17 Items to Pack for the Hospital

There is so much focus on preparing for birth.  This list is about after birth and it is written with a specific hospital in mind.  You can leave most of these things in the car until you are on the postpartum (now, cutely called, Mom/Baby) floor.  I have not included things that you might want in L&D, as some of those things might depend on the type of birth that you have and this already a long list – yes, you might look like a crazy person with twelve suitcases, but at 2 am on the second night, it will be worth it!

  1. Food – In my opinion, the food at Christiana is pretty bad. I realize they are feeding hundreds if not thousands of people and I hate being critical, but it is not good. After birth, fiber is your friend and the menu at the hospital includes a lot of processed and low fiber options. Have friends and family bring you good, fresh food like fruit or salads. You can also use the hospital concierge, “At Your Service” to get takeout.   Pack some healthy, hearty snacks (like chocolate, nuts, whole fruit, Kind Bars) that don’t need refrigeration to eat throughout the day and night. If you thought you were hungry while pregnant, just wait until you are breastfeeding, it is hunger like no other. Also, even if you are trying to be healthy, DO NOT ORDER the salmon (trust me).
    This was the first go round – notice no water bottle
  2. Clothing – once your medical situation is stable and you are hooked up to less stuff, it’s nice to put on your own clothes. Women who have Cesarean births might find that pants (or anything else) with a waistband are not comfortable. Bring a nursing nightgown and robe in a dark color. The nightgown can also be preferable to the pants in the first two days as you can sometimes “gush” blood and overflow a pad. You can hike the gown up away from your tush while in bed and still look totally dressed as you lie on your chux pad. Leave your lacey, pink nighties at home – they’ll be fresh and clean in a year when you are ready for them again.
  3. Bring a going home outfit – this outfit does not include your favorite pre-pregnancy skinny jeans. Plan an outfit that is comfortable and can accommodate at least your belly at six months pregnant. Again, dark bottoms are a good idea in case of leaking/staining.
  4. Bring a couple of your own pads. The pads at the hospital are huge and puffy. I have used “Always” pads since I first met my own crimson tide and I prefer them to all other pads. Buy giant, super absorbent pads, and bring a few for the ride home. I did not object to using the hospital pads while lying in bed.
  5. Toiletries – bring your own shampoo, soap, facewash, etc. The hospital might have some, but it is horrible. Your first shower should be as wonderful as possible – just FYI, the new shower pans at Christiana are not dirty – they are discolored by the bleach that is used to clean them. In any case, it’s nice to have flip flops to walk around your room and to use in the shower.
  6. Speaking of showers, bring a towel. Bring a big, soft towel. But don’t bring your best, favorite towel.  Use those little scraps of sandpaper that the hospital hands out to dry your bottom and legs and use your own towel on your hair, face, arms and back.  Remember the part about gushing blood? Bring a towel that can get stained without evoking your tears.
  7. Tears….. tears and stitches. I was recently informed that Christiana is no longer providing witch hazel pads and benzocaine spray (Dermoplast). These were handy little tools to find in your bathroom to help you deal with perineal stitches, swelling and hemorrhoids. Some people say that the spray can delay healing, but I say, do what makes you feel good. If in doubt, throw a bottle of Dermoplast and some Tucks Medicated pads into your bag.
  8. If you want to breastfeed make sure that you have a plan. Meet with a good lactation consultant while you are pregnant to identify any risk factors for breastfeeding issues and come to the hospital armed with a solid breastfeeding plan (I suggest Katie Madden at The Birth Center). I also came to the hospital with pacifiers, bottles, formula and nipple shields, but those were all part of my specific plan for my specific problems.
    My mom in my 1994 era room. Yes, she’s every bit as awesome as she looks.
  9. Bring a “My Breast Friend” Pillow, not a Boppy, not anything else. As you are trying to hold a floppy newborn in a football hold, you are going to need this pillow. I know it’s big and it doesn’t fit in your bag, bring it anyway.  Second time moms – you are not too cool for a pillow.  You have not nursed a newborn in at least nine months – you forget.
  10. More pillows. The pillows in the hospital are hospital pillows. They are like hardback books wrapped in a paper towel and covered with a Ziploc bag. Bring your own pillows and put them in colored pillow cases to keep them identified and make your room a little cheerier.
  11. Socks – as your hormones come and go, you may be hot, you may be cold. Nothing is nicer than a great pair of pink polka dot knee socks.
  12. bring chapstick and body/hand lotion. The hospital is dry
  13. Bring your favorite water bottle. I don’t like Styrofoam cups with straws, I like my water bottle.
  14. Swaddling Blankets. Christiana has these customized sleep sacks with industrial strength Velcro. Sleep sacks are great – for nine month olds! Sleep sacks are not great when you are changing diapers ten times a day and trying to do skin to skin. Ditch the sleep sack and bring large swaddle blankets from home. You can change diapers more easily and undress your baby more smoothly. Find a nurse and have her teach you to swaddle – they all know how.
    A selfie that captured the brilliance of the floral wallpaper
  15. Phone charger with extra long cord. The outlets are somewhat far from the bed. Make sure you have an extra long cord so that you can keep your phone close to you (if you want it).
  16. Stuff for your partner – Your partner should have what they need to spend the night so that they are not running to get shaving cream or another shirt when you need them by your side.  Note: this is their job, not yours, but I put it on the list as a reminder.
  17. Your Postpartum Plan – Your 4th Trimester deserves as much planning and preparation as your pregnancy and birth. If you are interested in learning more about creating a useful postpartum plan, check out our upcoming workshop, Managing Your Maternity Leave.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *