Hindsight is 20/20, right? Well as I packed my hospital bag during the last month of my second pregnancy, there were a few things I made sure to grab that I wish I had the first time around. With my first, I was induced, so had a few hours to get everything together before I was supposed to head to the hospital, but there were still things I wish I had. They were things I didn’t even think of, things I hadn’t seen in some of the articles I had read. After learning the first time, these items made my postpartum recovery just a little bit better.
Sure, they give you a hospital gown, and I was fine wearing that during labor and delivery. Heck, I was practically naked during both deliveries, even though they were completely different. With my first, the hospital gown was up above my belly when it came time to push, then that immediately got pulled open so he could be skin-to-skin. With my second, I had an emergency cesarean, so below the drape, it was all bare. Anyways, once I was moved to a recovery room, I didn’t have anything else to wear except the clean gown they gave me the first time. They are very thin, and not very comfortable. I had a hard time opening them sometimes to be able to breastfeed. It just wasn’t working.
During my second pregnancy, when I packed the hospital bag I threw in my bathrobe. The one I have is very thick, which was perfect because I get cold so easily. It goes about to my knees, so I felt more covered than in the hospital gown. It opened in the front which made both breastfeeding and exams easier. Overall, I was just much more comfortable in my bathrobe.
Postpartum, I wanted nothing to do with shoes. Then again, I have never been a shoe-wearing person. My feet were already swollen with Tyler because of pre-eclampsia. And with Ryan they were swollen because of all the IV fluids. Most hospitals will give you socks, but if you have to walk anywhere outside your room they want you in shoes. I brought my slippers during my second delivery, and wore those around the hospital. We actually lost my shoes, I realized when we were about an hour from leaving that they were left in the room we went to for monitoring. They never made it back to my hospital bag so the nurses had to call down and find my shoes! The slippers were great for getting up and walking around, but also keeping my feet covered and comfortable.
I don’t just mean snacks for during labor, I mean for afterwards. By the time we got to the postpartum room after Ryan was born, we had completely missed dinner. Having left the house when we did, we didn’t eat dinner before going in either. Needless to say, we were both very hungry. The nurses had a few things they could give us, but it wasn’t great. We also learned the hard way to make sure we know the hours for the cafeteria ahead of time. We were there on a weekend and the hospital I had Ryan at apparently doesn’t do dinner on the weekends for anyone who isn’t the patient. Where I had Tyler, we could order food for me and for Justin at any time. So pack a few snacks for your stay, things that won’t go bad or require heating or cooling.
When Tyler was born, I didn’t think I would want to deal with having my camera there. We had our phones of course, but I didn’t bring the good camera. Luckily my mom was there with hers so we still got some great photos of him in the hospital. When Ryan was born, we made sure to bring my camera and the battery charger. I wasn’t keen on the idea of having photos taken of me, although I still did. I am so glad we got pictures of the boys in the hospital though. And the quality from a real camera is so much better than what your phone can do. I also sometimes wish I had photos during labor and even in the operating room, but it is what it is.
Ever notice how short those iphone chargers are? How about the lack of available outlets in a patient room at a hospital? Now couple those together, and you don’t have a great place to charge your phone and still be able to reach it. The second time around, I brought a 6 foot extension cord so I could plug my phone in and have it close by.
On our first hospital tour, they mentioned that they have almost everything we would need. For some reason, I assumed that meant shampoo and conditioner as well. I was wrong. I packed our toothbrushes and toothpaste, but no shampoo. And for me, my hair gets very oily very fast. I had to keep my hair pulled back in a hair tie the whole time because it felt so gross. Don’t get me wrong, taking a shower still felt great, but it would have been nice to be able to wash my hair as well. The second time around I made sure to pack like there would be absolutely nothing available to us.
A Loose Dress
Trust me, after having a baby, even your comfy yoga pants will seem uncomfortable. And if you have to have a cesarean, you won’t want anything to touch near the incision area. It took me two weeks before I could wear comfy pants again after Ryan was born. I had 3 dresses that I rotated through and Justin was doing a lot of laundry! I found a couple dresses that were loose around the middle so they didn’t irritate my belly, and loose around the top to be able to breastfeed.
Believe it or not, but there was a lot of down time as well. When we were at the hospital with Ryan I did a lot of reading. Most of this was when he would feed in the middle of the night, and it gave me something to do. Reading was something to focus on in those exhausting hours, but nothing too strenuous or difficult to do while holding the baby. Justin brought his laptop with him and was able to get in a little bit of work while we were there as well.
The last thing that I wish we would have brought to the hospital the first time is an extra bag. Most hospitals send you home with extras, such as diapers, wipes, a nose bulb, some of the wonderful mesh undies, etc. What they don’t always have is a great bag to put it all in to take home. Not to mention the gifts that any visitors will probably bring to you that you now have to get home. Oh, and they usually give you a few small keepsakes from the hospital like the name tag that was on their crib, your hospital bands, and of course all your discharge paperwork. Juggle that with the car seat and newborn that you have to transport home, and it is a lot! Having an extra bag with good handles is a big help.
So There you have it. My 9 things that I wish I brought with me the first time I had a baby to make my postpartum recovery a little easier. My hospital bag was improved and more efficient (aka I also didn’t bring a bunch of crap I didn’t need) the second time around. What else did I miss? What do you wish you had brought to the hospital when you had your baby to help with postpartum recovery?
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