What do you wish you'd brought to the hospital when labor started?
January 8, 2013 4:24 PM   Subscribe

My wife and I have our hospital bags packed, ready to take with us when we're heading to the hospital to have the baby. We've got the various odds and ends like a change of clothes, toiletries, chapstick, devices & chargers, camera, etc. If you've done this before, what do you wish you'd brought (or what did you make sure you brought the second time)?
posted by davebug to Human Relations (68 answers total) 34 users marked this as a favorite
Phone charger (we did bring it, but it was really useful).

Other than that, not much made much of a difference. A comfortable change of clothes for everyone I guess. Really though, you don't actually *need* anything for this process but your own body, and you (at least if you're like my wife) won't really *want* a whole lot either. It's a bit like asking what you might bring with you for a marathon. Shoes? Not much, because you'll be busy running a marathon and not really use much of it.

That was my experience, anyway. Other people will probably tell you to bring candles or books or music or whatever, but those sorts of things were so ancillary as to be ignorable when we did it.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 4:28 PM on January 8, 2013

Single malt whiskey.
posted by tim_in_oz at 4:28 PM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

Food. Really. I was starving.
posted by Chaussette and the Pussy Cats at 4:30 PM on January 8, 2013 [13 favorites]

I recently went to visit a friend who was being induced while she was in the early waiting stages. I brought her lollipops, which she was really grateful for, as the meds made her mouth really dry, and freshly baked cookies, which her husband devoured.
posted by ambrosia at 4:31 PM on January 8, 2013

Baby pants. The hospital had shirts/onesies, but not pants. Our son left the hospital with an upside-down shirt on his legs like a little hobo meatloaf.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 4:34 PM on January 8, 2013 [23 favorites]

I loved having a sleep mask; helped block out the light for naps during the day and helped me sleep despite the hustle & bustle that goes on even at night.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 4:34 PM on January 8, 2013 [4 favorites]

Two things to remember, to tylerkaraszewski's point: (1) hospital rooms are small and lack table/storage space and (2) you might need to move from a labor/delivery room to a postnatal room, taking all your stuff with you. Also, you will leave with a lot of baby-related paperwork, samples, flowers, balloons, etc. Also, you'll leave with a baby! Therefore, you might be happier with less ancillary stuff to carry and cart around. I would heartily second snacks for both mom (if possible) and the support team.
posted by handful of rain at 4:35 PM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

Books or other reading material. The fact that you're going to the hospital does not necessarily mean you're coming home with a baby. I've known couples to make two and even three trips before labor actually started. False labor, etc. Each individual trip could easily be half a dozen-odd hours.

posted by valkyryn at 4:35 PM on January 8, 2013 [3 favorites]

I bought a Nintendo DS with a few games. Turned out great as my wife had a very long labour. We played one of the Professor Layton games, which was really cool as we could solve the puzzles together and it helped take her mind off the pain. YMMV however.

Another tip: In all the excitement, don't forget to bring all your stuff home. It's easy to mislay a charger etc.

Also, snacks.
posted by ReiToei at 4:36 PM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

Honestly, I didn't really touch anything in my bag. People told me to bring all sorts of things like a change of clothes, extra socks and underwear... but I just spent the whole time in the cheap gown they give you in the hospital. I couldn't be bothered to change into my own clothes after giving birth. I don't think I even brushed my teeth.

I guess I would recommend bringing some Gatorade or other sports drink. I was really thirsty afterwords. I found that Gatorade helped keep me hydrated for breastfeeding. Oh, also all the baby clothes we brought were way too big. I wish I had packed a preemie size outfit (even though my baby was over 7 pounds).
posted by barnoley at 4:36 PM on January 8, 2013 [4 favorites]

I agree with most of the folks above, try not to bring too much stuff. Camera and charger, phone and charger, maybe a toothbrush and some snacks for mom and dad and something for the baby to come home in. I brought a pillow from home, which I guess I'd do again, but probably wasn't necessary. The hospital will give you all the other stuff you really need and in those crazy few days the fewer things to schlep and to keep track of the better. Suggest to your wife that she plan to use the hospital gowns and granny underpants they provide. There are lots of gross fluids in the days after delivery that it's better not to expose your own clothes to if you can help it. Also, the hospital room is usually stocked with all sorts of free stuff like little nose suctioners, diapers, bins, etc. Take it all. Seriously, they expect you to do it and we ended up using just about everything we took with us from there.
posted by goggie at 4:45 PM on January 8, 2013

