Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Thoughts on Packing a Hospital Bag

packing a hospital bag

If any ladies out there have felt in any way offended about all my silly comments regarding packing a hospital bag, I humbly apologize. Seriously. I'll admit that I'm totally biased because I never packed a hospital bag for labor with P. because she was six weeks early and I thought I had plenty of time for that sort of thing. Also, we live within walking distance of the birth center and the hospital so popping back home for... pretty much anything was no big deal.

(Plus as hospitals go, ours does a good job of keeping a well-stocked maternity floor kitchenette and prepping made-to-order room service meals. Score!)

But in the present day - particularly now that I've been having a lot of crampy days - I have a sort of ersatz hospital bag packed and at the ready next to the co-sleeper that's sort of ready to go. Which I guess is kind of my baby-having style. You know how some parents-to-be have everything ready to go weeks or even months before their babies are born? At six week's before P.'s due date, we had almost nothing other than baby clothes, somewhat organized and possibly pre-washed, though knowing me I kind of doubt we reached that level of preparedness.

Which is strange, considering that I am by nature a somewhat obsessive Type A planner who makes lists of, say, what outfits to wear on what days during vacations that are still weeks away. My work materials are usually kept at a ridiculous level of organization. I like to know what I'm doing on any given holiday months in advance. My calendar is up-to-date.

Yet here I am, with a half-packed hospital bag and vague notions of throwing Star Trek DVDs into it when it's closer to go time. A lot of the items that the big pregnancy and baby sites suggest packing in a hospital bag seem like either the sort of thing you'd toss in at the last minute because you use them daily (e.g., deodorant, glasses, and makeup) or the sort of thing that you'll have plenty of time to grab post-birth (e.g., pen and paper, cell phone charger, and change). Then there are biggie items, like robes, extra pillows, towels, comfy flats, light reading, and snacks that make me wonder exactly how large this hospital bag ought to be - because some checklists make it seem like only a proper army duffel will do.

My guess is that with editing and writing work and home prep and cooking ahead and taking care of P. and chugging along with Mom Meet Mom (check it out!), packing a comprehensive hospital bag is at the bottom of my list, cramps or no. Possibly because we still live right nearby the hospital and birth center so I still assume I could send the mister home. Except that with the probable exception of the first night, he will already be home taking care of P. Maybe it's time to take another look at my lax attitude toward the traditional hospital bag.

What did you find you couldn't live without once you were ensconced in the maternity ward?

12 comments:

  1. My must haves were my laptop, phone, and chapstick (which had nothing to do w/labor and had everything to do with my 25 year addiction to chapstick). Our hospital also does excellent, made to order room service (people actually eat at their cafeteria when they have no reason to otherwise be at the hospital). I had plenty of family around to keep me entertained, and since I don't have cable at home, cable in the hospital was a treat. I didn't bother with a robe, slippers, blankets or any of that stuff, but I did take my pillow from home. The only other things I packed were very basic toiletries and going home outfits for the babies, which just made me sad, since they didn't go home for 6 weeks. I say that you pack light and don't worry about the bag. Your husband will get you what you need from home and most L&D nurses are wonderful people who will do all they can to make you comfy, as I'm sure happened with P.

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    1. Sounds like we had a similar experience, though P. was home faster and we didn't actually have anything to bring her home in because it was unexpected. I'm also a Chapstick addict, so good call! And no cable here, so having the TV at the hospital was awesome - especially when I'd call down to order an omelet or something. Seriously, when I get nostalgic for my birth experience, what I'm usually thinking of is hot buttery eggs and My Name Is Earl.

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  2. Since both of my kids were born past 41 weeks, I had just about everything ready to go. I didn't pack a lot - the hospital provides nearly everything you need. I didn't use anything I brought for labor (I even ended up drinking sprite instead of the fancy coconut water I brought along), and I ended up laboring and delivering mostly naked with just a hospital sheet. I forgot all about the music both times. After delivery, I was happy to have my own nursing nightgown, the laptop, a few DVD's, snacks, and my phone. The hospital provided shampoo/conditioner, toothpaste/mouthwash, and I didn't even bother to comb my hair - didn't seem worth the energy until I got home.

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    1. Sounds nice! Our hospital is lacking in the toiletries department - though I'm not too picky, so last time I think that once I wanted a good wash I just used the hand soap from the dispenser. I did stash some travel size things for my evolving bag (my mom stays in lots of upscale hotels for biz) but then I remembered that P. never wanted to nurser if I soaped with anything remotely scented so I'll probably just end up using the hand soap again.

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  3. I was really glad to have a robe. Anything is better than the "dresses" the hospital provides, and the open front of a robe gave me easy access both for nursing, and for the staff to check up on me without having to completely undress or hike up my skirt. I appreciated having my face lotion and a brush, so I could feel like a somewhat normal person. I keep a mini mascara, mini concealer, and lipstick in my purse. I can mix a dab of the concealer with lotion to create an ersatz tinted moisturizer, and the lipstick doubles as blush, so that gave me the basics of feeling put-together without having to drag along my whole makeup bag.

    I will admit, when my water broke at almost midnight, I took 15 minutes to blowdry my hair and re-touch up my makeup before driving the two miles to the hospital.

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  4. I never packed until on the way out the door :)

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    1. That makes so much more sense to me - I'm not getting doubles of everything I need just for a two-day hospital stay!

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  5. My first was 5 weeks early and I never had a bag packed...and you know what? My second was right on time and despite that I am a total control freak, I never pre-packed a bag then either.

    Weird, right? The only thing I remembering being SURE to have with me was my Boppy (because I loved it for breastfeeding) and the outfit I planned to wear home. I didn't wear makeup at the hospital. I just used the soap and shampoo they provided for the one shower I took there....and I wore their gowns and giant postpartum underwear. Maybe I'm a weirdo. --Lisa

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    1. If you're weird, then color me weird, too! I had no problems with the hospital gowns, pillowcases... or the giant undies I could just toss out!

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  6. I was the same way! I'll just second having lip balm! I needed it by my bed at all times. I had two c-sections, so it was a little harder for me to get up!

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    1. I can't go more than about an hour or two without balm so I'm stashing a couple around now!

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