As mom-to-be approaches closer to the birth of her child, her feelings of excitement and anxiousness will increase. Sleep will be frequently interrupted with bathroom breaks and painful leg cramps. You may begin to nest like crazy – washing and folding everything right down to the tiny socks. And you will agonize over every twinge and cramp you feel, wondering if its beginning labor.
The time for your family to grow is getting near, and entering into that last month you should have your hospital bag packed and ready to go. You never know when your little one will decide to make his big appearance!
It can be overwhelming to think of where to begin, so start first by writing a list. By doing so, it will really hit home, just how close you are to holding your baby for the very first time. Choose a bag that is easy for you to find things in, and one that can hold everything you want to take with you for your hospital stay.
There are some companies where you can order hospital bags already packed and ready to go. That’s convenient, but we think packing your own bag is a lot more exciting. Plus, you can choose the things you really want to take, and not what some stranger thinks you should bring.
Whether you pack your bag weeks in advance, or wait until the very last minute, there are bound to be things you forget. Things you need during labor, but might be left sitting on the counter in your house.
We found 15 items that moms forgot to pack for labor, but wish they would have.
15 Breath Mints
With all of the heavy breathing you will be doing during labor, your mouth is likely going to dry out. Along with dry mouth, comes an unpleasant odor from your breath. And if that’s not bad enough, sometimes during labor, you will possibly become nauseous and vomit. We all know what vomit breath smells like (and tastes like). Now imagine your nurse or coaching partner, trying to help you through a pain, all while you are breathing “Hee Hee Ho” into their faces. You can take care of the stinky breath and the dry mouth with one simple item: a breath mint.
Sucking on a mint promotes the flow of saliva, relieving dry mouth. A mint flavor is also known to help soothe the stomach, and is also a natural supplement for nausea.
14 Cozy Socks
Having a baby is no time to get cold feet! You don’t want to be painfully pushing your baby out while your feet are in the stirrups, freezing! Be sure to pack a few pairs of cozy socks to wear during and after the birth. Hospitals tend to be kept on the colder side, and so are their floors. Comfy, non-skid socks are perfect for walking the halls during labor while trying to get that baby moving in the right direction. It is also very possible, that the pair you wear for the actual delivery may become wet and dirty. You could even decide to throw them away afterwards, so it’s best to have a spare pair or two in your bag.Don’t forget to throw in some flip flops for the shower too. Even though the showers are cleaned after each patient leaves, it’s still a good idea to protect your piggies from any germs that may still be lurking.
Hospital pillows are usually plastic and uncomfortable. Many are flat or way too firm. Because of this, it’s a good idea to bring a pillow with you from home. It will be nice to have something with you that smells like home. It can be comforting and help you to get some much needed rest. You might even want to consider bringing one of those travel u-shaped neck pillows since you may end up sleeping mostly on your back. Be sure to put a colorful or patterned pillowcase on your pillow so the housekeeping staff, who changes your bedding, knows that it is your personal pillow. Grab an extra blanket too, as the temperature in hospital rooms can typically vary wildly.
It’s a good idea to leave your own pillow and blanket in the car until after delivery. You don’t want to take the chance of them getting soiled and ruined before you even get to use them.
12 Lip Moisturizer
If you have attended any childbirth classes, you know you spend some time learning how to breathe through the contractions. This helps control the pain naturally, and also maximizes the amount of oxygen both you and the baby get. Between all of the heavy breathing you will be doing, and the typical dry hospital rooms, your lips will dry out faster than you realize. Once your contractions become stronger and closer together, you won’t be eating or drinking much - especially if you find yourself feeling nauseous. Not getting any fluids will cause you to become dehydrated, thus causing your lips to dry out even more.
Lip moisturizers will replace the natural oils that are lost from your lips and add back any necessary moisture. They also seal the hydration in your lips by adding a protective layer to them. This helps to keep your lips from drying out again.
If there is any item that you might just miss the most if you forget it, it’s the snacks. Your husband will probably miss them more. After hours of working hard to bring a new life into this world, you will likely be famished. The hospital cafeteria could be closed, and you will be at the mercy of whatever is in the labor and delivery department fridge. It’s important to remember your goodies, so you’re not stuck with only a popsicle at 2 a.m.