Snacks. Or quarters for the vending machines.
posted by Sassyfras at 4:45 PM on January 8, 2013 [2 favorites]

An extra pillow, and/or a Boppy (probably the sort of thing to keep in the car to grab as needed rather than tote around in the hospital). Hospital pillows are crap, and that first night uncomfortably nursing/cosleeping with the baby it would have been nice to have had the means of getting everybody firmly in a comfortable position.
posted by Bardolph at 4:47 PM on January 8, 2013 [2 favorites]

Several pair of warm socks and a warm cardigan to wear over the hospital gown. Slip on shoes that accommodate warm socks (I spent the first 24 hours post-partum walking back and forth from the NICU). My toiletry bag with shampoo, face wash, etc. - the hospital bathroom had some intense all-in-one body cleanser that I did not want to use on my head. Cell phone charger.

Ditto on the smaller than anticipated baby clothes - I was expecting to give birth to a gigantic baby and ended up with a surprise preemie. Extra food/snacks would have been good, but there was that surprise preemie thing that prevented much planning there. Scratch mittens or baby fingernail clippers would have been fantastic.

Things in my bag that I did not use: my own pillow, bathrobe (I didn't want to get it covered in blood), towel (ditto - although I sat on one in the car on the way there), breast pads, flip flops, extra menstrual pads, baby hats (every time I woke up, the baby had a new hat on - maybe this is due to having a Christmas baby, but seriously, the kid came home with a half-dozen hats).
posted by Maarika at 4:47 PM on January 8, 2013

Nthing the food and drinks. Also, when planning an outfit to leave the hospital in think big. My feet were so swollen when I left they barely fit in my dankso clogs.
posted by MadMadam at 4:48 PM on January 8, 2013 [2 favorites]

Tiny clothes, yes. Goofy low-intellect magazines or a movie you've seen before, in case labor takes a long time to get going. (My mother brought a book of Icelandic sagas to read while she was in labor with me, which turned out to be a grievous error.) Low-odor food; I had to throw a friend of mine's husband out of her labor room because he wasn't picking up on her hints that the smell of his Fritos was making her ill. Chapstick, phone charger, a cable for the ipod to plug into the stereo system. Socks that are awesome but that you don't mind throwing away. I personally liked having some Depends around to deal with the lochia rather than the weird hospital mesh underpants and maternity pads. Soothies, those hydrogel nursing pads, if you intend to breastfeed.

Of course, we never even unzipped our birth bag; my water broke at home, ridiculous contractions started instantly, I arrived at the hospital in galloping labor and had the baby three hours later. So, you know, be prepared for that to be an option.
posted by KathrynT at 4:50 PM on January 8, 2013

I used nothing from my carefully-planned bag except my slippers. That said, I think it's useful to go through the motions of packing the bag and having nice things with you - hand lotion, energy bars, music, comfy things, etc. It provides reassurance as you face the unknown. There are many previous threads on this that might be useful to you.
posted by judith at 4:54 PM on January 8, 2013 [2 favorites]

It's funny but our (nurse-practioner) midwife told my wife that, when she felt labour starting, to pack a bag with pajamas and various things, take a bath, get something to eat, and drive on over to the clinic.

Our first son was actually 11 days late, which was tremendously frustrating for my wife, so one of the things the midwife suggested was to go for walks, ideally along the beach. I have a really great memory about such a walk, my wife, probably not so much.

Anyway, on Day 11 at around dinnertime we were out for a walk around the neighbourhood with the dog when my wife started feeling cramps. She had felt them (and been fooled) before, we kept walking. Eventually, though, it was pretty obvious (some little girls were skipping rope and asked us what was wrong: "I'm having a baby!" my wife said) so we hurried home, and my wife made a bath and packed her bag, all the while experiencing the contractions.

I phoned the clinic to explain what was happening, and the midwife practically screamed in my ear that we were to come down as soon as possible. Our son was born an hour later. We didn't have anything special on-hand, although I did remember to bring a camera and a cellphone.

This was pre-Skype, so I remember calling my parents on the other side of the world to tell them the news.

