• What to Pack in that Darn Hospital Bag

    As your due date approaches you are probably in great anticipation of the big day. Full of wonder of what your new baby will be like, look like, and how you will feel as a new mom can be exciting. Getting through the first few days though can certainly be exhausting, but planning ahead before babies arrival may make your stay away from home just a little more comfortable. Whether you are delivering in a hospital or birthing center, having a few essential items can make your first day or so as a new mommy much easier.  

    Granted, you will likely be in the hands of great medical care, feeling a little more like yourself and less as a patient can make the memory of your birth that much better. It’s also important to keep in mind that too much of your stuff, in addition to what gifts might be given to you in the hospital, can make loading everything for the trip home a little stressful. 

    For a vaginal delivery you can expect to be in the hospital for 1 to 2 days, depending on the benefits your insurance has, as well as the health of you and your baby. C-section stays on average last for 3 to 4 days while you heal. You have heard to pack that hospital bag for your short stay, but maybe have no clue on where to start. 

    No problem, we've been there and can guide you through what little things may help you be comfortable during your stay as well as help you feel a little more at home. You'll want to cherish these first days with your new baby, making sure you have what you need to be comfortable so you can enjoy this time that much more. 

    So, here is a list of what exactly you should bring, give or take a few items, to make your first few days with your new love a little more personal and easier than going without.

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     Cell Phone Charger

    Certainly during delivery you may not be on your news feed but this is not something you want to forget at home! 

    Go ahead and keep a spare charger in your bag you plan on taking with you to the hospital so that when that moment comes, and you actually get around to calling or texting family and friends about your new bundle’s arrival, you will not be left in the dark. 

    You'll want to be able to take pictures and call your family whenever you want.

    Sure some hospitals will have a charger down the hall, but asking a nurse to charge your phone and get it back is not what you may want to be bothered with. Do feel free though to turn your phone off any time you and the new baby need to get some rest! Having it available and ready to snap first pictures will be a must! (Try to remember to take your cell phone too!)

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     Comfortable Clothing

    Once you deliver, you will eventually want to shower. Typically once the newness and excitement settles down a bit. The hospital has some interesting gowns to offer, but changing into something of your own is certainly an option. 

    Once your baby is out of that belly don't assume that your skinny jeans and t-shirts will fit like the old days. You may actually be a little swollen from the trauma of either labor or C-section and a loose fitting maternity dress may be the most comfortable choice. You will also likely get some visitors checking in as well as have some pictures taken so keep that in mind when packing for your stay. 

    Make sure that you pack comfortable clothing for your stay.

    We need to mention the underwear. With a C-section you won't want anything tight around the waist, and that maternity dress idea may be the greatest option until things heal. The hospital will provide you with some mesh underwear and large pads for the first day or so. You may want to consider bringing your own pads for back up as sometimes the hospital only may provide so many per patient.

    If you really want to be comfortable while your lady parts get to heal, you may want to consider depends. Seriously, they're comfortable and plenty absorbable for post delivery bleeding.

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    So, it’s not the Holiday Inn you will be staying at, but the hospital may provide a toothbrush and some shampoo if you forget to bring your own. 

    Seriously though, do not take packing the bathroom items you prefer to have too lightly. Your quick delivery could turn into a few days and having your face wash, hairbrush, hair ties, and whatever beauty products you can’t live without, will make for a much more comfortable stay. It will also let you get used to balancing taking care of yourself while caring for a new baby. 

    Your essential bathroom items should not be overlooked.

    Maybe consider taking a shaving razor, not that you will worry much about reaching those legs just yet, but the under arms may need some attention before you're sent home. Nail clippers are also a good idea to pack, not for yourself, but your little bundle may come out with some long nails that he/she could scratch that precious little face with!

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     Nursing Bra & Pillow

    If nursing is in your feeding plan, it might be a good idea to bring a nursing bra or two along to start getting used to them. 

    Nursing shirts might also be a good idea to make those early and frequent feedings a little easier and the baby’s food supply a little more accessible. No sense in bringing a pump though, the hospitals typically have them if needed. A nursing pillow would certainly be helpful with positioning your baby for nursing. 

