Tuesday, July 9, 2013

When Baby Comes: The Hospital Bag

As I am nearing the end of my pregnancy, one of my tasks next month will be to pack my hospital bag. Movies and television shows put so much emphasis on "The Bag" as frantic husband runs around looking for it all while his hurting, pregnant, and hormonal wife is screaming "The bag! Get the bag!". So, what is SO important about that bag.

Well, when you think about it, not only will you be living out of this bag for a few days in the hospital, but this bag will also contain items that will shape your memories of this time, such as the clothes you pack for yourself and baby that will always be in those scrapbook photos.
I have seen SO many hospital bag lists online. Some are bare necessities and some are very extravagant. I thought I would share what I find important to pack in THE BAG as a been there, done that mom.
First pack the important stuff: Insurance forms, any hospital forms, etc.
So if you plan on looking halfway decent during your stay at the hospital, I would suggest you definitely pack your basic toiletry necessities such as soap, shampoo, conditioner, toothbrush & toothpaste, and a hairbrush. Even before I was allowed out of the bed after Audrey was born, I had my mom washing my hair in a bucket of water by the bed. No one wants nasty looking hair in their pictures and for guests that stop by. Makeup is totally up to you. With Audrey I didn't, but I probably will this times. That is something that will vary from person to person. I see where some people bring their own toilet paper because they don't like the hospital toilet paper. Eh. To each their own. I'm simply not that picky and I promise you, that at that point, it definitely will not be a priority for me. I consider taking your own toilet paper to be a little on the extravagant side and I will be crossing that off of my official list as a "do not need".

Ponytail holders. I know some women get their hair all dolled up before heading to the hospital-straighten it or curl it, whatever. That's fine, but most likely all of that care will go out the window once you get to the point of no return; you know, pushing. You are going to want that pesky hair out of your face and to make things easy on your husband, just have them handy so he doesn't have to listen to your yelling while he scrambles to find them in the bag. That is what those handy pockets or little toiletry bags are made for--easy access for husbands in a critical moment.
Chapstick. I don't know what it is about labor that dries your lips out, but you are going to want that Chapstick. Please, for your husband's sake, do not just throw it in the bag. Again, think easy access.
One thing I did not have during my labor with Audrey that I will be bringing this time is music. I will either use my iPad or borrow Audrey's iPod, but I will have that this time. When I was in labor the LAST thing I wanted to do was listen to ANYONE say ANYTHING unless they were telling me to push or bringing me that blessed epidural. This time I will be fully equipped with music and headphones to tune out the world and focus on the task at hand.
Some women bring their own hospital gown. I am bringing a gown, but for after. I don't see the point in wearing one during labor. FYI, it will most likely be ruined and you will never be able to wear it again. I'll let those gorgeous hospital gowns have that honor. However, I am bringing my own gown for after baby is born. Nursing with those hospital gowns was annoying. Buttons, ties, whatever they happen to have--drove me up the wall. I want an easy access gown. Plus, the buttons on my hospital gown had apparently been through quite a few patients and didn't like to stay closed very well--your guests might now want to see quite that much of you, although at that point, you probably won't even notice it anymore.
Some people consider this an "extravagance", but to me it is 100% necessary: Quarters & Snacks. Quarters for the vending machines. Snacks in case baby decides to come at a random time. I was not allowed to eat the entire time I was in labor and I was SO hungry. (FYI to husbands, lay off the snacks while your beautiful wife is in labor. If she can't eat, you can't eat. You do NOT want to go there) So, if baby decides to come at 11 p.m. and you are starving, you may be out of luck if the hospital doesn't serve breakfast until 7:30 a.m. You can send your lovely husband to get you something or already have snacks on hand. I am not very patient, so I prefer the instant gratitude of snacks on hand.
Bring some socks. Not just to keep your feet warm, but surely I'm not alone in hating the thought of walking on those hospital floors with my bare feet.
Alright moms, you are going to want to pack nursing bras if you are breastfeeding (even if you go without during your stay, you will need one to wear home) and regardless of whether you breastfeed or not, you will need nursing pads unless you consider big wet stains on the front of your shirt to be a fashion statement. This is definitely a necessity. Don't forget those. If you are not breastfeeding, I suggest bringing a sports bra.
You can bring your own panties, but be warned that they may never be the same again. Or you can sport the super stylish mesh ones from the hospital. Me? Eh. Nothing wrong with mesh. YOLO, right?
(Note to moms--those awesome ice packs they will give you in the hospital, ask for some to take home and take as many as they will give you. You will thank me for this later)
Some people pack books to read; I say No. You won't be reading while you are in labor, and afterwards when you are not staring at your newborn, the most gorgeous baby you have ever seen, you will be too tired to even think about a book.
For baby, I say go ahead and pack your diaper bag. The hospital will provide you with some diapers, formula (if you formula feed), etc, but pack it anyway. Baby diapers are unpredictable and you should be over prepared because when it comes to diapers on the side of the road, you do not want to be sorry.
Go ahead and pick out two or three outfits for baby to wear at the hospital for those adorable first pictures. And, of course, pick out the infamous going home outfit. Think about what the temperature will be when choosing these outfits. Also, make sure it is something you can easily fasten the carseat around. If you precious daughter is wearing a gown, you might want to pack some pants or leggings to put on under it to keep her legs warm on the ride home when you have to hike that gorgeous gown up to buckle her in. Bring a blanket for baby to have on the ride home. Oh, and that carseat? Very important. They will NOT let you leave the hospital with your baby unless it is properly installed.
Electronics. Bring your camera. Right now. Go ahead and put in your bag before you even finish reading. If you forget that, your husband will be immediately heading back to the house after you reach the hospital. Save him the trouble. Phones. You have to pack those so you can brag! And speaking of electronics, for every electronic you bring, pack the charger right beside it. They won't do you any good if they are dead.
Comfy clothes. Whatever you ride home in, needs to be comfortable. Oh and maternity clothes. Sorry, but those pre-pregnancy jeans won't fit just yet. My plan is yoga pants and a nursing top. Comfort is key.