My wife and son spent the next few days resting and getting to know each other. I don't think my wife wanted anything special except the usual things - glasses, a brush, etc.
posted by KokuRyu at 4:54 PM on January 8, 2013

Get friends and family to bring the best snacks.
A nice sweater or cardigan is useful.
Tiny baby clothes nth
Easy reading stuff nth
I've noted famous people get a full beauty treatment going out. If you want to treat your wife, its a good idea
posted by mumimor at 4:59 PM on January 8, 2013

Holy crow labor was BORING. When I wasn't writhing around in pain I was bored out of my mind. And somehow nothing good was on TV. Besides what you've already mentioned, if I were going today I would just bring my husband's Kindle so I could watch movies or read to pass the time, but that's about it.

I wasn't allowed to have any food while I was in labor, just water. Bored AND hungry.
posted by lyssabee at 4:59 PM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

Lotion and eyedrops. The hospital air was SO dry.

Other things I wish I'd had:
* a robe & slippers (they made me walk the halls after my c-section & the hospital gown & socks were not very comfortable or warm)
* light books/magazines (c-section drugs made it hard for me to concentrate for more than a paragraph or two)
* my own pillow (the hospital's were too flat)
* snacks. The hospital had juice & snacks (crackers, peanut butter) available, but I was really craving fresh fruit & veggies by the time I was able to go home
posted by belladonna at 5:00 PM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

I wasn't allowed to have any food while I was in labor, just water. Bored AND hungry.

OMG yesssssss. When you think you might be in early labor, eat a solid meal. You'll probably throw it all up later but it will have been worth it. And drink water regularly, because (spoiler alert) if they say you have to have a c-section, they cut you off from liquids, and I was SO THIRSTY right at the moment they told me I couldn't have any more water. Next time the second the attending walks in the room, I'm grabbing the huge jug of water I will have brought with me and downing the whole thing before he can cut me off.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 5:07 PM on January 8, 2013 [7 favorites]

Nursing pads
Nursing bra (the loose night-time kind, nothing fancy)
posted by ellenaim at 5:08 PM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

Don't forget the car seat! (and n-thing food for you, unless you like running down to the hospital cafeteria during late-night boredom+hunger fits)
posted by colin_l at 5:13 PM on January 8, 2013

I brought my iHome clock radio (but didn't end up using the ipod). I listen to NPR nonstop, and I would have gone crazy without it. Plus our hospital had no other mechanism for playing music.

Lemon zinger teabags to put into room temperature water for a change from plain water.

My own clothes to wear during labor made me feel like a person and not a patient; the nurse and anyone else in the room can help get around the IV if necessary. At some point after the birth I also wanted to wear my own clothes to leave the hospital room; Baby Rabbit wasn't rooming in because of treatment for jaundice, so I was back and forth to the nursery a lot.
posted by orange (sherbet) rabbit at 5:14 PM on January 8, 2013

See, that's the thing, personalities are different and labors/births are (vastly!) different. I had a slooooooooooow first labor and an average second one, so for my first labor I definitely could have used some light reading or movies to distract me had I been in a hospital (I was at home up until the last few hours). I was also a person who desperately wanted a shower (with my own stuff) and clean clothes and a cup of coffee immediately after the ordeal; other people (see above) apparently couldn't care less. I also brought two pillows from home (one purportedly for my partner), but I am a pillow fiend and believe that the more pillows one has the better, as a general rule, so ymmv on that one too...
posted by celtalitha at 5:22 PM on January 8, 2013

Food. We ended up staying in the hospital a few extra days and I was starving. I had a box of chewy granola bars and it helped a lot. I was bored, too, so yeah, a kindle/nook tablet, something? That would have been awesome. Pillows from home, warm socks, hand lotion, definitely.
posted by lemniskate at 5:23 PM on January 8, 2013 [2 favorites]

-Gatorade or Vitamin water and a big sippy cup to put it in (the kind with the attached permanent straw)
-preemie outfit (they really are awfully tiny when they're first out, even at regular size)
-Guinness or other beer of your choice

I didn't touch a thing in my own carefully pre-packed bag. Giving birth is hectic, unpredictable and exhausting. Cards? Crosswords? Music? Clothes/robe? Ha!

