Monday, March 02, 2015

Mama Says: Hospital Packing List

Many times throughout the last ten months, I wondered how mothers managed to get through pregnancy before the internet. Every new sensation or curiosity sent me scurrying to ask the advice of the all-knowing Google.

Usually I was met with search results galore, from WebMD to the BabyCenter forums, from individual blog posts to checklists pinned to Pinterest. However, in some instances my searches didn't locate the exact resource that I needed... especially from the perspective that I was looking for.

Over the next couple of weeks in a series that I'm calling "Mama Says...," I hope to write a few of the posts that I wish I had been able to find during my own pregnancy journey... in hopes that someone like me runs across them in their own web searches and finds them to be exactly what they need.

See other "Mama Says" posts here.


Giving birth was my first time to stay in the hospital (besides a quick stay when I was a baby), and I was almost as nervous about that experience as I was about the birth itself.

For some reason, I was really intimidated by packing a bag for the hospital... how could I possibly know what I would want/need?? I searched online for packing lists written by experienced and wiser mothers, but I struggled to find a perspective that felt similar my own. Luckily my sister who gave birth six months earlier also shared her list with me, which gave me a good starting place.

So while another hospital packing list may be the last thing the internet needs, I'm going to add my voice to the mix, so you can see what I packed, as well as what we used, didn't use, and what we wished we had brought (some surprised me!).

Unfortunately I don't have a fancy, styled photo of all the things we packed, or even a photo of our bags waiting by the door. I considered it a success just to have them ready to go before we needed them. [As a consolation prize though, enjoy a few photos from our hospital stay.] 


In the list below, a strike-through means we didn't use it. Things we wished we'd brought are typed in green. Tips and personal notes are noted with asterisks (*). 

In car
  • Infant carseat installed*
  • Garbage sack and old towels**

*Should have installed it in the middle seat for safety reasons, but also so that I could lean the passenger seat back all the way on the way to the hospital!

**My water had not yet broken when we left home, so we didn't even think to put these down in the car. And, luckily it held off until we made it into Labor & Delivery. However, we probably should have laid these on the car seat just in case!

Labor outfit (Ready to change into before leaving for the hospital)
  • Gray knit maternity skirt*
  • Cute, warm socks*
  • Granny panties
  • Hot pink maternity tank top**
  • Black zip-up maternity athletic jacket**
  • Gray polka dot nursing sports bra***
  • Gray Bondi headband***
  • Slip-on tennis shoes

*This surprised me the most... once in labor at the house, I didn't want anything tight around my belly, including the stretchy band of a knit maternity skirt. My ankles were also pretty swollen, so there was no way my cute socks were going to fit comfortably. Instead I ended up looking "super cute" in a pair of Rob's drawstring pajama pants and a pair of his thick ankle socks.

**During hard labor at the house, I alternated regularly between hot and cold. I wrapped up in a blanket when I was shivering and threw it off when I was sweating. I wore the jacket as planned while we drove to the hospital.

***Once I arrived in the L&D triage area, I changed into a hospital gown, but kept on my bra, headband, and socks. I gave birth just over an hour later, so there was no need for a super versatile labor outfit.

For labor (We carried this bag in as we arrived. Although because I didn't labor long at the hospital, some of the things were not used until after delivery.)

  • Purse (driver's license, insurance card, and most importantly, directions from our hospital tour reminding us on what floor to check in!)
  • Plastic envelope (copies of birth plan, blank cards for extra baby footprints, place to store hospital paperwork)
  • Birth Boot Camp workbook
  • Bamboo socks
  • iPhone playlist*
  • iPhone charger (didn't use until after delivery)
  • Tennis balls for massage*
  • Rice and lavender hot pack*
  • Bathing suit for dad*
  • dSLR camera/charger
  • Chapstick
  • Headband/hairties/barrettes (I was already wearing a headband, so I didn't use these until after delivery)
  • Snack bag**
  • Cookies for nurses/staff***

*I had a "push playlist" created and ready to go. But, in the moment I didn't even think to turn it on. Same with the other comfort measures I had ready, like the massager and hot pack. And, although I definitely used the shower while laboring at home, I didn't need Rob in the water with me, so we never needed his swimsuit.

