What you’ll forget to pack in your birth bag

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burning man suitcase: 99% packed!

As the time draws nearer for my son to arrive and I prepare to go to the hospital I can’t help but wonder what should you really take? Sure the hospital provides you with a list but I want to know what real offbeat mamas say worked for them or what they wish they had when they were in the hospital.

My hospital birth bag was a bit unique in that, thanks to a stubbornly breech baby, I had to abandon my plans for an unmedicated birth at a birth center, and go to the hospital for a scheduled c-section. I knew when I was going (2pm on November 25, 2009), I knew exactly what was happening (surgery), and I knew how long I’d be in the hospital (2 nights).

That situation in mind, here’s what I brought:

  • 2 comfy nightgowns with easy boob access
  • My much beloved sleepy blinders eye mask and ear plugs
  • My favorite slippers
  • My favorite bathrobe
  • My favorite pillow
  • Granny panties (I wanted enormous loose underwear with a waistband that would sit well above the incision)
  • A copy of On The Day Your Were Born to read to Tavi
  • Electronics: Video camera, DSLR camer, laptop, and all chargers
  • Water bottle
  • Granola bars
  • Toiletry bag with stuff like my favorite face lotion
  • Onesies, booties, and receiving blankets
  • The baby’s lambskin
  • Departure outfit for baby
  • Departure outfit for me (loose dress and warm boots)

I’d love to hear from other Offbeat Mamas: what were you most grateful to have in your birth bag? What do you wish you’d packed?

Comments on What you’ll forget to pack in your birth bag

  1. We brought so much stuff, it was ludicrous. The most useful: Nursing jammies, nursing tanks, loose bottoms, and lots of socks. Socks disappear even in hospital rooms.

  2. I have to agree with SNACKS. I had an induction and they tried to tell me not to eat after my epidural — to hell with that! Birthing babies takes energy and I needed some goddamn calories! After they cut me off from the hospital food I depended on my husband to sneak me our own food, and during the two hours of pushing I was SO FREAKING GLAD I had kept eating. Energy = important.

    Also — YES chapstick, YES many pairs of big, roomy, comfy panties.

  3. Weird, I don’t remember needing anything that wasn’t available except for PILLOWS. The pillows at the hospital suck no matter how many you ask for. 1 lame, flat pillow + 1 lame, flat pillow = 1 slightly taller lame, flat pillow. Generally I am in the less-is-less-and-I-like-it-that-way school of packing, but the second time around I will for sure to throw in the extra bulk & comfort of a decent pillow. {Think of your partner/coach too! Those chair to “bed” conversion thingies were terrible.}

    • Pillows for sure! As if its not hard enough to try to lay on one flat one, they’re awful for breastfeeding, too. It is nice to have a fluffy one to put baby on or to hold up your arms while you hold your baby. My arms were so shaky and weak after labor.

  4. My babes were all born with long finger nails. So bringing clippers was a lesson I learned by my 3rd. Our hospital didn’t supply them or emery boars to file them down. Also I brought the baby some socks and some warmer clothes. My babies needed these as they ran a little cold. Our hospital had them in a cloth diaper (amazing I know!) and just a t shirt and hat. My baby’s toes were freezing! I put them in snug socks under their stretchy pjs to keep them extra warm.

  5. I have the standard things packed in my labor bag, but I’ve also included a supportive bathing suit top instead of a sports bra so I can labor in the shower, and gardener’s kneeling pads. The gardener’s kneeling pads are foam pads which you can pick up at a Home Depot or any garden store, and they are under $10 each.
    My midwife suggested picking them up so my knees don’t give out if I’m on all fours in the shower, and I bought an extra one for my husband too.

  6. I had my first son in the hospital, and the BEST things I had with me …

    Shampoo/Conditioner, face wash and flip flops (a must).

    In hindsight, a magazine and more food (hospital food and hospital cafeteria food just didn’t satisfy post birth hunger).

  7. Some great ideas on here! Never be afraid to ask your nurse for some of the silly things you left at home. I work at a hospital and can tell you that fun snacks for you and your partner, water bottles, lip balm, and music are all things that ANY decent L&D department should have on hand and be happy to get for you.

  8. A pumping bra!

    Your milk may or may not come in and pumping can help encourage that process. Also, your baby is born knowing how to suckle, but not how to breastfeed, so issues with latch might have their weight drop too far or leave your nipples too painful to nurse. I had all three of these and used a hospital pump to get milk flowing and to get colostrum to dropper into my baby’s mouth. Having a pumping bra means you don’t have to hold the flanges up yourself, since you’re probably going to be sitting there for at least 30 minutes and it is nice to have your hands free during that time. The cheap ones that are basically a cloth elastic (necessary for a tight but flexible fit) band with two holes and a zipper in front work just fine.

  9. Things I would have left at home:

    Slippers- My hospital provided a few pairs of grippy socks that were nice and warm. They also didn’t have to be put on while I was lumbering out of bed and there was no risk of them sliding off my feet as I lumbered around my room/down the hall.

    Underwear- The mesh undies provided by the hospital were far more comfortable because there was no one place they applied pressure and I didn’t care about getting fluids all over them. They also were slipperier than my usual cotton undies so the clothes I wore didn’t rub against my incision.

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