally kicked them under the bed during labor and forgot about them).
...BUT my yoga mat sandals were perfect for getting in and out of the shower. Any flip-flops would do, I just particularly liked how those had stretchy straps for any foot swelling and cushiony soles.
5. Baby Outfit OPTIONS. Thankfully, I brought 3 different outfit options to the hospital that seemed like varying sizes, but I could've even thrown in a couple more (plus they only weigh like 2 grams each in the bag). My cousin gave me a wrapping/tie gown that was seriously the BEST newborn clothing item ever! It was quick and easy to get on him and helped with the newness of tiny, newborn diaper changes. One of the funniest "things I didn't realize" was how hard it is to get one of those fitted newborn onesies on a floppy, teensy, crying babe! Zack and I were terrible at it! Get the ZIP-UP sleepers or stretchy gowns... and now they have MAGNETS on baby clothes. It's genius.
6. The 5 "DUH" Items. Are you going ANYWHERE for the night without your toothbrush, toothpaste, face wash, deodorant and hairbrush? I didn't think so. And personally, I'll add to that some coconut oil (or your favorite chapstick) and dry shampoo. Since most of that stuff lives in your bathroom cabinet, I had a "this bag needs" post-it note on my bag so I could remember what wasn't in there yet.
7. Phones + Chargers When I asked Zack what the most *essential* item was for him, he said, " I guess just the phones and chargers."
Me: What about your pillow, the pajama pants, and your toothbrush?"
Zack: Oh yeah.
I think since he was on communication duty, and since the photos from the day are extremely important, this just stood out as number one. We also had my Spotify music playlist on my phone, so that was yet another reason it was extremely important.
8. Maternity clothes. Bring your favorite leggings, jeggings, yoga pants or maternity jeans for the day-after and for going home... whatever has that cute but mostly comfort factor. I also brought my extra long tanks and a bright yellow cardigan (it was October), but obviously your clothing details will also depend on the season you're delivering. It's a strange experience to have a baby... It's as important as your wedding (when you spend hours to look your most bangin' self), yet instead of spending hours to look great, you spend hours putting your body through a grueling MARATHON mixed with next-to-no sleep! Choosing to wash your hair beforehand, bringing a beautiful kimono, or wearing a bright, happy cardigan is really all you'll have working for you! And some of those pictures are going to be around for... forever. Some even end up printed on blankets! I'm looking' at you, Gina!
9. Hair ties/Headbands. Even though this also may fit in the "duh" category for a lot of people, remembering to pack hair ties or headbands for whatever labor and bed-head taming you need still barely makes the list. Forgetting these when you want your hair out of your face during labor would be so annoying... especially if it's two feet long like mine was. One of my best friends also packed a cute Anthro headband that was perfectly low-maintenence yet so pretty in those gosh-darn everlasting photos.
10. Swaddling blankets. Bringing up the rear is another semi-frivolous item, because the hospital WILL give you those famous striped hospital swaddling blankets... HOWEVER, keeping baby's temp up is a concern and you may want an extra cozy blanket while he or she is being passed around to family members. Also, do you want EVERY newborn photo in that generic striped blanket? Maybe not!
My optional honorable mentions will go to a few more frivolous things that even though they don't qualify as anything you NEED, I was either slightly wishing I had this or was glad that I did.
A friend to put some makeup on you. I could not have cared less about stopping to put on makeup, and that's how it should be. But if everyone and their grandma is sticking a camera phone with terrible lighting in your face, it COULD be beneficial to have someone to help a sista out!
Full shower items + hairdryer. You may not get a chance for that pre-shower and really want a full shower after-the-fact... If that's the case, you need those items, girl!
Photographer. I only planned for a friend-photographer to come to our house for newborn photos... and THANK GOD I brushed my hair that day, because I did not think that I would be in them. NOTE: You are the mom. People want you in the photos. Having a photographer come to the hospital may be something I invest in next go 'round.
Baby book. Again, not essential... But I really liked having Rowan's stats and feet stamps put right into my Smashbook. That was one less keepsake for me to keep up with or potentially lose. We also had a lot of visitors, and I wished I had asked them to sign a little note in the book. I think I remembered everyone who came, but I surely forgot someone.
Nurses' gifts. So we took a fresh batch of pumpkin-chocolate muffins with us, but I'm not even sure if any of them took them! (Zack says he knows one of them did.) Either way, I think it's VERY nice to remember your nurses and have something to offer -- and let's be real -- we know those muffins didn't go to waste with a hungry mama in the room!
Next time, I think I will also just have one large duffel bag instead of bringing three separate, small backpacks for each of us. I thought it would organize our items more easily, but it didn't really. I was saying things like "my charger in the front left pocket on the side of the green backpack" while no one could find what I needed. ONE bag with labeled zip-up bags inside of it is a better system to me.
Anyway, I lit'rally made fun of another blogger who had a novel-length post about this topic just the other day, and here I am doing the exact same thing! haha!
So here is my LAST opinion... PROMISE!
Some things that you do NOT need are: diapers (the hospital provides enough to even take some home), mittens (my hospital actually had a policy against them as a choking hazard), a water bottle (they give you that giant hospital pitcher full of water), towels (I just don't know why you'd bother), vaseline (also was provided for baby boy's circ.), onesies without snaps (if you're an inexperienced newbie parent), and finally that flippin' POWER STRIP... just say no to that many electronics.
Ladies, know thyself first and that will probably be your best advice on what to have with you. But like I always say, maybe something in this post will help somebody somewhere!
Cheers, Mamas! Here's to new babies and none of our tired, post-birth faces ending up on decorative throw blankets!