Not all hospitals across these United States (and beyond) are the same. Surely some provide things in the recovery room after childbirth that others do not.
Still, it’s likely that many of these things are somewhat the same. If what moms share on Instagram in recent years is any indication, recovery rooms look pretty similar, the supplies needed for recovery are the same, and so on and so forth.
Also, we are not actually suggesting that you steal something that does not belong to you or that it would not really be okay for you to take. Duh!
What we’re talking about, of course, is sort of like the stuff you would take from a hotel room at the end of your stay because you know that it will probably just be thrown away during the cleanup of the room as you are checking out unless you stash it in your suitcase to, perhaps, put it to good use later.
While no one needs dozens of tiny bottles of shampoo, an endless supply of disposable shower caps, or gallons worth of lotion all packaged in miniscule bottles, the stuff supplied to you as standard during your hospital stay will likely come in very useful in the days and weeks ahead, as you navigate caring for your newborn and taking care of your own postpartum body.
I’ve given birth twice in the last handful of years, and so I remember my own hospital stays — and exits — vividly.
That’s why I’m able to break down for you here 15 personal hygiene products moms should nab from the hospital.
20 Large-And-In-Charge Pads
I can tell you from experience: They are massive. They are full of absorbent padding. They look like adult diapers, without the tabs to fasten them closed.
You stick them inside underwear like a sanitary napkin after given birth, and they absorb the heavy postpartum flow of lochia, expressed as the uterus contracts and starts to return back to (something like) the size it was before the pregnancy began.
A nurse will likely outfit you in one of these immediately following your first use of the toilet after giving birth.
It may be quite astounding to you to realize just how intense that postpartum flow can be. And this flow continues into the early weeks at home, considering many women leave the hospital after a few days of recovery following an uncomplicated delivery.
Whether you end up still needing these crazy super-pads for just a few additional days or for more like a week (before switching over to regular maxi pads of your choice), it sure will be nice to have plenty around.
It is better to have a few extra than to run out of them before you’re ready to stop using the things.
Whichever are leftover in the pack you’ve been using might as well be stashed in your bag, and you might even see if you can get a new pack to take with you, as well.
19 Spare Pump Parts
You may find that the hospital is somewhat stingy with extra parts for electric breast pumps. They have a lot of women coming in and out of there, many of which need to pump in the early days after giving birth in order to simulate milk production.
Knowing that I did not really know what I was doing when it came to pumping breastmilk, I asked for extras of this and that from the nurses and lactation consultants as they first instructed me in how to assemble and use the things – after the birth of my first baby.
While I was, of course, able to take the set of tubing, valves, and other components with me that I had used during my stay, they weren’t ready to hand over any extras.
If the staff caring for you is willing to provide some spare parts, there is no reason not to take advantage.
I would focus, especially, on getting extras of the little white rubbery valves that flap open and shut over a small opening in the other components, allowing suction to be created but also milk to then drip through.
These are the parts that wear down the most quickly – by far – and they are no larger than a dime, so they are easy to accidentally wash down the drain or lose after they blend into a napkin or tissue on the top of the counter.
Having extra pump parts can also make your life much easier because of all the washing that is required.
And many moms continue to pump for many months, either to have milk to give the baby via bottle when they return to work outside of the home or to have to mix with first foods and to build up a supply in the freezer.
18 A Pump Without A Plug
I ended up getting to go home with my very own hand pump.
Honestly, it was quite terrible to use. It was sort of like using a very difficult, travel-size bicycle pump, only on my own chest.
My arms – and my husband’s – very quickly became fatigued.
I remember sitting there in my nursing chair, completely exhausted, tagging out with my husband when I simply couldn’t pump another drop.
The reason the use of this contraption was necessary for me personally was that my own personal electric breast pump had not yet been delivered.
Medical insurance company / medical supply company blunders had resulted in my prescription never properly being filled.
And I hadn’t known ahead of time that so many mothers absolutely must have an electric pump right after the birth of their babies in order to fulfill a variety of needs, including stimulating the production of milk and relieving engorgement.
