I packed a bougie week-vacation-sized suitcase for my first hospital pregnancy along with a duffle bag. I packed a new lactation-friendly pant and shorts pajama set with a matching robe and cute lace, several underwear or panties along with matching lactation bras, makeup and hair products, a diffuser with several essential oils, several outfits for the baby and me, a pillow and blanket, washing towel, and baby plus my wash products. I did not realize 3 important facts; 1) birthing is very messy, 2) you move from room to room, and 3) the hospital is already stocked with what you need.
Don’t judge me, I never stepped foot into a hospital let alone spent a night as a patient. Most importantly, I honestly did not know what to expect after I delivered. I thought my body would snap back after delivery and that I would skip out of the hospital pain and discomfort-free within a few hours. OHH, was I wrong!
The reality is that your whole body is sore, hormones are all over the place, swollen and look pregnant, physically and mentally exhausted, depleted from all the blood and other fluids your lost, and boobs are engorged which is painful. This is a part of the process that many women are not privy to in advance.
Now that you have a better picture of what it looks like after you deliver, let’s plan what to include in your birthing bag.
Here is my list for a minimalist maternity hospital bag:
The air within the hospital tends to be very drying, coupled with labor breathing, your lips become very dry. Having a tube of lip lube is essential.
Loose Fitting Outfit
When you depart from the hospital, contrary to what you may think, you will still have a pregnant-ish belly. Also, you may experience swelling after delivery, especially with a cesarean section. Trust me, pack maternity clothes or a loose-fitting workout outfit to transport you home. For shoes, go for flip-flops or comfy slip-on shoes because you may have swollen feet after delivery.
Personal Hygiene Items
After the hard work of delivering your bundle of joy, as soon as you’re cleared, you will want to freshen up. As we all have traveled and been forced to use hotel essentials, it’s doable, but rarely preferred. Make sure you pack a toothbrush and paste, deodorant, shower and hair items, face care items, and maybe makeup especially if you plan to do a hospital photoshoot.
Nursing Cover and Pillow
Hours after you deliver, if available, a lactation consultant will visit you. They usually check to see how the baby is latching onto your nipple, make sure the baby is receiving milk, and show you various holding positions you can use to feed your baby. In addition, they can show you various ways to use your lactation or nursing pillow to encourage good posture and support during feedings.
There will also be a lot of action within your recovery room, the birthing cover can provide some modesty, especially with visitors.
Pregnancy Recovery Nutrients
Your body fertilized, housed, and birthed a baby in a 9-month timeframe, it needs to now recover. Especially when you think of the nutrition demand throughout this process, jump-start the recovery with your quality supplements and those items to support healing.
Feminine pads with witch hazel, aloe, and other herbs can be pre-infused and frozen to use after delivery. It does not matter if you had a cesarean section or vaginal birth, your perineum will be swollen and the pads can be very soothing. You can also buy pre-infused pads. I purchased Honey Pot Postpartum Herbal Pads and froze a fee of them prior to delivery.
” I believe luck is preparation meeting opportunity.
If you hadn’t been prepared when the oppotrunity came along,
you wouldn’t have been lucky”Oprah Winfrey
Coming Home Outfit
Make sure you pack an outfit that will keep your baby warm and their head warm and allow you to maneuver them into a car seat easily. I find that onesies with footies are the easiest to work with.
Installed Car Seat
If you are a first-time parent, local fire or police departments and other locations will help you to properly install a car seat. This is critical. Without a car seat that’s installed correctly, you will not be able to transport your baby home. There are many resources, including Safe Ride 4 Kids.
This includes cell phones, computers, cameras or recording devices, and chargers. Due to hospital visitation restrictions and location distant family and friends, communication is key. I personally set up a ‘GroupMe,’ ‘WhatsApp,’ or cellphone text message group so that I or someone else can communicate to important contacts quickly. In addition, it can be a source of entertainment where you can download fun music and movies to watch.
To capture the first few moments, make sure you have a fully pre-charged device, although your cell phone will work just fine. Sidenote, if you are having a Cesarean section, have your accompanying member carry their cell phone with them to capture those special first moments.
Yes, this sounds funny, no it’s not for your dirty items. It’s to pack the items the hospital loads you up with like pads, disposable underwater, ice packs, baby diapers and wipes, extra onesies, and so much more.
ID, Paperwork, and Coins
ID (identification) should include your driver/state license and Insurance Card. I would advise that you complete pre-sign-in paperwork for your hospital, which some locations even allow you to complete this information online. This way, when you’re entering the hospital in labor, you will have fewer documents to complete and sign allowing you to focus on labor.
Additional paperwork would be FMLA (Family and Medical Leave Act) and your advanced will. The FMLA paperwork is to inform your employer which day to initiate your FMLA and to update them on the type of delivery. The type of delivery often times dictates how many total weeks of payment you will receive.
Although maternity wards usually have extra goodies available plus regular meals, you may opt to munch on something different.
The lactation consultant can help ensure you are using the pump correctly. Plus provide tips with the settings to maximize milk expression.
Snacks and Beverages
Hospitals may not have the ability to customize your meals based on your diet. Bring your own goodies, especially if you avoid certain foods or additives
Towel or Washcloth
If you have sensitive skin, bring your own wash clothes, however, because birthing is messy you’ll probably dispose of them.
Again birthing is messy, I would save your cute lactation-friendly nighties for home.
Blanket and pillow
If you must, bring a blanket and pillow, but your hospital will have plenty available at your request.
Personal entertainment, like a book or hobby items. Hospital TV gets boring very quickly!
We all link smells, either with comfort or to discuss emotions. I do not like the smell of the hospital, so I bring a room spray I use in my house to create a peaceful mood. I debated if this is considered essential or optional, packing essential oils or a room spray.
Anti-burst weighted exercise ball
Some hospitals provide this upon request, but it can be soothing or used as a prop during labor.
Babies Photoshoot Outfit
I would encourage either using a simple swaddle wrap to snap a few photos to share with family.
In summary, pack the essentials in your hospital bag. Take it from the third time Mama, don’t overpack!