The countdown is on for the arrival of your new baby, and with only a few weeks left, it’s time to get your hospital “go” bag ready. You’ve probably started to make a list in your head – your favorite robe, a comfortable labor gown, and maybe even a portable diffuser to create a warm, relaxing atmosphere. But there are a few hidden gems that can make your stay in the hospital more comfortable.
Consider adding these items to your hospital bag checklist to help you create a positive birth experience. It’s important that you feel prepared for a time that’s equally miraculous, vulnerable, and utterly exhausting.
Baby delivery day self-care essentials
Most hospitals provide basic toiletries, but you may want to stock up on small bottles of your go-to shampoo and conditioner, plus travel-sized versions of your other “must-have” personal care products to feel more like yourself during your stay. The hospital will also provide sanitary pads for you to wear post-birth, but if you have a favorite brand, you may want to pack a few in your “go” bag, too.
Face wipes can help you quickly freshen up if showering seems like too much work in the first couple of days. If you wear contact lenses, be sure to bring your glasses, a contact case, and contact solution to give your eyes a rest.
A favorite thing from home
You may find it difficult to rest or relax in an unfamiliar space, but it’s so important to make sure you have the energy you need to take care of yourself and your little one. Pack at least one special item from home that brings you comfort and makes you feel like you’re at home – your favorite pillow, an eye mask, a cozy blanket, or even a beloved childhood stuffed animal.
Comfortable shoes and socks
Non-slip hospital socks come standard with your stay, but you may want to add some cozy footwear options to your hospital bag checklist. Bring along your plush slippers or your favorite fuzzy socks, but make sure they have grips on the bottom to prevent any falls. Flip-flops or sandals may also make you more comfortable in the hospital shower. It may be a few weeks (or months) before your feet feel normal again, and while finding a comfortable sitting or sleeping position post-birth can be a real challenge, at least your feet will be cozy and warm.
Special moments are meant to be shared. Although only your closest loved ones will be with you in the delivery room, technology helps you stay connected to the rest of your family and friends during your hospital stay. In addition to your phone or tablet, you may also want to pack a portable speaker, earbuds, or headphones to listen to music during labor. And don’t forget the charging cables for all your essential electronics!
If you’d like to limit technology in the delivery room, make sure to pack a book, journal, sketchpad, deck of cards, or other relaxing activity. Your hospital stay may be the last time you’ll have time for yourself for a while.
Throughout your pregnancy, you have probably talked with your healthcare provider and partner about your plans for breastfeeding. Before you give birth, think about documenting your ideas (e.g., exclusive breastfeeding, no pacifiers or formula, rooming-in with baby). A solid plan can help you and your healthcare team stay on the same page after delivery.
Other breastfeeding support items may include nipple ointments and creams, a high-quality postnatal supplement, and breastfeeding-friendly clothing, like nursing bras, shirts, or tank tops. Breastfeeding mamas need to stay well-nourished and hydrated to support a healthy milk supply, so dedicate a pouch in your hospital “go” bag for your favorite water bottle and snacks.
Make sure you request additional resources from your healthcare team to help you grow confident in your new role as a breastfeeding mother. Lactation consultants can help you troubleshoot any obstacles that come your way and answer any breastfeeding questions you may have.
Now that you have your essentials packed, it’s time to chat with your partner about your plans for visitors. Your loved ones will probably be excited to meet the newest member of your family, but it’s okay to set boundaries. Discuss whether you’d like to limit visitors at the hospital or during the first few weeks at home. Video calls and photos can help you share the exciting news of your baby’s arrival with friends and family while you focus on bonding with your little one and resting.
If you want to have visitors, work with your partner and the hospital staff to figure out what works best for you. Consider designating specific times for visitors to come during the day so you can still rest, recover, and bond with your new baby.
Every labor and delivery experience is different. You can spend the entire nine months of your pregnancy gathering advice and developing a plan, but even the best-laid plans can go awry. Having a plan is useful, but try to be flexible when you meet an unexpected bump in the road. Rely on your healthcare team and partner to support you, and don’t be afraid to ask for anything you need. They’re on your side – ready to help take care of you and your baby.