Everyone talks about packing the bag. There are dozens of places online where you’ll find lists of things that you must have in the labor and delivery room and in the maternity ward. Some things make sense. Others are silly.
Here are some things that might not be on your list but you should take anyway:
- Music. My children were born before every phone could play music. I brought a discman to the hospital when my first was born, and it was great to be able to block out all the other sounds around me when I wanted to sleep or just cuddle my baby. (Though you will want to talk to the baby too.) Assuming you have a smartphone or an mp3 player, be sure to load it up with good music and pack a comfortable headset or earbuds.
- Pads. The hospital usually provides pads. They don’t necessarily provide the kind of pads you want. The hospital I went to gave out pads that looked like they were from the 1980s. My friend described them as “as thick as a dictionary, and about as absorbent.” Be aware that the bleeding afterward is often quite heavy. You may need to change pads every hour, and it is very likely that you will bleed through, no matter how many pads or how absorbent. Realize that unless you have a c-section, you won’t be able to use tampons or a menstrual cup comfortably for at least a week, and possibly as long as six weeks. (If pain persists longer than six weeks, see your gynecologist about it.)
- Clothes to come home in. You’d think they’d put this on the list, but no. I had to rely on my husband to find clothes for me, because I didn’t have the foresight to throw these into the bag. Some guides recommend leaving an outfit somewhere prominent in the closet or bedroom, but I recommend putting them in the bag.
- Drinks! I didn’t bring anything to drink, and I don’t like drinking water. The hospital where I was served tea and coffee at mealtimes. The rest of the day, there was nothing but water. As soon as visitors came, though, they all brought me drinks and my sister even brought me disposable cups so that I could share with visitors. When you’re trying to establish breastfeeding, dehydration is especially detrimental, so don’t forget the drinks.
- Snacks! Ok, everyone reminds you to bring snacks. Make sure to pack enough snacks that if you miss a meal because it looks completely unpalatable, you’ll be able to manage until someone can bring you food.
- Toiletries – Shampoo, conditioner, soap, toothbrush, toothpaste. These are on every list, but they bear repeating).
- Any prescription medications you regularly take. The ward is supposed to provide them for you, but it’s better not to take a chance.
- Flushable wipes.
- Lots of underwear. I didn’t find the disposable ones comfortable and they weren’t much cheaper than regular underwear. I used old pairs that I was happy to have an excuse to throw out.
- Your phone charger. In addition to wanting to call the world, you might use your phone to listen to music and surf the net. If you don’t have a charger, you’ll find yourself without a phone very quickly.