April 25, 2014

Dear Frannie Friday--What to Pack in the Hospital Bag

 Unless you're having a scheduled c-section or induction, having a hospital bag packed and ready in your last few weeks of pregnancy is a good way to be prepared for when labor hits.  I've been down this road three times--all under completely different circumstances--and have found it very helpful.  Having some experience, here are my two cents about what you should put in the bag.  There is no shortage of comprehensive lists on the internet, but here are just some pointers for you to keep in mind.

1.  Labor and Delivery

There might be some things that you will want for the actual labor or delivery, depending on what your birth plan is.  It is important to remember that a birth plan doesn't always (or, more appropriately, often) go exactly as you picture it.  But some women find that certain things would really help them during labor--especially if you plan to go the natural route.  I got the epidural all three times (and plan on doing it this time).  You wouldn't really think so, but this can really dry you out.  So for me chapstick and lotion is an absolute must.  But keep in mind that if you are planning to get anesthesia you will not be able to walk around at all.  If you are going the natural route, make sure you grab things that will help you with the labor like certain music or focus points or massaging lotions.  Also, hair ties and/or bobby pins.  It seems kind of like a no-brainer but trust me--if you don't have something to pull your hair back, it will be horrendously in your face, sweaty and just plain annoying.

2.  For Baby

Believe it or not, you won't need much for the baby in the hospital.  Diapers, creams, wipes and other usual toiletries are provided by the hospital most of the time.  You won't need to bring a whole wardrobe either.  As much as you're going to be anxious to put all those cute little clothes on your babe, the nurses will be in so often to check on that little girl or guy that dressing them will really kind of hinder their routine.  Not to mention, they will be swaddled and sleeping for most of the time and won't need to be dressed.  However, I would suggest that you bring some little items for the new one.  As far as clothes--you will want that special little going home outfit (for nostalgia and photos for the most part--no need to go overboard), a hat, socks or booties and a baby blanket.  Keep in mind what season it will be (you'll want a warmer blanket in the winter than in the summer, obvi) and also keep in mind that even preemie clothes might be a trite big on your baby.  Don't be discouraged if your perfectly correlated 0-3 month bow-tie onsie swallows your new little guy.  Of course, you will absolutely need a carseat to get the new baby home, but I don't think it's necessary to have it locked in the car and ready to go (unless you want to get professional help on installation prior).  Unless you happen to give birth a substantial distance from your home, it is possible and probable that dad will be able to go and put it in before bringing you both home.  I would, however, recommend bringing a preferred pacifier, if you have a preference.  I've always been astonished at the massive ones that the hospital provides.  Conner is my only child that took to a pacifier, but you never know.  They can be helpful sometimes. 

3.  For Mom

Without a doubt, you will want comfortable things for yourself.  But I wouldn't go overboard.  You'll spend a significant amount of time in the hospital gown--believe it or not.  And really no matter how much you care about what you wear, you will be so exhausted that you'll just want to wear something comfy and easy.  One thing I definitely recommend is socks.  I know that my feet got FREEZING giving birth.  I never brought a robe, though if you plan on walking around during labor it's probably a good idea.  I personally feel like one pair of pajamas is probably sufficient (assuming you will be staying in the hospital the standard 2-3 days).  The reason being that first of all, wearing pants at all is not going to be preferable.  You'll have the blankets to cover you for modesty's sake and you will be checked "down there" A LOT.  So taking off and putting on pants won't really be so comfortable.  But after a day or so, you'll want to (and need to for bathroom breaks) walk around.  Also, make sure that your pajama top is nursing friendly--think buttons down the front or an actual nursing tank or top.  Speaking of nursing, you'll want a comfortable nursing bra.  The hospital will want you to start nursing as soon as possible (if you'll be breastfeeding), so this is pretty much instantaneous.   On a similar note, I highly recommend a Boppy.  It really makes breastfeeding so much easier.  You'll want something to go home in, but keep it simple.  Probably after being held up in a hospital room in mesh underwear (some lists say to bring comfy underwear and picking up some basic, completely unsexy briefs from the drug store isn't a bad idea, but like it or not, you'll spend most of your time in these) and general yucky feeling tents, you'll probably want something other than baggy PJs, but don't make it fancy.  You're likely not going to be Kate Middleton-ing it up with paparazzi outside waiting for you to don a pretty polka dot dress.  Think of something comfy to literally walk from the room to the car and then inside your house that you would feel halfway human in.  I like to call this "Wal-Mart run attire."

4.  Toiletries 

You won't get to or really even have energy for a full on spa-like typical get ready bath run--at least not immediately.  So I don't really ever plan to pack make-up or hair products.  I like to grab some travel sizes of my need to shower products (face wash, body wash, shampoo, conditioner) and minimal hygiene products (deodorant, toothpaste and toothbrush, a comb and, again, hair ties) call it a day.  I wouldn't worry about things like pads--the hospital will have those aplenty.   Trust me, after you give birth just a shower alone will be the most satisfying but also the most energy draining thing you do.  After you clean yourself, you won't even be tempted to flat iron your hair or go through a typical makeup routine.

5.  In General

A camera.  That's it.  You'll want a camera (make sure you have a back up battery and memory card).  Obviously a phone charger too, but between you, your spouse/birthing partner and even the hospital phones in a pinch, it's not so much an immediate priority.  These can be retrieved if needed from the home after the baby comes and things settle down.  I would also recommend packing some "down time" things--perhaps some movies, an iPad or tablet, a book--but I wouldn't go crazy with it.  You will have some time when you're not entertaining visitors, feeding/changing/generally staring in amazement at a newborn and getting constantly checked on by medical personnel, but you know what you're mostly going to want to do with that time?  Sleep.  And eat. 

Mostly, I wouldn't stress too much about the hospital bag.  Any absolute necessities can and will be provided by the hospital.  Anything that you find that you need that you forgot or didn't think about--trust me--someone will be more than willing to run and grab it or a replacement for you in a pinch.  Remember: there are plenty of women who find themselves in labor before they even thought a hospital bag was on the to-do list and they got along just fine.  And in the craze of labor pains, you won't give a flying f*ck about whether or not you packed your lavender warming oil.

Black Shirt-Motherhood, thrifted; Military Jacket-Lucky, thrifted; Maternity Jeans-thrifted; Fox Necklace-Charming Charlie's; Earrings-DIY and gifted; Leopard Print Bangle-Kohl's; Studded Booties-Forever 21; Mirrored Aviators-Target

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