Regardless if this is your first or fifth time packing a hospital bag for your upcoming delivery, the task can be intimidating. Perhaps you've already received a list of what to pack from your midwife, labor and delivery team, or friends and family - but there is a nagging inkling that you are forgetting something obvious.
Labor, delivery, and postpartum experiences vary greatly between women and pregnancies. Therefore, it's impossible to remember everything you'll need for your hospital stay. Yet at the same time, you don't want to overpack and feel like you are moving in; possibly resulting in feeling a bit foolish and embarrassed for being overly prepared. Since labor can begin at any unpredictable moment, you want to make sure you have lots of time to pack especially after reading this list.
10 Bring Reinforcements
There is such an abundance of information told to a woman throughout her pregnancy. With so much of that information targeted towards pregnancy factors, delivery, or the baby, there isn't much warning given pertaining to what a mother should expect with her body postpartum.
Unfortunately, postpartum care is messy, uncomfortable, and not very glamorous. Although hospitals generally provide pads, squirt bottles (for down below), and mesh underwear; you may want to consider bringing your own reinforcements. These reinforcements could include: your own mesh or granny-panty underwear, more comfortable vaginal or nipple pads, "padsicles" or ice packs, stomach binder (for c-sections), and so on. Extra reinforcements for the baby could be extra diapers and wipes (for those sticky meconium poops.)
9 Comforts Of Home
It's unpredictable as to how long your hospital stay will be. Hospitals are not known for their comfortable beds, pillows, or blankets. Some women claim that bringing their own comforts of home, made their stay a bit more bearable. Of course, you aren't planning to move in but when you are already in pain, sleep-deprived, and perhaps a bit scared - it's nice to be reminded of where you feel safe.
Another comfort of home is bringing your favorite snacks or beverages that are your go-to items when you are relaxing at home. This can be a great way of "spoiling" yourself through the whole ordeal of giving birth. Besides, this way you will have something to eat even if you don't want to eat the hospital food.
Pregnant women can relate how hard pregnancy is on the feet. However, what many don't realize is how sore your feet can be post-delivery. Considering you might feel a little uneasy on your feet because of blood loss, pain from the procedure of giving birth, or side effects from medication. Either way, walking on a cold hospital floor is not a nice feeling.
Many women claim that bringing slippers or comfortable footwear is a must in a hospital bag. Especially if your contractions begin, and the footwear you are wearing isn't appropriate for indoor use (for example, big winter boots) it can be helpful to have a backup pair of comfortable shoes. Compression stockings can also be helpful to pack especially if the expecting mom has already experienced oedema (swelling in the feet, ankles, and legs) or is expecting a C-Section.
7 Clothing That Is Comfortable For YOU
Most hospital bag lists will mention packing loose, comfortable clothing for Mom especially for when she leaves the hospital. Although that is a great recommendation, it's important for the mother to consider packing clothing she already feels comfortable in. Recognizing the fact that if a Mom is expecting a C-Section, she won't want tight clothing around the incision especially in the first few weeks of recovery.
However, there are some women who are more comfortable in tighter clothing. For instance, some women may choose to wear tighter fitting pants to ensure that her vaginal pad stays in place so there are no bloody leaks. Some women prefer tighter tops to help support their engorged breasts or to keep nipple pads in place (so your milk doesn't soak through your shirt when your breasts are ready to drain.)
Pain medication is considered a top priority for postpartum mom (because you don't need to be a hero.) Labor and delivery wards usually supply some medication, however, it can be helpful to bring your own. Pain medication like Tylenol or Advil are some staples to keep in your bag (for you and your spouse, just in case.) Stool softeners may also be a smart thing to pack, especially if there is a possibility of a c-section or episiotomy because that first bowel movement can be scary.
Postpartum medication aside, it's also important to bring daily required medication for both the expecting mother and her spouse (or support partner.) This could also include nutritional or dietary supplements and vitamins.
5 Extra Cash
Even if you feel prepared to estimate the cost of your stay, it's still wise to have extra cash on hand. Even if the medical portion of the stay is covered, other factors such as parking, TV rental, or vending machine snacks all tend to add up quick for cash.
Although debit or credit payments are generally available at hospitals during regular visiting hours, cash is great to have when everything is closed or if you just need monetary change. It's also thoughtful to consider having cash for your spouse or support partner can buy food from a cafeteria, or have the option of ordering food right to the hospital if options are limited.
4 Ways To "Freshen-Up"
Giving birth is a quick way of feeling like you've lost all your dignity (with everyone focused on your woo-ha) and can leave a mom feeling like a sweaty, unattractive mess. For a moment that feels like it should have been so beautiful, no one mentally prepares a mom for how she will feel afterwards.
There is no shame in wanting to "freshen-up" right after giving birth. Items to help freshen up could be; make-up/make-up remover, disposable wipes, deodorant, shampoo/conditioner and body soap, lotion, toothbrushes and toothpaste, mouth wash, lip balm, gum, etc. Do what you need to do to feel like you got your dignity back! Your mental health and well-being are extremely important too.
3 Somewhere To Put Important Documents Into
Going into the hospital, it's important to remember to bring prenatal papers, birth plan, your health card, hospital registrations and insurance papers. Leaving the hospital they will give you important documentation for birth registration, health card number for baby, breastfeeding and newborn information, numbers to call, and reminders of appointments to make. The amount of documentation and paperwork you are required to bring and leave with can quickly make a sleep-deprived mother overwhelmed and perhaps a bit scattered.
It can be helpful to bring a binder or file folder with you in your hospital bag, to ensure all paperwork is together in one spot. That way nothing will be lost or forgotten while in the midst of trying to care for a newborn baby, adjusting to the new role of motherhood, and postpartum recovery.
2 Your Spouse's Entertainment
Mom and Baby's Hospital Bags are typically the ones packed early since the hospital stay is focused on them. However, this leaves many spouses or support partners frantically packing at the last minute. Packing last minute is a common way of forgetting to pack items, especially when the focus at the time is on the mother who is suffering through contractions.
Your spouse or partner needs to be at their best while supporting you through labor and delivery. The focus should remain on you, however, in order for them to be the best support they should have their necessities already with them. If they leave themselves enough time to pack (perhaps weeks before the expected due date), it allows them to consider their own needs before solely being focused on yours and the baby.
1 Methods of Distraction (But Don't Go Overboard)
Having something to distract you during the long periods of waiting, to become fully dilated and cervix effaced, is a good idea. Doing something that will take your mind temporarily off of what is about to happen, can drastically reduce stress around giving birth. However, don't bring too many items to use as a distraction.
Remember, the more you pack, the more you'll have to bring home after the baby is born. Besides, it's hard to even focus on distractions while you're in the midst of horrible contractions. There also won't be much downtime after the baby is born between the cluster feedings and your need to sleep. Bringing small but practical distractions like cards, a book, music player, phone, or laptop are some examples of what you can use while waiting, that won't take up too much space in your bag.