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What to Pack for the Hospital–Only the Essentials

November 9, 2011

The big day is just around the corner and it’s time to pack your hospital overnight(s) bag. Aside from the Birth Plan, this is one of the last in preparation for baby items on the list – and one of the final things you actually have control over before labor & delivery…and a newborn. I can’t truthfully say that filling your bag with this stuff will make the experience any more pleasant, but it always feels good to think you’re prepared, right? So get out your bag, and round up the following for your life changing 2-4 night getaway!

What to pack

 #1 Graco SnugRide Infant Car Seat & Base

 #2 Birth Plan x4 copies

 #3 Phone/Camera & Power Cords

 #4 Baby Announcement Email Address List

#5 Toiletries

#6 Boppy Pillow

#7 Sleep Sheep On the Go Sound Machine

#8 Kiddopotamus SwaddleMe Small/Med

#9 The First Years Newborn Pacifier

#10 Born Free Wide Neck Bottle, 5 Ounce

#11 Going home outfit for baby

#12 Robe & going home outfit for mom

#13 Baby book

#14 Overnight bag for significant other

Where to buy

For the items in today’s list, I shopped at and around my house. See Where to buy for more information about online shopping.

Why to pack

#1 Leave your properly installed car seat and base in the car until you’re ready to go home. The rooms are small and you may deliver in one room and recover in another so it’s easiest to retrieve it later. I used the Graco Infant SnugRide with both of my babies. Unlike me, be sure you know how to operate the seat’s 5-point harness, WITH a child inside. We strapped my first son in without removing his swaddle blanket and just thought it was a weird fit. Not completely unsafe and illegal. Lucky for him, we were just driving through the traffic-less streets of Los Angeles to get home…  And yes I did say L.A., but that isn’t a recent collagen injection in my face pictured here, but pregnancy puffiness that didn’t immediately recede, as I naively expected.

#2 The Birth Plan. A wonderful exercise to think through your ideal birthing experience and discuss with your doctor and partner. Used as scrap paper by the nursing staff to write down their lunch order. But just in case they’ve already eaten, bring several copies to hand out to each new shift.

#3 Bring your phone/camera and power cord. Some moms bring their own music too. If we have nothing in common and you’re interested in videoing the birth, check with the hospital in advance as some do not allow recording of medical procedures in the event of a lawsuit.

#4 Create your baby announcement email contact list ahead of time and send to your partner. You might not feel up to the task.

#5 Think camping trip, not the Ritz. Pack basic toiletries including shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste & brush, deodorant, lotion, chap stick, hairbrush, and under eye concealer if you’re having visitors. They are there to see the baby, but you’ll be in the pictures.

#6 Whether you are planning to breast or bottle feed, a nursing pillow like the Boppy is convenient for both. It minimizes the strain on your hands/wrists/arms. And it’s a great way to prop baby on your bed and just stare at her sweet face.  (While looking for a Boppy link for today’s list, I came across a new to me product that got rave reviews – Boppy Newborn Lounger– and just purchased one for a friend who brought her new baby home this afternoon.  Only a place for baby to hang out, not for nursing.)

#7 Continue the white noise baby was listening to in utero with the travel size Sleep Sheep Sound Machine. With hospital staff in and out of your room every few hours, it’s nice for both yourself and baby. I’m actually listening to my favorite ocean waves sound right now via my son’s monitor.

#8 Hospitals provide perfectly adequate swaddling blankets, but the Kiddopotamus SnuggleMe velcro swaddlers are more user friendly and require less repositioning of baby to secure them tightly.  They run small, go with the Small/Medium if you’re baby is full term.  Once baby outgrows this one, move on to the HALO SleepSack Swaddle.

#9 I am an advocate of the pacifier to satisfy baby’s need to suck as a means of self soothing. (See American Academy of Pediatrics Oct 2011 SIDS journal under Articles) If you are too, pack a few different brands to give your little one some options to choose from. My oldest child liked Born Free pacifiers and my youngest started with the The First Years Soothie Newborn pacifier pictured to the right, and has since transitioned to the MAM Pearl Silicone Pacifier.

#10 If you are planning to nurse, also plan for the unexpected. I needed to pump in the hospital with both boys, and fed my second formula in order to be discharged due to his nearly 10% weight drop. Consider a bottle no matter what your position on bottle feeding should the need arise. I use Born Free Wide Neck bottles.

#11 The super cute baby outfit you bought finally gets worn! Baby also needs mittens to protect his face from those unruly newborn fingernails, a hat, socks, and blanket.  The hospital provides diapers and wipes.

#12 Don’t bother with cute pajamas or underwear; they will get ruined. And if you don’t know why, check out Top 10 Essentials for a Healthy Mama. Cover up your hospital gown with a robe for visitors. A nursing bra is optional for support, or if you’ve somehow managed to deliver a baby and still retain any sliver of modesty. The hospital provides disposable underwear and socks. You will still be wearing maternity clothes out of the hospital so leave the pre-pregnancy jeans at home.

#13 Bring the baby book to capture baby’s footprints and fill out any special details of his big day before you get home and forget them.

#14 It’s a nice gesture to pack clothes, toiletries and snacks for the one who likely landed you on this overnight getaway. And consider surprising them with something as it will be the last time for some time that you won’t be totally focused on someone else!

Don’t forget your insurance card if you are not already registered with the hospital.

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