As you inch closer to baby arriving, you may be wondering what you should put in your hospital bag. There are countless blogs and articles toting the "must-haves" when it comes to the mighty bug out bag. Remember, what you bring in with you, you will have to pack back out with extra items, such as paperwork, hospital goodies, gifts and a baby in a car seat.
I like to think of my self as an aspiring minimalist. The idea of less is more really makes sense to me. This may come from me wondering "how did we get so many Lego's?!" or it could stem from farther back into my childhood staring at one of my grandfather's three (yes, three) barns full of his proclaimed treasures that he would have a need for one day. (He once bought a pallet of boxed, gray sweatshirts and sweatpants from the state sale; they had "property of Oregon correctional" stamped on the backs and he swore they were still good. I think my dad still has a set to this day. Why my grandfather felt he needed two hundred pairs of Oregon state correctional apparel is beyond me.) And so perhaps this is where I desire to have and use just what I need.
Fast forward to my own research and packing of the hospital bag. I was convinced that our daughter was going to go passed her estimated due date, therefore I had a halfhearted bag of clothes packed just to make it seem like I was making an effort (Side note: I suggest a zip up bag that opens, like a carry on type. I used a beach type bag and it sucked digging to the bottom to find my toothbrush). When my water broke three days before her due date, I was half in shock and half giddy with excitement. It was late at night and we tried to stay home to rest but the anticipation got to us. We decided to head to the hospital and so I needed to make sure I had what I would need in my bag. I think this tactic, or just pure procrastination, worked in my favor since I didn't have time to second guess if I wanted to bring something. It came down to what I knew I would need in the next 48 hours.
Comfortable clothing that stretches is a life saver. You will be engorged, padded and swollen in all the weird places and having apparel that gives makes things run smoother. My mom has made it her thing to buy me a new set of button up pajamas for postpartum. It is a great to just unbutton and feed your baby and not have to worry about straps, loops or pulling things over your head. Socks. Bare feet and hospital floors are just...no. A lightweight robe to wear whenever. I used it as a blanket and for after labor. It is great to just have to throw on if you need to get your mesh pantied bum to the restroom or cover up when visitors pop in unexpectedly.
The hospital is not a Four Seasons...or a Super 8 for that matter. Bring your own toothpaste, shampoo, body wash, lotion, chapstick and pillow. Hospital air is dry and wreaks havoc on skin and the pillows are, what I feel, the lowest fluff you can get away with and still call it a pillow.
I packed my camera since I wanted photos of our baby being born. That's just me. If you don't have someone to designate "photographer" and you don't want to do it yourself, leave it home. Cell phone and charger.
Snacks. Depending on when you give birth, you may not have many choices for food. Our hospital's room service ends at night and doesn't resume again until 6 am. You may be out of luck for your first post labor meal if food service is closed. Pack the good stuff and enjoy it because you earned it.
Two outfits for baby. It is tempting to pack all your favorites. But the likelihood of you getting to dress your little nugget in them all before you discharge is slim. The hospital will provide you with awesome swaddling blankets, a hat and shirts. They will also provide you with diapers and wipes, though these are not typical wipes. These are large, dry cotton sheets that they wet with water and wipe baby with. They use these because it is the least chemical option for new babies. So if you are wanting more than this, consider bringing your own wipes. If you are worried about chemicals, consider Water Wipes.
The hospital will provide you with all the mesh underwear, maxi pads and ice packs you want. So no real need to pack your own, unless you are particular about what you use. Also, stock up. Ask for more before you leave.
Do I have to say car seat? This is kind of a given.
So there it is. If I were to give birth in the hospital again, this is what I would pack. It really is the bare minimum. If there are things that you know you won't be able to live without then pack 'em. I encourage my clients to pack things that make the room comfortable and pleasant to birth in. You will get a feel for the space when you take your hospital tour. This is a great time to ask what is and isn't provided so you can plan accordingly.
Now go forth and have a baby!