My hospital bag was bursting at the seams! I don’t think I necessarily packed too much, but I probably could have streamlined things. There were also items I left out that I wished I had packed. Here’s my version of the perfect hospital bag:
1) My own pillow with a pretty sham. Hospital pillows are wrapped in plastic and are not the least bit comfortable – they make my head sweat and give me a neck kink. During labor it was so nice to have my familiar down-filled pillow on the bed – it was a touch of home that helped me relax. Don’t put a white pillowcase on your home pillow – it’s too easy to confuse with hospital issued ones. Instead, look for a pretty patterned pillowcase; it’s going to show up in a lot of photos and it might as well look good.
2) My own nightgown. I altered a nightgown to add a zipper to the back, but it turns out I didn’t need to do that – it would have worked just as well without any alternations. As soon as I got to the hospital, I put my own gown on. I wore it for almost ten hours of labor, and didn’t put the hospital gown on until I got out of the tub. It was wonderful to wear my clothes and it was no more inconvenient than a standard hospital gown.
3) Coconut water. I don’t really like coconut water, and during labor, I didn’t want to eat or drink ANYTHING, as I was dealing with some pretty serious nausea. Oddly, when it came time to push, I changed my tune, and the coconut water was the most delicious thing I’d ever tasted (the peach flavor is my favorite). Coconut water is great during labor because it’s chock-full of electrolytes and natural sugars that help keep your body hydrated.
4) Shelf-stable microwave meal. The Trikester entered the world at 2:22 AM. Because I hadn’t eaten in 48 hours, I was ravenous! The hospital cafeteria was closed until morning, and because it was Thanksgiving, all the nearby restaurants were also closed (not that I wanted Mr. Tricycle leaving my side, anyway). Next time, I’m totally packing a meal that can be microwaved at the nurse’s station to tide me over until morning.
5) Nice pajamas. Although I wore the hospital gown for a few hours after delivery, I didn’t bleed excessively. It took some effort, but I got up and showered after four or five hours (which really did feel wonderful) and put on new pajamas. I wish I looked like this VS model, but having something new and pretty to wear helped me feel a little bit better.
6) Nursing tanks. At the hospital you’re going to try to breastfeed. I found it easiest to wear a nursing tank under my pajamas or a zip-up hoodie. It gave me a little coverage, and was easy to pull up and down when trying to get the baby to latch. I’m not a huge fan of Walmart, but these two-pack of tanks are my favorites so far – they fit snuggly in the chest (though not uncomfortably), and the belly region is on the looser side, so I don’t feel like I am highlighting my puffy stomach.
7) Toothbrush and toothpaste. I don’t know why, but labor made my mouth taste so disgusting. I know I was sporting some mean dragon breath a few hours into the process. Maybe it was all that mouth breathing? Brushing my teeth, once I felt up to it, was wonderful.
8) Boppy. Nursing is crazy – there are so many aspects to getting it right. I found that having my boppy at the hospital made positioning so much easier, and also saved my muscles that were already fatigued from labor. We left it in the car, and Mr. Tricycle ran out and got it when I was in recovery.
9) Nursing pads. Your milk probably won’t come in until you leave the hospital, but I had plenty of colostrum, and by the time I was discharged, I definitely needed these. Throw a few in your bag, just in case – they take up almost zero room.
What were your hospital bag must haves?