What were your labor & delivery hospital bag special items?
August 7, 2014 11:19 AM   Subscribe

What were the special items or things you took with you to the hospital for a birth in your family?

My partner and I are expecting twins (eek!) this fall and I am in charge of our hospital packing list. We will be working with midwives in a hospital setting, so my partner will be laboring in a "laboring room" and delivering in the ER (required for twins, even with a vaginal delivery), even though we are hoping for a "natural birth."

I have read many online lists and made a master packing list that includes the standard robe, magazines, phones, etc. What I am wondering is if there were special items you brought that made laboring/delivery/post-delivery more comfortable or warm. Also, any tips for the non-pregnant partner staying happy would be welcomed by me (I will be a nervous monkey!).

Thank you!
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (38 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
A deck of cards. Sometimes there's boring Bits.
posted by crazycanuck at 11:21 AM on August 7, 2014

Things I had (or wished I had) when I gave birth:

slippers with non-slip bottoms

warm socks

lotion, chapstick, eyedrops

snacks with protein (the hospital provided graham crackers & juice in the family area, but cheese or almonds would have been nice to have)

books or magazines

my own pillow
posted by belladonna at 11:30 AM on August 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

I was glad I had, or wish I had- lip balm, a good eye mask, water bottle, the Boppy pillow.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 11:35 AM on August 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

did you mean delivering in the OR (operating room) or in the ER (emergency room)? It's a tangent but I work in an ER and I'm gobsmacked at the idea of people with twins always having to deliver there. In the USA, it'd be an EMTALA violation.

I would have brought:
- my own movies
- definitely bring hair ties if she has hair that can get in her face

I would have also
- worried less about what to bring because there was really very little I needed or wanted that was a tangible item
- worried more about ensuring my partner was as prepared as possible to be a labor supporter (i.e. trained him in how to coach me, practiced breathing techniques, studied position changes and other actions that could be taken for comfort, made sure he knew sacral pressure techniques for pain relief)

And one thing I did which I would encourage for you too:
- don't only invest time in planning for vaginal birth. Plan and try to be emotionally prepared and packed for C section. It can happen to anyone, but it definitely has a higher likelihood of happening to anyone who's having twins.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 11:40 AM on August 7, 2014

My brother and sister-in-law were very glad they'd brought portable music, with various playlists ready to go (calming music, distracting podcasts, etc.).

Personally I love this tiny, cheap, rugged portable speaker.
posted by jessicapierce at 11:40 AM on August 7, 2014

Definitely bring a good pillow for yourself as well as other creature comforts you might want -- maybe a hoodie in case it gets cold, a change of shirt, contact lens case/glasses, your toothbrush, etc. You could be in labor and delivery for a while, so you might as well be comfortable.
posted by devinemissk at 11:43 AM on August 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

Camera + fully charged battery. And maybe a back-up battery, too.
Phone + charger.
Shampoo + conditioner.
Toothbrush + toothpaste.
Flip flops.
posted by fancyoats at 11:54 AM on August 7, 2014

I'm someone who wanted to labor at home, but ended up at the hospital. I brought my own pillows and my own comfortable clothes (that I was prepared to have ruined, though they weren't) to labor in, and I am SO happy I did. It made a difference in the way I felt. I wish I had remembered to make a labor playlist (or several different ones, to match whatever mood I was in).
posted by woodvine at 11:58 AM on August 7, 2014 [2 favorites]

I honestly didn't need any of the stuff I brought with me for my first kid -- it was just a bunch of crap we had to jam in the taxi. I didn't bring anything special for the second, and it was fine.
posted by The corpse in the library at 12:10 PM on August 7, 2014

The thing that I did NOT bring but was lucky to be able to borrow: a heating pad. Having someone press the heating pad on my lower back during contractions, especially during early/mid labor helped IMMENSELY.

The other thing that I did not bring but wish I did: chapstick. I never ever use it, but boy howdy did I need it during labor.

The thing that I brought and used the heck out of: Birkenstocks, for walking during contractions. I estimate I walked 10 miles during labor; walking barefoot or in unsupportive slippers/flipflops would have sucked. Maybe running shoes would have worked, but it was nice to be able to quickly take them off between contractions.

