If you’re a mom-to-be nearing go-time, I feel for you. I bet you’re sick of answering the same five questions over and over, anxious to meet your new addition and uncomfortable in ways you never anticipated.
Time stood still during the last months of my pregnancy. Eventually, my sweet baby boy joined this world a very long two weeks late. When my due date came and went, I started torturing my husband with frequent “I think it’s really happening this time!” texts. By that point, I had given up all hope of ever seeing my feet again and I was experiencing shooting back pain that limited my mobility by day and my sleep by night.
As those uncomfortable and uneventful days came and went, I had a lot of time on my hands. My days were spent reading (and trying) every trick that promised to GET THAT BABY OUT OF ME. I responded with increasing levels of hostility to a barrage of “how’s it going?” messages from well-meaning loved ones. I also read approximately 600 articles on what to pack for the hospital.
Every article reminded me to bring a baby book, comfortable “transition clothing” and a camera. They suggested upbeat decorations and music to keep me calm, happy and relaxed during labor (ha!). Most included a cute outfit to bring the little guy home in and a couple of “life-saving” toiletries.
Now that I’ve lived through the beautiful, amazing, terrifying, life-changing experience that is childbirth, I wanted to start a list of my own.
A large empty duffel bag “for gifts”
While in the hospital you have three jobs in the following order of priority. 1) Extract and care for your shiny new person. 2) Get as much rest as possible to speed your recovery and prepare you for some sleepless nights at home. 3) STEAL ALL THE STUFF. I walked out of the hospital like a squirrel prepping for winter with diapers, wipes and other goodies.
Almost immediately after your incredible miracle is born, you will have sight lines into parts of your body you haven’t been able to see for months. Don’t be alarmed if you find some four-inch-long hairs your partner was too polite to tell you about. It happens to the best of us.
A sleep mask and ear plugs
It took me two full days to realize I didn’t have to tolerate medical professionals constantly checking my vitals, turning the lights on and asking me questions at all hours of the night. By day three of no sleep I adopted the aggression of a Manhattan cab driver. I asked the hospital staff to silence the monitors and to avoid waking me up or turning on lights whenever possible.
Even then, nurses were always coming in and out of the room and sleep did not come easily. I recommend bringing any accessories that will help you and your partner get some rest.
An increasing number of hospitals have been overtaken by lactation
autocrats consultants who will withhold anything that may inhibit your breastfeeding success. In my experience these militant professionals are incredibly helpful, kind people who believe deeply in the work they are doing. That said, they have one goal and it may not align perfectly with the balance that’s right for your family.
Snacks for labor
Although many hospital policies prohibit eating while in labor, studies have shown that the benefits of having a light meal may outweigh the risks. Childbirth requires major endurance and stamina. I wouldn’t run a marathon on an empty stomach so I wasn’t keen on surviving days of labor without food. With my doctor’s blessing, I brought a variety of snacks and Gatorade and snuck a few bites whenever the nurses left the room.
This was something I meant to do but completely forgot about. Friends and family came from far and wide to visit us and meet our new addition. It would have been a nice touch to be able to do one thing for them at a time when we were on the receiving end of so many gifts and so much goodwill.
Good luck mama
If you’re sitting where I was a year ago, wondering if that baby is ever going to come, I have some good news for you. You will deliver a baby eventually. When you do, you will realize that 42 weeks is nothing and you’d gladly have endured a 95 week elephant pregnancy just to get to that amazing moment where you hold that tiny person in your arms for the first time.
Anything I left off? I would love to hear from you! Comment and let me know what hospital bag items you were glad you remembered or you wished you’d thought of.