Now that I’m preparing to head into the hospital for the fourth time, I feel like I have a pretty good handle on what I’m doing. =) It’s not my first rodeo, and I wanted to share my list of the things you should not head to the hospital without when it’s time to have your baby!
When I read through some of the lists given in the pregnancy books, I want to laugh…Some of the lists are just terribly outdated (suggesting you make sure to have FILM for your camera, etc.), and some of the suggestions are just not necessary. (And so much that comes in handy is just not included!) So, after my multiple hospital experiences, here are the things I highly suggest you don’t leave home without!
Your own clothes/jammies/sweats : You will feel SOOOO much better about yourself, and so much more receptive to visitors if you’re not wearing that awful gown they stick you in! As SOON as I’m all stitched up, the baby is taken care of, etc. I hop into my own clothes, and I instantly feel a ton better (and cuter.) Slippers are also a good addition to the bag! (I would like to say for the record, that after three labors, I have NEVER ruined a single piece of clothing…not even a sock. Not all of the horror stories are true, and labor is different for everyone. Don’t think that just because someone said you’ll “ruin” everything you wear at the hospital, that it will actually happen!)
A bathrobe: Take it from someone who has been asked to “just take a walk” around the maternity floor a few times…..Let me tell you, I would have felt a LOT more comfortable, had I been wearing an actual bathrobe, and not the open bun-flap robe with another bun-flap robe on backwards….not a cute look, and not very flattering…(especially when coupled with the contractions I was having while walking the floor….encountering dozens of people…)
Your own bedding: There is something so much more warm and inviting about your own pillow and blanket….so much better than the sterile, over-bleached hospital linens…I always bring my own pillow and my special quilt to use. I use my pillow right away, and it helps me relax and be more comfortable. (You know how weird it is to use a different pillow at a hotel? Think of how much more necessary it is to feel comfortable when in labor!) I use my special quilt after delivery, on my recovery bed. I’ve had SO many nurses comment on how “homey” my room feels, just with a few touches from our home.
Distractions: During my first labor, there was nothing on except the news and re-runs of Who’s The Boss? They played the exact same news segments every fifteen minutes, and Tony Danza just wasn’t cutting it for me in the distraction department. We wised up the next few times around, and labor has been pretty darn pleasant. I watched Seasons 3 and 4 of The Office during my labor with Henry, and Season 1 of 30 Rock during my labor with Harrison. Let me tell you…Having something there to keep my mind off of my contractions, and that actually made me laugh during labor was awesome! During a painful contraction, I just zoned into whatever silly prank Jim and Dwight were mixed up in, and it was much more bearable. We also got “better service!” The nurses would just come and hang out in our room, since they liked the shows! This time around, I’m going for The Big Bang Theory. Maybe the nurses will sing Soft Kitty to me during contractions…
Do what works for you. Lots of books and birthing coaches will tell you to bring a “focal point”, but all I’m saying is that staring at some object for 12 hours wouldn’t have done it for me…Labor is an indefinite amount of time…You could be sitting in your bed for a long time, and it would be a good idea to have something to amuse you. (I am also planning on having my laptop with me during this labor, and plan to keep my facebook page updated throughout, and hope to blog much of the day as well!)
Snacks: While the hospital will provide you with your meals, the food is not always delightful. Keep in mind that it is mass-produced cafeteria food, so you might not be a huge fan, and may find yourself hungry! (And, you might get hungry outside of the time when the meals are served! You aren’t usually in control of when your food comes, so having a few snacks on hand is a great idea to curb cravings and keep energy up!)
Getting Ready Equipment: People have laughed at me for this, but I don’t think I would have been quite as keen on visitors, had I not packed not only my shampoo, toothbrush, etc, but my makeup, hair-dryer as well! I felt WORLDS better taking a shower and getting myself ready as I would for any other day. (I’m not high maintenance, so I wear just a bit of makeup, but boy, having some powder, a little mascara, and blown-dry hair made all the difference in the world!) Take the extra 15 minutes in the morning, let Daddy hold the new baby, and get yourself ready. You will feel much better!