Ladies, here is the number one rule: Do NOT let your husband pack the bag. Don't do it. There is no telling what you will be wearing home. (Oh, and make sure your darling husband packs his clothes and toiletries in a bag!)
There may be some other things you want to throw in, these are just my necessities. What is something you MUST have in your bag?
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  1. I agree completely with your list, except I recommend bringing some of those giant plus-size pads that Always makes for when you're leaving the hospital. The pad things L&D used wouldn't stay in position once I was moving around. Plus, depending on what you're wearing to leave the hospital...people standing around can actually see your giant hospital pads through your pants, which is gross and awkward.

    Also, ponytail holders ended up being useless for me. Between my head slamming back against my pillow and that horrible oxygen mask I had to wear for 12 hours, my hair would NOT stay up in a pony tail. It ended up just being all over in my face, no matter what. :(

    Oh, and if your Hubby is allowed to spend the night, and they don't have any pull-out bed/chair for him, you may want to bring an air mattress.

  2. Wait! I remembered some other "necessities." =D If you're breastfeeding and L&D doesn't provide a Boppy or nursing pillow, bring one. We had one in the car. I was going to have Hubby bring it in, but the nurse said I didn't need it, and a regular pillow would work just as well. When I got home and actually used the Boppy, I realized how wrong she was. A regular pillow does not support as well as a nursing pillow!

    Also, bring your own pillow. Or at least take a tour of L&D ahead of time, and ask about their pillows. They were measly and thin at Portsmouth Medical, but I was warned ahead of time, so I brought a king size pillow with a plush cover. I'm so glad I did!

    1. I so agree about the Boppy pillow! I didn't have mine last time, but plan on bringing it this time. Also, headbands are another option to ponytail holders--I just can't stand it in my face even if I have to put five in my hair LOL!

      You can see in my picture that I took a neck pillow last time. I enjoyed having it, but sadly I no longer have that pillow and have never found one I like as much so I'm not sure if I will take one this time or not :(

    2. The neck pillow does look nice! I'm bringing cloth diapers next time. Going to shake up the nursing staff a little by starting cloth right away =D

  3. if i ever get married and have a baby..... :D

  4. My hospital bag was pathetic LOL

    I did have my camera and a change of clothes.

    Not much else LOL

  5. I love this list! I agree with the person who said to bring your boppy! We didn't with our first and I wish I had! It makes life so much easier!

  6. Pain killers for hubby!! Hospitals will not hand out even Tylenol to people who aren't patients. Baby nail clippers are always on my list. They seem to scratch themselves like crazy trying to get hands in their mouths, but if you use the mittens things then they can't suck fingers. I also always bring my own preference of pacifiers, the hospital provides one but they are hard to find to replace if baby gets attached to it. And don't forget reverse bag packing! When leaving the hospital take all the formula, diapers, wipes, ointment, pads, etc etc ...anything that is disposable like that. When we did our hospital tour we were told they have to throw out what you don't use so go ahead and throw them in your bag!


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