What I think is good to know, too, though, is that even if you are all set with your own electric pump, it certainly can’t hurt to have a small plastic hand pump around. Think power outages, a flexible option for going out in the evening later on down the road, and many other possible scenarios…
17 For Baby’s Bottom
While many of the items in this list are specifically related to the personal hygiene of the new mom herself, you will find, as I did, that the personal hygiene of the new baby becomes an equal – scratch that – even greater priority the minute that kid enters the scene.
And so for the hygiene of the baby, it may be wise to nab a few tiny supplies leftover from your hospital stay.
What’s first on that list?
Diapers, of course.
They are wonderful, yet terrible because they spend, like, forever in our landfills.
Nonetheless, disposable diapers are a modern convenience that many parents choose to use, at least for some amount of time or on some occasions.
There will likely be some of those newborn-sized diapers left in the drawer beneath that wheeling bassinet that has served as the little one’s bed, transport, and changing station over the entire course of his or her hospital stay – the ones you’ve been pulling from in order to change pees and poops (and tally the results on a chart, most likely) while you have been there.
You can probably take the ones left and then ask for more before you leave, as well.
16 Free Cream
Although I would say, based on my own personal experience, again, that newborns may require diaper cream more than any other age of baby, I still continue to use the stuff well into the toddler years with my own two children, so far. (Well, actually, my oldest child decided she didn’t want to have it applied at night any more about a year ago, and expressed as much to us, quite vehemently, so she doesn’t use it anymore.)
Anyway, newborn babies pee and poop many times throughout the day. While an older baby may get on the schedule of going more like once a day (bowel movements can vary so greatly from one child to the next, and be influenced by diet, whether the baby has breast milk or formula, and more – BabyCenter.com lays it all out in great detail in case you’d like to read some more about that some time, and your child’s doctor is probably the best resource on this topic), little newborns often go many times during a single 24-hour period.
This means a LOT of wiping on that poor little bottom.
When diaper cream is applied to clean, dry skin, it can help to protect it from getting red, irritated, and developing a rash, and it can also of course often treat any irritation or rash that does develop.
Whether the cream provided at the hospital comes in a regularly sized tube or a sample size, you might as well stash the extra away as you are leaving.
You’ll want to have some of this stuff in your diaper bag as well as at any place that you regularly change your little one’s diaper in your home.
15 Petite Packs Of Wipes
This is one of the very first things that I thought of when I sat down to compose a list of things it’s wise to nab from the hospital after giving birth.
It’s the travel-sized pack of baby wipes that you’ve been using in your own recovery room.
If you can, get an additional, unopened pack or two, as well.
I know that you’ll need to buy scores of these moistened wipes, in all likelihood, no matter how many you are able to obtain from your hospital stay, but as a seasoned diaper changer, let me share why I think it’s a particularly good idea to take some from the hospital.
It’s the fact that the wipes aren’t the huge packs like you may end up buying in bulk at the store or online.
They are the small size that are so awesome to have along in your diaper bag or in your car. I’ve been lucking enough to buy bulk packs of wipes that come with a few small sizes meant just for this purpose, or even refillable cases (although these sometimes allow the wipes to dry out and become useless).
I’ve noticed at the drugstore, though, that companies charge what seems to me to be crazy price for a single pack of the small size.
14 Nice Little Packs Of Cream
This is another product that may be especially wise to just take with you from the hospital: It’s lanolin, and it’s an all-natural product that can soothe and lubricate the skin.
It’s very often used to soothe and protect the area as a new mom begins to breastfeed.
You might as well be prepared for this reality: Many new moms experience discomfort, and sometimes even stinging, chafing, and cracking to the nipples as they begin to breastfeed. (Your source for what is normal and what is not, needs to be your own doctor and lactation consultant, NOT my personal experience or any online article, by the way.)
Because all of this can be extremely painful, and I suspect because hospital staff don’t want this pain and irritation dissuading any new mom from continuing to breastfeed (it often gets much better and is then not painful at all rather quickly after breastfeeding begins!), sample packets of lanolin are often provided for use during a woman’s postpartum recovery stay, during which she is often beginning to breastfeed.
I only ended up using the stuff for a very short time – not nearly as long as I anticipated. I probably could have gotten by using only leftovers from the hospital, so the tube I immediately ordered when I got home probably wasn’t necessary. (Although I do now tell my family members to use it as a salve for extremely dried or cracked skin anywhere, such as on the feet!)