Clothes and Jammies: Yes, the hospital provides you with onesies for the baby while there…..HOWEVER, they are HIDEOUS. One or two fussy nurses may raise a bit of a stink about your baby being in something other than the standard issue ugly onesies, but really…you’ll want your first pictures of your child to have them looking cute. We always put our babies into jammies we’ve brought from home right away….(basically as soon as the hospital staff leaves us alone for the first time.) Make sure you pack an outfit for them to go home in as well (and have them in something YOU love! I hated the outfit we brought our daughter home from the hospital in, and have since chosen things I really like to bring my babies home in.)
Blankets: Again, like the clothing, the hospital does have receiving blankets for you to use…I have always found them to be much like the linens and gowns…just over-bleached and sterile, and pretty darn ugly. Bring a few cute blankets from home to wrap your new little one in!
A Boppy Pillow!!!: This could really be counted as something for YOU. If you don’t have a Boppy yet, GO BUY ONE! This thing will save your arms! Whether you’re a breast-feeding or bottle-feeding mama, the Boppy pillow is an essential feeding tool (in my opinion!)
Baby Book: These seem to be an outdated tradition, but if you are one of the few that still does a baby book, make sure to bring it to the hospital. There is a place for the nurse to stamp footprints and handprints (and make sure to get this part out when they are doing them for the birth certificate!), and a spot for hospital visitors to sign their name. (Make sure to have the book out and open to the visitor sign in page, so that you can catch everyone as they come through!)
Bedding/Pillow: Every hospital is different in what it has to offer dads, but it is a safe bet to go ahead and bring at least a pillow and one good quilt/comforter for Dad. Typically the hospital will have a set of sheets and a blanket, but we have enjoyed having our own for David to use. The “bed” Dad gets to sleep on is typically not super comfy, so having his own pillow is helpful in getting at least some rest.
Food: I cannot stress this enough! Make sure you bring snacks/beverages/food for Dad! Most hospitals don’t provide much more than coffee for Dads, so save him from cafeteria food and pack some snacks! Dad will need to keep up his energy as well, and we always make sure to bring plenty of crackers ,granola bars, etc., as well as muffins (or something like that) for breakfast, and a 12 pack of soda. It’s also safe to plan on spending some money on Subway, hospital coffee cart, etc. (If friends coming to visit ask if you need something, don’t feel like you can’t ask them to grab something for your husband! Having a friend bring a Starbucks or his favorite sub is a sweet gesture and will be much appreciated! Trust me!)
Aspirin/Tums/Ibuprofen/etc: Our first time around, we were surprised that the hospital wouldn’t let my husband have an ibuprofen, so someone had to run out and buy us some. Now we know that hospitals can’t provide any type of medicine for non-patients, and we bring our own! It is likely that Dad may develop a headache due to lack of sleep, so pack a bottle of ibuprofen and save yourselves a trip to the drug store.
Camera/Camcorder/Iphone: Sort of goes without saying, but I do know a few people who forgot their camera. Make sure that your card is empty, and it isn’t a bad idea to bring a back-up card! If you plan to upload pics to your computer to share on facebook, through email, etc., make sure to pack the correct card reader/cords, etc needed to transfer your pics from your camera to your computer. While the i-phone does take pretty good pics and videos, I do recommend having an actual camera as well. (That might be the photographer in me talking.)
Update Contacts in Cell Phone: “Bring a list of phone numbers” really cracks me up in all of the old lists…The idea here is the same though! Make sure that Dad has all of the phone numbers of people you’ll need to call after the baby is born programmed into the contact list on his cell phone. Think about older relatives, etc that might not have social media. We’ve always done a type of phone tree too, just to save ourselves the trouble of calling everyone individually. (Lots of sites/books will tell you that you need a calling card, etc because they won’t let you use a cell phone…We’ve NEVER had anyone tell us not to use ours.)
Towel: This will vary from hospital to hospital, but again, some are not all that accommodating to Dads, and may not actually give you a towel for Dad to use. Just be safe and bring him one from home! (Of course, pack his toiletries too!)
Appropriate Sleepwear: This may seem funny, but lots of guys sleep in just a pair of shorts or their boxers. While this is great at home, at the hospital where there is a nurse in your room every few hours, he may not feel comfortable just hanging out in his undies. We always pack a pair of track pants and a t-shirt for my husband to sleep in, just to be sure that he is covered up and decent anytime a nurse may appear in the room.
I hope this list helps all of you fellow moms-to-be out there!