Many moms are usually able to eat something light at the beginning of their labor. As labor progresses, however, their appetites disappear, or they are just too nauseated to keep any food down. If you end up having a short labor, it’s fine to listen to your body when it’s screaming “no food.” If you end up with a long labor, however, you will probably want to eat something to get sustenance. If eating isn’t an option for you at that point, you can also get fuel from an IV.
Don’t forget that your partner is often at your side every step of the way. He would appreciate a snack to keep him energized and ready to provide you with whatever support you may need.
10 Boppy Pillow
You may feel it’s overkill to pack the boppy pillow for your hospital stay, but you will be so glad you did. It can be challenging enough trying to learn how to nurse your baby, and a nursing pillow can make it so much more comfortable. You will be able to concentrate on latching on instead of baby placement. It’s especially helpful if you’ve had a C-section. The baby can rest on the pillow while nursing, helping to ease the incision pain you will have.
A nursing pillow is useful in other ways besides just breastfeeding. It’s a great tool to give siblings support when holding the baby for the first time. If you have other kids come in to meet their little brother or sister, one of the first things they will ask to do is hold her. The boppy pillow offers a little more support to keep the baby protected in their young arms.
The boppy pillow is also amazing to sit on if you end up with a tear or episiotomy. You will be tender, and sitting on a nursing pillow can help ease that discomfort by getting pressure off your stitched area.
9 Make Up
There’s something amazing that happens during delivery when you finally push your baby out. You feel relieved and triumphant. You are on an adrenaline high, and are focused only on your sweet newborn, amazed that you could create this perfect being.
Modesty goes out the window as you are laying there spread-eagled, sweaty, and a general mess. After all the adrenaline wears off and the exhaustion settles in, you may start to feel a little less than fantastic. A shower, make up, and a quick hairstyle can do wonders for your self-esteem.
Make-up might not be the first thing you put in your hospital bag, but you will be glad you remembered to pack it. You want to feel your best after having your newborn, and make-up goes a long way to having you feel more like yourself. Plus, people will be taking tons of pictures, and you don’t want to avoid the camera, or hide those pictures away because you hate the way you looked in them.
Bringing make up to the hospital does not make you shallow or vain. It makes you a better mom, for doing something for you right from the start.
8 Notebook And Pen
Sometimes the simplest of items can help you the most. A lot happens at the hospital when you are delivering your baby. You go through an exhausting labor, you must learn how to feed and change your infant, you have a constant stream of visitors, and you must continue to take care of yourself.
You will have family, friends, and coworkers all want to come and meet your new miracle. They will bring gifts, flowers, cards, and even a chocolate shake if you are lucky. With everything else going on during your stay, it’s often impossible to remember everyone who stopped by, and who gifted you with what.
Bring a simple notebook and pen to the hospital, so you can jot a quick note of who came to visit, and who sent you the gorgeous flowers. You can even go so far as to bring thank you notes to fill out, which makes one less thing you have to do when you are home with the baby.
7 Witch Hazel
It's no secret that you will be sore after having your baby. Your vaginal area will be very tender, and you might even have stitches from a tear or episiotomy. There is nothing more soothing than wearing a pad soaked in witch hazel, that has been kept in the freezer.
Witch hazel contains chemicals that help reduce swelling and eases itching. It also fights bacteria, which in turn lessens pain and prevents infection. In addition to all of this, it contains hemostatic properties, which helps to stop minor bleeding. An easy way to take advantage of the relief witch hazel brings, is to line your maxi pad with smaller witch hazel pads, which you can find in a container easy to pack along. They can be found in the pharmacy section of your supermarket near the hemorrhoid creams. And yes, they also help tremendously with hemorrhoids.
For ultimate relief, freeze a maxi pad, line it with witch hazel pads, and spray some numbing spray like Dermoplast on it. Your aching lady parts will thank you.
6 An Extra Bag (or Two)
You will definitely be leaving the hospital with more than you brought in. Not only will you have a baby going home with you, but you are going to have lots of gifts and flowers to take too. Not to mention all the hospital loot you will score.
During your stay, the hospital will more than likely provide you with newborn diapers, wipes, shampoo, lotion, Vaseline, maxi pads, and a host of other things to use during your stay. You will probably even get a diaper bag full of formula and other gifts from companies such as Similac. Be sure to take all of these goodies home with you, as they will just be tossed once you leave.
