My Hospital Bag

As I mentioned in my previous post, I have my hospital bag all packed. And this time I only have one bag. I may have had only one bag last time, too, but I want to say that it was fuller than this one. Now with my first trip to the hospital to have a baby, I had way too much junk. It took my husband two trips to get it in from the car, and two to three people to get it from the labor/delivery room to my post-partum room. See, I had come across those lists of “What to Take to the Hospital” that suggested you bring everything but the kitchen sink.

This time around I’ve pared down to the basics. Here is what I have packed in my hospital bag.

Clothing: Nursing gown (to change into after I get a shower), nursing bra, two pairs of thick socks with skid tractions on the bottom (cold chills are common after delivery and hospital floors are always cold), house slippers, a loose and comfortable outfit to wear home (black sweats, long-sleeve tee, regular socks), and one pair of underwear*.

*These underwear will probably not be used, because what most people don’t know is that after you have a baby the hospital puts you in these nifty “spanky” panties. They are mesh underwear that are really comfortable and really hold sanitary pads in place really well. They are washable and you take them home with you if you wish. I always pack one pair “just in case”.

Hygiene: Body wash, shower poof, shampoo, toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash, floss, deodorant, razor, and hair brush. Basically, pack what ever you need to feel clean. I also pack a few maxi pads, even though I might not use them. The hospital will supply you with those industrial size pads which are really good for the first day or so. After that you might want to switch to something thinner just to help prevent chafing and hemorrhoids.

Nursing Supplies: Lansinoh nursing cream (even if you know what you are doing your nipples will still be a little tender for the first few weeks), nursing pads in case my milk comes in early, and a nursing cloak. (The nursing cloak is a special treat I bought myself this time around. I’ve never been very discreet about nursing in public and often relegated myself to standing in bathroom stalls or finding empty bedrooms. I thought this cloak might allow me to help me stay in the midst of things; I can’t wait to try it out.)

Baby Stuff: Two sleepers for baby’s first photo/going home (one gender specific, and one gender neutral), a few thin cloth diapers (as burp/spit up cloths), and a few extra diapers “just in case”. The hospital normally supplies an undershirt, cap, diapers, wipes, petroleum jelly, and alcohol swabs for your baby in addition to some thin blankets. Since my first two were winter babies, I brought thicker blankets to bring them home in, but it should be warmer for my spring baby.

Miscellaneous: Digital camera, extra batteries, two disposable cameras, wallet with checkbook and insurance card, charged cell phone with phone number list, Sudoku book with pencils and a lightweight (physically and mentally) book to read for entertainment, and a plastic baggy full of Honey Maid cinnamon sticks (for snacking).

The hospital will usually “give” you a large array of things that you can take home with you. It’s all charged to your room, and it will not be reused on a another patient so you may as well take it with you. This includes the special panties, maxi pads, creams and witchhazel pads to ease bruising and discomfort after delivery, and baby supplies. In addition, you also do sometimes receive gifts from the hospital and other sponsors. Formula companies often hand out a diaper bag with formula samples to each new mother, even the breastfeeding ones. I usually hold on to the samples in case there were ever an emergency in which I was separated from my baby. Last time we also received a fruit basket from the hospital and a thick baby blanket with the White Sox logo from U.S. Cellular. So I like to have room in my bag for all the extra junk.

You may notice a few things missing from my bag-

Pillows: Despite what I read about in pregnancy books, hospitals are not as stingy with pillows as believed. I’ve delivered at two different hospitals in two different states, and both have been generous with pillows. With my first I brought my normal bed pillow, two throw pillows for my husband to use at night, and a Boppy pillow in two large garbage bags. They were a pain to transport. And while the Boppy pillow is invaluable at home (I am thankful that I received two before my first child was born), I personally find that they do not work well in a hospital bed.

Music and movies: I did bring cds with my first two deliveries, incidentally they were George Harrison both times. After my first was born we listened to his last album released posthumously Brainwashed. While in labor with my second child, I had my husband put in All Things Must Pass disc one, but I really don’t remember listening to any of it. I was kind of busy at the time. I decided to lighten my load and not bring any music at all this time. Many labor/delivery and post-partum rooms have a DVD player and/or a VCR, but they aren’t big on remote controls in hospitals so I never bothered with trying to watch movies in my room.

So I’m pretty much set. I’ve learned from trial and error to KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid). I figure that if I forget anything or decide I really need something I can always have my husband bring it later.

Oh, and there is one other thing that my midwives insisted that I bring to the hospital with me: a copy of my medical records. Apparently, the hospital has been having issues with receiving faxes from my obstetrics practice. They’ve been sending an extra copy of medical records with every patient, so that the hospital won’t be tempted to do extra and unnecessary blood tests and such. With my cynicism about modern medical practices, I can’t help wondering if the hospital conveniently “loses” medical records so that they have an excuse to get more money out of insurance companies. Money is at least partly responsible for the outrageous rates of Cesarean births in this country. It’s all about using the machine that goes “ping”.

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