Posted by: Kate | March 5, 2010

What Am I Forgetting?

OK, you moms out there, help me out. I think I’m all packed for the hospital, but there’s always that doubt, that I’m forgetting something important. Not that it would matter this time, since we live about 2 miles from the hospital, but still.

I sent an email to my friend J. yesterday, who is in a head-to-head race with me to see who pops first. She wants to go late, for reasons of scheduling and school year planning and so on… I want to go yesterday. So we’ve suffered celebrated alongside each other throughout, and now we’re down to the end game. This is her first baby, so she sent out an email to the moms in her circle, asking what she should pack. I – and this might shock you, so sit down first – wrote her a novel in reply.  (And, fair warning: it’s TMI, for sure…)

For you, it’s pretty straightforward, pack like you would for a weekend at a really boring, quiet relative’s house somewhere out in the middle of nowhere: 4 days’ worth of clothes for you (in case it’s a C-section), typical toothbrush/hairbrush/overnight kit (and hair clips or scrunchies to get your hair out of your face), and several low-key sources of entertainment that won’t take up a lot of space, need both hands or require much brain power… fluff magazines, iPod, some stationery maybe, a journal if you go for such things (I keep a journal for each of the kids, like an ongoing private letter, which I’m not great about remembering to write  in but I always remember when hospitalized).  Lots of hospitals have WiFi and allow computers now, but I won’t be bringing my laptop – takes up too much space, I can get Willem or Gretchen to update the blog/Facebook.  Bring your cell phone and charger, they’re allowed in most maternity wings now.

For the baby, really only one outfit – two if you feel like playing dress-up, but all you need is something to bring the kiddo home in.  They’ll provide onesies and blankets for during the hospital stay.  Bring the very smallest size you have… they outgrow them VERY quickly, so even if there’s a size 3-6 month thing you love, just wait a few days and the 0-3 month stuff will be too small, you’ll cry about it, and then you can use those 3-6 month outfits.

Plan on, for the first 24 hours after the birth, just wearing the formless johnny and fake underwear provided by the hospital… birth is terribly messy, regardless of the method, and there’s simply no reason to expose your own clothing to that.  You could get away with living in hospital clothing until discharge, but the problem with that is, even though no one will be looking at *you* because there’ll be a new baby in the room, you will be included in dozens and dozens of photographs.  So if nothing else, grab a cardigan or zip-hoodie or something to toss over the top of the johnny, and go ahead and take the 10 minutes in the morning to brush your hair (and put on makeup, if that’s you – I don’t ever wear makeup, but I bring tweezers and a handheld mirror and take the time to check for stray hairs and stuff before people arrive with their cameras in the morning).  Also, whether you wear lipstick or not, plan to bring either lipstick or tinted lip gloss or Chapstick – the air in the hospital is very dry, and chapped lips are just one little misery you don’t need.

Let’s see… the only things that come to mind as perhaps needing a special purchase for birth-related hospital stays are really enormous pads, breast pads and Lansinoh.  The pads, trust me… whether you’re a tampon kind of gal or not in the off-season, you won’t be using a tampon for what happens post-birth… vaginally, you’re too damn swollen and sore and miserable (bear in mind you won’t even be able to handle the sensation of toilet paper for a few days and will use the little squirt bottle the hospital provides – and ask for an extra to bring home!) and C-section, you’ll also get “discharge” (read: heavier than the heaviest period you’ve ever had) and you’re too sore and abdominally swollen/painful to be reaching around and dealing with that little string.  So go out and buy the kind of pads that they could use to clean up an oil slick: overnight length, extra large with wings.  Buy a couple bags, you’ll need them at home afterward, also.  The first few days, you can wear these mesh panties the hospital uses, and their pads, but once you’re back into your own underwear you’ll need heavy artillery (which, if you ever bought any, bring the maternity ones, your belly will stay big, and sensitive, for a while after birth… plus if you end up ruining a pair or three, better to ruin the ones you’re done wearing, anyway… and if all you own are sexy little thongs, go out and buy some bikini-cut Hanes or something).

Breast pads, you’ll have leakage.  Whether you breastfeed or not, you’ll likely want to prevent that leakage from being public knowledge… so there are these inserts that just fit into any bra (and if you’ll be breastfeeding, yes, definitely go out and buy nursing bras, a regular one will be OK in a pinch but is not intended for the task) and help you preserve just a little bit of dignity.

And Lansinoh, it’s pure lanolin that comes out in a paste much thicker than toothpaste, a very dark yellow color (though some brands are clear, and the brand doesn’t matter, as long as it’s sold in the nursing section as pure lanolin)… use it at the SLIGHTEST indication that your nipples are becoming chapped, because they’ll go from “Oh, that’s a little uncomfortable” to bleeding at every feed very quickly, and then they take a while to heal because you’re reaggravating the wound every few hours.  And even when you know to expect the possibility of traces of blood in the baby’s diaper if you’ve got a bleeding nipple, it’s still very unnerving to actually see it happen.   That stuff is perfectly safe for baby, and in a pinch works beautifully as lip gloss for you, too.