You aren’t going to have any room in your hospital bags to haul the stuff out, so it’s a great idea to bring an extra bag. You are going to have our hands full already, so being able to pack everything else up in one bag will save you multiple trips to the car when it’s time to go home.
5 Something To Do
Whether it’s in the early stages of your labor, or a late morning after nursing your newborn to sleep, you will probably have some down time. There is only so much television you can watch, and there’s usually nothing good on during the day anyhow, so bringing along something to do can help pass the time.
You may not have time to start a great novel, but you may appreciate some magazines or crossword puzzles. And in an era of amazing technology, a tablet can be your best friend. These are all things that can be easily interrupted when a loved one comes to visit.
Bringing along some extra activities will also be beneficial to your partner. You may be busy getting some much-needed sleep after an epidural, or nursing the baby quietly, and your partner is left twiddling his thumbs. It will help him to pass the minutes until it’s time for him to wipe your forehead, or have a turn at holding the baby.
4 Emory Board
Babies are born with long fingernails, which they then scratch their faces with. You will want to trim his nails, but it is recommended not to cut your newborns fingernails with clippers. The nails are soft and flexible, and it’s hard to tell which part of the nail is still attached to the tip of the finger. This increases the risk of cutting into your newborns finger.
Biting your newborns nails is also not recommended because it can lead to infection from the bacteria in your mouth. It’s a good idea to keep your baby’s nails short so he doesn’t scratch his face, but you want to be sure you are doing it in a safe manner.
Pack a baby Emory board in your hospital bag. You can gently file off his nails without the risk of cutting his tiny fingertip. A great way to do it is while he is sleeping or eating so he isn’t wiggling around.
Once your baby is about a month old, his nails will be a little harder, and you will have an easier time carefully trimming them with nail clippers or scissors.
Music has been shown to be therapeutically beneficial to help decrease pain. It’s used more and more to assist patients in handling stress during procedures such as dental work, IVF sessions, and even surgeries. Music helps the patient relax, making it easier for them to handle both pain and stress.
A theory proposed by Ronald Melzack and Patrick Wall claims that non-painful input closes the “gates” to painful input. This prevents the feeling of pain from traveling to the central nervous system. This theory is called the Gate Control Theory. Basically, it means that music can lead you to feelings of happiness and relaxation, and those feelings can stop the sensations of pain.
Create a playlist for your smart phone or iPod. Try to make your playlist have at least 8 hours of continuous music so that you have enough songs to get you through a long labor. Choose both relaxing and motivating music, and create separate playlists for the different stages of labor. Avoid heavy music such as rock since these types have been proven to cause feelings of anger.
2 Phone Charger
The item women forget the most when going to the hospital is a phone charger. It’s also the one they feel they need the most. It may be because it’s something you use every day, and can’t pack it ahead of time. One way to remember it is to write a reminder on a Post-It and stick it on top of your hospital bag.
Realizing your forgot your phone charger can leave you in a panic. How are you going to listen to your playlist, make all the phone calls announcing the birth, and take all those pictures to share with your loved ones?
There are some things you can do to preserve battery life while waiting for someone to bring a charger and save the day. Turn off your phone when not in use is the easiest way to save battery life. Turning off Bluetooth and Wi-Fi will also buy you some additional time. Dim your screen. A bright screen can drain your juice fast. Enable power mode if available, or put it in airplane mode to conserve the battery.
After getting checked into labor and delivery, one of the first things the nurses will have you do is put on a hospital gown. The gowns are roomy, comfortable, and allow easy access to check labor progress and birth your baby. You also won’t have to worry about getting it stained (which you will), because the hospital will take care of the cleaning, and they seem to have an endless supply of gowns to wear.
The one disadvantage to wearing a gown is the amount of skin that is shown while you are moving around. There is a good chance you will be walking the halls to keep labor progressing, or entertaining visitors in your hospital room. An easy fix to maintaining your modesty is to pack a robe.
You can don a robe quickly to cover up when guests arrive. It also keeps you warm when walking the chilly halls, and does a great job of hiding the body parts that your hospital gown lets hang out.