So my due date is in a few days, and pretty much all I can think about is when I'm going to go into labor. What an exciting time! It's like waiting for a surprise to come at any moment, and you just have to be ready.
We were completely prepared for a water birth at home with our first, wound up having a C-Section with baby #1, and then a VBAC with baby #2; and the second's birth required 3+ days in the hospital after delivery.
After having a sampler of some different birthing experiences, I feel like I'm more prepared than ever with baby #3 when it comes to having my bags packed.
But I wasn't about to claim to know it all, so I researched a bit and asked around - including a poll on my Facebook wall, and I gathered some great tips! (Thanks, friends!!)
So here goes. Here's what I've packed in my hospital bag (in detail):
- Aromatherapy Heat Wrap & "Hot Water Bag" - The Heat Wrap is a microwaveable wrap full of herbs and grains used for heat therapy -- very effective for me during the early stages of labor. The "hot water bag" (for lack of a better name) is an old-fashioned heating pad you fill with hot water. Very comforting and helpful for back pain during labor!
- Lip Balm, Gum, & Hair Ties - this was a must for several of the gals I asked "what were the top three things you would recommend to pack in a hospital bag for labor/post-partum." Lips get dry. And it feels like you're running a marathon - you'll want your hair out of your face. Gum is perhaps for you or for anyone who is going to be close to your face while you're in the zone. ;)
- Camera - with extra batteries and/or charger.
- Scripture Cards - this was a suggestion from a friend on Facebook and I loved it so much, I made some of my own! I grabbed a sharpie and made some little frills to make 'em pretty, and I want to share them with you (and you could print them for your pregnant friends as a nice addition to a shower gift)!
They're small, so I recommend printing them on card-stock. Download here.
This, for me, is the most critical part of my packing list. I want to feel as together and comfortable as possible after all that pain and hard work so I can relax and enjoy our new baby!
- New Jammies & Comfy Slippers - okay, so they don't have to be new, but I wanna feel great in a new comfy pair of pjs. Yoga pants seemed too snug after birth (since you're practically wearing diapers for a couple days while you heal), and gowns felt too open and awkward when it comes to having visitors, so I bought a set of soft matching pajamas (the button-down kind) for myself to wear so I can nurse, be comfortable, and fully clothed for visitors. Slippers are to keep my bed clean and my feet warm.
- Toiletries (Plus Hair Stuff) - a "mistake" I made last two times was to bring little hotel shampoos in my toiletry bag. This time I brought larger bottles (not full-size, but larger than hotel), and brands that I use at home. Using hotel shampoo and soap made me feel even more like I was in an unfamiliar environment, even making my hair feel weird, so having familiar products just makes me feel more at ease...maybe that's just me!
I'm also going through the trouble to pack a hair dryer and straightener, plus makeup, b/c I feel a little more human after all I've been through if I can have nice hair and a little color back in my face.
- Extra Changes of Clothes - something kinda weird about postpartum recovery is that you sweat a bunch those first few days! Plus there's all that other stuff - birth and newborns just produce so many fluids - so it's nice to have some extra jammies/yoga pants to change into in case you're at the hospital for a couple nights.
- Comfortable Nursing Bras - a friend recommended these because they're made to sleep in - so comfy enough for the circumstances, but you're covered (no pun intended) when guests come visit.
- Disposable Underwear - I'd always used the pads and mesh underwear that the hospital gives you after birth, but several ladies have recommended disposable underwear as an alternative, so I'm giving it a try! Supposedly it's much more comfortable and less bulky.
- Towel - hospital towels are small and scratchy, plus you may want an extra for your hubs. Really, everything that makes you feel a little more at home, and a little less like you're in a hospital, is a big plus in my book.
- Heating Pad & Ice Pack - a thawed ice pack, that is. Our hospital didn't have any when I delivered my second! Usually they'll let you borrow a freezer somewhere to keep it cold. These are for healing/pain-relief after birth.
- Boppy & Pillow - the Boppy pillow, for me, is a must!! It's so helpful with nursing, but also a complete relief to your rear-end (depending on all you've been through) to sit upon b/c the open u-shape allows for the pressure to be on your thighs instead of your...um...painful areas. And my own pillow is amazing to have so I can get the best sleep possible.