Best of luck :)
posted by Go Banana at 5:26 PM on January 8, 2013

If you have a video camera being that, not to film the delivery but the minutes right after. They are chaotic and confusing but being able to go back and see just what happened is great. Our boys love the footage of their first moments of independent life.
posted by procrastination at 5:29 PM on January 8, 2013

Chapstick, hair ties, socks, hard candy, my own pillow, my own robe.
posted by staggering termagant at 5:32 PM on January 8, 2013

Ah, and the "no food or drinks" rule (and enforcement) varies by hospital. The most old-school of protocol is either nothing by mouth, or ice chips only, based on apparently outdated concerns about potential aspiration should you for some reason need to undergo general anesthesia. The actual risks, even for a typical c-section, are (according to my research and my nurse-midwife) exceedingly small.
posted by celtalitha at 5:34 PM on January 8, 2013

Depends undergarments for the post birth fluids. The mesh panties they give you at the hospital are a complete joke. The Depends are great because they are full coverage and do not leak. I was glad to have them.
posted by PorcineWithMe at 5:35 PM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

Every time my mother tells me the story of my birth, it includes the ham and cheese sandwiches they had stashed in the freezer.
posted by hoyland at 5:40 PM on January 8, 2013

Juice is nice or tea with honey -- even better is a friend who will go out to fetch you whatever you're craving. I massively craved sweet things to drink -- grape juice, peppermint tea with honey, and lemon sorbet. My best friend brought grape juice boxes, and lemon popsicles back from the store, with dinner food for my husband and stepmom (and the nurses kept making me peppermint tea with sugar). I wasn't at all hungry during labor, so I guess I was just lucky there. So either pack some serious food for those non-laboring or, better yet, plan for someone who can bring things. Also, my stepmom visited the next day with a fabulous dinner and it was one of the best things I've ever tasted. Suddenly having home-cooked food in the hospital just makes it so much better. (Also, people will be glad to bring you things for a chance to see your new baby -- I brought my friends brownies and cookies when they had their baby.)

I don't think I used anything from my labor bag, except maybe some clothes to go home in, and it was good the carseat was in the car. (And my daughter was sent home with at least six hats, too.) It did calm me down to pack lots of stuff for just in case in the bag, so there's that. And it sounds like everyone ended up using different parts of their bags.

If you can install the carseat in the car now, while you have time to wrestle with it in your own driveway, instead of in a parking garage while your wife is waiting, all the better. (Oh, and for clothes to go home in, whatever was worn in month five is about right, generally, for your wife.) Having a few sizes of baby clothes can be helpful -- my daughter was too big for some of the newborn stuff, some of it fit, and some 3 month fit right away.
posted by Margalo Epps at 5:45 PM on January 8, 2013

My kid needed to have some formula before we left, so I wished we had brought a researched brand and bottle instead of having to use just whatever freebie the hospital had.
posted by xo at 6:01 PM on January 8, 2013

Towels! Dark colored in case they get stained. Hospital towels are about the size of a postage stamp and scratchy as hell.
posted by chiababe at 6:04 PM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

Also, if you bring your own pillow, put it in a bold colored pillowcase so it doesn't end up being taken out by the custodial staff or forgotten when you pack up to leave.
posted by chiababe at 6:05 PM on January 8, 2013 [3 favorites]

In case you need to park a car where there are parking meters, or coin-operated boom gates etc, make sure you have enough, which includes enough to cover the possibility of some coins being rejected or swallowed.

Same goes for vending machines. Your food & drink might run out, and even though hospitals run 24/7, their food outlets may not.

As a father, I really wish I'd brought something better to wear in the shower. That was an hour or two of being splattered with water as I showered Ms Ubu from a shower hose, shivering most of the time. Not sure what might have helped, though: wetsuit? Raincoat? But I can tell you, board shorts didn't cut it.
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:06 PM on January 8, 2013

Snacks. Lots of snacks. After my son was born, I was starving, but the hospital kitchen was closed! (A nurse gave me some of her peanut butter toast, best thing I have ever eaten!)

Everything else we didn't use. I Insisted on bringing 12 litres of Gatorade, then demanded Ginger Ale throughout labour. ??

