in my hospital bag… and not so much.

Let’s treat this one as a been-there-done-that sort of post, shall we? I received a few requests to share what I took with me to the hospital, after mentioning that a post like this was only in the works when I actually went into labor. Instead, I decided to take a fresh look back and share what I did and did not use during my stay. Maybe it’ll help you almost-there mamas pack a little lighter… or heavier!

The absolute must-haves:
Peppermint oil. During labor, during postpartum sleep-deprived headaches, during nausea, during it all. Friends, you need this stuff in your life.
Motherlove nipple cream. I use this after every nursing session during the first few weeks. I will never again use lanolin, after the thrush issues I’ve experienced! My hospital also offered little vials of olive oil, which works great too.
Medela nipple shields. In my opinion, these are like pacifiers… Do not let anyone discourage you from using these things if they work well for you and your baby! They’ve helped me with everything from cracks to latch issues. At the first twinge of discomfort with Hadassah, I pulled my shield out of the bag. I used it with nearly every nursing session for several days.
Medela breast shells. I only discovered these during my late breastfeeding days with the twins, but they’re magic for the newborn phase as well. They hold your clothes away from you and allow things to breathe when you’re not nursing.
Boppy nursing pillow. The only piece of baby gear I think a mama needs in the hospital. They’re great for establishing proper nursing positions, as well as letting visitors hold baby comfortably or nestling a newborn in for a nap while you rest or shower!
Lightweight bathrobe. Easy on, easy off. Soft as all get out. Any questions?
Travel-sized toiletries. Get the good stuff! No regrets!
Aden & Anais swaddle blanket. So far, Hadassah has worn maybe three outfits in two weeks. A diaper and a sweet layer of bamboo is really all she needs these days.

Sent family home to get:
More swaddle blankets. The wear and tear of a newborn and a hospital and staying in bed all day calls for frequent wardrobe changes. We like Swaddle Designs, too!
Burp cloths. I blanked on these and burped Haddie Lee up against her own blanket (or my bedsheets) until I got a hold of my stash from home. Prefold diapers are a great option, because they absorb a lot while nursing/burping, and they can double as a nursing cover.
Cotton nursing bras. Easy access for nursing, plus they’re modest enough for quick a cover-up should someone barge in at any moment. Do not even think about underwire or lacy cuteness yet.
Cotton t-shirts. Read above. We’re going for comfort and breathable fabrics here!

Why did I even bother with:
Sports bras, and all things synthetic for up top. Just…no.
Underwear. The hospital’s super-cute mesh panties work way better during the early days.
Tank tops. Just a bra and a bathrobe or loose tee works best while milk is on its way and baby nurses so frequently. I also wasn’t exactly worried about shaving my underarms during the first two days… and nobody wants to see that when they visit, right?!
Pajama pants. It’s safe to say that I spent 90% of my hospital stay wearing just a top and the super-sexy mesh hospital panties, which happen to double as fashionable biker shorts.

A little more advice for the hospital-headed:
You do not have to let the nursing staff bathe your baby. We’ve always declined in favor of doing it ourselves, when I’m feeling better and can participate. If you want them to, by all means – go for it! But don’t feel pressured if you’d rather do it yourself when you get home.

Likewise, you do not necessarily have to let your baby leave the room. Ever. If your hospital is anything like mine, they (hopefully) promote “rooming in” with baby. The staff can do their hearing tests, etc. in the room. Even the pediatrician can come do assessments at your bedside. Look into it!

Do not push yourself, but do push yourself. C-section mamas, you absolutely must walk. Frequently, in fact, or else the gas pain that awaits you at home might possibly be worse than the incisional pain in your tummy. For this birth, I stayed in bed a lot but did insist on one good shower with my delicious bath products before heading home. It was literally the big activity of the day, and it took a lot out of me. But it was worth it, especially since it was a few days before I had the chance again.

There you have it, folks! Your turn…
What words of wisdom can you share regarding labor & delivery stays at the hospital?

19 thoughts on “in my hospital bag… and not so much.”

  1. Great list! What did we all do before these muslin swaddled came out?!?! would add a nursing tank and Cheap flip flops for the shower. And walking is soooo important after a c section. Mine really was worse than incision pain. I also brought a notebook to jot down the birth story, memories of my stay I didn’t want to forget. I was there 3 nights and it was still such a blur! :)

    1. I was THIS CLOSE to putting the flip-flops on the list! I actually borrowed/stole a pair of Lucas’ that he never wears anymore. They were a bit too big and super comfortable. Great idea on jotting down ideas… I used the notes function on my iPhone!

