Back in 2016, when I was a little more than 36 weeks pregnant with my first son, I packed my hospital bag and had it ready. I know, 4 weeks prior to the due date seems a little premature, however, this boy came zooming into the world at 37 weeks. He was READY, and luckily so was I!
Like most first-time-moms, I read a lot about what to be prepared for with labor/delivery, we took a few birthing courses and a Lamaze class. I researched what to bring and was going to be prepared for whatever I needed. Looking back on my experience, I learned a lot. There’s a LOT that you don’t need that you thought you would at the time. So this is why I’m sharing my preparation for the hospital the FIRST time compared to what I will be doing the SECOND time.
***CAVEAT: Keep in mind that my birthing plan included having an epidural. Mamas who plan on laboring naturally without medicine might have a verrrrrry different bag.
First Baby Hospital bag:
- Diaper bag- I’m totally serious. I brought an actual diaper bag along with a hospital bag. This included size 1 diapers AND wipes… Completely unnecessary. First off, Chase ended up needing newborn size diapers to begin with and so these size 1’s were useless. Secondly, the hospital provided as many diapers and wipes that we needed during the entire stay (I ended up taking a whole pack home with me). So scratch that one off your list.
- Pillows- I had heard in my classes that it’s a good idea to bring your own pillows and pillowcases to the hospital to make you feel more comfortable. And so I listened to them and did just that. Ok, to each their own on this one. But honestly, while I was struggling to get even 1 hour of sleep with this hungry, screaming little human latched to me in the middle of the night, I definitely wasn’t thinking “Gosh, I’m glad I brought my own pillowcases”. BTW I forgot to bring said pillows home with me from the hospital anyways.
- Therapy/Birthing Ball- I had labored at home for about 24 hours prior to getting admitted to the hospital. I the first night that I came to the hospital they sent me home, as expected, because I was only dilated 1 cm. So the next day I did lots of squats, walked 2 miles with the dogs, climbed the stairs a few times and sat on my big purple ball. I read that it would open up my hips a little bit and help to move along the labor. I brought it to the hospital with me in case I wanted to continue that. I got an epidural within an hour or so of arriving and was therefore stuck in the bed. Guess who ended up using it the most? My friend Kayla who I wanted in the delivery room. If you plan to go the natural/non-medicinal route with your labor, the ball might come in handy. If you take the epidural route or c-section, most likely not necessary.
- Light reading material- HA!!! I actually thought I’d be reading prior to giving birth. I was so distracted from the pain and exhausted from lack of sleep, I could barely read more than the time on the wall. However, since we ended up staying in the hospital for a week due to complications with Chase, I did read a few pages from What to Expect: The First Year. But seriously, not worth adding the extra lbs of paper to the hospital bag.
- Lavender-scented eye mask- I thought I was cute. “Oh I’m going to relax and breathe in some lavender and get some quality shut-eye!” Stupid Carolyn. Totally not worth it. Never even took it out.
- Massage Roller- We had practiced with our birthing partners in class (aka Husbands) how they could ease some of our labor pains and stress with a massage. We even used some massage tools like this rolling ball. And then I got to the hospital…and a massage was the furthest thing from my mind. I didn’t even really want to be touched.
- Slippers and robe- These actually came in handy. I work in a hospital and didn’t really feel like wearing those slipper socks or gowns that I put on my patients everyday. So I brought my own robe and slippers and felt a little more at home. It’s not a necessity, but definitely makes you feel less like a patient.
- Nursing bra- This could have been somewhat handy, since it allows you to just unlatch and feed. But like most first-timers, I struggled with breastfeeding. Figuring out the nursing bra just added another element of challenge. Not a necessity until you’ve got the breastfeeding basics down well.
- Underwear– another big laugh. (TMI warning) Until you’ve experienced the aftermaths of childbirth, there’s no ways to describe the amount of stuff that comes out of your hoo-ha for the next week or so. The hospital gives you those disposable underwear and ginormous maternity pads (I’m talking longer than a piece of paper). I had a c-section and wore those for almost a week. If you deliver naturally, you’ll be wearing them for longer. Spare your cute undies for now.
- Newborn outfit– Your baby will most likely just be in a diaper and swaddled in a blanket for most of their hospital stay, but you definitely want an actual outfit to take your new bundle of joy home. The hospital usually provides a little hat for your baby, but go ahead and break out one of those cozy outfits that you got from your baby shower and put it to good use!
**We also got our car seat base professionally installed at the fire station prior to going to the hospital. The base is what the infant carrier clicks into. Since we had no idea how to install it and didn’t want to screw it up the first time, we had them teach us so we could be sure it was completely safe.
Second baby hospital bag:
- Boppy Nursing pillow- I didn’t bring this to the hospital the first time, but I will this time. Having a firm pillow that wraps perfectly around your waist while you breastfeed makes the task that much more comfortable. The first time I was struggling to use two regular pillows to prop him up in the right position and was failing miserably. I knew I had this boppy pillow waiting for us at home, but it would have been useful to start off with at the hospital. You can always wash the slipcover once you get home to expel all of those hospital germs.
- Swaddle blanket- This isn’t a must, since the hospital gives you a bunch of them. However, they’re on the small side. I’m bringing the extra large muslin one to use as a nursing cover when we have visitors in the room and to wrap him in a swaddle.
- Camisole- Instead of the nursing bra I’m probably just going to wear a camisole that can pull up and down for easy access to the boob
- Newborn going home outfit-for him
- Comfy going home outfit-for me
- slippers/robe- (see previous description)
I may alter my bag a little if I think of anything else between now and then, but for the most part, this is all I really need. I’ll be taking home a lot more from the hospital compared to what I will be bringing there. My big underlining message is this: You don’t need as much as you think. Most hospitals prepare you well for your stay and your departure. If you live close enough, family members can also go home and bring you whatever you need. If you have any suggestions of must-bring items that made labor and delivery easier for you, comment below!!