Updated: Dec 19, 2020
Congratulations!! I can only assume that if you’re reading this, you are probably expecting a baby soon! Otherwise this information will not be very useful to you right now! If you are choosing to do a home birth, it will also not be very useful, since all of your belongings will be readily available. If you are going to be giving birth at a hospital, then this is blog for you!!
I have had two children myself. Mind you, they were born before Covid, so there maybe be some items or information that has changed and I am unaware of. I gave birth in Calgary Alberta, and the hospital here provided me with a few essential items only. This included a few newborn diapers, some diaper cream (Vaseline), a swaddle or two and some personal items like some giant mesh panties and a handful of pads. This will vary based on your location, so I would expect that you will get nothing and be prepared with all of your own items!
Other than having two children, what makes me qualified to make a list like this? I’m glad you asked, let me tell you! With Georgia, my first born, I ended up being in the hospital for 9 days. NINE DAYS!! In that time, I came across every need you can imagine.
I would like to briefly (because it's a long story!) tell you why my hospital stay was so long! When I was 35 weeks pregnant with Georgia, I went to the hospital to see my doctor over my lunch break from work. That morning, my feet became very swollen. I'm talking Shrek kankles. Super attractive, but also concerning. So I figured I would quickly check in with my Doctor during my break... I was NOT expecting my Doctor to admit me right then and there, and induce labour that day! You see, my feet had swollen because my blood pressure had gotten dangerously high (179/117 to be exact,) so it was deemed unsafe for me to stay pregnant any longer. I was induced and went through labour for 3.5 days. Again, 3.5 DAYS of labour people. At the end of the 3.5 days, it ended being an emergency c-section! She was born 29 days early and was just 4 lbs 13 oz, so she then spent a few days in the NICU to be monitored. She was totally healthy, just small. During those 9 days, I think I sent my baby daddy home 3-4 times to get more things, thankfully we only lived 5 minutes away!
So, I thought it would be helpful to share these items with you. It may seem a bit excessive and possibly over the top. Maybe it is, but you can weed out the things you deem unnecessary. I truly hope that you have the easiest and fastest birth ever and you don't need most of these items! I don't want to scare you with my birth story, only to share my knowledge from the experience that I had. The majority of births are smooth and positive experiences, in fact my second child was born via scheduled c-section and it was as smooth as can be! We were out of the hospital in less than 2 days with no issues and my bag remained mostly packed! I do believe in being prepared though, so here are all of the things that I personally found useful to have during my stay and you might as well:
· Paperwork- this will likely be different depending on your location. ID and Healthcare card, possibly insurance.
· Birth plan- I hope that everything goes exactly as you plan it, but I do recommend being open to the idea that your plan may be thrown out the window! Things don’t always go as planned, and that’s okay!
· Slippers or flip flops- it’s nice to have something you can slip on easily to walk down the halls. While slippers are warm and comfy, flip flops are good to wear in the shower! Make your choice, or bring both!
· Bathrobe- you don’t want to be stuck in a hospital gown for too long, it’s really nice to have your own comfortable robe (also, for pictures haha!)
· Socks- you may get cold feet (no pun intended)
· Gum- When you first start breastfeeding, the hormones released are insane. They make you really sleepy, so it's a good idea to chew some gum during those night feeds, to make sure you stay awake and keep baby safe.
· Google home or Bluetooth speaker- I brought a Google home and it was amazing. Make sure you download music to your phone or create a playlist. Internet isn’t guaranteed so keep that in mind! You also don’t want to be yelling at your partner to change the song when you’re in labour, so pick songs you love!
· Soft swaddles- hospital swaddles are a bit rough on your babies’ sensitive skin, I recommend bringing some of your own. It also gives you a chance to watch nurses swaddle your baby using YOUR swaddle, as the hospital swaddles may be a different size. This was the case for me and I found it so helpful to watch them.
· Snacks- let me say that again. SNACKS!!! For you and your partner. Hospital food is usually not great, and the cafeteria tends to be expensive.
· Coins- Speaking of snacks, it's a good idea to have some coins on hand for vending machines and possibly parking (not snack related haha)
· Water bottle with a straw- It will make it much easier to stay hydrated.
· Lip balm, lotion/massage oil- a massage can be relaxing and helpful during labour.
· Your own pillow and blanket- Can’t stress this one enough! Hospital blankets and pillows leave a lot to be desired, you will be very happy to have your own!
· A good book or iPad- labour may be longer than you expect, and you could end up staying longer after your baby is born. It’s better to have it and not need it.
· Plastic bag- for all your dirty clothes
· Phone and chargers (camera if you have something other than your phone)
· Eye mask and ear plugs- you may be sharing a room, so ear plugs could come in handy! You may also need to get some rest in the middle of the day, so an eye mask would be useful. From a sleep point of view, I'd consider this an essential!
· A face mask- I may not have given birth during Covid, but I do know that a mask will be needed!
· Toiletries- just like if you were going on a trip!
· Glasses or contacts, and prescriptions
· Nipple Cream
· Other clothes, pack for a few days, longer if you live really far from the hospital
· Makeup- this is obviously not an essential. If you wear makeup normally, it could be nice to have if you expect visitors, and to help you feel a little more human again!
For Mama after delivery:
· Big Ol’ Pads!- whether you delivery vaginally or via c-section, you will bleed as your uterus shrinks back to normal size. Tampons are NOT an option, so pads are crucial!
· Granny panties- see above! No need for thongs in a time like this!
· Nursing bras- or just a looser sports bra
· Going home outfit- you will still want to be wearing maternity or very loose clothing. Don’t expect to fit back into your skinny jeans when you leave the hospital.
For your sweet little newborn babe:
· newborn diapers, baby wipes, diaper cream, swaddles, a few pairs of soft pjs and onesies, going home outfit, socks and booties, baby hat, one or two pacifiers (different nipples just in case), white noise machine, nursing pillow, blanket for the ride home, car seat (installed before you go to the hospital!)
I hope that this helps you feel more prepared. I found that once I made it to the third trimester, the nesting phase me hit hard! I became ultra-organized and OCD about having every little detail set up before baby arrived. I realize that not everyone experiences this and maybe it’s just my overbearing OCD tendencies (ha!) but it's pretty common! I recommend having a bag ready around the 32 week mark, just to be prepared. I was quite grateful that I had already packed my bag when I was told I was being induced and was not allowed to go home! I think Matt (my partner) was also quite happy!
So, is your bag packed? What did I forget?!