I honestly don't remember bringing anything else that seemed really necessary (other than baby clothes in various sizes, since I didn't know how big the baby was going to be).
posted by rabbitrabbit at 12:15 PM on August 7, 2014

We brought hand lotion, having been told it was good for massaging the back, abdomen, etc. We wished they had said mineral oil or almond oil instead.
posted by yclipse at 12:18 PM on August 7, 2014

Your own pillows, actual blanket and sheet for dad if you plan on staying over. Something for dad to do. I played a lot on my PSP and read a lot. Mom was busy being drugged up, so she didn't want to do much besides Facebook on her phone. Yes to protein snacks. The hospital had lots of greasy, salty, sweet stuff, but the protein was mostly in entree form.

Side note: while you're at the hospital, take a trip to the pharmacy to stock up on OTC meds! The hospital we delivered at had super cheap prices on staples like ibuprofen and vitamins.
posted by ThaBombShelterSmith at 12:19 PM on August 7, 2014

Oh, also nthing comfy clothes and slippers/flip flops
posted by ThaBombShelterSmith at 12:20 PM on August 7, 2014

Water bottle, especially one with a straw so you can drink from it without tilting your head.
posted by lydhre at 12:32 PM on August 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

Lovely soft socks with rubber treads and amazingly indulgent shower gel-those post-delivery showers were the finest of my life and I still sometimes splurge on the Bliss Soapy Sap Lemon Sage shower gel my bff had given me that I used after the birth of my middle child, 8 years ago. Still is a great memory :)
posted by purenitrous at 12:43 PM on August 7, 2014

We brought so much crap and 95% of it never left the suitcase. The only ones that stand out in my memory are lip balm, hand lotion, a giant water bottle, phones, thick Smartwool socks (rubber treads not necessary), and a cute robe for when we had visitors. I appreciated having my own toiletries for the first post-birth shower, and the hospital had a hair dryer or else I'd have brought that. Oh, and lots of movies, because I was induced and it took a full 24 hours for things to really get going and I was bored stiff. We brought a sleeping bag, pillow, and sheet for my husband.

In retrospect, a heating pad would have been fantastic.
posted by anderjen at 12:46 PM on August 7, 2014 [2 favorites]

Pillow, super comfy loose-fitting knit pajamas/lounge clothes, heating pad (used extensively for first birth, didn't use at all for second, so "type" of labor varies widely); a travel size of extra nice body wash (I used this for my first post-birth shower, since you feel pretty gross it's nice not to use the hospital stuff if that's at all your sort of thing), snacks. My hospital provided everything else. Oh, hot tea bags would have been nice, for the evening/day after, but again depends if that's her thing or not.
posted by celtalitha at 12:49 PM on August 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

I will say that the CD of kumbaya rainforest music was a waste of money and never got unwrapped. We were glad we had the laptop with movies because I was induced and it was some 30 hours of waiting. If I could do it again I might bring less cerebral/interesting movies because I was on some drugs that made me unable to concentrate on much more than Bambi.

I also was happy friends brought me food treats. I might bring my own if I were to do it again.
posted by fingersandtoes at 12:50 PM on August 7, 2014

Yes, yes, yes to chapstick and your own pillows! I also am smell-sensitive and have sensitive skin so I brought my own toiletries and that first shower after the baby was born was so great. We didn't use any of the entertainment stuff we brought. We both were glad to have hoodies and warm lounge pants and warm socks even though our baby was born in the summer, because they kept the hospital pretty cold.

I packed a lovely expensive fancy-pants fair trade chocolate bar with espresso bits to have as a treat after the baby was born and it was among the most delicious things I have ever eaten. I also got KIND almond coconut granola bars that I loved and ate them whenever the baby nursed.

I brought a dark soft towel (bought specifically for this) to use after I showered at the hospital so I didn't have to use their scratchy too-small towel and get freaked out if there was blood all over it.

Also wish I had thought to bring a heating pad. Back labor was a killer and that might have helped.
posted by SeedStitch at 12:54 PM on August 7, 2014

If the hospital has a ridiculous food ban for laboring women, food.

