11 Things to Bring to the Hospital When You’re Having a Baby

4 Nov

I had a planned C-section and thought I was well-prepared for my trip to the hospital to deliver my baby. After all, the timing wasn’t a surprise. However, we somehow managed not to use most of the things we brought, and ended up needing many other items which my husband went home to grab (or ordered online).

We did use the basic stuff the hospital told us to bring, like phone chargers and a going-home outfit for the baby. But I learned quickly that lots of other items would come in handy, especially with the longer hospital stay associated with a C-section. Here are the items the hospital didn’t tell me about!

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1. Bring a pumping bra.

I felt like healthcare professionals assumed breastfeeding would go well, when most women I talk to had trouble with it. Breastfeeding is a struggle, and if your baby can’t latch well, you might have to use a pump to increase your milk production in the hospital. If you think you’ll ever pump, you should invest in a bra that lets you pump hands-free. There are many different brands of these, and some women just cut holes in an old sports bra, but I tried that and could never get it tight enough. I loved the Simple Wishes pumping bra. It’s theoretically one size fits all, but once my milk came in I needed the plus size version. For reference, I gained a lot of weight at the end of my pregnancy, ending up at around 200 pounds (I’m 5’8”). The plus size bra was also nice to have because I could wear it over clothes or my normal bra.

2. Bring a water bottle that won’t spill in bed but that you can manage to drink out of with one hand.

I couldn’t get my huge Nalgene open with one hand or grasp it well while nursing. I was extremely thirsty and because of my C-section, it hurt to get in and out of bed, so it was nice to have something that could stay in bed with me without spilling.  Sometimes the hospital tray was out of my reach or there was no one to refill my water cup. A water bottle I could manage with one hand would have been nice. We have these CamelBak bottles at home and should have brought one!

3. Bring huge nursing nightgowns and nursing robes.

I packed two different bath robes but ended up being way too hot to think about wearing anything with sleeves. (Your hospital room might be cold though, so I’d bring both. My hormones were so out of whack I had extreme temperature swings for the first few months post partum.) The nightgown I brought was way too small. I had some serious delusions about what size I would be after having the baby—during my whole hospital stay I was basically the same size as late pregnancy. I actually recommend getting a bigger size than you’d wear at 9 months because you won’t want to wear a bra with constant nursing and with lots of visitors, it’s nice to have something loose. However, it’s nice to wear something other than a hospital gown which never quite closes in the back! Here are a few of the robes and gowns I had, but which I wish I’d bought in a larger size. I’m still using them today and my baby is 19 months old.

4. Bring a Boppy pillow or a neck pillow like you would use on an airplane. I had a really hard time finding a comfortable position in the hospital bed. I ended up not liking the Boppy as a nursing pillow, but I did use it around my neck! It was excellent for helping me sleep in a more upright position, which was more comfortable for my C-section pain.

5. Bring a Brest Friend pillow for nursing.

I liked this much better than the Boppy for nursing because you can tighten a strap and it will stay put. I’m not sure you need both pillows. I would say skip the Boppy, but it was so great for sleeping at the hospital. If you don’t have many pillows at home you may as well get both, as you will need tons of pillows for positioning yourself for breastfeeding. At the hospital, they’ll probably provide you with as many pillows as you want, but they’re small.

6. Bring a belly binder for core support if you’re having a C-section.

My hospital provided a belly binder for support but according to my friends, not all do—if you need a C-section ask if they provide this. This made me so much more comfortable! I bought a few nicer ones from Amazon after leaving the hospital. They get sweaty and gross so you will probably need a few. I have friends who loved the Bellefit binder, but it’s very expensive. I liked this belly binder, from Amazon, for about $15. I wore this for a few weeks; it helped me exercise and heck, unload the dishwasher, without pain. I have friends who’ve worn a belly binder for months after a C-section.

7. Bring empty bags to take stuff home from hospital.

Our hospital told us to take pads, diapers, and wipes. I would also swipe any extra pee pads for your bed. When my daughter got diaper rash, we let her air out on top of one of those pads, so if she peed, it would absorb it. I’m also going to be real here: you’re going to bleed for about 6 weeks after giving birth, and that’s a long time to wear pads. Momma might want to air out, too. You can also buy pee pads at the drug store or even get washable pee pads from Amazon (we are using these for our incontinent dog these days!

8. Bring a camping mattress for your partner.

My husband brought a thick camping mattress to put on top of the pull out chair where he slept. Check out your hospital’s set up for overnight “visitors” when you go on a tour to plan for this. The exact one he used was several years old (and actually bought for camping), but it was something like this.

9. Bring non-staining lubrication for pumping and nursing.

Of course, after I bought 5 tubes of plain lanolin, I discovered lanolin stains clothes horribly. It ruined my dress! Boobease Bamboobies did not stain, but contained weird little white balls. My favorite was Earth Mama nipple butter. It seems very expensive for a small amount, but a little goes a very long way, and the one container I bought lasted for the few months I breastfed. I even used it as hand lotion after I stopped breastfeeding! Plain coconut oil also works well at the house, or out and about if you can find a container small enough to fit in a purse.

10. Bring nice post partum undies. Yes, I mostly lived in mesh underwear while at the hospital because I needed to wear giant pads. However, when I tried on my old underwear, I discovered that the elastic hit right where my C-section scar was, which did not feel good. I ordered a few different kinds of post-partum underwear and Kindred Bravely’s high waist style was my favorite. They are buttery soft, breathable, don’t hurt the scar, and look feminine and flattering on my post-partum body. I ordered extra-large at first, but have since ordered smaller sizes as my belly shrank. The only downside to them is that they don’t hold up very well in the wash—the lace starts separating. But they’re relatively inexpensive, so I’ve just ordered more as needed.

11. Bring sleeping masks.

I like sleeping in a really dark room, but the hospital blinds didn’t even cover the whole window. Also, once we got home, we were sleeping whenever we could, including in the middle of the day when the sun was out. Wearing a sleep mask helped block out the light so my husband and I could sleep better.

And that’s my whole list! Of course, make sure you follow the list provided by your hospital and/or doctor, too. These are just the things that I didn’t see on most lists. What did I miss? Let me (and other readers) know in the comments!

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