Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Packing a maternity-ward hospital bag: a retrospective

I have to say that back in December when I packed my hospital bag and subsequently wrote about it in this post, I did a pretty spot-on job. I used almost everything I brought with me. Here are the only things I did not use:

Labor and delivery room bag
  • Cheap flip flops -- As I walked around the labor and delivery floor for hours, I was walking in my tennis shoes (which still fit me at the time). Before I gave birth I guess I thought things were going to be messy from the get-go. That was silly. Things are only messy at the very end of delivery and then in recovery, but recovery is not nearly as messy as I thought it would be, either. So, I would pack flip flops just in the recovery room bag.
  • Sugar-free hard candies -- Although the nurse in the childbirth class recommended having these on hand I never touched them, probably because I ate about six Popsicles while in the labor and delivery room. Popsicles were way more exciting than candy at the time, though interestingly enough my nurse tried to track down sugar Popsicles for me (her idea, not mine) and could only gather up the orange, purple, and red sugar-free variety. Still they were amazing.
  • Quarters for vending machines for Matt -- Never used them. Guess who used Coinstar yesterday at the grocery store to convert a bunch of coins into an Amazon gift card?

Overnight room bag
  • Underwear -- Maybe it's because I had a c-section but I never wore my own underwear in the hospital. I wore those hospital-issued mesh disposable granny panties and, dare I say, I loved them. More on that below. I tried wearing what I thought were my huge, cheap underwear I picked up at Target and those were never even close to cutting it.
  • Nursing supplies: soothies gel pads -- Never used these, but I chalk this up to the fact that nursing was and continues to be shockingly easy and pain-free for me. I am glad I brought these, though, as a safety measure to have on hand. Better to be prepared I think.
  • Travel pack of baby wipes -- Never used these, but it's hard to say what my experience would have been like had Natalie actually been in the room with us and not in the NICU. My guess is, though, these could have stayed home.
  • Newborn onesie -- Natalie did not wear this home because it would have rubbed against her umbilical cord stump, as I figured before, so we could have gotten away with just the long-sleeve T-shirt and footed fleece sleeper she went home in.

Boppy pillow -- We left this in the car and never used it because I only fed Natalie in the hospital room one time before she was taken to the NICU. Also, the NICU provided me with a My Brest Friend (horrible name!) pillow but I found it horribly uncomfortable because it hit me right at my c-section incision.

Although I thought we were super prepared, we had actually underpacked, something I don't believe has ever happened to me. Of course, we thought we'd be there two nights max and we wound up being there four nights, so had we experienced a normal hospital stay we would have been fine. Here's what we needed:
  • More clothes for Matt -- He only really brought one additional outfit. Fortunately he was able to run home in the middle of our stay.
  • Bigger socks and shoes for me -- I really needed to wear Matt's socks after delivery, which is what I did when we got home from the hospital. I was painfully swollen to a degree I could have never anticipated, and that swelling did not go away until about six days after delivery. I could not even fit in my loose-fitting tennis shoes with the laces untied. So, I wore flip flops in the middle of winter, even when leaving the hospital, but thankfully it was not terribly cold (and I was still hot from the postpartum hormonal roller coaster).
  • More nursing tanks/bras for me -- I brought one nursing bra and one nursing tank, the only ones I owned, to the hospital. Unfortunately I was sweating so much and got a weird cut on my chest (and subsequently bled on my nursing bra) that these felt gross fast. In retrospect I would have bought and brought along at least one more nursing tank to the hospital, probably the cheap, unfashionable variety, and saved the good stuff for home.
I think it's also worth noting what the hospital will give you while you're there. I wore the hospital gown every night while I slept because I was sweating so much that my own clothes would have just been damp. So, during the day it was nice to wear my PJs as my clothes and change into the hospital gown for sleeping purposes.

As I mentioned above, I embraced the hospital-issued mesh disposable granny panties. Curious to see what they look like?

They're basically as big as a pair of boy shorts from Victoria's Secret, but step into them and you quickly discover the meaning of one-size-fits-all. These suckers are huge, and fortunately so. They will go over your still-six-month-looking-pregnant-but-not-pregnant belly and they will not at all cause your c-section incision to hurt, unlike all other underwear I tried on in the first week postpartum. I know some women hate these, but I was the weird one who asked for extras to take home.

As any woman who has given birth knows, going to the bathroom postpartum is a bit of a process, and the hospital has lots of supplies on hand that you'll be able to bring home with you too to make life a little easier. The first is the enormous hospital-issued maxi pad that may as well be called a diaper. For comparison purposes, here is one next to a regular pad, the kind you might wear for up to a month postpartum (remember, tampons are not allowed during this stage!).

Sexy, right? This is where my friends who haven't given birth quietly exit my blog post, scared out of their minds. Please return soon!

Then there are all the hospital-issued items you can place on top of the giant adult diaper. These include the giant ice packs that are activated when you twist them. (For what it's worth, even in my recovering state I was impressed by this technology.) Then on top of the ice pack you are encouraged to make what's been called a "salami sandwich" of witch hazel pads (aka Tucks). Spray the witch hazel pads with Dermoplast pain relief spray and add a dollop of hydrocortisone ointment and you're set.

Of course before you actually get up from the toilet you need to spray yourself down with warm water in one of these peri bottles, yours for the keeping!

If you're wondering why it takes a woman who has just given birth about 15 minutes to go to the bathroom, this is why.

The hospital will also supply you with what you need for a sitz bath, but that's something I never needed to take advantage of.

And yes, I still have extras of all these supplies on hand, so should a woman have a drive-by delivery on my front porch I can provide her with decent postpartum hygienic care.

Today's takeaway messages: be nice to the women you know who've just given birth, and when you go to the hospital leave your underwear at home.

1 comment:

  1. Just a tip for your readers who might be planning to cloth diaper...the Peri bottle is ABSOLUTELY the best thing ever for diaper solution if you use cloth wipes. We use half a Baby Bit, a drop of tea tree oil, and fill the thing with warm water. It works great! Sometimes we just use plain water and it works great too. I have 3 of them and rotate through.