5 Things Your Girlfriends Forgot to Mention: Things to bring to the hospital when having a baby
1. Knee High Socks
While the no-slip hospital socks are fine and good, they don't keep you very warm when your legs are up in the air and certainly don't cover the leg hair you couldn't shave because you can't bend over to see it. If it's your first time having a baby, your hospital may require you to wear inexpensive socks with no-slip bottoms so you don't end up on the floor on your trips to the bathroom. I bring striped or decorative knee-high socks not only to entertain the nurses, but to keep my legs warm. This is especially nice if you are giving birth the natural way (vaginally-highly encouraged!). Also, it helps hide the foot-long leg hair you couldn't shave, because at some point now or in the future you will barely be able to see your toes, let alone your legs to stand steady enough to shave them.
2. Notebook or Pad of Paper
The hospital will likely have a pen you can borrow but having a notebook or pad of paper with you while you wait between contractions (yes, sometimes there's plenty of time for tic-tac-toe or hangman) will keep you busy with your husband, older kids, your mom or other guardian angels that happen to be in the room with you during labor, or after. If you use a small notebook like a Moleskin, you can easily mark the date and stow it away as a keepsake for who was there at the birth and make a time-capsule with your hospital bands and newborn hospital cap. It's also great to write down your baby's first eat, sleep and poops because the docs and nurses will ask "how often" to make sure everything is normal.
3. Eye Mask/Sleeping Mask
Wether you're trying to catch a catnap during contractions, or your baby has arrived and you are resting in-between feedings, a sleep mask to block out the light should help you catch some z's. Unless you are independently wealthy with a full-time nanny, not nursing and/or think you can stop time, your sleep schedule will be interrupted every 2-4 hours and your body will need to recover from the trauma. The more sleep you get, the better chance of recovery from the hardship of labor and delivery, or cesarean. Throw the youthful adage of "You can sleep when you're dead." out the window and try to achieve R.E.M at all costs. If you're nursing or had a cesarean, this is especially important.
4. A Loved One Other Than The Father/Partner
If Daddy/Partner is there, great. If he isn't, or can't be, ok. If he's there and taking care of the older kids, holding your hand during labor, going back to the house to feed the pets, sending texts or emails to work, family members, the Facebook world, etc., well then he's got his hands full. Whoever this caretaker is in your life that you rely on, this person is just as overwhelmed as you are. They are preparing for a new life while trying to maintain the status quo of the old one. The cats, rats, turtles or dogs don't get fed by you while you are heave-hoing in labor; somebody's got to do it. So give your partner some relief and appoint 1 or 2 people to come to the hospital to support you if/when your partner cannot be there. Remember, it takes a village and these are your 'people.' I don't recommend too many in the delivery room depending on space, but an extra hand in the waiting room can make all the difference.
5. Stool Softener
Having this in your hospital bag may be a genius foresight, especially if you are given any pain medications as they tend to stop you up. It seems a dirty business, but whichever method you give birth, you don't want to have additional pains while trying to go #2 considering either your hoo-ha or your cesarean stitches are throbbing after your little one arrives.
All of these items are lightweight and small (#4 is negotiable considering they can carry themselves), so it's very low risk if you don't end up using them for one reason or another. Did you have an item that saved you, enhanced your hospital stay ten-fold or made you swear you'd tell a friend it's a must-have? I'd like to know. You are the part of this village too.
Here are some additional items that I thought were fun and unique:
- Instant or film camera: both Fuji Instax and Lomography cameras are unique ways of capturing this wonderful event in your life
- Favorite (neck) pillow or stuffed animal: After you give birth, this may help in comforting you in your stiff hospital bed so you can sleep
- Thank you cards for the nurses: Doctors and Midwives are great but bringing a thank you card to write to the dedicated nurses of your maternity ward will make you hero of the day. They (usually women) may have been in the profession for ages, rarely getting the credit they deserve for taking care of you while you're bringing a new life into this world, and taking care of your new, fragile baby. Being a nurse can be a thankless job but you can make it thankful by sending them a note if your experience with them was up to your standards or beyond. If you have an instant camera, then the photo of you and your baby will likely be put on their wall of fame at the nurses station!
There are many lists of recommended items that include: photo ID, snacks, cell phone charger with long extension cord, makeup, toothbrush, etc., so please seek out those essentials lists if you haven't already.
Bonne chance, ladies! Here's to happy healthy moms and babies!
Mercy Health Hospital of St. Louis (delivery room)
Rhett Sutphin (family in waiting room)
Sloan Poe (baby)