H is for Hospital Bag

You have the nursery all together, the car seat installed, the clothes washed – but have you packed your hospital bag?  When is the best time to pack your hospital bag?  For a regular pregnancy with no complications, it is a good idea to pack your bag between 37 and 38 weeks.  If you are high risk or are having multiples, it would be a good idea to have your bag packed by 35 weeks.  If you aren’t sure what car you will be taking to the hospital, then leave it packed and by the door, if you know what car you will be taking then have it in the car.  This is where having spare chargers and travel size toiletries help, so you don’t have to worry about grabbing items at the last minute on your way out the door.

But what everyone really wants to know is, “What should I pack?!” 

These days the hospitals tend to have all the basic supplies you need.  When it comes to packing, consider packing 2-3 bags: one for you during labor, one for you during recovery, and one small one for the baby.  Consider making one bag a back-pack, one a small roller suitcase, and one a shoulder/duffel bag so that your partner can easily carry all three by himself if needed.  Let’s go through and discuss some important items to include in each bag.

Your labor bag should include anything you may need from the time you check in until 1-2 hours after birth.  This way, if you can only get one bag to the room before the baby is born, you have all the key items and the remaining bags can be brought up after the birth.  This bag should have hair ties/headband, a change of clothes, 2-3 pairs of grip socks or slippers (if you don’t want to wear the hospital socks), clothes to labor/deliver in (if you don’t want to wear the gown), a robe if you get cold easily, a water bottle easy to drink from – think straw!, snacks for you and your partner, phone chargers, chap stick, sugar-free cough drops (your throat may get dry), and your birth plan.  You also want to make sure you bring your photo ID, insurance card, and glasses or contacts if you wear them.  Something to think about bringing for labor that might not fit in your bag - a pillow that is actually comfortable!  Most hospitals these days have birthing balls and peanut balls you can use; if you aren’t sure your hospital does make sure you ask at the hospital tour.  Make sure your partner brings a hoodie or some sort of jacket and a change of clothes in case the clothes he is wearing get dirty!

Your recovery bag should include 2 nursing bras, a comfortable outfit for wearing in the hospital and another one for going home.  These outfits should be easy to nurse in and/or do skin-to-skin in since you will want to do both of those a lot the first few days if you plan to breastfeed.  Your husband will likely want a change of clothes to leave the hospital in too.  You will also want any toiletry items you need for the shower, including your hairbrush, deodorant, lotion, toothbrush, and toothpaste.  You may consider bringing your own full sized towels because the hospital towels are more like over-sized hotel hand towels, and equally thin. 

Your baby bag should mostly be empty and I will tell you why in just a second.  The only thing your baby bag needs in it is a going home outfit and a blanket – that’s it!  The hospital provides everything else the baby will need during your stay.  You want this bag so that you can take all the goodies home!  Everything in the recovery room is intended for your use and you can take it home with you; all the diapers, wipes, lanolin, Chap Stick, breast pump flanges, etc – these are all yours!  So stuff them all into the bag when you head home.  Other items that are intended for you to bring home include spare mesh panties, pads, chux pads, sitz bath, spray bottle, and other self-care items for during recovery.

The items listed above are just the essentials.  But some other items you may want to think about are essential oils and diffuser, blue tooth speaker, camera and charger, extension cord, twin air mattress, a book, a breast feeding pillow, and small bills for the vending machines.  Another convenient item to have is a few discreet depends (adult diapers), these are much more secure than the hospital mesh underwear but are still disposable so all the discharge you are having won’t ruin your nice underwear.  You will also need an infant car seat for taking your baby home in, many hospitals require that you bring it up to the room so they can verify you have a safe way to bring the baby home.

What else did you pack in your bag or think is essential?  Let me know in the comments.  Next week I will blog about the letter I… I is for Insomnia.