Hey guys, long time no see! I’m finally back from my baby-imposed blogging hiatus. I’m no dummy so I didn’t think the first couple of weeks of parenthood would be a breeze. But boy, this first time mom really did underestimate how much of my time baby Max will take up. Maybe this is different for moms who are not exclusively breastfeeding, but I feel like pretty much my entire day is taken up with feeding, changing diapers, or rocking the baby to sleep. I’m learning as I go, slowly getting the hang of things, and finally feel like I’m at the point where I can steal some free time to write a blog. And of course the first topic on hand is what I packed on my maternity hospital bag.
I meant to write this one before I had the baby. But the good doctors at NYU decided that
my belly Max’s apartment is getting too cramped for her and she needed to come a bit early. So writing the blog pre-baby didn’t work out quite as planned. On the flip side, this also meant that I am able to actually test the items that I brought with me. You want to know which items were lifesavers and which ones I could’ve left at home? Read on to find out.
Carry less and pick the bag with the wheels
I toyed with the idea of carrying a smaller backpack or an overnight bag, but really the best way to go is with a wheeled carry-on suitcase (bonus points if you get a cool one like this Astyll carry-on spinner from Calpak). Keep in mind that you will likely be moving between at least two rooms. I went from triage, to actual labor & delivery, to a shared recovery room, and finally to a private one when it opened up. You’re probably going to be in a wheelchair the whole time and definitely in no condition to carry anything. This task is relegated to your partner and nurses, who will also be pushing your wheelchair and a baby bassinet, so it’s so much nicer if they don’t actually need to carry anything heavy and can just easily wheel stuff around.
Absolute mama necessities: maternity gown, socks, slippers
Ok call me extra, but I definitely brought my own hospital gown that was designed specially for labor and delivery. Those of you who’ve had the pleasure of using a hospital gown know that they are not the easiest thing to wear. They typically have three ties in the back that guarantees you’ll get a nice breeze on your behind. The gown I got has a set of button snaps on the back as well as the shoulders. This gives medical professionals the access they need without worrying that you’re giving other patients a show while you’re walking down the hospital hallway. Bonus point: the shoulder snaps also make it easier for you to breastfeed later. If you don’t want to spend money on a gown you’re probably only going to wear once, another solution is to bring along a robe to layer on top of the hospital gown.
The hospital will give you a pair of socks with non-slip bottoms. But since they’re typically one size fits all and I’m a petite size 6, they’re usually always waaayyyy to big for me. I prefer to pack my own as well as a pair of comfy slides. Pack one that’s on the roomier side, if you have it, because your feet will most likely swell up during and after labor.
Snacks & drinks
One of my packing fails is only bringing one bottle of gatorade with me. My labor lasted around 12-hrs and boy was I thirsty the whole time. I went through the bottle of gatorade pretty quickly. I didn’t dare to have hubby leave the labor room to get more for fear that something might happen while he’s away (let’s just say I had a somewhat drama filled labor and delivery). So learn from my lesson and bring two or three bottles with you — and make sure to get the sport top ones. I also packed a box of granola bars. You’re not allowed to have solids once they’ve put the IV on you, which I did not know. But they ended up coming in handy because hubby nervous snacked on them throughout the night.
The basic toiletries and light make-up
The hospital probably won’t have much beyond the basics of soap, shampoo and toothpaste. So you will definitely want to pack any toiletries you can’t live without: face cream, lotions, lip balm, contact solution, hair ties, etc. If you’re four eyed, like me, you’ll also want to bring back up glasses. I purposely came to the hospital wearing contacts since I don’t want to mess with glasses while I’m in labor. But having glasses is nice in the recovery room.
So why the make up? The birth of my first-born is obviously a huge life event that I’m going to want memorialized with photos. I know there will be two kind of photos of me and the baby: an unsanctioned photo taken by hubby where I’m holding Max in my post-labor sweat (not to be shared with the public), and another one that’s more social media friendly. For the latter I wanted to make sure I didn’t look too much of a hot mess. You don’t have to go too fancy — a good BB cream, eyebrow gel and neutral colored lippie will do. I actually did bring a contouring kit and even a curling iron, but I was too exhausted to do anything more than light touch up. I would leave the complicated beauty kits at home unless you plan on having someone do it for you.
Make-up removing wipes will also come in handy for taking it all off post shoot.
Post-labor recovery pajamas
Once you’re in recovery, they pretty much let you wear whatever you want. I was so happy that I thought ahead to pack pajama pants and nursing tops. The later came especially handy since it was my first time breastfeeding. Ps: I pretty much live in those nursing tanks during my maternity leave, so I’m definitely getting my money’s worth out of them.
Continuing the trend of me being extra, I discovered that my hospital has professional photographers on site. So I knew that I would want to pack coordinating outfits for me, hubby, and baby Max. To make things efficient, this same photo outfit is what I wore when I left the hospital. For the baby, you may want to pack several outfits, just in case. Safety pins might also come in handy. Max is so teeny tiny, the newborn headband I brought was actually too small for her, so we had to pin it to make it fit. I also wished I brought some props like blankets and stuffed animals for the shoot. By the way, you can find the full blog on my experience shooting newborn photos with Bella Baby here.
Stuff for the hubs
We’re fortunate enough to live a short walking distance away from the hospital. So while hubby stayed the night during my labor, he went home to sleep and shower once I moved to the recovery room. But if you’re planning on having your partner stay with you in the hospital, you might want to pack him the essentials. Comfy sweats, socks, slippers, and basic toiletries.
Other things you might want to bring
- Car seat: I’m not sure how it works in other hospitals, but ours actually requires you to have a car seat to bring the baby home. Hubby didn’t bring this in until the last day when we’re about to get discharged, which I’m glad for because there wasn’t much space for it in my recovery room.
- Stroller: like I mentioned, I’m lucky enough to live a short distance away from the hospital. So we actually attached the car seat to the stroller and walked home.
- Nipple cream: breastfeeding was totally new to me and I did not have an easy time starting. This was such a lifesaver.
- Hand warmers: this one is going to sound weird but hear me out. Right after you deliver, for some reason the hormones in your body can cause you to get real cold and shake. And I’m not talking about a cute shiver, but a full on chattering body shake. Luckily the nurse was able to scrounge some hand warmers to put under my pits and neck to warm me up. But I would’ve brought some with me just in case.
- Travel charger: sure there are outlets at the hospital that you can use to charge your phone, but that means that it’ll have to be away from you while it’s charging (unless you have a super long cable). I find my phone to be a great distraction from pain and worry so it was nice to be able to have it with me at all times.
RECAP: WHAT TO PACK
So to recap, you’ll want a bag that’s easy to lug around with you, like a carry-on spinner. And here’s what you should pack in it:
- Labor & delivery hospital gown
- Robe (optional if you decide to forego bringing your own gown)
- Roomy slides
- Gatorade sport-top bottle, at least two
- Granola / energy bar
- Toiletries basics: lotion, toothbrush, toothpaste, contact solution, hair ties
- BB cream, or powder and concealer (optional for photos)
- Eyebrow gel (optional for photos)
- Neutral colored lippie (optional for photos)
- Face wipes
- Pajama bottoms
- Nursing tops
- Outfits for photos / to leave the hospital
- For your partner: sweats, socks, slippers, basic toiletries (optional assuming they’re staying overnight)
- Travel charger
- Nipple cream
- Hand warmers
- Car seat
- Stroller (optional assuming you’re walking home)