  2. My only thought is if you don’t want people visiting say no. Don’t feel like you have to let everyone and their best friend’s sisters cousin come. Mom, baby & dad need space. Every birth is different, don’t go in with expectations. Breastfeeding is a natural thing but doesn’t always come easy and most issues are latching problems.

    Ok, I’m stopping myself now ;)

    1. Amen on the visitation policy! Because it was my place of work, I had a lot more visitors than normal BUT nearly every single one called or texted ahead and was super flexible. Very important to claim that space/privacy/time early on. And a double amen to the breastfeeding thing. I can’t stand when people say it should come easily or pain-free. Neither is true, in my case!

  3. I didn’t know about the peppermint oil, will definitely have to keep that in mind here soon. And I second the breastfeeding. I’m a NICU nurse and hopefully an LC come October.. we had a late preterm little and oh boy was that challenging in the beginning. I say take it one feed at a time, get help quick, and most importantly we want healthy mom and healthy baby however that may be to feed them :)

  4. Peppermint oil… how do you use it? I’ve had people tell me to use it in a spray for my feet but it makes them burn. (i know weird, huh?) Since all my boys were born back in the stone ages (before swaddling was hip… did it anyway. 2 loved it, the first born… sorta did but he was his own little person with intense likes/dislikes even as a newborn)

    Natural fibers all the way! Had to laugh about the walking and getting up and about…because I was continually being sent back to bed… we were us and walking the floor within just a few hours after birth. (yes i know not the norm but i couldn’t get comfortable in bed and did not have a private room. especially with the 2nd child… full moon, late spring storm… LOTS of babies!! 4 in our room alone… it was HORRIBLE!!!)

  5. Thanks for posting! We have 10-ish weeks until #2 arrives, so perfect timing. I was wondering if you would share any advice/tips/experience with placenta encapsulation. I am really interested in doing that this time around, but I don’t know anyone who has done that so no one to ask about it. I’m sure you are very busy, so it seems pretty presumptuous to ask but just thought I would throw it out there!!! Congratulations, also!!!!

  6. Thank you so much for this!! I’m due in early October and appreciate your words of wisdom! :) I also appreciate that many of your items are focused on breastfeeding – which I really hope works out for me.

  7. I am in complete agreement with the visitors idea. I got the nurses on my side. When I was having a harder time with nursing and my twins had to stay in longer, the nurses put a sign on my door politely asking for no visitors. It was awesome.

    This is a very personal question…so please don’t answer if it’s too much info. But I’m wondering what made you an excellent candidate for a VBAC. I had twins via C-section. First pregnancy and birth. I’m not looking to have more children soon, but wondering what I might run in to if the time came.

  8. Haha… I’m with Peggy, my first was born at a time you shared a room with 3 other ladies and all their visitor’s. The nurses would hardly let you have your baby…by the time I had my 2nd it had changed a lot, had a private room but no bathroom…urrrgh my OB botched my epidural, yes then the OB did the epidural… and I had an epidural headache from hell… going down the hall for a shower was torture. the pain was so bad I would nearly pass out…I really like the changes that have come about now…Parents are empowered having the learning tools you have now…

  9. I was at CMCP too, but they took my baby several times much to my protesting. They took him for his hearing test. They took him to see the pediatrician. They wanted to give him antibiotics, and I kept asking why they couldn’t do it in the room. They said it wasn’t policy. I asked how long he would be gone and the nurse said an hour. FOUR HOURS LATER they still had my baby. That’s when I started making a lot of noise.

    Amen to the nipple shield. I was given one by a lactation consultant in the hospital, but my midwife discouraged me from using it. I felt conflicted because I was having sooo many bf issues and way more pain than was normal. I felt doomed either way.

    Nursing tank tops were my best friend in the hospital and the early days at home.

  10. Chapstick! chapstick chapstick. Love the nipple shield advice. Used them with my first and I’m not sure we would have made it through the beginning without them!

  11. Taking a shower in YOUR shower was my favorite post partum event after the second birth!!! Hot water is healing and so is that fresh feeling after hours of labor.

  12. A-MEN to the nipple shield. Used them with both mine and will again. I felt so guilty until my mom sat me down and told me I was being silly. I also think a bottle of wine should be in the house the moment you get home. Great suggestions…sending it to my pregnant friend.

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