These are a few of My Favorite Things...For a Hospital Bag
When all those nesting hormones are in full swing and you're just chomping at the bit to be introduced to that tiny person inside there is something satisfying and beautiful about packing a bag for the hospital. It's a ritual that most mothers who give birth in the hospital get to experience and every item in the bag is put there for with deep intention. Many of my clients have asked what I like to pack so I thought I would share with some of my favorite hospital bag items. A doula will likely bring many of these items along for your birth too!
Not listed in the order that you might need them:
1. Warm Blanket & Pillow
Unless you regularly sleep in a hospital it's not likely that you will feel totally at home there. In birth, it is critically important that you feel safe (like at home) and comfortable (like at home). I know for me I am MOST comfortable at home, in bed. So bring some of those items along with you. The feel and smell of a soft and familiar blanket can be the difference between rest and sleep. Also the plastic pillows at the hospital are....plastic (I.e. terrible). Bring your own. You may have to sanitize it afterward (or throw it out) but it's worth it!
2. Snacks and Electorlyte Drinks
I think by now the word is out that eating during labor is perfectly normal and healthy. Pack snacks that are high in carbohydrates, healthy fats and not too high in sugar. Nuts, seeds, oatmeal cookies, protein bars, honey sticks are all good sources of energy. DON'T bring snacks that have an overpowering smell (like beef jerky--or your doula will put them outside the room).
Electrolyte drinks such as Ultima, Vitamin Water, or Coconut Water are excellent refreshers after hours of contractions.
3. My Own Clothes
Ok tell me who loves to where a hospital gown? ....(crickets). Usually they give you the gown at check in and I just say, "no thanks, I'm comfortable in this," and that's that. Comfortable clothes to me are basically loose fitting and smell like home. Typically you'll give birth in one set of clothes but after you get cleaned up you'll likely want to change. So for me that looked like a cotton dress/nighty from Target for birth, and yoga (not compression!) pants, cozy button up shirts, and a pretty robe for the remainder of my stay. Although one time I had a client purchase a suitable button-up gown of her own that MATCHED her pillow case, specifically meant for her birth and I immediately gave her five golden stars.
Choose something small that has a lot of meaning to you to hold on to in those moments where you might need to draw extra strength. This could be piece of jewelry from your mother. A rock. A rosary. The point is, this item reminds you of your strength and gives you something external to hold on to in moments of weakness. Reflect, you'll think of something.
5. Eye Blinds
Let's be real. When is it ever dark in the hospital? Monitors and flood lights and people coming in and out. Darkness and quiet help us feel safe and comfortable so that would go to say that when we need to really turn off our neocortex (our thinking brain) and focus on birth sometimes we need to be in the quiet, warm, dark. Sometimes we have to create that space if necessary. I love these eye blinds and dads love them too! The Bucky 40 Blinks are my fav!
Even if you just bring your own favorite essential oil spray or blend, it makes the space feel much less clinical. You will want something that makes you feel calm an relaxed and it's completely up to you! As a doula I bring a stocked bag of oils, a diffuser, and a carrier oil for massage. My favorite scents are spearmint (subtler than peppermint), lemon, and lavender.
7. Heating Pad/Fan
Nothing feels better on your back after having a baby than a warm heating pad. It can plug right into the wall and provide immediate comfort. The same is true for a little portable fan. During labor your hormones are in constant flux and so is your temperature. For those moments when you're scorching hot and searching for fresh air a little portable fan can feel so nice.
Drown out the noise of people coming in and out of your room or other surrounding noise and go to your Zen place. Plus most babies love the white noise of a sound machine. Or put together your favorite playlist, whether that means a spa-like Pandora channel or your Jazzercise playlist (yes, I've seen this). It's nice to have music take your brain somewhere else.
9. Celebratory Treats
A must. Bring a special treat for you and your partner to share once the dust has settled. My treats are always Trader Joe's Sea Salt & Turbinado Sugar Dark Chocolate Covered Almond. Whatever yours may be, just do it, you've earned it.
10. Dermoplast/Peri Spray
If you have a vaginal birth its a guarantee that you will be sore down there and might even have a little (or a lot of) tearing of tissue. Purchase a little spray to help cool and numb that area for the first few days. Some hospitals provide this, but the ones near me do not.
11. Arnica Gel
Arnica is an incredible herb that is used to reduce pain and bruising. It is one of those homeopathic remedies that every person needs in their arsenal. Specifically it is useful after birth when your muscles may be so sore. Keep this one around too when your little one has bumps and bruises from toddling around :-)
Don't forget what your partner might need for basic overnight comfort and all of your essential documents. Happy packing!!