My baby is 15 months old, and up until we moved two months ago, I still had my hospital bag packing list washi-taped to the bedroom wall. Call me sentimental and schmaltzy, but there was something so magical and effervescent about those final days of pregnancy, knowing that our little man could be making his appearance earthside at any moment.
Being an over-prepared, list-making, first-born, former girl scout, I probably overpacked. But honestly, I didn’t regret a thing I put in that bag (okay, THOSE bags. Plural.) Here’s what I was SO GLAD I had once we finally checked into the hospital for the main event:
1. My own pillows & comforter
Yep, you read that right. Pillow(S), (i.e. more than one, including my giant C-shaped preggo pillow), and my queen size feather duvet. Overkill? Maybe. But man did I sleep well in that hospital bed! Bring whatever you think you need to feel comfortable, because let’s be real, these might be the longest stretches of sleep you’ll be getting for a while. Make them count. I’ll never forget the nurse adjusting my blankets that first night and saying “WOAH, this is NOT hospital thread count! Keep an eye out, someone might steal this thing!”
2. A sleep mask and earplugs
Hospital rooms are not super conducive to restful sleep, with the little blinking lights, random beeps, and people shuffling around the corridors at all hours. Having a sleep mask and decent earplugs was a lifesaver to both me and my hubby, and was extra helpful for catching naps during the day.
3. My own ibuprofen and stool softeners
Spoiler alert: the versions of these pills they give you in the hospital for something like $25 a pop are 100% identical to their over-the-counter counterparts. And you can bring your own.
4. A spare set of toiletries
In an effort to avoid scrambling around the house looking for toothpaste between contractions, we went ahead and bought a whole extra set of the essentials (shampoo, body wash, toothbrushes, etc.) to pre-pack in the hospital bag and forget about. It saved a serious amount of last-minute hassle.
5. My own “birthing outfit”
Honestly, I didn’t feel like I’d be comfortable laboring in a scratchy old hospital gown that someone in the ER for appendicitis wore yesterday. So I picked up a super comfy nightgown with easy boob access from Target and called it a day. SO much nicer, and it made me feel more like a human being.
No matter what time of day (or night) you give birth, it’s almost a certainty that you’ll be famished afterward. Unfortunately, not all hospital kitchens are open 24 hours, plus even if they are, the food’s usually not that great. Bring plenty of snacks, and maybe even a cooler with some killer takeout for your after-delivery-meal. I was so glad I brought protein bars, nuts, and dried fruit in my bag, (as was my husband, who munched regularly throughout my labor,) and blessed in-laws brought us a huge cooler filled with salads, fresh fruit, baked goods, fancy cheeses, and WINE from The Gourmet Shop. Needless to say, eating that chicken salad croissant after 17 hours of labor at 11 o’clock at night was pure bliss.
What were your must-have essentials in the hospital?
Kimberly Poovey is a writer, speaker, wife, and new(ish) mom. She directs the teen pregnancy prevention program for Daybreak pregnancy center, and is a founder of Pearls, an organization that serves women in the sex industry and fights human trafficking in the Midlands. She studied English literature at Florida Atlantic University, and though she will always be a Florida girl at heart, she has called Columbia home for the last seven years. She and her husband Braden have been married for a fabulous decade, and they welcomed their first child, Declan Finn, into the world on June 3rd, 2015. She is a contributor for Scary Mommy, the Huffington Post, and The Mighty. You can find her wandering around the great outdoors, drinking far too much coffee at her favorite local shops, and on Facebook.