When preparing for the birth of your first child (or indeed any child), you may feel inclined to overpack for the baby, parents, and/or the support person staying in the hospital. How do you know what to pack and what is not necessary? Here are ten must-have items for the hospital stay.
Clothing and Coming Home Outfit for Baby and Mom
After birth (in the United States), the baby will be fully provided with clothing, diapers, hats, and swaddles for the duration of their stay in the hospital. The baby’s needs will be fully met in this area, except for the coming home outfit. It is recommended to bring two outfits to dress them in to bring the baby home. Bring one outfit in a newborn size, and bring one outfit in the next size up, usually a 0/3 month outfit. Make sure to bring any needed accessories with this as well, including mittens, socks, and a hat or bow.
Mom, on the other hand, may want to wear more than a hospital gown while at the hospital. The hospital will provide a gown for labour, and fresh gowns after labour. However, gowns may not seem the most comfortable to Mom right after giving birth. Keep in mind that after birth may be messy, so try to remember to pack darker colours for yoga pants, leggings, or pyjama pants. If breastfeeding, pack nursing tops, or tops that will allow easy access for feeding the baby.
Mom will be exhausted after labour and delivery, so think comfort over cuteness. Mom can always pack a cute robe to throw over the most comfortable pyjamas for visitors and photos if this is a concern. Most visitors, however, will understand what Mom just went through and do not expect a cute outfit.
Clothing for Support Person
The support person, whether that is a partner, family member, or friend, will need clothes too! Being in the same clothes for a few days will become uncomfortable quite quickly. Plus, once the baby has arrived, any ideas of leaving to head home and change will be ideas of the past.
Bring comfortable clothes to wear while sitting and sleeping on uncomfortable couches. Most hospital stays (in the United States) are about 48 hours, so bring 2 outfits for the day and 2 sets of pyjamas to be safe.
In the case of C-Section, closed-toe shoes are required. It would probably be wise to wear closed-toe shoes during a vaginal birth as well in case of an emergency C-Section. In cases of emergency, the support person will be left behind if they are not fully ready when the mother is being taken away. The mother and baby are most important in this situation, not the support person putting on their shoes.
Travel size works best here. Think of the basic necessities needed when you travel. Soap, deodorant, shampoo, conditioner, toothbrush, toothpaste, hairbrush, and extra hair ties. The hospital will have a shower to bathe in after the baby is born, and many hospitals require the mother to shower before being released to show she is capable of standing for a decent amount of time.
The baby will be provided with blankets to be swaddled in while in the hospital, but when leaving, the baby will need to be covered with a blanket. The change in temperature from the hospital to outside to a car may not seem very drastic to us, but to a newborn, it can be quite a big difference.
The blanket will double as a protectant from sun exposure. Baby skin is very delicate, and even ten minutes of sun exposure can be too much.
If the mum, partner or just the support person is on any form of medication you might want to take at least 48 hrs of medication, especially if you have asthma or any other breathing difficulties as it can get quite stressful now and again.
Special Swaddle and Robe for Photo Opportunity
“Fresh 48” photos are gaining in popularity. These are photos taken while still in the hospital, and oftentimes are the photos used to announce the baby’s arrival. A special swaddle and robe will make mom and baby photo-ready with little work. These can also be sweet keepsakes.
With the great cameras in cell phones, this may not be a necessary item to take to the hospital. However, a nice DSLR camera will take much higher quality photos than an iPhone or Android. If this is something you decide to bring, make sure to have the batteries fully charged and know the best settings for the hospital room.
Long Phone Charger
Plugs may be too far away for a standard length charger to reach the hospital bed. Bring a charger with at least a 10-foot cable, so mom can always have her phone nearby in case she wants to take the call from a loved one or scroll through Facebook between contractions to distract herself.
Snacks or Change
Depending on the time the baby is born, the hospital cafeteria may already be closed. Mom will not be able to eat the entire labour and she will most likely be ravenous by the time she is allowed to eat again. Have a snack ready or change to get something from the vending machine while she waits on her cafeteria food.
This may be an obvious item on the list, but do not forget to have the car seat properly installed before heading to the hospital. The nurses will check that the car seat is properly installed before letting anyone leave with the baby.
If unsure how to properly install a car seat, reach out to the local fire department. Most stations have someone on staff who is certified in car seat installation. They will happily teach the parents how to install it.
Try to have the car seat installed at least a week before the baby is due, if not sooner. Going into labour only to realize the car seat is still in the box will be a stressor for both the mom and support person. Better to have it already installed, so there is one less thing to worry about when labour begins.
Having a baby is such an exciting experience, but preparing for the birth can be a nerve-wracking experience. Try to stick to this list to help keep calm while preparing and if you feel we missed something off this list do let us know in the comments below.