Thursday, December 15, 2011

Packing a maternity-ward hospital bag

Last week at my 36-week appointment I found out that I am exhibiting faster progress toward labor than I anticipated. I assumed I would be at least a week late delivering. With a Jan. 2 due date, I thought a Jan. 10 birthday sounded like a nice round number. Plus, my easy pregnancy has mimicked my mother's pregnancies almost perfectly, and because she was agonizingly late delivering my older brother, her first-born, I assumed I would be late delivering my first-born too. Well, jury's still out on this one, but my doctor claims she believes I will not go past my due date. Time will tell!

That said, after last Thursday's appointment I went into insane pregnant woman overdrive on Friday. I stayed at work super late, especially considering it was a Friday. I got all my school work in order. Then I realized, if this baby arrives tomorrow I would not have a packed hospital bag ready to go.

Now that I've mostly packed my bags, I thought I would share my strategy. I know there are tons of hospital-bag-packing lists out there like this one from BabyCenter, but I found most of them a little more cumbersome than I could bear. I'm a light packer by nature (you might recall the nearly four weeks I spent in Europe with my carry-on luggage), and going to the hospital is no exception. Also, although I'm far from a germaphobe, I'd like to limit how much of my stuff I bring into the hospital.

Taking the advice of the nurses on my hospital tour and at my childbirth class, I packed two separate bags. One smaller bag will be for the labor and delivery room, and the other one Matt will bring in from the car once we've settled into our overnight room. Here's what made it into each:

Labor and delivery room bag (a small duffel-type bag)

  • Socks! -- This I realize is probably the one thing I'll be wearing besides the standard-issue hospital gown.
  • Cheap flip flops -- in case I get up to walk around and putting on shoes is too cumbersome. I don't want any clothing that could get ruined in the labor room.
  • A small toiletries bag that contains lip balm (apparently lips get quite chapped during delivery), a small tube of toothpaste, two toothbrushes (for Matt and me), a small bottle of mouthwash, elastic headbands and hair ties, deodorant (though who knows about this one....just seems useful to have on hand)
  • A bag of sugar-free hard candies for me when that and Popsicles are all I'm allowed to ingest
  • Easy snacks for Matt such as granola bars and pretzels
  • A small wallet with $20 in cash, $5 in quarters (for vending machines)...and if it's possible to make the switcheroo when I go into labor I'll add my photo ID, insurance card, and one credit card to the mix (or else I'll just take whatever's in my purse!)
  • Small point-and-shoot camera and charger
  • Charger for iPad and iPhones (thankfully it's the same one!)
  • Magazines
  • Journal that I've been writing in to Baby Awesomerod and a pen
  • Receipts indicating that I've already paid for my private room and paid my insurance co-pay (even though the hospital claims I don't need to bring these items, this is the one time in my life when printing out and bringing my receipt seems like a good idea). Can I just say how bizarre it is to have paid for the delivery of a baby who hasn't yet been born?

On delivery day we'll add our iPad and iPhones to the bag so we can pass the time with hospital WiFi and stay in touch with people. (And so I can blog between contractions....I kid, I kid!)

Overnight room bag (a small carry-on suitcase)

  • Cheap navy blue draw-string PJ bottoms and matching navy blue knee-length robe, both by Gilligan & O'Malley from Target
  • Magenta henley sleep shirt (that buttons down the front for easy nursing access), Xhilaration from Target
  • Gray nursing tank, also by Gilligan & O'Malley from Target
  • Wireless nursing bra from A Pea in the Pod
  • Lansinoh nursing products: disposable nursing pads, lanolin cream, soothies gel pads  
  • Extra socks for me
  • My slippers!
  • Underwear for going home (will I wear them? I don't know!)
  • Going home outfit for me: gray maternity sweatshirt (thank you, Cara!) and loose-fitting yoga-esque black pants (and if all goes according to plan, I'll be wear sneakers to and from the hospital)
  • Change of clothes for Matt
  • Clothes for Matt to sleep in
  • Cheap flip flops for Matt for the shower
  • Our Canon Rebel XTi digital SLR and charger for when we're ready to take better photos
  • Going home outfit for Baby Awesomerod -- I opted for a fleece footed onesie in newborn size and threw in the bag a newborn onesie (which she probably won't wear) and a 0-3 month long-sleeve button T-shirt (that she probably will wear under her footed onesie since she'll have her little umbilical stump still secured to her belly button). Oh, and her amazing knit bunny hat from my friend Sam!
  • Some extra snacks
  • Travel pack of baby wipes -- This is recommended in Baby 411, the book I'm currently chugging through. Apparently some hospitals do not use baby wipes, but when the parents are changing the baby's meconium-filled diaper they prefer wipes to hospital gauze pads.
  • Bigger bag of toiletries than the one in the labor/delivery bag: shampoo, conditioner, soap, body wash, face wash, hair products, eye cream, make up and make up remover (so I can feel like a human and take at least a couple photos other people can see...not on Facebook, though, and probably not on this blog -- I am not afraid to admit my own vanity)
Speaking of toiletries, how awesome is this little case I picked up for $0.99 at The Container Store that is the perfect size for holding a couple days' worth of tinted moisturizer? Fantastic!

  • Two pillows in brightly striped pillow cases -- This is encouraged by the hospital so that our pillows don't get mixed in with the hospital's pillows. As an added bonus, inspired by Young House Love, having a fun pillowcase will make early photo ops a little more cheerful and less focused on my I'm-in-the-hospital-having-just-given-birth case of the uglies.
  • Boppy pillow to keep in the car and then see if I need it later
  • An old towel and plastic garbage bag are already in the car in case my water breaks (on the way to the hospital or before then)
  • The infant car seat, that we're getting checked this weekend (turns out our county does occasionally offer car seat installation inspections, and one is happening this Saturday)
I will not be wearing my wedding rings or any other jewelry, and if I had to guess Matt won't be wearing his wedding band either. We both are in the habit of taking our rings off at home, so I'm sure we'd want to do that in the hospital, too, which would be a bad scene.

What did you use the most from your hospital bags? Anything you wished you'd added or left out?

1 comment:

  1. They offer first baby pictures while in the hospital. They do an amazing job with making a plain white bed sheet look like you are in a photography study. (They go well beyond the in-hospital photo of us from the 1980s) But someone had brought me a blue blanket and we used that as a back drop instead. I wish I had thought a head and included pretty blankets and maybe a small accessory or two for our mini photo shoot. We got great pics of Jake and a great first family photos.