I was never hungrier in my life than when laboring in the hospital.
posted by zizzle at 1:00 PM on August 7, 2014

Pajamas. Toothbrush. Wifi device. With twins, you are going to be so overwhelmed with gear, diapers, car seats, breast pump, the completely unwanted flowers, teddy bears, and balloons that people will give you, that nothing else will be worth the schleppage. Nurses can bring you heating pads, socks, shampoo, food, ice packs, etc. You will be more comfortable with less.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 1:08 PM on August 7, 2014 [2 favorites]

Eyemask (ideally the kind that are slightly domed over the eyes so that they don't press on your lids/lashes - so much more comfy). Rarely does the room stay dark for long with nurses and staff coming in and out. Grabbing sleep when you can is a huge helper.

Face cleansing wipes - they can really make you feel fresher when you want a little lift, but aren't ready to face the shower ordeal. A few wipes to wash down your face, neck, and whatever else can make you feel worlds better.

Ipad or laptop with all the cords you need.

Lotion and lip balm.

Favorite snacks and if people want to visit, ask them to bring you good food to eat.
posted by quince at 1:11 PM on August 7, 2014

The only things I remember being of note were a black cotton robe, a tin of Guinness, and some frozen lasagna. The food provided was not good, and not nearly enough. YHMV.

Immediate postpartum shopping was another thing. Recommended: stool softeners, disposable underwear, Costco trays of pre-chopped anything, more fitted sheets.
posted by kmennie at 1:21 PM on August 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

We should have brought olive oil to deal with the first meconium poop on the baby; it took like a dozen wipes.

My husband would have loved food (not cake or desserts, which we got plenty of) or a map of the nearest restaurants. The hospital food was horrifying.

The only thing I really wish I had was a nice-smelling shampoo/body wash. I had a c-section, and I didn't get to shower for five days. A nice rosemary mint Aveda shampoo would have been nice.
posted by hmo at 1:38 PM on August 7, 2014

I loved having lollypops when I couldn't have food but I craved something. Blow-pops rocked my world.
posted by heathrowga at 1:41 PM on August 7, 2014

posted by EndsOfInvention at 1:50 PM on August 7, 2014

Yes, shampoo/body wash. My hospital claimed that it provided those things so I, a very minimalist packer, did not bring my own. It turned out that they provided a tiny bottle of Johnson & Johnson baby shower gel (not even the shampoo! ugh), which was NOT enough to get me feeling clean post-delivery.

Several pairs of HIGH waisted granny panties. If she has an unplanned c-section she will thank me. Even if she has a natural delivery, just wear them and then throw them away after six weeks; there is a lot of fluid so it is nice being able to ditch some disfavored undies at the end of the leaking period.

Plan on wearing a dress home in case of a c-section, too. My yoga pants that I'd wanted to wear in and out of the hospital cut right across my scar and did not get worn for weeks.
posted by gatorae at 2:02 PM on August 7, 2014

Lip balm, hand lotion, Depends undergarments (critical for the post-birth onslaught & more leak proof than the hospital mesh panties), headphones, back-up battery charger/long-cord charger for phone.
posted by PorcineWithMe at 2:25 PM on August 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

oh gatorae reminded me. This is very important: high quality maxi pads - the kind with wings, but NOT the diaper-thick ones. The ones I got at the hospital for my first kid were terrible, both cumbersome AND prone to not staying in place. The Always brand is pretty good, get that, or your partner's favorite if she prefers a different one. (If she never uses pads and has no familiarity, this will be even more important because those diapery ones are startling and gross.)

Seconding giant high waist granny panties that will not touch a c section incision.
posted by fingersandtoes at 2:55 PM on August 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

Remember to bring clothes to change into for the trip home. No pants. They should all still be loose-fitting maternity clothes; nothing around the waist in case there's an incision wound that could be irritated, like gatorae says, and even if it's a vaginal delivery, the belly takes a while to shrink down.

And maybe socks a size too big, since the ankles may swell. You lose the weight of the babies, but they pump you so full of fluids on IV that you can come home weighing MORE than before you went into the hospital. It goes away fast, but in the meantime, the edema can be pretty intense.
posted by Andrhia at 3:43 PM on August 7, 2014

My midwives recommended pads without plastic covers or wings because if you end up with stitches, the plastic can catch on those (which, ouch!).
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 3:48 PM on August 7, 2014

My husband ended up with a pretty bad headache and was super happy to have his own Advil in our hospital bag. We definitely used the snacks we brought and all of the extra clothes (for him) because we were there a couple days before baby was even born.