- Toiletries - can't forget hubby's toiletries!
- Pillow - he's been through a lot too, and will likely be sleeping on a pull-out bed of some sort, so my hubs for one appreciates having his own comfy pillow to catch some zzz's.
- PJs & Extra Outfit - Some cozy pajama pants for the over-night stay and a clean change of clothes for the next day.
- Snacks - this is definitely for Mom, too, but I included it here b/c the daddy doesn't always get included in the mealtimes at the hospital and you're both up all hours of the night when it's not necessarily easy to get out and buy something (and the caf is closed). I've packed crackers, dried fruit, lots of nuts, and some of Tedd's favorite treats.
- His laptop & charger - multipurpose; for movies with our toddlers, social media updates on baby, keeping up with e-mails, etc. There's more downtime than we realize - especially when you're staying for more than an overnight.
- A Few Outfits - I'm a fan of plain white onesies, and then swaddling them when they're this new. A lot of extras create frustration during those frequent diaper changes.
- Some Swaddlers - I like the velcro swaddlers that can easily go over a plain onesie, but the nice swaddler blankets are also fantastic.
- A Going-Home Outfit - for us, this just means something really warm that's also compatible with a carseat.
- Headband/Hat - if you don't bring your own hat, you'll get the hospital's, which may or may not bother you. I don't mind them a bit, but for those big debut photos, I want to have at least one or two pretty headbands (we're expecting a girl) to adorn her beautiful face!
- A Before-You-Go List - not everything can be packed ahead, so I have a list on top of our bag to remind us of the things to grab last-second (phones, wallets, chargers, pillows, etc). That way, in the blur of labor, you don't have to do any extra thinking while you're rushing out for the hospital - it's all written down for you!
- Labeled Zippers - this seems a little over-the-top perhaps, but my husband & I have traveled enough together to know that "in the second large-ish zipper section of the front side of the bag" is not helpful when you want to get something out of your bag. I labeled each zipper with a keyring and "laminated" tag (packaging tape & hole punch) to make things easier on him (and for efficiency during labor).
- And More Labels! - I packaged my whole post-delivery outfit in one bag (underwear/tanks/pjs/slippers/etc) and labeled it to save my husband the trouble of putting together an outfit for me from our bag. While I get that amazing shower, he can just grab my bag out of the backpack and then get back to the new baby :)
- White Noise - we really like white noise, and it helps in the hospital with all the interruptions and noises going on out in the hall, to have it on hand. We use a free white-noise app to play through our laptop.
- Kids' Bag - our kids have a bag packed, too, for grandparents' house. No rushing to get stuff together for them at the last second. I'll make the call and hand 'em over with their bags all packed and ready. Their's includes extra clothes (including a nicer outfit should the big day fall on a church day or something), a little goody-bag from their daddy and me, pull-ups, toothbrushes, and coat/shoes, etc
- An Extra Duffle - this was a really great suggestion from a friend. Bring an extra empty bag along for all the extras you get in the hospital (ours sends us home with lots of samples and diapers), and also for gifts visitors might bring, etc. You know how stuff seems to multiply, too!
Some plastic grocery sacks are great as well for dirty clothes or shoes.
- Gifts for the Hospital Staff - this was a suggestion made by one of my friends, who (now expecting her fourth baby!) has a basket of snacks and goodies for the nurses and staff who are working close by during and after the delivery. So thoughtful!
- Music - Having a CD or a playlist on hand can be helpful. I didn't make anything special in this category, but this has been a suggestion made by a number of friends as something they feel is a necessity during labor/delivery.
So there you have my exhaustive list of things I packed in my bag.
You can pack and plan all you like, but I for one, after having a home-birth all planned out and winding up with a c-section, know how plans can change! So if you're following my packing list to get ideas for your own hospital bag, I recommend packing some flexibility in there too ;)
And now as I hit publish, I'll be going back to my normal homemaking stuff and wondering when this baby will show up! I'm personally rooting for Thanksgiving, but our due-date isn't until Saturday (the 29th), so I may have a while to wait yet! (Hope not!!)
Until next time!
Until next time!