It’s a question that all first time moms ask themselves: “What do I actually need to bring with me when I have my baby?” Well ladies, I can tell you that it’s probably not as much as you think.
Packing your hospital bag is an extremely exciting, calming, and personal experience. During my pregnancies, I spent a lot of time focusing my attention on preparing my hospital bag.
Deciding what to bring with you on the day that you will meet your child is a huge thrill. So take your time. Pack and re-pack as often as you like, check off those checklists, and buy yourself the cutest duffel. It’s worth it!
Below I’ve compiled a list of my top-ten must-haves for the hospital bag:
1. Toiletry Items
Though the hospital will provide some of these things for you, you’re likely going to want to have your own shampoo, soap, toothpaste, etc. I suggest buying the travel size containers and filling them with your own products. It’s cheaper than buying the pre-filled travel size bottles, but either way, travel size is the way to go, especially since you’ll want to save space for all of your fun baby things.
I cannot stress enough just how cold hospital floors are. Perhaps they affected me more than they might you, but just trust me, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Pack yourself a few of your favorite no-slip slippers. Helpful tip: you’ll be thankful for longer ones when it’s too difficult to shave your legs, post birth.
3. A Journal
I bought the Peter Pauper Press “Baby’s First Year: A Thought A Day Journal”. I used it up until my daughter was about 3 months old, before things got too hectic. However, I’m so grateful that I documented those first few days. You are likely to be exhausted and drowsy during the first days of your baby’s life and will be thankful for any journaling you did during that time some day when you’re reflecting back on that amazing experience.
It goes without saying; you’ll want to bring your camera. But in addition to the baby-image capturer, make sure you pack your cell phone, chargers, and any extra batteries that you may need.
It’s also not a bad idea to bring with you a list of people to call and update on any baby news. Include their name and number on the list. Some hospitals have terrible cell reception. Therefore, if you haven’t memorized the numbers of important family members and friends, it’s a good idea to have that with you.
5. Take-Home Outfit for You and Baby
When choosing the take-home outfit for your newborn, keep in mind that they will need breathing space for the cord and that you will likely be changing their diapers frequently. Maybe avoid things with zippers or a lot of snaps. A cute two-piece layette with a matching hat and no-scratch mittens should do just fine. Let’s face it; your baby will look cute in anything.
When packing your outfit, remember that you will have just have had a baby. Bring a comfortable maternity outfit and include a pair of comfortable shoes. You are likely to have post-birth swelling and won’t want to worry about sore feet; there will be plenty of other aches and pains that you’re likely to be experiencing.
During labor the doctors and nurses will limit your food and drink to ice chips (no, unfortunately that’s not just something we see in the movies). This prevents you from feeling sick during labor and helps prepare your body in case of an emergency C-section.
Chances are, after giving birth, you will be tired and hungry. While you will receive meals from the hospital, and there are likely vending machines, the machines can become expensive and hospital food is not always the most filling. It’s also very possible that you will give birth during a time when the cafeteria is closed.
Bring yourself a nicely packed Ziploc bag of snacks. Include things like crackers, chips, cookies, and/or fruit. It’s important you keep your energy up and stay healthy for baby.
Insurance often doesn’t cover your partner or any family member eating while staying with you in the hospital. It’s a good idea to have snacks on hand for any support person(s) you may have staying with you and your baby.
7. Nursing Gear
Make sure you plan on bringing a maternity bra or two, and don’t forget the nursing pads. Even if you don’t plan on nursing, you’re likely to fill up with milk and there is bound to be leakage. There are many options for nursing pads, such as reusable, cotton, or gel inserts. Do a little research and check out your local baby store and choose what you think will work best for you.
Also, bring along your nursing pillow and an extra slipcover. Nursing pillows are extremely helpful in supporting you and your baby while maneuvering the logistics of nursing. Get a FREE nursing pillow when you enter promo code: BABIESONLINE at checkout!
8. Special Item for Baby A.K.A. “The fun part”
The hospital will provide all diapers and wipes during your hospital stay and will most likely give you extras. They also have pacifiers and blankets (though it doesn’t hurt to bring some of your own).
While packing for your baby, keep your focus on clothing, comfort items, and sentimental things. I’m sure there is a special item you have in mind for your new little one – perhaps a handmade blanket or special gift from a loved one. Though your baby most likely won’t be interested, it’s more of a symbolic item to attach sentiment to. Something you can show your child and someday say “This was your very first blanket, teddy bear, pacifier, etc.”
Keep in mind that you should not put a lot of blankets around or on your baby and you should leave all pillows and stuffed animals out of the baby’s sleeping area. This is a preventative method to reduce your child’s risk of SIDS.
9. Distraction Tools
If you’re like me, once you’re admitted into the hospital and the waiting game begins, you will likely be far too excited to get any rest. Especially if this is your first labor, it is likely to take a bit longer to progress. So take a few things to keep you entertained and calm. An iPod, a book, or a magazine will give help take your mind off of the excitement of seeing your baby or any worry you may have over what’s to come. Perhaps bring something you and your support person can enjoy together. Crosswords, Mad Libs, or a deck of cards would work nicely and provide some last-minute one-on-one bonding time. Maybe you’ll be one of the lucky ones who finds it easy to sleep, but just in case, it doesn’t hurt to be prepared.
10. Gifts for Nurses
This is a big one. Chances are, you’ll have a wonderful, helpful, gem of a nurse. The nurse on shift will provide you with about 90% of your care and, in most cases the doctor doesn’t come in until the very end. During my deliveries (at two different hospitals in two different states), the nurse did everything but physically deliver my baby. In both cases, she coached me through my contractions and helped get the baby as close to being out as possible before the doctor came in. Basically, the doctor acts as the baby catcher. It’s wonderful to have them there of course, if something goes wrong, but otherwise it’s the nurses who will serve you and your family with the utmost care and attention.
Having a thank-you card on hand, or some fresh-baked cookies (homemade or store-bought, either way, it’s a free cookie), is a good way to say “Thanks!”
On the off-chance you get stuck with a less-than-friendly nurse during delivery, rest assured you’ll encounter many nurses and nurse’s assistants during your stay. One of them is bound to be somebody you’d like to show some extra appreciation to. Otherwise, keep the cookies for yourself. No harm in having some extra cookies around.
So there you have it ladies: my top 10 must-haves for your hospital bag. I hope this has been helpful to you, and I hope you enjoyed reading it! Here’s wishing you all the best on your birthing journeys. Be sure to check back for more tips and articles. From conception to parenthood, babiesonline.com has you covered.
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