13 Don’t-Care Underwear
There is sort of a whole system of self-care in the hygiene department that you will be introduced to by a nurse shortly after you given birth.
Popular parenting mag website Parents.com notes that women who are giving birth for the first time have about a 95 percent chance of experiencing a perineal tear. So yeah, it’s very common.
On top of this, there is the postpartum flow of lochia, as well as other potential issues, such as hemorrhoids.
Therefore that giant sanitary pad (see above), containing a handful of other products and remedies (see the rest of this article), will need to be contained by something – and regular old underpants are not really the right man for the job.
Instead, disposable mesh briefs are provided to hold the large pads in place.
When a pair becomes soiled by leaks or drips (such as while trying to use the toilet after giving birth and during cleanup after going) and the like, it can simply be changed out, no fuss, no muss.
Because you may need to continue using those giant hospital pads after returning to your home, you will also likely need to continue using the giant mesh disposable briefs.
Might as well take the pairs that are left in your hospital room, or even ask for some extras.
12 Creative Uses For Water Pitchers
Okay, so after giving birth, I, like many other women, was very, very thirsty.
It’s a really important time to hydrate, hydrate, and hydrate some more, after all the work your body has done during childbirth – and as you, in many cases, begin to breastfeed.
During hospital stays, drinking water is provided by nurses attending to patients in large (often dark pink, for some reason) pitchers, of sorts. They look sort of like shorter Big Gulps, honestly, with a handle on one side and a spout opening in the plastic lid to make it convenient to pour water out into a smaller cup if needed.
A straw can be placed into an additional opening in the lid, also, as I recall.
They’re great for use in the hospital because they contain a huge amount of lovely, cold, ice water there at your fingertips. Having a large cup of the wet stuff means not having to be disturbed by a nurse every time you need another drink, too.
But here’s what’s so funny: We decided to bring the thing home, rather than just leave it to be thrown away, and we still use the “dumper” (as we’ve come to call it affectionately) every day, years later.
They are the perfect thing for rinsing your baby off at bath time!
Plus, they’re just big enough to soak my pump parts for cleaning after use!
(Note, though, that these are meant to be disposable, and I don’t know what the composition of the plastic is.)
11 For Keepin’ It Cool
Now this I don’t think I did end up taking with me, but maybe I should have!
I’m referring to the ice packs placed… down there… to help reduce pain and swelling after childbirth.
They are part of the whole rig of items I’ve previously begun to introduce in this list.
They are simply placed inside the huge postpartum pad, which rests, as already covered, inside of the huge disposable postpartum panties.
Along with oral ibuprofen, they can really help to reduce swelling. You may desire to use them during your first week at home, long after you’ve already left the hospital.
There is no way they are reusing those things with other patients – no way. So if you can reasonably and practically take some from your own room home with you, well then why the heck not.
While we are on this subject, though, I’ll mention that one of the nurses attending to me after the birth of my second baby had a neat trick that she shared. Rather than bringing in special flexible ice packs, she brought in baby diapers that had been saturated with clean water and then frozen, which she said had a way of being quite comfortable and contouring more nicely to the area in question.
10 Nice To Have Napkins
So what, you may be asking, happens after you get to stop using the huge diaper-like sanitary pads (which you may have been able to take a handful of from the hospital for use during your first week at home – score!)?
Well it is no time for tampons. Your own healthcare team will instruct you in how to care for your own postpartum body, of course, but here’s the way it works generally:
After the flow of lochia lessens enough to not require the extremely large and absorbent pads as provided at the hospital, regular sanitary pads will need to be used for the weeks that follow.
The flow often becomes lighter and lighter as the days pass and the uterus contracts back to a size more similar to how it looked before the start of the pregnancy.
I’d say it’s a great idea to have a supply of sanitary pads already on hand at home. It can be one of those things you pick up at the store or order online as you complete your final preparations while that due date approaches.
You may have to try out a couple different types to find the type you currently prefer, especially if it’s been a while since you used pads (instead of tampons).
And either to add to your supply or to make sure you have some ready, you might as well take any that are provided in your postpartum hospital room.
9 Shampoo Samples
We ended up using this item in the hospital to wash my pump parts, actually, at the instruction of a nurse who showed me how to use an electric breast pump.
