Today I want to introduce you to a beautiful, urban-living, hard-working mom who’s expecting her second baby boy on March 31st! Krystal is one of the best people you can go to for good, honest advice (I know from experience – she’s my older sister!). Because my shop is an eco-boutique for young women and their growing families, I thought this would be a great opportunity to receive some good, honest, new-mom advice!
When Rachel asked me to write this blog post, I was three months away from my due date. I laughed thinking about writing what I would take to the hospital when that day seemed so far off. Well a couple weeks
flew by passed and now I’m down to six weeks until baby arrives and it’s not at all too soon for me to be organizing my packing list for the hospital!
This baby will be my second son. My first was born in August 2012 and, being the queen of preparedness that I was, I over-packed. Unfortunately I also under-packed in a lot of ways. Hopefully this suitcase will be a more well-rounded bag of hospital stay items.
I am a low maintenance, no-fuss kind of gal. My husband knows not to bother with flowers and jewelry with me; I’d rather have a night off from dinner and a warm bath. My first pregnancy and subsequent labor was no different. My pregnancy was easy and as comfortable as you can expect when your body is making a whole new person. My birth plan consisted of one word: epidural. I didn’t envision birthing my son into a tepid pool of water or sucking air in and out for hours while sitting on a giant yoga ball. I give every ounce of respect to those mamas who do decide to have their little ones naturally, but it’s just not for me. I don’t tell you all of this as some sort of passive aggressive pitch for epidurals, but I tell you so you know that your list of items to pack might differ from mine. I won’t be making a playlist with soothing whale sounds or bringing a half a dozen photos to focus my energy on. By all means, pack those items for yourself if you think they would be helpful. My list will be more of a bare-bones pragmatic, “here’s what you need to get by” sort of list. Please add to it and take away as needed.
I really couldn’t imagine labor when I had my first. If I closed my eyes and tried I literally imagined empty space; it was that much of a mystery to me. I packed several “labor outfits” somehow imagining I’d be able to put on what was comfortable to me at that moment. Instead, after they put me in my hospital gown I had no interest, and very little ability, to change into anything else. Your nurses and doctor will need to check your progress frequently, so any sort of pants or underwear is out of the question. Plus, your body will feel like a sieve, dispelling fluids everywhere. If your water has broke, which mine partially did before I got to the hospital, you likely won’t feel fresh as a daisy down there. Your breasts may start leaking in anticipation of your little one arriving. If you’re like me, you might vomit excessively with each and every contraction. In general, you will be the picture of grace and beauty. Because of all of that, I opted to leave all of the clean “hospital shirts” I had brought for my labor stacked neatly in my bag. Instead I let that worn-in hospital gown bear the brunt of my labor.
With that experience under my belt, I instead recommend packing:
► a nice water bottle that you can easily drink from while laying down
One with a straw, like a Camelbak, would work great.
► your cell phone and a charger
You may not be allowed to plug in your charger in the room, but make sure you have it along. The last thing you want to have happen is for your phone to die right when you’re ready to call the new grandparents to give them the news. Also think about loading your phone up with different playlists or podcasts to pass the time after baby arrives.
Consider also downloading a white noise app on your phone. That app saved my husband and me in the first couple days with our first son. Your new baby is used drifting off to sleep to the sound of rushing fluids, now he’s out in the world and it’s eerily quiet. Help him drift off with the sound of a fan or the ocean. We like this free app.
► your camera
Since we have more than one camera, I plan to toss our point and shoot camera in my suitcase right away. I also will be bringing our DSLR along for some nicer shots, but I don’t want to risk getting to the hospital without any cameras if we forget to grab the DSLR. If you don’t want to pack away your camera in your suitcase ahead of time, I recommend purchasing a disposable one to keep in your bag or deciding whether cell phone photos will be quality enough if your regular camera accidentally gets left behind.
► clothes for your partner
A couple shirts, maybe some sweats, a spare pair of pants and some socks.