I didn't care about my pillow in the hospital but I was very happy to have it on the ride home for support.

Send things home with visitors who will be more than happy to drop things off so you don't have to get it home!
posted by Swisstine at 5:15 PM on August 7, 2014

Bring a doula! She will help you achieve the birth experience that you want and help translate between you and hospital staff. She can help advocate for you and what you want, but also help you make decisions and keep from being overwhelmed by information and options.
posted by primate moon at 5:25 PM on August 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

I had twins 6 months ago. I had super supportive doctors who let me labor for a ridiculously long time between twins, but I ended up with Baby A being delivered vaginally and Baby B being an emergency C section. So, if you want to talk twin birth and the hospital memail me! As for the bag:

I ended up in the hospital for 5 days 4 nights due to the C-Section, so my husband was able to go home and get whatever it was that I needed/wanted that I didn't bring. However, if I had to do it over again I would have brought the following items:

A stretchy "sleep" nursing bra. I was nursing ALL THE TIME and I would have liked to not be topless but I didn't have a nursing bra.

A hands free pumping bra. When you have twins they ask you to pump after every nursing session in order to up your supply to twin levels faster. A hands free pumping bra makes the job a lot less aggravating.

Medela microwave steam bags for sterilizing pumping parts. I'm not really a big germ freak, but hospital germs are something else and I wasn't happy cleaning the pump parts with paper towels and soap. The kitchenette thing for patients had a microwave though, so I could have used that.

Slippers. The hospital socks were not comfy.

Stuff I did bring that was definitely useful:
-Eye mask and ear plugs (I had a shared room, it was awful)
-My own pillow
-My own water bottle that didn't spill when tipped over
-Phone and phone charger

Personal Items:
-The stuffed animals we picked out for the twins, I was glad to have photos of them with their loveys as newborns.
-Blankets that we knitted for them

I definitely say get a doula. Ours was invaluable.

tl;dr - if you have a natural birth for both twins (I am rooting for you!!) then you might get to go home before you really need any of your "stuff". If you wind up staying in the hospital for longer, the above list might be helpful.
posted by blue_bicycle at 9:28 PM on August 7, 2014

We had our baby a year ago, and it still feels like it was yesterday.

Phone chargers and snacks. And you'll need a variety of snacks, not just a couple of granola bars. Throw in some pretzels, packs of cookies, rice crispy treats, whatever you'll want.

Boredom didn't really enter into the picture for us. We were both pretty charged on adrenalin, and then there was an emergency C-section to cap it all off. After that, we were just non-stop tired--which was funny, because the tiredness didn't stop for about 4 months. Bring those phone chargers, because everyone will want to talk or text with you, and you'll want to keep taking pictures. I shot videos on my phone of things that the nurses would show me that I thought would be helpful: swaddling the baby, bathing, diaper changes. Also, of course, the birth was a good thing to film.
posted by rybreadmed at 10:09 PM on August 7, 2014

If the hospital has a ridiculous food ban for laboring women, food.

Food for labouring women: yes, big thumbs up.

But, you need to find out your hospital's anesthesia protocol for both emergency and non-emergency surgical births particularly with regard to general anesthesia. You can aspirate and die under a general if your anesthesiologist thinks you've been fasting and you have not. Under no circumstances should you be anything but forthright about when you last ate.
posted by DarlingBri at 6:50 AM on August 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

Yes, general anesthesia and aspiration are very rare but if you're a higher-than-usual risk of having a C-section I would definitely ask about anesthesia use.

FWIW I was not high risk and my hospital still had an "official" policy against eating in labor, however my midwives and nurses were ok with it since general anesthesia is so exceedingly rare and unnecessary for births these days.
posted by celtalitha at 11:07 AM on August 8, 2014

Fresh from c-section so some of this is specific to that: headband (the tickling hairs about drove me mad), hydrocortisone cream (itchy itchy itchy), granny panties that come up above the incision (the hospital supplied ones made me itchy itchy itchy), salt (bland hospital food), good pillow

Best wishes!
posted by pennypiper at 4:05 AM on August 9, 2014

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