I thought the little packet she opened and told me to use to wash the parts was some sort of specialized breast pump part washing compound – but when I inquired eagerly to find out what else I would have to buy to be able to take care of all this myself at home, she explained that she was actually just using what the hospital had plenty of on hand all the time: a sample of baby shampoo / body wash!
It makes sense, I suppose, that companies want to provide plenty of these samples to hospitals so that they can be the first product that new parents use and hopefully get hooked on using from the day that their babies are born.
If it’s abundant in your own room, you might as well grab some or even ask for some to take with you. As long as it’s soap-free, unscented, and doesn’t irritate your baby’s skin, it might last you for many weeks or even months at home, as babies don’t need many baths at all at first.
Or it might just be great to add to your travel supplies for later!
8 Medicated Pads For Placing… Down There
Okay, so childbirth involves a lot of pushing. Clearly.
But what might not be so clear to people who have not yet experienced this specific type of pushing is that it can be pretty much impossible to only do this specific type of pushing, and not push / strain the other, um, end, as well.
What exactly am I trying to hint at here? I’ll just come right out and say it now. It’s not uncommon for women to get or re-experience hemorrhoids during childbirth.
It may be quite baffling at first – why is there yet another painful thing happening down there, and why is it bulging like that??
It’s common enough, though, that nurses have at the ready, as standard, medicated hemorrhoid pads to tuck up against the area in question, soothing the potentially sore and itchy situation.
Tucks pads are the ones commonly distributed, and they contain witch hazel.
Surely, you could buy these at the drugstore or order them online, but you might not even need to.
A new container of the things will have been opened for you to use during your hospital stay, so you might as well just take that with you, and use as much of it as you need to at home.
The package is so large that you will probably (hopefully?) have more than you’ll ever need.
7 Spray For Staying Comfortably Numb
The website for Parents magazine, Parents.com, again states that first-time moms have about a 95 percent chance of experiencing a perineal tear during childbirth (that’s a tear to the area between the vaginal and the rectum, by the way).
There are several degrees of tearing, which can often be repaired with stitches right there in the delivery room.
Based on how much pain they are in and the professional opinions of their medical care team, women may take various amounts and types of painkillers to be more comfortable as they recovery from these types of injuries as well as cramping and soreness in general after giving birth.
Quite often, though, a first level of soothing relief comes in the form of a spray, which is yet another component of the sort of postpartum “kit” that I keep mentioning – all that good stuff that is applied or contained within that very large postpartum pad.
An antiseptic spray in a small spray bottle will be provided that will be cooling and numbing upon application and for a while afterward.
By all means, take this and any other cans provided to you for use at home during your recovery.
You might as well!
6 The Best Little Bottles
The “peri bottle” – perhaps a postpartum gal’s very best friend during her recovery.
The thing is, you can’t just reach down there with regular old toilet paper and wipe away.
There will likely be soreness. There may be tearing (which has been stitched up). There may also be hemorrhoids, to be frank, poppin’ out the back end. Sorry.
But to know the reality is to be better prepared, right?
And so we come to something I would recommend trying to take home not one but at least TWO of after your postpartum hospital stay: the perineal bottle.
It is a small, flexible squeeze bottle that a nurse will show you how to use after you use the bathroom for the first time after giving birth.
You fill it with clean, warm water from the sink, and you spray it down there to cleanse the area (areas, plural, I guess) after using the toilet. It’s also perfect for use in the shower.
You will need to continue using this as your body heals in the weeks to come. (Many women are determined by their doctors to be healed and recovered at a postpartum checkup 6 weeks following an uncomplicated vaginal delivery.)
And if you have more than one bathroom in your house (and especially if you have two stories), you’re really going to benefit from having more than one.
5 Wet Wipes
Moist wipes might sound like sort of a silly or even outdated thing – the stuff of airline travel or old-fashioned steakhouses, or the types of places people eat messy BBQ with their hands and then need to clean up before they can even move.
Well, let me tell ya, there may just come a time that you are pretty darn grateful that you have one or two of these in your purse or diaper bag.
Because they will likely provide antibacterial moist wipes with your meals in the hospital, you might as well save and stash the ones that you don’t use.
Perhaps you pull them out later after you, say, changed a poopy diaper at the park and then need to breastfeed.
Maybe it’s flu season and you use it to wipe down the handle of a shopping cart.