Last thing that comes to mind off-hand is, for breastfeeding, you’ll want something along the lines of a scrunchie, a loose rubber band, or something else that is bracelet-like (or, an actual bracelet, if you’re feeling all hogwild): something that you move from one wrist to the other every time you start a new feeding.  It’s best to switch starting sides every time, so as to keep things more even… you may end up with one side that simply creates more milk anyway (I didn’t have that with Emily, but did with Jacob, my left breast was probably a full cup size bigger than the right), but switching sides and making sure that the baby stays on each side for as long as possible are the ways to prevent that.  But the thing is, you’ll be sleep-deprived and overwhelmed and doing this 12 times a day, so it’s very hard to remember which side you started with last… hence, a bracelet.  One that is much easier to move around than the silver one I wear.

So, in list format (did I not warn you I’ve been babbly lately???)… this is with the assumption that you’ll be breastfeeding.

For you:
4 shirts with easy access to The Girls, either button-down or official nursing shirts or nightgowns
2 pairs of sweatpants or similar, maternity pants would be fine if you’re not entirely sick of them yet
4-5 pairs of non-sexy underwear
2 nursing bras
4-5 pairs of thick, comfortable, warm socks
Cardigan or zippered hoodie
Typical overnight kit, with extra hair-ties
Light entertainment stuff, aim for things that would only require one hand and less than half of the brain to operate
Cell phone and charger
Elastic bracelet
Enormous sanitary napkins
Lansinoh (a small tube goes a LONG way)
Breast pads

For baby:
One or two outfits, 0-3 month size

Hmm.  Now I’m doubting myself, wondering if I’ve forgotten anything.  Looks like I have tomorrow’s blog post all set, I’ll just copy and paste this and see if the other moms out there have anything to add…

I know, the camera, I need to grab that, too. Anything else??



  1. I’m a big fan of the boppy pillow. I think it’s most helpful for a first-time nursing mom. I wish I’d brought it when I had Cal.

  2. This was totally helpful, by the way, thanks for sending it! I’ll check back over these comments too… See you tomorrow!

  3. I’d say slippers and a lovely fragrant bar of soap to make you feel better when you shower after the birth.

  4. My two cents of new mom tips:

    I agree, a pair of cheap, comfy slippers with a non-skid sole are a must. Those little sock thingies with the rubber nubs on the bottom are silly. I did a lot of walking in labor.

    I like the Johnson & Johnson breast pads the best. You wouldn’t think a little thing like a built-in indentation for the nipple would make a difference but it does. Buy the nursing bra in a bigger size than you think. My gals at least went from petite to Hindenboobs overnight. I highly recommend the “Gilligan & O’Malley” brand nursing tank tops from Target with the full sling. I have 4 in different colors and they are great to wear under a zip up hoodie or cardigan for easy access to the girls – plus the price is right compared to many nursing bras.

    Don’t be afraid to ask for extra stuff at the hospital. I left with a few pairs of their sexy, sexy undies, an entire packet of the industrial strength pads, a rinsing bottle, and two blow-up rings to sit on. (Wait… why do we go through this again???)

    The only other thing I would recommend bringing is my mom. She undoubtedly came in the most handy of everything I packed. Unfortunately she’s busy right now. 🙂

  5. Definitely the slippers! Hospital floors are nasty and dirty…try not to think about that too much, though. 🙂 Slippers you can slide your feet into (clog or slide style) are great, especially if you’ve got an incision to deal with.

    The other thing I would take is water. The nurses will bring you little pitchers of ice water and paper cups to drink it from. And when you’re up to walking you can usually find out where to go fetch it yourself. BUT it can be a real hassle sometimes to get something as simple as a drink of water. You’ll feel like the nurses are busy with “real” problems and your DH will have just left for the night and suddenly you’ll be terribly thirsty. With my 2nd, I kept wishing I had a 6-pack of bottled water for those “emergencies”. Gotta stay hydrated for nursing and to help the bladder and bowels get back to normal!

  6. I had one of those pillows too – Found it really helpful when feeding my baby -especially because I had a c-section.

  7. If you have a written birth plan, bring a copy.

    If you don’t have a written birth plan, consider inking one up to bring a copy.

    If I have another baby, I will have prepared a big, bold “No PACIS/FORMULA/SUGAR WATER” card to tape to the baby’s bassinet. I unfortunately found out you can *not* be too militant with this, if it’s important to you.

    I always brought a couple jugs of gatorade and was always glad I did.

    Boppy, which also works great to sit on if your lady-parts are tender.

    I was a big fan of wearing my biggest granniest granny panties when I was wearing those big overnight pads. They are frigging huge, and they stay in place better the bigger your panties are. And my favorite big overnight pads are the orange-variety Always. They have this new Infinity line which I must say are pretty rockin’ as far as maxi-pads go.

    Granted I had brief hospital stays both births, but I totally rocked the hospital johnny until I was discharged, but with my own robe over it. The less laundry I had to do when I got home, the better!

    We brought our little travel DVD player and watched a bunch of The Office episodes.

    And just to float another opinion, I liked the Lansinoh nursing pads the best. I was a copious leaker, and I tried them all.

    Bring your own ibuprofen. You’ll want some, and no need to let the hospital charge you (or your insurance company) $20 a pill.

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