YOUR HOSPITAL BAG DE-MYSTIFIED
You’ve thought about it, or maybe it hasn’t occurred to you at all but, the question is there ...What the heck do I pack in my hospital bag? Fear not! We're here to guide you.
WHEN TO PACK
Generally it is recommended that you pack a bag a month away from your due date (36 weeks in). Realistically...pack whenever you want. If it is reassuring to you to have a bag ready at all times then go for it.
WHAT TO PACK
-Your birth plan
-Shampoo & Conditioner
-If bottle feeding, formula, bottles and/or bottle liners for baby
-Baby’s coming home outfit
-Mom’s coming home outfit including a nursing bra
-Slippers or comfy socks
-Water Bottle/other drinks
-Pillows & Blankets for you and your partner/family member/friend
-A device(s) to play/listen to music
-A magazine or book or tablet for any “downtime” you/your support person(s) have
Anything that you need for comfort!
And of course don’t forget your baby's car seat!
Your Birth Plan: This is where you state your preferences for decisions during and after labour. Do you want to delay cutting the umbilical cord? What kind of interventions would you like/like to avoid if possible. This will help guide your health providers and support person(s) and give you peace of mind going into delivery. It truly sounds more overwhelming than it is. If you have a doula they will help you write one. If you do not there are tons of valuable resources on the internet that can guide you through it.
Toiletries/Basics: Never underestimate the value of a good lip balm. If you have long hair, clips or hair ties are a godsend. Depending on whether you share or have a private room, you should have an opportunity to shower. Bringing the basics like soap, toothbrush & toothpaste, shampoo and conditioner and a brush will help you feel a little more comfortable. A face cloth and towel from home are an option as well but not necessary.
Postpartum care: If you are nursing then you are definitely going to want to bring some nipple cream with you. You can also use coconut oil if you are sensitive/allergic to lanolin based nipple cream. A comfy nursing bra is optional, as no one with half a heart is going to judge you for flying braless and your milk won’t come in for 2 to 5 days anyway.
If you are planning on bottle feeding then bring formula, bottles and/or bottle liners.
Maternity/postpartum pads are essential for vaginal births. You may/may not be provided with these at the hospital but they will likely be in limited quantity. Reusable pads are an ideal option for postpartum care. Treehugger cloth pads are awesome, Canadian made, reusable and perfect for your healing body. They are washer and dryer friendly and snap securely in place around your underwear.
If you prefer disposable or are on a tight budget, Natracare are a plastic free, chemical free, affordable alternative to big-name plastic, chemical ridden pads which stick to you and irritate your sensitive skin. They are comparable in price to big brands and sold in health and wellness stores on websites and in most organic grocery store sections.
In the same vein, the hospital provides you with at least one pair of mesh underwear. I highly recommend reusing them by washing and hanging to dry as other brands do not even compare in comfort and fit. Boyshort cut underwear in a size up from your usual are also an easier fit while you recover.
Clothing: While your doc/midwife may have given you an idea of how big your baby might be you just won’t know for sure until they arrive. If you have clothing in newborn and 0-3 sizes it doesn’t hurt to bring one of each. Depending on the time of year don’t forget to pack any extra layers that baby might need. Remember that more thin, warm layers are better in Winter than puffy coats for securing your little one in their car seat.
For yourself, a robe to put over your hospital robe and slippers or warm socks will keep you comfy during and after labour. I would recommend loose fitting clothing for the journey home but some moms feel better in leggings. Whatever you feel comfortable in is best.
Food and Drink: Let’s face it, hospital food is barely edible. Snacks for you and your support person(s) for before and after are essential. You never know how long you will be there so best to come prepared. If you’re feeling a little extra pack a small cooler of food and drinks!
Blankets & Such: Of course the hospital has pillows but feel free to bring your favorite pillow and extra blankets from home for you and your partner/pal/support person. A baby blanket for baby cuddles or the ride home is optional. A nursing pillow is also optional.
Tech/Entertainment: Don’t forget your phone charger, a playlist and portable speaker to listen to something soothing (remember shared and even private areas can carry sound so be respectful of volume levels). A tablet, book or magazine for you and your support person(s) is also helpful in the quiet times if and when things settle down.
Car seat: As mentioned, don’t forget the car seat! Practice installation beforehand. When in doubt google your local car seat safety inspector for assistance. It’s a worthwhile investment of your time.
Miscellaneous: Pack your teddy bear or picture of your best friend or lucky rabbit’s foot if you need it. Whatever else you need to feel prepared! It’s your delivery Mama.