Have fun!!
posted by chapps at 6:08 PM on January 8, 2013

Might've been nice to have a thermos of coffee, too, now that I think about it. Decent coffee, so as not to have to drink the crap from vending machines, or the medical staff's shitty instant coffee.
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:09 PM on January 8, 2013

The second go-round, I brought my own maxipads (actually, they were Poise pads, which are really for incontinence). I brought a tube of Lansinoh to lube my nipples. I brought magazines for boring times. I had a whole list of things for my husband to immediately go buy for me to eat and drink so I wouldn't be stuck with hospital food (and I figured out the nearest place to the hospital for him to go, and described where in the store to find everything, so I would be sure to get exactly what I wanted--which brand of orange juice, how big of a container of milk, whether I wanted my sandwich cut in squares or triangles, I left nothing to chance).

Check out your hospital's amenities in advance--mine had a Starbucks in it, but what if I only liked Peet's coffee? It would have been a crisis. There's a lot of hormones going on.
posted by padraigin at 6:10 PM on January 8, 2013

I don't know if anyone has mentioned this to your wife, but I was truly shocked at the size of my midsection after I had the first kid. I couldn't wear anything that was sized smaller than my second trimester maternity jeans/sweats. It probably is common sense, but apparently I lacked that at the time.

I brought my pillow from home for the second baby, to use after the birth was done. I have very particular pillow needs and they were not met the first time. Also, a pajama top/regular shirt with easy access for nursing, if that's what she's planning.

Good luck!
posted by cooker girl at 6:21 PM on January 8, 2013

I wish I'd had luna bars or some other sort of quick nutrition bar. Not so much for the labor part but after delivery, it was gross hospital food or waiting for someone to bring me a meal. I wish I had had a nutritious snack on hand. I also forgot my hairbrush, so I recommend bringing that.

I also wouldn't have minded getting a present. I mean, I think a push present is stupid, but I did a shit ton of work that day and the days leading up to it. I think every post-delivery mom needs flowers at least.
posted by chelseagirl at 6:31 PM on January 8, 2013

Oh, and the Always Infinity Overnight pads are amazing and work just as well as the hospital-issued phone-book-thickness pads, so once you get out of the bed and into real clothes, it's nice not to wear a diaper.
posted by chelseagirl at 6:33 PM on January 8, 2013

If your hospital room will have wireless internet, bring a laptop and start saving up things to watch now (I kept myself a season behind on a couple sitcoms and spent a while catching up), there can be lots of super boring waiting time, especially if your little one ends up needing an extra day or two there for something like jaundice.

Comfy, stretchy clothes for after labor - yoga pants that would fit in 2nd trimester and a nice oversized cardigan made me feel a lot more human than sitting around in a gown and robe in the days after. And food, yeah. Not so much for before, but after, I was so hungry.
posted by waterlily at 6:38 PM on January 8, 2013

I don't remember needing anything that the hospital didn't have (and that they would have let me have) except that I sent Mr Corpse out to get some goat cheese after my first kid was born, because I love goat cheese so much and hadn't been able to have it for months.

Some of this might depend on where you are. I delivered in one so-so hospital where the food was foul and Mr Corpse had to bring me snacks -- we were in the hospital for two days after the baby was born, because we both had fevers -- and then had my second kid in a much nicer hospital.
posted by The corpse in the library at 6:41 PM on January 8, 2013

posted by bluebelle at 6:42 PM on January 8, 2013 [2 favorites]

My baby was in NICU, so our experience might be different and this was before smartphones, but LAPTOP.
posted by k8t at 6:47 PM on January 8, 2013 [2 favorites]

A laptop!
Thankfully, my labor was short and uneventful, so my husband, baby and I were just hanging out for 2 or 3 days waiting to be discharged. Hospital TV had nothing good on, and a laptop with wi-fi and news was great.
posted by mooselini at 6:48 PM on January 8, 2013

I didn't bring it with me, but the hospital had a large woven palm* fan hanging on the wall, which my sister used on me when I got hot. It was wonderful.

*Not sure that this would fly today, given the difficulty in cleaning such a thing.
posted by SLC Mom at 6:51 PM on January 8, 2013

Everybody's covered what I was going to say, but I'll add that I took some lavender essential oil with me and put a drop on my pillow every time they changed the linen. It's such a comforting, clean smell, and I use it on my linens at home as so smelled like home for me. The nurses kept remarking on how nice it was.

