The Experienced Mom's Hospital Bag Checklist
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The countdown is on for my c-section scheduled for August 12th! I'll be having my second c-section and packing my second hospital bag. Simply having the surgery scheduled this time is itself relieving so much stress for me. Also, I feel like I mostly know what to do and what to expect, especially since we're having another boy, I would have no clue what to do with a girl (ha!).
When I had William, my labor and delivery were not ideal and recovery was not great either and it took quite a long time for me to feel like functioning in society again. Now that I know what to expect I can better prepare myself and our home for my recovery. Closer to my delivery date I'll make a thorough post on my c-section recovery set up at home, but today we'll talk about packing for the hospital.
Last time I definitely overpacked and also ended up needing Seth to run home for things or having my parent's picking stuff up for me. This time I think I've got my packing list pretty much perfect. I'm packing enough for an extended stay, I plan on staying as long as they'll let me (with William we went home a day or two early just because we wanted to be home, I'm taking advantage of the hospital this time), so I'll need a few extra tops and things like that. Let's dive into my checklist and I'll explain the what's and why's of everything on the list.
When it comes to clothing, be sure to pack items that are nursing-friendly (if you plan on breastfeeding), not too expensive (because they are likely to get real gross with blood and baby spit up, etc.), and comfortable. For your yoga pants/pj bottoms I highly suggest taking something that either has a high waist band or that can be pulled up a bit so that the band does not sit on your c-section incision. You may want to go with light, loose, and thin tops because your hormones will be all wacky so one minute you'll be boiling and the next you'll be freezing, it's best to wear clothes that you can layer up. I'm only taking a pair or two of underwear because I ended up being more comfortable in the disposable underwear the hospital provided and I used the pads they had too (why waste my money on them if my zillion dollar hospital bill provides me with free ones?!). I found regular underwear to be too constricting since I was a bit swollen from surgery and IV fluids, etc.
The item I am most thankful to have packed was my robe. I'm treating myself to a new one this time just because I ended up wearing it almost the entire time I was in the hospital. Having a robe is essential because 1) you can use it to layer up if you're chilly, 2) you feel a little bit more covered when visitors come into your room, and 3) you'll need to try and walk around the hospital hallways a bit to help speed up your recovery and having a robe to wear will make you feel a bit more comfortable. Your body will look a little bit alien-ish after having the baby, I found the robe made me a little less self-conscious as I walked the halls.
As for the abdominal wrap, this is something that I am going to try this time around that I didn't use the last time. I hated the girdle style wrap that the hospital gave me, it may work better for someone who has a vaginal delivery but I had a hard time getting it to provide pressure on and around my incision which was essential for making sitting up and moving around easier. Wraps can also help your body get back into shape and when I say shape I mean literally back into the shape of a body, not like "fit" in-shape (ha). I think I am going to try out this wrap.
Most of the toiletry items should be pretty self-explanatory. A lot of hospitals do provide you with shampoos/soaps/etc. but that just seems weird to me, personally. I want yummy smelling things that actually work for my hair and body. Dry shampoo is also an absolute must have, unless you really plan on showering like everyday. But regardless if you shower or not, hormones will totally mess with your hair so be sure to have a travel-size dry shampoo in your bag. Since I know I won't feel like showering every single day and since all kinds of "stuff" will be coming out of me, I am packing wipes specifically made for cleaning your body and making you feel fresh. I didn't have them last time and just used my make up remover wipes and it worked but I think using wipes that are specifically made for cleaning your body will be much nicer. I also recommend taking your favorite, lightly scented, perfume or body spray. It'll just make you feel more at home and will make your confining hospital room smell better.
I wear glasses but often wear contacts. I haven't quite decided if I'm going to take my contacts or not, I may just take one pair (I have dailies) just in case I feel like putting them in but we'll see. That's a personal preference. A hair straightener is also a personal preference. My hair is super straight but if it air dries it's just stringy and bad unless I use a straightener, I'm already going to feel kind of crummy so feeling like my hair is decent looking will help. Plus you can also use your straightener to curl your hair, if you feel like it.
Another toiletry item that I don't have on the list is medications. Make sure you take any of your daily prescription medications with you to the hospital, the hospital won't provide you with any of your regularly prescribed medications during your stay.
I'm packing a handful of washcloths so that I can at least wash my face once or twice a day and it's just nicer to have your own things when you're feeling yucky. I'm still searching for a standing travel mirror, I didn't have one last time but totally wish I did. This way you can easily sit up in bed and doing your hair or makeup without having to guess or use your phone camera as a mirror. Don't forget any electronics for your chargers and if you can find an extra long cord for your charger that's a bonus since hospitals are notorious for having few or awkwardly placed outlets. I'm taking my iPad solely for Netflix and Hulu, I gotta have my fave shows. I'm sure your hospital has wifi too!
The hospital will provide you with plenty of food at meals but I found myself wanting to snack too, especially since my milk was working on coming in. I also plan on packing a few cans of pineapple juice, rumor has it that it helps your milk come in faster.
If you are planning on breastfeeding there are three essentials you totally need to take to your hospital, 1) A Boppy pillow, 2) breast pads, and 3) your breast pump. I recommend taking a Boppy pillow, especially after a c-section, to help you position the baby for breastfeeding. It helps to keep pressure off of you incision and is easier for you back. A nurse or lactation consultant will be more than happy to help you figure out the best nursing position for you with the Boppy pillow. Trust me with the breast pads, you leak out of every possible place. And if your milk comes in while you're still in the hospital, you'll definitely need the pads. As far as the breast pump goes, most hospitals will have one you can use. But I'm a major germaphobe and the idea of "sharing" a pump grosses me out. I know they sanitize everything but still, I plan on packing my own. Pumping occasionally before your milk comes in, will help your milk to come in faster. The lactation consultant had me pump pretty regularly when I had my first son because he had low sugar levels so we were already supplementing with formula but breast milk would fix his levels even faster. If your baby is having a hard time latching, pumping, even if it's just colostrum still, will be helpful because then you can attempt bottle-feeding.
Now for the miscellaneous items. I made a birth plan for my first pregnancy and then did like the complete opposite of it, but having it ready before I went into labor helped to put me at ease. Even if you're having a scheduled c-section you can still make a birth plan and specify things you do and don't want in the OR. For example, you can make sure that they place baby on your chest as they finish the surgery after they have checked baby out. They did that for me my first time around and it was great. As soon as they start the surgery it's less than ten minutes until baby is born and then the rest of the surgery (around forty minutes or so I think) is just them finishing up and stitching you up.
Gifts for the nurses is also optional but I do recommend it. Even if you just have your hubby or parents pick up cookies from a local bakery, I highly recommend a little thank you of some sort for the team that cares for you and your baby. My memory is a little foggy but I'm pretty sure I had my husband pick up a few dozen cookies from the bakery I worked at before having my son, for the nurses. If you have older children, be sure to bring a little something to give to them too! The new baby will be showered with attention and presents and you don't want them to feel left out or be upset with the baby. It doesn't need to be anything big, I think for William we'll get him a Hotwheel or two and say the gift is from his baby brother.
Are there any other items you fellow experienced moms would recommend? To make it easier for you, I've put together a cute little printable of the checklist for you! And it's available in TWO sizes! You can print it out in the regular 8.5x11" size or you can print out a bookmark size (2x7") which is perfect for placing in your planner! You can either click the photo above to get access to the free resource library where you'll find these printables under the "for mamas" section.
I hope it's helpful! Tag me in photos of your checklist and/or hospital bag using @abbybarstow on Instagram or #littlecityadventures. I may just share your shot on my Instagram page! Good luck!