As I was preparing for the birth of my first child, I was scouring the internet/books to find the ‘must have’ items to pack in my hospital bag. Not surprisingly, if I had included everything, I would have packed three suitcases. Below is a list of top items to include (in no particular order), a list of items to leave at home, and a list for Dad!
Miscellaneous Must Haves (include these items in Dad’s bag):
Hospital paper work
Pillow – I strongly recommend bringing a pillow from home. Not only will it provide you with a bit of familiarity, but the hospital only has so many pillows to offer each patient and they also tend to be a little thin. If you don’t end up needing it, offer it up to your husband who is awkwardly trying to sleep in a chair! (Tip: Don’t use a white pillow case or you will have a difficult time finding your pillow when its time to leave!)
Baby’s First Outfit – Oh right, we need to take the baby home! When choosing your newborn’s first outfit, pack something that is seasonally appropriate and easy to change. Regardless of what you decide to bring, be sure to include a hat and onesie – NYU ran out of newborn hats, so thankfully we had packed one! Also, if your baby is born during the winter months, make sure to bring some additional layers and some warm blankets. (Tip: If you are tight on space in your hospital bag, leave the bulkier blankets/newborn “snowsuits” with the car seat as you wont need these items until you are ready to leave anyways!) Also, if you’re tight on space and are okay with Pampers (or a similar brand) skip the diapers – the hospital will supply them during your stay.
Snacks – I wouldn’t suggest packing your entire pantry, but pack a few granola bars and a maybe some of your favorite “on-the-go” snacks (try to avoid anything perishable). I was unable to eat anything leading up to my delivery, but they were useful for my husband as we waited. After delivery, I was glad to have them on hand to eat in between the hospital’s subpar three meals a day.
Book/Magazines (only if you have extra room) – If you are like most women, you will be waiting and waiting, and then waiting some more. It cant hurt to distract yourself with a good book or a trashy gossip magazine if that’s your thing, but don’t be surprised if you never open either. I was too tired to read any of the magazines I packed, but would probably include them again if I ever go for round two.
Hospital Bag (yes, the actual bag) – Ladies, remember where you are headed when you choose the bag you want to take to the hospital. I, like all of you, strive to look great and fashionable at all times, but leave the designer bag at home. Your bag will likely be placed in the corner of the room (on the floor) and you’ll be so consumed with your labor/adorable baby that you will be lucky to remember to take it home!
Clothes for you – In the same vain as the designer hospital bag, we all have visions of leaving the hospital in our skinny jeans, but be realistic when packing. Choose clothes that will fit you – you should plan to be about the size you were at 5-6 months pregnant. Think of how you would dress when you aren’t feeling 100% (or much less) and pack accordingly! Lastly, if you plan to breastfeed, pack a nursing bra or tank for easier access!
Toiletries – You know the drill here – toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, face wash, lotion, deodorant, hairbrush, etc. You may want to wait until you return home to take a shower, but it doesn’t hurt to throw a few travel size items into your bag in case you are up for it (the hospital does supply towels if you are interested). Also, don’t forget to include several hair elastics!
Cell phone & chargers – for your phone and his
Identification (Mom & Dad)
Change of clothes (pack an extra t-shirt and boxers incase you stay longer than expected)
Anything else to make your wife happy! 🙂
NOTE: The above items are the basic ‘must haves’, but depending on space, (I don’t suggest bringing more than one bag for yourself and baby) pack that sentimental item or anything else you want for your labor (birthing ball, music, etc.).
Items to leave at home for the BABY:
Diapers & Wipes (the hospital supplies everything your baby needs within the first 48 hours)
Multiple outfits (unless you feel up to changing your newborn a ton, this isn’t necessary as your baby will receive garments from the hospital, as well as swaddling blankets)
Swaddling blankets (the hospital ones are great – take them home!)
Items to leave at home for YOU:
For starters, leave your valuables at home, especially jewelry if you can!
Lanolin (TIP: While this is a very popular product, lactation consultants recommend using saline solution instead. Lanolin locks in moisture and can lead to a yeast infection)
Extra clothes/gowns – this is truly a personal preference and depends on how you will feel most comfortable. Keep in mind however, that you will be checked often throughout the labor and recovery process, so if you do bring your own clothes, pants are not ideal until you are ready to leave. (I wore the hospital gown and was more than happy to leave it behind and not ruin my own clothes.)
Now go pack that bag and don’t wait until the last second. Begin to gather items at least 3-4 weeks in advance of your due date, as time has a way of sneaking up on you especially if your little one arrives early! In my next blog I will discuss postpartum recovery and what you should purchase in advance of your return home!