So yeah, something that smells like home.
posted by Specklet at 7:01 PM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

nthing: snacks and bottles of water/gatorade, a towel and your favorite pillow in a bright pillow case.

After giving birth in June, all I wanted a hot shower and the towels at the hospital were glorified wash cloths. I also was grateful I had brought just my essential cosmetics... foundation, blush and mascara. It made me feel ready to greet visitors.

Also! Quick advice: Take everything home with you that isn't nailed down. I still use the snot sucker, the plastic wash tub, a blanket and we used the new born shirts too! (Don't worry, it's not stealing when you get the giant bill in the mail 2 months later.)
posted by dearest at 7:04 PM on January 8, 2013 [3 favorites]

Oh god, definitely take home whatever you can. The peri-bottle for spritzing your extra-delicate ladybits, the ugly mauve-colored mug with a sports-bottle straw, the net panties (THE NET PANTIES!!!) that are so amazing for holding the giant maxipads to collect all your effluvia, whatever they will let you take, take it. You paid for it.

And I second bringing some makeup if you are a makeup lady (or even if you're really not), because my dumb husband wanted to take a million pictures and at least I look like a fresh biscuit With Eyelashes in those pictures. And your most favoritest maternity outfit for going home, because yeah, you're not wearing anything but maternity clothes for a few weeks anyway, and you want those first pictures of your dumb biscuit-with-eyelashes face to be topping the clothing you hate the least and feel the most comfortable in.
posted by padraigin at 7:11 PM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

I preferred a pashmina shawl to a cardigan--easier to get on and off with an IV. Nonskid socks or slippers. Chapstick. Food and drink. The apple and goldfish crackers I ate in the middle of the night after giving birth remains the best meal of my life.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 7:15 PM on January 8, 2013

Uplifting funny books that require no attention span is another thing that is good, although of course you should sleep when the baby is sleeping!!!

Phone numbers for all the essential calls to relatives, or a phone tree plan.

Note book to write down the name of the nurses, so grateful a friend did that so we could send more personal thank you to them because they were awesome and I had no idea their names afterwards.

Ok, these are kind of beyond labour issues, but the best advice I got was "Everyone focuses on labour, but coming home is the challenge!"

Also, plan to update the message machine so everyone gets the news but you only talk to those who you want to/when you have energy.

Also, Give spare key to friends and make plan that they will have dinner ready for you when you get home (and then leave you alone). Friends did this for us, absolute god send. I found going home really, really overwhelming, could barely cope with anything, was so grateful.

Another friend also took away and did all our laundry so we came home to absolute clean house. It was the best!!
posted by chapps at 7:38 PM on January 8, 2013

Yeah, I'll second/nth what has been said a couple of times - every person's labor is different, so you really have no idea what you need. Make sure that in general you pack stuff that you don't mind losing at the hospital. You need to be prepared & willing to run home and get whatever is needed during your stay, or have a friend/friends on duty who can do that for you.

I will million-nth food - I was fine with the food the hospital gave me, but I think Mr. Bibbit is never going to let die the fact that I got served three meals a day and he got bupkus. My friends who brought sushi to the hospital have our undying gratitude.

One thing I haven't seen mentioned: we brought a giant bag of candy to the hospital, not only for my sweet tooth but also for buttering up the nurses.

And a doula. I always highly recommend brining a doula, but that's probably beyond where you're at. Congrats and good luck!!!
posted by bibbit at 7:41 PM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

posted by Ideefixe at 7:48 PM on January 8, 2013

a large print book (or an e-reader that lets you change font sizes); my eyes wouldn't freaking focus from one of the drugs, so I couldn't read two of the three books I had with me!

Also like People Magazine and US Weekly, just some trash to flip through and skim and look at pretty pictures without needing to be able to follow a plot.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:28 PM on January 8, 2013

A written phone list with names and numbers. Going through cell phone contacts was distracting and we missed a few.

Also, the phone numbers of local food delivery places you like. We had food delivered to front door. I ran down to pay and get it.

Some stationary to write letters or cards to grandparents and older relatives or folks out of your time zone or area. My wife wrote like 15 cards I had to mail.

