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Hospital ChecklistHints and Tips on Packing for the Hospital or Birthing Center

There are so many things a new mom has to do to prepare for her big day, but one task that can make all your hard work even easier is to prepare sensibly. When it comes time for your delivery, you will want all your essentials packed and ready to go on a moment’s notice. So, the question is, “What should I pack in my bag for the hospital or birthing center?”

This is mostly common sense, but here are some things you may not have thought about. It's best to have only one bag to carry, so even if you have to go with a bigger bag, it's better than carrying several little bags. The last thing you need to worry about is how you'll get your things inside the center or hospital! Also, having a bag on wheels is a good idea; your partner can pull that along with one hand and help you with the other or, if you are like me, you'll be riding in a wheelchair!

Try not to over-pack, as this just means you'll have to re-pack everything up in a few days when you go home. You aren't trying to win a beauty contest or the Most Stylish Mama on the Floor award. Believe me, all you will care about is when you will finally get some sleep (when the kid goes off to college... MAYBE!) and when should you wake up the little one to breastfeed. I remember wearing my husband’s T-shirt the next day and the hospital underwear and walking around in my room with the door open! (You really don't care who sees you!) The poor guy who delivered my breakfast that morning is probably still having nightmares!

Depending on how you feel about being in your own clothes, why not just get the hospital gowns dirty. Honestly, if you have a normal vaginal delivery, you will be bleeding like crazy afterwards (it feels like you are making up for all the periods you missed while you were pregnant. REVENGE!). So, why get all of your panties soiled? I even asked for some of the hospital underwear to take home with me. About the bleeding, the hospital does provide the MASSIVE pads you can wear, and I used them for the first two days (because they were industrial strength), but you may feel comfortable buying and using your own. But be sure to buy the heavy-duty ones! Everyone is different, but buy enough for about 10 days of that heavy bleeding.

Bringing your own music to listen to is very helpful for some Moms. I did buy a little boom-box, but didn't have time to listen to it during labor because my little one came so quickly – but I was glad I brought it because, later that night, when we were settled into our bed, my husband took a little nap and I had my daughter in my arms. I turned on the CD that I made of my favorite songs and I loved having that playing in the background as I was holding my new baby girl.

I stated this in another section of this site, but, ahead of time, make two copies of your insurance card and I.D. and just stick it down in your bag so you KNOW you have it. You will have probably already pre-registered and may not need it, but my hospital suggested I have a copy just in case – and I think that is a great idea.

Of course, you'll need something to wear home. This might be the only outfit you think about, because, if you are like me, someone will be snapping pictures. I hope you know that you will still look pregnant after delivery. In fact, you will still look five or six months pregnant! Please bring maternity clothes, so that you know you will fit into them. And be sure they are comfortable: You won't feel like zipping too much or squeezing into something that isn't comfortable. How about a really nice set of sweat pants or your comfortable maternity jeans?

You may want to wear the hospital gowns, but I bet your baby doesn't want to! You bought all of those soft little “onesie” sacks, so why not make the bambino as comfortable as possible? You knew as you were washing them up and putting them away in preparation for the birth, you felt how soft they were, go for it! This may not pertain to all Moms but my little girl was seven pounds when she was born and she fit into preemie clothes for about two or three weeks. If you don’t think your little one will be over eight pounds, how about picking up at least one preemie outfit? That way, baby won't be drowning in the newborn cloths in the hospital. If I had to do it again, I would also bring a few newborn diapers. My hospital carried size-one diapers, and these were swimming on her! This isn't necessary by any means; it’s just something I would do.

Buy some of those trial-size shampoos and tubes of toothpaste to put in your bag; they'll take up less space and that will be about all you need if you are only staying one or two days.

If you are banking your cord blood, be sure to have your kit handy with your overnight bag.

So, to summarize, the bottom line is this: Be prepared! Don’t wait until the last minute to prepare your “Big Day” bag. If you prepare you bag ahead of time, perhaps as early as during your eighth month, you will eliminate so much mental anxiety! And be sure to put it in a convenient place, and that will be one less thing you have to stress about!

Congratulations – and good luck!


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