Or heck, maybe your little love grabs the seat of a public toilet and it’s mom to the rescue with her moist wipe before those fingers make it into that little mouth…
Washing hands may be best, but that’s not always possible or practical with a baby.
A combo of baby wipes and hand sanitizer may be key supplies, as well, but I say it’s good to have (portable, easy to stash along with you) options.
4 A Bulb For Sucking
I noticed that the nurses looking after myself and my newborn babies, both times I’ve given birth so far, always made sure that a bulb syringe was nearby – and for good reason.
A newborn baby is just learning to breath out in the open, and fluid can easily get in the way of that.
Saliva, spit-up, and mucous will likely all have to be suctioned out of a baby’s mouth or nose at some point, particularly during those early days and weeks.
And believe me, these are not a product that the hospital is going to be reusing with other patients.
Take the one or two that are provided for you to use during your stay for use in your home, placing them where you tend to spend a lot of time with your newborn baby.
Your own nurses and doctors will be able to show you how and when to properly use them, and they will be another potentially important tool in looking after your child’s safety.
Such syringes may also be helpful in clearing out mucus from a baby’s nose to help clear the airways and allow them to then more comfortably breastfeed (such as when the child has a cold).
3 Something Soft And Soothing
This one is a little creative, and that is why, I think, it is so genius (thank you very much).
Hear me out.
Being a new parent – a parent at all, actually – requires a LOT of handwashing.
Think of how often a regular person needs to wash her hands: following using the bathroom, before eating or preparing food, and after coming inside from being outside or in a public place. It’s already quite a lot, and it can certainly do quite a lot to prevent illness and infection.
So add on top of this needing to wash up after changing a baby’s diaper. (Newborns poop A LOT, by the way.)
You’ll want to be sure that you have clean hands before handling your breasts or your pump parts, as well, and you’ll need to wash your pump parts after every use. (Many new moms pump breast milk once or more daily, to stimulate the production of milk or to relieve engorgement.)
That’s a lot of hand washing. And a lot of washing means losing a lot of moisture from those hardworking hands.
So yeah, if there are lotion samples or travel-sized bottles provide, I’d go ahead and take them.
You should see the amount of hand sanitizer I go through during daily life with a baby and a toddler… Thank goodness for moisturizer.
2 Silicon Shields
Not everyone will wind up needing to use this item, but I’m convinced that it’s pretty common to need it because of how frequently I see it sold in specialty baby stores.
It’s the nipple shield.
It’s made of silicone, and it’s flexible and comes in a variety of sizes suited to different women’s bodies.
Lactation consultants may recommend that they be used if a mother and baby are having a difficult time getting a “good latch” as they begin to breastfeed.
They may also be used if a nursing mother’s irritated skin (or cracked and even bleeding nipples) need some sort of rest, in the form of this soft, thin barrier between her body and the baby’s mouth.
Like I said, you may be able to purchase them at a local store, but I’ve noticed that they can be somewhat hard to find.
If you do need to use one during your hospital stay, keep it, and possibly also ask for a backup so that you can always have one clean or at the ready at the various stations at which you breastfeed throughout your home or in your daily life.
Be sure to seek professional advice from your lactation consultant about if and when you might want to use these little wonders.
They aren’t necessary for everyone, but they can really make breastfeeding bearable for others.
1 Sudsy Samples
There are a few ways from which to approach this one.
I am the sensitive sort, myself, and I have strong emotional reactions to various smells, based on what I associate them with.
For example, if I was wearing a certain perfume (which I don’t do often) during a time of my life that I don’t currently care to remember or that I don’t look upon with happy feelings, then I won’t wear that perfume anymore.
If you use the soap, body wash, or shampoo provided at the hospital for you (no guarantees that they will provide this, by the way, but I believe they did in my case, both times) and you like it – and you have largely positive associations with your time in the hospital, if that matters to you – I’d say go ahead and take the rest of the small packets or samples provided.
You might pull them out of your travel toiletries on an upcoming trip and be reminded happily of your very first days with your brand-new baby in your life.
Plus, although this might sound stupid, having supplies around (that you didn’t have to spend money on) suddenly takes on a new importance once you are a busy parent – who has to spend a great deal of her money on food, toiletries, and supplies for a growing household…