As I neared my due date, one piece of advice was told to me over and over and over again: "Make sure your hospital bag is packed. Don't forget." Everyone from family members to friends, doctors to and well-meanings strangers were telling me what I should and should not pack and that I would regret it if certain items were not stuffed into the bag I would inevitably take with me when it was "go time." Honestly though, there are things you think you have to pack in your hospital bag, but you really don't.
I honestly thought that I would spend the majority of my labor time bored, just waiting for the opportunity to push and meet my daughter. I know, I know. What can I say? I was a new mom. I knew I was going to get that glorious epidural, so I didn't want to be restless and anxious, waiting impatiently and unable to occupy my mind. Of course, as a perfect precursor to motherhood itself, my daughter had other ides. She came unexpectedly after one of my prenatal check-ups, so I didn't get the chance to pack that bag; I had to have someone pack my bag for me and bring it to me.
Most of the items I was just convinced I just had to have, didn't make it into my hospital bag. Thank goodness. Honestly, I didn't even notice that they weren't in the hospital room with me, which is why I know that regardless of what people say, there are certain things you just don't need to pack in your "go bag," including the following:
Playing Cards Or Other Games
I packed playing cards with the optimistic thought that my partner and I (and any guests that may or may not be allowed in the room) would need to pass the time before the baby arrived.
Any free time I had to "play games," was spent sleeping. Labor is exhausting, you guys. I'm not going to waste time playing Go Fish; I'm going to rest up when I can.
Snacks Or Other Foods
I was hoping I could eat while I labored, but I wasn't allowed to have anything but water and ice chips after my water broke and I was given my epidural. Not every hospital restricts food, but the majority do, so those snacks will just entice you and mock you from afar.
I will say, however, that packing snacks for your partner is a pretty good idea. You don't want them shuttling to and from the hospital cafeteria; you want them by yours side every second of every contraction. So, packing food for them will keep them sustained and energetic enough to assist you through labor and delivery.
A Book Or Magazine Or Anything To Read
Try reading between contractions (or during contractions). I dare you. Even if you get an epidural right away, you may want to spend your time sleeping and resting and harnessing as much energy as possible, instead of reading the latest Harry Potter installment. Rest should be the name of your laboring game, dear reader. Trust me.
If you opt for an epidural, chances are you'll be spending the majority of the time in the hospital bed, waiting for the moment you can start pushing. You won't be able to — and probably wouldn't want to — balance a laptop on your contracting, pregnant belly.
If you forgo the epidural, you'll be too busy focusing and breathing through contractions to worry about your laptop or what's going on in the social media world. Best to just leave the laptop behind. After all, you'll have something far more precious to bring home with you when all is said and done.
Your Favorite Pillow...
While it might be nice, it's not necessary. There are plenty of pillows at the hospital and if your assigned bed doesn't come with enough, you can always ask for more.
...Or A Blanket From Home
Extra blankets are sometimes nice, especially if that extra blanket is "special" or holds a significant meaning to you. However, you don't have to bring a blanket. The hospital will provide you with as many blankets as you want, including heated blankets that they essentially "bake." Those nice, warm blankets are what dreams are made of, my friends, and they will do the trick. I guarantee it.
Your Own Breast Pump
If you plan on breastfeeding, trust me when I say that you'll (probably) spend the majority of your time lugging that forsaken breast pump around enough as it is. No use in taking it the hospital. If you have issues breastfeeding initially, the hospital will more than likely have a breast pump you can use, upon request.
If they don't, or you don't feel comfortable using it, you can always send someone to go get it for you. Your breast pump is definitely one of those, "Don't bring it until it's absolutely necessary," items that don't need to take up space in your hospital bag.
Most hospitals will also provide you with a few extra pairs of large, surprisingly comfortable postpartum panties to wear and go home in. They're glorious; they're helpful; they're the kind of panties you won't mind ruining or discarding, so you don't have to worry about anything. I say take advantage of those bad boys, and leave the panties you've spent money on, at home.
You'll definitely want to have pads at home for when you return, but there's no need to bring them with you to the hospital. You'll be provided a few (read: a lot) of pads when you're there, so take advantage and use those. In fact, take a few (read: a lot) back home with you.
Your Baby Book
Yes, having your baby book will be a wonderful thing. However, you are at the hospital where there are tons of baby experts from the nursery staff to doctors, recovery nurses to lactation consultants, at your disposal. You don't need the book until you get home. Trust me.
Your baby is a newborn. They will literally just be eating, sleeping, pooping and peeing. Sure the toys are super cute, but they won't be playing with them for a while. Leave them at home.
More Than One Outfit For The Baby...
I understand that it's ridiculously hard to pick just one of the many adorable, tiny little outfits that your baby will wear when they come home. After all, this moment is going to be memorialized in pictures, so you want them looking fresh. However, don't over pack. I would bring a few outfits of the newborn size and a few of the 0-3 month size as you won't know which will best fit your baby until after they're born, but don't bring much more than that.
...Or For You
Pick a few comfortable outfits out for you to wear and leave the rest at home. You will most likely only be there for a few days so you don't need to bring your whole wardrobe.
Any Pre-Pregnancy Clothes
Contrary to popular belief (and thanks to the media, that portrays postpartum women walking out the hospital looking exactly like they did before they found out they were pregnant) you won't want to try and wear any pre-baby clothes. Instead, bring comfortable maternity clothes that will make it easy, and as pain-free as possible for you to get in and out of.
You haven't felt uncomfortable pain like the pain you feel when you try to put your damn pants on after you've had a baby. Large, loose, and easy to get on should be the only thing you pack to wear home.
This is entirely up to you, of course, as if everything you inevitably pack for that exciting, scary, intense, and wonderful hospital visit.
If wearing makeup during labor and delivery makes you feel empowered and like yourself, do it. Pack that makeup and wear it proudly, as you can (and should) do whatever it is that will make you feel capable of doing something as incredible as childbirth. However, you don't have to wear makeup while you're in labor. You don't have to pack makeup if you don't want to. How you look definitely doesn't matter. What matters, is what you're doing; something truly remarkable.