Wednesday, September 26, 2018

What to pack in your hospital bag

I love reading these kinds of posts (and packing lists in general), even if the real answer is: nothing. You can very easily (well, you know what I mean) have a baby and stay in the hospital without any of this. But having a few things can make it a lot more pleasant.

My list really is for what you need after the birth. For the the whole of actually giving birth I was constantly attended for, for example I could get all the food and drink I wanted. I know in some places you are not allowed to eat and/or drink, but I was. In fact, I kept being offered food, which I kept throwing up, but they were very concerned that I wouldn't have enough energy and in the end put me on some kind of fuel drip.

What to pack depends a lot on where you live. My hospital offered food, clothes (including underpants), pads, meds, baby clothes, diapers, flip-flops, towels... I encourage you to check what is provided. 

It also depends whether you want to use the stuff the hospital offers. A lot of people recommend using your own clothes, so as not to feel like a patient, but I was very sore and felt very much like a patient and really, really wanted to be taken care of. Also, there's all kinds of gross leakage. So, I just used the hospital clothes. I also used the hospital clothes for my baby.

I live in Finland so I didn't need things like an insurance card. I don't have one. I also didn't need any money. The meals were free and you could go raid the fridge at any time. I think giving birth cost us around 135€, including two nights at the hospital. I know it can be very different if you live somewhere without universal health care. But for me, all they asked was my social security number. Which I could not remember, I was in labor for goodness sake! Luckily Jake did. Maybe write it down.

A big water bottle or a big cup with a lid and a bendy straw. My hospital only had tiny glasses. I'd have died of thirst without my own cup. Maybe also have a pitcher that you can ask your partner to go and fill. You'll likely lie down a lot (since my episiotomy I could not sit for several weeks) so a bendy straw is great, when you are snuggled next to your baby and don't want to get up.
If you do not want yo use the hospital clothes, I'd recommend a few comfortable night gowns with snaps down the front for easy breastfeeding, slippers and a robe for shuffling down to the cafeteria.
Cosmetics. I really liked having all my usual shampoo and skincare etc. it made me feel a bit more like me. And it's not like you are flying by plane to give birth, there's no restriction on what you can bring. And let me tell you, the shower after having a baby is glorious.

Nipple cream. Your nipples will get SO SORE. I had to bite my teeth together to keep from screaming. The only thing that kept me sane and at it, was my friend (with four kids) promising me that the pain would subside in about a week and a half. It will. Meanwhile, apply cream. There was a lanolin one in my maternity package, so I used that.

Vitamins and medication. You want to take care of yourself so keep taking those prenatals. Vitamin c is also great.

Hairties. There's the cool top knot and then the mom top knot. Welcome to the latter group. The baby will rip off all your hair if you don't keep it away from their reach.
A swaddle for your baby. I didn't have this, and hospitals in Finland don't swaddle anymore. When we finally got one at home it made such a difference! Until we got the swaddle, she was pretty much glued to my boob. I tried several different ones, but our little Houdini wiggled out of every one. I love, love, love the Love to Sleep swaddle and used one in every size, until she learned to turn (then it's not safe anymore). It's the only swaddle that allows their hands near their face for self soothing.

Pacifier. If you plan on using one. Most hospitals in Finland are now pacifier free, to encourage breastfeeding, so if you want to give your baby a pacifier bring your own.

Phone. After I'd given birth Jake informed all our friends and family, but it wasn't until several hours later when Jake had gone home and the baby was a sleep that I was ready to chat with anyone, but boy, was I ready then.
A extension cord strip or a charger with a long cord. The baby will sleep, you will want to chat with people and take pictures etc. The outlet will be far away. In my hospital it was right next to my bed, but up on the wall, it was awkward. You want to be able to lie down and relax. And snuggle your baby.

Some light entertainment. Let's just say that from your attention span will be somewhat compromised. A magazine, a game on your phone, Pinterest, an episode of your favorite series and earbuds (for one ear)... something like that. You will mostly stop every minute to stare at your baby and nurses and roommates will be in and out of the room, so something you don't mind being constantly interrupted.
Going home outfit for you. I had reserved as my going home outfit my maternity leggings and that was a mistake. Since I had an episiotomy and about a dozen stitches I was SO, SO SORE. I could not bear the idea of squeezing myself into anything tight, and ended up wearing my husbands spare college pants I'd packed in case he could stay the night. I'd recommend a breastfeeding top (I found these much more comfortable than the nursing bras I had bought), a loose comfortable top appropriate for the weather on top of that and LOOSE pants.

Huge underpants. I mean huge. The kind that come up to your armpits. And get them several sizes larger than you'd normally wear. If you wear S, get XL. This is just for the first week or two, but trust me on this. And steal all the adult diapers you can from the hospital.
Don't bring all of this. It's just the only picture I had and I've already packed everything back into the storage. I'll talk more about my favorite baby items in the next baby post.
Going home outfit for the baby. DO NOT bring pants with separate socks and all kinds of itty-bitty pieces, if you've never dressed a baby before (waves). Bring the simplest outfit you can think of. Footie pants and a wrap onesie (with built in mittens, babies have claws like tiny raptors) or even better yet a footie pajama with a zipper, + a hat. Add weather appropriate extras. We bought our daughter home in a bear-suit with a hood (it was October).

So that's what I'd bring! I'd love to hear what you think and if you'd add something!

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