Do I really need to bring all that stuff to the hospital?
If you're the type of mom who likes to be over-prepared (like I am) you might have found several hospital bag checklists online, printed them out, and started packing every single item on that list. These included quarters for the vending machine for when food runs out, a few changes of clothes for yourself and your spouse for when you have a long delivery, a birthing ball, baby blankets and outfits to take your baby home in, and several movies and DVDs to wait out labor.
The truth is my luggage just sat in the corner, mostly in the way of the nurses coming in and out of my delivery room. I didn't even open it...and I had a 24 hour labor so you would think I would use most of the things in there. The hospital actually had everything I really needed and friends and family were always asking if they could bring anything on their way over. So now that I've been through it all, I made a list of the true essentials for any minimalist parents that would like to simplify their birthing experience in every way possible.
Here are the basic necessities:
1. 1-2 comfortable pillows: Hospital pillows are super thin and they only offer two per patient, so bring your own and make sure you put them in colorful pillowcases to differentiate yours from the hospitals'.
2. Nursing pillow: After your baby arrives you will spend many hours throughout the day learning to nurse your baby. A nursing pillow makes this so much more comfortable for you to learn the new skill, especially since your body will already be exhausted from the day's events.
3. Nursing bra/top: You'll want to have easy access to your milk supply again because you'll be nursing several times a day. Additionally, you'll want clothing that gives you some coverage since you may have lots of visitors popping in and out of your room. The hands free nursing bra from Simple Wishes also frees your hands up while you pump milk. This will provide so much relief since your arms will be tired holding up the breast pump 10-20 minutes at a time.
4. Eye Mask: You will get minimal rest at the hospital before, during and after delivery. People such as nurses, doctors, hospital administrators, family and friends will be coming in and out of your room and most likely the lights will be going on and off. To get the most rest possible, bring an eye mask that will blackout the room so that you can get some sleep. In my three days in the hospital, over 50 hospital staff came into my room to introduce themselves, check on me, and assist with my labor and recovery.
5. Hair tie/headband: For moms who want their hair out of their face, this is a must-have and luckily takes no space at all.
Everything else such as socks, shoes, gowns, birthing balls, and baby hats/socks/clothes/blankets/diapers/wipes/formula is all provided by the hospital. This may vary between hospitals so call ahead to check or take a hospital tour. Many hospitals even give moms a diaper bag as a gift with some goodies inside to use for the first few days of life.