‘My trip into the labor room was a direct reflection on how completely unprepared I was for parenthood.’
I arrived at the hospital wearing a gown, blue sparkly eye shadow, and my hair in an elaborate up-do. As my husband wheeled me into the delivery ward, I announced to the nurses that I was ready to have my baby! The nurses took one look at me and bursted out laughing. Needless to say, I limped out of the hospital days later with mascara running down my cheeks, hair matted down with bodily fluids, and that glamorous gown was thrown directly in the trash on my way out. I came out of that hospital as a completely different person. Hopefully this checklist will better prepare you for this amazing and life-changing event.
Start with the essentials: Your completed preregistration papers and insurance card should be in a spot that is easy to find to make checking in a breeze. If you are driving home, you will also need to have a rear-facing car seat installed.
Think comfort: It will be a welcomed relief to get out of the backless hospital gown so be sure to pack a fresh nightgown, slippers, and a robe. Bring a few nursing or maternity bras and several pairs of underwear that you don’t mind tossing as things can get a bit messy. Pack a couple changes of clothes and a comfy outfit to return home.
Toiletries: Your own toothbrush/toothpaste, shampoo, etc. will make you feel more at home. An eye mask or cooling eye gel is great for soothing tired eyes. Hair bands will keep your hair tidy and out of your face during labor. Lip balm is a lifesaver as lips can get dry fast with the combination of Lamaze breathing and stale hospital air. Lanolin cream will make the first few attempts at breastfeeding less painful.
It is also nice to have your own snacks on hand like fresh fruit, nuts, hydrating coconut water, and herbal tea. Meals come at set times and you may find yourself hungry at odd hours.
Staying In touch: Your cell phone, tablet, or laptop and charger will be essential to keep in touch with well wishers. Updating your social media is an easy way to keep everyone in the loop. An old school camera is key for documenting those early hours. A few items that are non essential but provide extra comfort include: a sound or music machine, a nursing pillow, a journal, and fresh flowers.
Fortunately, babies don’t need much in the beginning, but you will want to bring a change of clothes including a onesie and a hat. You will probably be sent home from the hospital with a plethora of diapers, but pack a few just to be sure. A warm blanket and swaddle prepares baby for the first exposure to the outer world.