    When it comes to breastfeeding, practice makes perfect.

    You can only stack hospital pillows so high and they tend to slip and slide a bit. Those first few days of holding your baby up to breastfeed can become tasking on your arms and the extra support from a nursing pillow can help keep the baby right where he or she needs for a good latch.

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     First Photo Outfit

    Sometimes photographers are contracted with birthing centers and hospitals to visit new families to capture first or second day pictures of the new baby. You will also have visitors wanting to come visit or be asked to submit pictures through social media. 

    Wouldn’t a cute little outfit just make one of those first sleepy baby pictures fun to shoot? You can also accessorize with a blanket or stuffed animal, maybe one that you use each month to compare baby’s growth? 

    Dress your little one for their very first photo.

    These may be the photos you want to use for birth announcements and ones that you will forever cherish. Putting some thought into what outfit and what kind of photos you would like to get is worth the effort. Go ahead and put a couple of outfits for the baby in your bag to take with you, especially in the case that your first choice outfit ends up not fitting your new bundle just yet or in case your little one gets messy.

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     Baby’s Car Seat

    You will certainly need to take your infant car seat with you, or have it brought to the hospital or birthing center. This is an item often not thought of in the excitement to get up and run out the door. But how else could you get baby home safely? 

    You will need to spend a few minutes adjusting the car seat straps to fit your new blessing safely before you try to load him or her into the car. If your baby is premature or low birth weight and you had a hospital delivery the pediatrician may insist on a car seat test. 

    Your baby's car seat is important on so many levels.

    For this a nurse will come retrieve the car seat and take the baby for a breathing test. This is simply where they will monitor the baby’s breathing while strapped into the car seat to make sure that the baby’s head is supported properly and that the baby can breath properly while restrained. This may be a requirement before a preemie is to be released to go home.

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    Many cell phones have great pixel quality, but a true digital camera may be an investment worth visiting. What better need for a high quality camera then a new baby? 

    This will also come in handy for years to come as baby approaches all his/her new developments and firsts. The first few days your baby and you will certainly be sleepy, but it's also the only time you will be able to capture the first few days of your baby’s life. 

    Your cell phone camera can't provide you with the same quality pictures that your point and shoot camera can.

    If you do choose to take a camera in addition to your phone, remember to pack the charger and/or batteries as well as a memory stick so that you're not left with any surprises when it comes time for some first shots of that sweet baby.

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    Granted, you will likely be tired for most of the first day, but after that you may want to have something to entertain yourself when the baby is sleeping (which will be 90% of the time) and you are not. 

    Labor can also turn into a long process of waiting for progress, having something you enjoy to occupy the time is a good idea. Take a book or some movies on a tablet or to watch in your room. Some hospitals offer movies on demand or show some basic channels in each room, which can help. 

    Don't be bored, be sure to take something for those quiet moments.

    But post birth you will likely have some down time, especially post c-section where some insurance companies and physicians will have you stay up to 4 days. Not sure on what items to take? Just imagine it’s 3AM and your baby is wanting to be bounced for an hour while you wish you were sleeping in a foreign hospital bed, this just might be the time for a movie or television show marathon. 

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    Hospital food is not so great and most birthing centers leave you responsible for your own meals. After what could be a grueling labor and birth, which at hospitals you're not allowed to eat during your laboring period, you may be starving! 

    Once the excitement settles down you may be able to order a meal or send a friend for something, but in the mean time you may want something to snack on to hold you over. Think of the hundreds of calories you just burned off giving birth, and now you will be up for many hours for feedings and changing the baby. Having some healthy snacks packed may be a good idea to get you through the long nights and in between mealtimes. 

    Never underestimate your need to snack after the birthing process.

    This is not the time to start worrying about loosing the baby weight; you have just experienced one of the most physically intense times of your life. Allow yourself to snack and eat to replenish and heal while you get to enjoy that new baby. Have a few snacks for the middle of the night feedings to help you get through.

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