UAB Medicine News
Expecting Moms: What You Actually Need For Your Hospital Bag
By Sara Wheat – Quality Assurance Coordinator, Legacy of Hope
When I was pregnant and nearing my delivery date, I began looking for advice on what I needed to bring to the hospital. After watching YouTube videos, reading blogs and websites, and texting my mommy friends, I made a huge list of everything I would need for my 48-72-hour hospital stay. Needless to say, I over-packed.
To help you avoid making the same mistake, I put together a small list of items that were actually useful to me and my family while we were in the hospital post-delivery.
It goes without saying that after giving birth, you are going to be ready to freshen up and put on something super comfortable. Since most of us don’t know in advance what type of delivery we will have, it’s important to pack clothing that can accommodate any situation. I would suggest bringing gowns or loose-fitting pants with a high waistline.
If you plan to breastfeed, you may want to consider tops that will allow easy access for frequent nursing. As for undergarments, just embrace the mesh underwear that the hospital will provide for you. Trust me on this one! I also packed a loose-fitting maxi dress for the ride home, although it’s perfectly acceptable to ride home in your PJs! Also consider that you won’t have access to laundry services, so the more items you wear that are provided by the hospital, the less dirty laundry you have to haul home.
The hospital will provide basic toiletries. However, after giving birth, it was comforting to me to be able to shower with my products from home and regain some normalcy. So many changes are happening rapidly with your body after delivery, and having small comforts of home will help you maintain your normal routine.
I actually packed an entire diaper bag for my daughter, and we didn’t open it at all! Definitely bring your baby’s “going home” outfit, because you will want the classic “leaving the hospital” picture. Other than that, the hospital provides EVERYTHING for your little one. Again, consider that you won’t have access to laundry, so for 99% of our hospital stay, my daughter wore the onesies provided by the hospital. It was also helpful for the many exams and tests the pediatricians were performing, because my daughter was in a simple outfit that we could discard if we had any diaper accidents or milk spills.
It was cold when we brought her home, so I did pack a blanket for us to carry her out with. The hospital will provide the diapers, wipes, toiletries, blankets, onesies, and even hats for your little one during your hospital stay. One important exception: The hospital does not provide pacifiers, so bring one with you if you plan to offer it to your baby.
You will be starving post-delivery, so I highly recommend packing some snacks to keep in your hospital room. My lovely labor and delivery nurse sent me to the recovery unit with a bag of snacks, but they went fast! You will not be allowed to have anything besides ice chips while you are in labor, so have your birth partner be prepared with snacks or your favorite meal when you’re ready.
Fortunately, UAB Hospital has fantastic hospital food! You will be able to order room service for all of your meals, and they even provide a celebration meal for the new parents. You will be given a menu for a special meal that you and your birth partner can enjoy before going home. The unit also stocks basic drinks and crackers at the nurses station in case you need them.
Let your husband/wife/family/birth partner be responsible for their own bag. My husband packed his own backpack for our stay, and that was one less thing for me to worry about. Also, I highly suggest bringing extra-long phone charging cables. The outlets won’t always be right next to your bed, and you may need some extra length in order to keep your phone close by.
Lastly, here’s what you don’t need to bring. Don’t worry about bringing your own breast pump; the hospital will provide one. If you have questions about how to use your pump once you get home, remember that UAB Medicine has lactation consultants available for phone or in-person assistance at any time. Don’t bring too many clothes; I promise you will not feel like changing a lot. You will be so excited to use all of your shiny new baby items, but you won’t need them in the hospital. Save them for when you get home. Remember, hospital rooms are tiny, so you don’t want to bring the entire house with you.
UAB Women & Infants Services does an amazing job of providing almost everything needed to make your hospital stay a good one. If you need any items or run out of something, feel free to ask the nursing staff for help. I hope these tips help you feel more prepared for your hospital stay!
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