The biggest surprise was these things come out without instructions. We had no family nearby. Do not be afraid to ask the staff to show you how to change a diaper, swaddle a baby or give a bath. Keep on asking about how to change a diaper. Even if you get it. Let them change as many as possible, you will be changing over a thousand over the next few years.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 8:53 PM on January 8, 2013

Shot Bloks, cheese and crackers and water/gatorade. I wasn't hungry during labor but afterwards I was ravenous. The shot bloks were amazing for getting my energy levels back up (although you'll want to avoid the ones with caffeine in them).

Little tiny bottle of olive oil to rub on baby's bum to make cleaning up meconium easier.

Swimsuit top for while I was in the birthtub.

We had a bunch of emergency clothes and stuff, but everything was fine and we left for home after about 4 hours (birth center rather than hospital) so we didn't really use much out of the hospital bag.

We had new sets of toothbrushes, toothpaste and deodorant so we wouldn't have to worry about packing/unpacking/forgetting them at the last minute.
posted by HMSSM at 8:57 PM on January 8, 2013

Gowns with mitten cuffs is what I used both times for the coming home outfit. The construction of the gown makes it easy to slip over their head. The sleeves have cuffs that can be folded over baby's hands to keep him from scratching himself. Both of my kids lived in these the first few weeks. Their legs stay covered, it is easy to pull up the gown from the bottom to change the diaper and no pressure or friction on the birth cord stump.

A decongestant for me. For what ever reason, several hours after giving birth, I get sooo congested. The delivery nurses assured me that this is common. First time there were no orders for a decongestant, it was about 2:00am and I hated to disturb the Dr. Second time I made sure there were orders just in case I needed them.
posted by JujuB at 9:15 PM on January 8, 2013

The problem with the gowns is that they don't work with a carseat strap that needs to be snug between the baby's legs.
posted by KathrynT at 9:33 PM on January 8, 2013 [3 favorites]

The main thing I forgot was a change of clothes to go home in. In my case labour started off quickly and became more intense very quickly too, so I ended up changing into clothes to go to the hospital in the middle of the night with contractions every 2 minutes. That was not great - for any future births I'd get in hospital-going clothes sooner rather than later.
posted by gnimmel at 1:57 AM on January 9, 2013

I wish we had brought less. The first kid we had we brought everything, I mean EVERYTHING everyone suggested. The second kid, we brought significantly less stuff. Third kid, I don't know if we brought anything more than phone chargers and a camera. IF (yes, that's a big if) everything goes well you'll be in and out of the hospital in no time, and you won't even remember 90% of your time there. That's also why you'll want a camera.
posted by Blake at 4:47 AM on January 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

Change for the vending machines (or better snacks for my husband.)

Extra layers for my husband, too. The room was freezing and while it was fine for me, he was dying (and he is never cold!) We brought a sleeping bag, which he was super glad to have.
posted by saucy at 7:58 AM on January 9, 2013

If you have a heating pad, bring it. We were lucky that our birth center had one, because having my husband or doula press it against my lower back during contractions was the ONLY THING that helped during active labor. This was a natural birth though, if you're planning on an epidural obviously this won't be necessary.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 9:11 AM on January 9, 2013

> We brought a sleeping bag

It was cold in our room, too, so we just asked for more blankets.
posted by The corpse in the library at 10:04 AM on January 9, 2013

What I didn't realize before was that most of my bag would be used during recovery not labor. I had a long tough labor where I had little interest in anything in my bag followed by 4 days of recovery where I used my bag's contents a lot.

So here's what I used:
- $5 robe I bought at Walmart. I used this when wandering around my room so guests wouldnt see my butt and when walking the halls for 4 days after my c-section.
- flip flops.
- a pillow (I'm a pillow person). I think we had one for my husband too.
- a towel and nice shower products
- ear plugs
- white noise machine (it was soooooo freaking loud in that room with all the machines beeping incessantly)
- pacifiers (used within hours of birth - my daughter NEEDED to suck for comfort in the early months)
- face moisturizer
- snacks primarily for my husband
- camera (camera photos were better than the iPhone photos)
- phone (with white noise app)
- chargers
- clothes for the baby (I just was excited to start dressing her myself)

I loved the mesh granny panties and definitely asked for a box to take home.

Gatorade would have been brilliant. I was extremely thirsty for weeks after the birth. Something to organize all the paperwork would've been convenient.

Amalah has a good list on alphamom.

Good luck!
posted by semacd at 3:49 AM on January 11, 2013

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