**I packed a snack bag full of junky treats that I had denied myself during pregnancy, including Pringles, candied pecans, goldfish crackers, and Coca-Cola. These were, of course, saved for afterwards. However, Rob dug into the stash (beef jerky, LifeSaver mints, and bottles of SmartWater) right after delivery as we were waiting for our room assignment.

***Funny story... per my sister's recommendation, a few weeks before my due date, I mixed up and froze some cookie dough (using this recipe for blue and white swirled sugar cookies), so that I could bake cookies to pass the time during early labor. However, once in real labor, Rob asked me if it was time to bake the cookies; I looked at him like he was crazy, responding, "Hell no. I couldn't care less about the cookies!" We did, however, bake the cookies after we came home from the hospital and delivered them to the hospital a few days later.

Suitcase (Carried up after we were settled on the mother/baby ward. Included both mom and dad's stuff.)
  • Dad's toiletries
  • Dad's change of clothes
  • Dad's change of shoes... he had forgotten a pair of sneakers
  • Toiletries (toothbrush/toothpaste, shower supplies, deodorant, lotion)
  • Hairbrushes
  • Makeup
  • Shower shoes
  • Hair towel
  • Nursing bras
  • Nipple cream
  • Nursing pads
  • Granny panties*
  • Always incontinence pads* 
  • Witch hazel pads/hemorrhoid treatment
  • Robe
  • Several pairs of socks
  • Maternity tank top**
  • T-shirt 
  • Yoga pants***
  • Long-sleeve henley shirt***
  • Going home outfit: maxi skirt, long-sleeve shirt, leggings, and infinity scarf***

*I wore the glorified mesh panties for the first day/night, but they were really too big for me and seemed to shift a lot, so by Morning #2, I was ready for my own underwear. The hospital also provided a large stash of giant pads, which I used exclusively in the hospital and even brought home. But once those ran out, I used the incontinence pads from Always that seemed to be more absorbent than regular pads.

**This maternity tank top was the single-most important item that I brought with me to the hospital!! In the middle of the second night, I stuffed Silas inside this stretchy shirt for some skin-to-skin time (his head sticking out of the collar). Not only was it the most memorable bonding moment we had in the hospital, but because he was contained in the shirt, I didn't worry about dozing while holding him.

***Again, to hell with the cute clothes that I thought would be comfortable. I spent the first day and night in the hospital gown, mesh panties, and nursing bra. In the morning of the second day, I was ready to feel somewhat like a normal person again, so I opted for cropped yoga pants and the long-sleeve shirt. When we were discharged later that afternoon, I was anxious to get home and decided not to waste time changing into my planned "going home outfit."

****I opted not to bring the Boppy nursing pillow (or maybe we just left it in the car?) as well as a pillow for myself. Less things to carry. Didn't really miss them.

    Diaper bag (supplies for baby)
    • Notebook for recording birth and breastfeeding notes*
    • Pen
    • Going home outfits: gown, hat, leggings, bunting, socks
    • Receiving blanket**
    • Baby no-scratch mittens
    • Baby nail clippers***
    • Hand sanitizer
    • Baggu reusable shopping bags for dirty clothes

    *In the middle of the night at Silas' first feeding I opted to download an iPhone app (Baby Tracker) to document feedings/diapers, rather than the pen/paper version.

    **Should have brought several blankets with us. Because of a rash on Silas' face, the pediatrician recommended that we use our own blankets to wrap him in. A close call with spit-up meant it would have been nice to have another blanket on hand.

    ***Silas arrived with claws. We tried to used the no-scratch mittens, but they were really too big for his newborn hands. Clipping his nails was the first thing on our agenda once we arrived home.

    ****The hospital provided diapers, wipes, and first bath supplies... enough to take home with us. I was glad that I didn't waste space in the diaper bag with these.

    Disclaimer: This is what worked for us (and a few things that didn't). It is not guaranteed to be the end-all, be-all packing list. Although I hope that it inspires you as you write your own list.


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