► snacks, lots of them
This one isn’t for you either. Your partner will be there in the labor and delivery room with you for what could be a potentially long amount of time. You need him to keep up his energy. You also don’t want him to run out for a quick bite only to find out just after he left that you’re dilated to a nine. Pack some trail mix, water or sodas, granola bars – anything you can pack in your suitcase and not worry about spoiling.
Huzzah! You’re parents now and that baby is beautiful. Now it’s all about you and baby! Your partner likely will be making at least one or two trips home while you’re stuck in the hospital, so he can freshen up at home. You need to have all the essentials there with you so you can feel as good as possible after just having extricated something the size of a watermelon from your body.
The hospital will give you some special mesh undies that you’ll wear while your uterus is trying to get back to a normal size, so don’t worry too much about underwear. However, if you’re like me, and feel odd leaving your house for two or three days without any underwear along, make sure you pack those granny panties. The ones you don’t care about ruining and are super comfy.
► yoga pants
I plan on packing two or three pairs of yoga pants. I bought up a few pairs from Target the last time I was in. I like yoga pants because they’re stretchy, but flattering. Plus, the waistband is non-binding and can be folded down if you had a c-section. Make sure you pick out a size bigger than your pre-baby size. Even though baby is on the outside, your belly will still look about six months pregnant.
► nursing bras and pads
Whether you plan on nursing or not, you may want to bring a nursing bra and some pads. Your breasts may be leaky and sore, so a nursing bra is just the ticket. I preferred this style of nursing bras for the first few weeks. They were loose enough to feel comfortable, but still gave great support. After I had a better handle on the roller-coaster my body was going through, I went out and got additional bras for everyday wear. For nursing pads, I opted to get reusable, washable pads. These are my favorite for their softness and absorbency.
As an aside, if you do plan on pumping for any length of time, make sure you get yourself a hands-free bra. There is no way I would have made it past the first month without one. This is the style I prefer.
► shirts and a zipper hoodie
Bring a couple short-sleeved shirts or tanks that you can easily nurse or pump in. Layers are your friend since the hospital will sometimes be overly cold or overly hot. Maybe it was the hormones… for my second layer I’ll be bringing a zipper hoodie or two. You also could bring a light robe to wear.
► sandals or slippers and some cozy socks
You’ll be in and out of bed a lot, so you’ll want something you can easily slip on and off. Flip-flops or backless slippers work the best. And bring some cozy socks for sleeping – who doesn’t love slipping on a pair of fuzzy socks?
► your toiletries
My list of toiletries is pretty short, but you should bring whatever you think will make you most comfortable. We had a few visitors and I felt so much better and more like myself having washed my hair and put on some mascara. I plan on bringing my face wash and moisturizer; mascara, powder and some under eye concealer (you’re going to have bags under your eyes, it’s unavoidable); and some shampoo and conditioner.
► a magazine or tablet for entertainment
You likely won’t have too much time to get bored, and if you do you’ll want to try to catch some ZZZs. Still, it’s a good idea to bring something to distract yourself from the chaos every once in a while.
FOR THE BABY
The hospital will supply you with pretty much everything you need for baby: diapers, creams and salves, little jumpsuits to wear, blankets and even a little hat. However, you still might want to bring an outfit or two along for baby for the days you’re in the hospital. I found myself itching to dress him in his cute new outfits when all the family was coming by to visit and instead he was in the gender-neutral jumpers the hospital had. At a minimum you’ll want to bring a blanket and outfit to take him home in. We like to pick out a special outfit that becomes a keepsake item for the baby so he’ll always have the outfit he went home in. Some parents also like to bring a pacifier and some swaddling blankets along.
There you have it: the starter kit for your hospital bag! Don’t worry too much about forgetting something important. I guarantee you’ll have a few visitors who will be excited for the chance to help out and pick up something you forgot. Instead, focus your energy on the excitement of welcoming your new little one. Our lives are about to change, ladies! They’re going to get messier, smellier, more exhausting and more challenging – I wouldn’t trade it for anything.