What To Pack For Labor
Sometimes I laugh when I think about what I brought to the hospital when my two gingers were born and I wish I’d had someone tell me what to pack for labor. So many useless items stayed in the big L.L. Bean Tote bag I packed four weeks before my due date.
Lily was born in 2006, before the age of scrolling through your Facebook feed on a smartphone. To keep myself busy I figured I had to have at least 5 magazines and a Nora Roberts romance novel. My mother made sure I had the latest Southern Living, Country Living and Reader’s Digest. I also packed Glamour and Cosmo, because I needed all the good makeup and sex tips while sweating through contractions, I mean who wouldn’t?
Is this Labor?
As many first-time mothers have experienced before me, it was difficult to determine “when” I was in labor. I visited Labor and Delivery for the first time at 36 week with horrible pain across my upper back and under my ribs.
The doctors believed I was having a gallbladder attack and asked what I had eaten. Um, what had I eaten that weekend? Everything. My best friend came to visit and we went to Natchitoches for Eggs Benedict on top of fried green tomatoes. We had snowballs, cake and other things I can’t even remember, we had iHop and got the Grand Slam Breakfast before she left town. It was a food extravaganza of massive proportion, literally.
My poor husband did not revel in our food spectacular because he was sick with salmonella from Peter Pan Peanut Butter. Anyone remember that recall? It was a fun one. So, when the nurse told me that I was in preterm labor I panicked because I had just sent sick husband home to bed.
The ultra sound technician was brought in and announced that the baby was measuring large, already 7 lbs at only 36 weeks. The big question on my mind was would I have the baby without my husband? Thankfully baby stayed put and I went home the next morning to make sure I was actually ready for our bundle of joy since I’d only brought a change of underwear and my purse with me the night before. We still didn’t have the car seat installed!
The next two times I had the slightest inclination that labor was coming, I hopped right into our car and drove myself to good old Labor and Delivery only to be told, “not yet.” I looked comical dragging that giant tote back to the car as I headed home to call my husband and let him know it was another false alarm.
Honey, It’s Time!
When the time finally arrived, I was reluctant to believe it. It was 6:00 in the morning and I told Rob, “it’s time.”
But, there was no way I was going to leave the house a mess, knowing my in-laws were driving cross country to see the baby and would be staying with us when they arrived. I cleaned tubs, toilets, vacuumed, mopped, took a shower and shaved. Who isn’t going to do that before heading to the hospital, right?
I arrived at about 8:30 and was well into active labor. Did that back massager ever get pulled out of the tote? Nope. Was the Discman played? Nope. What ever happened to that pretty pink night set? Um, nothing good. Y’all stick to the darker colors, that’s all I’m saying. So, without further ado, here is my countdown of necessities to bring to the hospital!
What to bring to the hospital?
10) Phone with battery charger & portable battery pack. Cell phones have become a popular way to distract ourselves from pain or boredom and they are also a way to tell family and friends that you are okay, without them having to stop by the hospital. I assure you, you probably don’t want everyone and their mother showing up in the labor room. A battery pack is useful when you are far from the outlets. Your spouse can take advantage of it, too.
I think one of my favorite things about having a phone with you is that you can use a sound machine app to block out hospital noises, especially after the baby is born. It’s a great way to lull yourself and your sweet little one into sleep.
9) Yoga pants/maternity yoga pants. I know everyone recommends nightgowns to expectant mother, but I like to feel supported by that soft jersey stretch that is a good pair of well-loved yoga pants. Dr Oz said on the Today show that yoga pants weren’t healthy because they stretch and make people eat more. I say poppycock. He doesn’t know what it’s like to have the unrestricted love and support of the most wonderful pair of pants in the world. We don’t need his negativity here.
8) Personal Care Items. Alright ladies, the hospital will supply you with the most amazing feminine hygiene products in the hospital. Everyone thinks they are going to turn down the mesh disposable underpants. DON’T DO IT. By the end of your stay you will be smuggling those suckers out of the ward. Don’t be proud. They are everything. I promise you. EVERYTHING. But sometimes women are particular about their maxi pads. I get that. You might prefer a certain brand, so bring what makes you comfortable.
7) Driver’s License, Insurance Card and Birth Plan. I think this largely goes without saying. You need all the documents…
6) Going home clothes for you and baby. Keep in mind that a newborn is teeny tiny. I have seen many people plan to bring their littles home in outfits that could have fit my 3-month-old. A nice newborn layette is a perfect choice for the ride home. And in a similar spirit, remember you aren’t going to fit into the same clothes you were wearing 9 months ago. Wear something comfortable for the car ride home. Don’t be like me and try to squeeze into a pair of blue jeans. Zippers are not your friend right now.
5) Camera. Whether or not you decide to hire a birth photographer, you should have a camera with you. In fact, make this a regular habit. Yes, you can use a cell phone, but labor and delivery rooms are very dark, and a cell phone can’t keep up. Additionally, there are some hospitals that do not allow photographers in an operating room, if a cesarian section becomes necessary. Spouses, however, are allowed a camera! Here is one camera I recommend as an easy point and shoot. But there are other cameras out there that are great, as well. You can always walk into a camera store or Best Buy and tell them your price range and they can find the right camera for you.
4) Lanolin and nursing pads. I was so clueless. I honestly didn’t know lanolin was a thing when I had my daughter. You really don’t need nursing pads right away, but by the time you leave, especially if you had a C-section, you may start leaking and there is nothing more sticky and frustrating than being drenched in your own breast milk. One tip- you can slather lanolin on the pad to keep it from sticking to your nipples when breast milk dries. If you are at all chapped, this makes all the difference.
3) Toiletries. You won’t be able to shower right away, but it will be a wonderful feeling when you do! Bring whatever you like to have in your shower, but in my opinion try to keep things low maintenance. If you have curly hair, rock the curls. I wouldn’t waste a moment of time straightening my hair, if I could be holding that sweet baby or sleeping. For me, sleeping always wins over beauty!
2) Breast Pump. While you have them at your disposal, now is a great opportunity for the nurses and lactation consultants to help teach you how to use your breast pump, if you have one. I wish I had done this with both my kids.
1) A supportive person. Whether it’s your husband, wife, cousin, sister, brother, mother or friend it is important to have someone that can make you laugh, hold your hand and promises to not eat in front of you while you are in labor. ; )
Download our What to Pack Checklist PDF to keep on hand while preparing for your hospital stay. Check out our other blog posts about preparing for your new arrival!