Packing a Hospital Bag for Delivery :: What You REALLY Need

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When I gave birth to Lucie, the nurses in the hospital referred to us as Mr. & Mrs. Hoarder. We weren’t sure what we would need, so we brought everything (except the kitchen sink).

Looking back, I realize how ridiculous we were, but as first time parents we wanted to be prepared. Now my second child is due in April, and this time we decided to weed out everything that isn’t 100% necessary and leave those items at home where they belong.

Essentials This Time Around

  • Granny Panties – 1 Size Too Big. After the first C-Section, I could not comfortably wear the underwear I wore during my pregnancy because it would have rubbed against my incision and possibly ripped open the stitches. I had to send my sister out to the store to fetch the ever attractive “granny panties” for me. It’s all about function at this point. Trust me, you’ll be glad you have them.
  • Towels (Not White). The towels provided by hospitals aren’t like the towels you’re used to at home. They barely wrap around a women who just gave birth, let alone adequately dry you off (think “paper towel” in absorbency)…although they might work for your newborn. The hospital towels are best used to dry your hands or as wash cloths. Bring your own towels from home and choose a color other than white so the cleaning staff doesn’t accidentally mix them up. (Not to mention white towels show every little stain, and that’s one less thing you want to deal with once you get home from the hospital.)
  • Your Own Pillow and Pillowcase. At the minimum, you are going sleep in the hospital one night. Not to mention, you’ll spend most of your stay in the bed. You definitely want to be comfortable, and nothing is worse than a pillow as hard as a rock (or thin as paper) if it’s not your preference. Plus a little comfort from home can go a long way. Make sure you bring a pillowcase that’s not white (just like the advice with towels) so the cleaning staff doesn’t accidentally mix them up.
  • Breastfeeding pillow. It’s a must have if you plan to breastfeed, but I found it useful for bottle feeding my daughter as well. You’re going to be using this pillow A LOT, so might as well get acclimated with it while you are in the hospital and have help from the nurses and/or lactation consultant.
  • Cell Phone and Charger. You’re going to receive and make a lot of phone calls (and texts). Not to mention the 100+ personal photos you’ll want to take of your new little one on your phone to share with all your friends and post on Facebook. (You know it’s going to happen.) Be sure to bring a short extension cord for the charger in case the outlet does not allow the phone to reach your bed while plugged in.
  • Face Cleanser Wipes and a Light Moisturizer. I ended up having an emergency C-Section after a complicated labor and was in recovery for 24 after my daughter arrived. I couldn’t shower for three days (ugh!). These cleanser wipes made me feel somewhat human and less gross. The moisturizer stopped my face from drying out and looking like a lizard. Once I was able to shower, all the hospital provided was a bar of soap. Trust me, you’re going to want some of the items from your personal facial cleansing routine.
  • Deodorant / Toothbrush / Toothpaste (if you have a preference). You don’t want to smell yourself after a long sweaty labor, and neither do your visitors.
  • Loose Pajamas / Sweat pants / T Shirts / Tank Tops / Nursing Bra. Remember those visitors I just mentioned? Keep them in mind when you’re selecting what clothing items to bring. Do you really feel comfortable with your boss seeing you in a nursing tank? Are the pajamas so loose they could be too revealing when you’re sitting in the bed and someone comes to visit? Can you easily nurse your baby in your favorite t-shirt? Do you want all the first pictures of you and your baby to be in your sweats?
  • Chapstick / Lip Balm / Hand Cream. Remember the lizard like skin I mentioned earlier?  Yeah, I don’t want to remember it either.

Non-essentials This Time Around

  • Giant Camera. We never took it out, and opted to use the iPhone camera in most cases, just because it was more convenient.
  • Diapers. The hospital provides diapers for your new baby. Take advantage.
  • Formula. Unless you have a specific formula in mind because you know in advance the baby will have dietary restrictions, just take what the hospital gives you for free if you aren’t going to breastfeed.
  • Pre-maternity clothes. As much as I wanted to believe I’d fit into my skinny jeans immediately after giving birth, the truth is even if they fit, the tight denim probably would not have been too comfortable. I think I’ll also check my vanity at the door this time around too.
  • Make up. Okay, so I might bring a lip gloss, but that’s it. No need for mascara or blush or foundation. You’ll have that natural glow after giving birth, so why cover it up by painting on a bunch of stuff?

Overall, the most important things to bring are what will make you comfortable, which means different things to different people. I know when I was a first time mom giving birth to Lucie, I probably wouldn’t have been comfortable leaving all the extra stuff at home and possibly forgetting something important. Now that I’ve been there, I can speak from experience that half of what was in my suitcase stayed just where it was…in my suitcase.

What did you bring to your hospital bag that was a must have? What could you have left at home?

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Barbara Reggio is a wife, mother, and small business owner. She has been married to Jonathan since May 2011, and they are partners in parenting their two children, Lucie (January 2012) and Asher (April 2014). The Reggio family relocated to West Columbia from Long Island, NY in March 2013 when Jonathan accepted a job transfer. She has the best of both worlds working both outside the home at a Customs House Brokerage and running her home based business, Trendy Babywearing. She holds a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Maritime Studies from the State University of New York at Maritime College. When she is not working or writing articles for Columbia SC Moms Blog, Barbara enjoys walking at the Riverbanks Zoo with her family, babywearing, reading, singing along to the radio (loudly) in her car, loom knitting, documenting her children's lives with photography, and writing on her personal blog http://www.trendsettermom.com/. Barbara is currently working on her goal of becoming a lifetime member with Weight Watchers.

4 COMMENTS

  1. I agree with the grannie panties! I hadn’t worn grannie panties since I was a preteen and my mom bought undies for me…
    But once again, my mom bought me some grannie panties for my first birth and I was so happy that she did! They are up there in the comfort zone of yoga pants.
    I am due in April as well and will definitely be packing my grannie panties!

  2. Great list! I never would have thought about bringing my own towels. One thing I would add to my own list would be hair ties. I completely forgot about them and sent my husband out during labor.

  3. I also brought along my own pads! I was not interested in feeling like I was wearing a diaper the entire time plus by the third day there wasn’t a need for those hospital grade sanitary one!

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