I learned one valuable lesson after I gave birth: "more" doesn’t always equal better, especially when it comes to packing your hospital bag. I brought a carload of stuff with me I didn't end up needing, like the blow up exercise ball that might actually still be in its package, a six pack of my favorite beer, a transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) machine for pain relief, and satin pajamas. I mean, what?!
I'm not alone, though. When I asked other moms to share what they packed in their hospital bag I realized that "bringing weird stuff to the hospital" is kind of par for the pre-labor course. It seems that when it comes to childbirth, and recovery time in the postpartum unit, different people need (or think they need) different things to make it through.
Some of the moms I spoke with brought some pretty bizarre items, probably because they were first-timers and had no idea what to expect or totally had the wrong idea about how much time they would have on their hands in the delivery room or after their babies were born. Others packed stuff many might consider strange in their hospital bags precisely because they had "been there and done that" and knew what they would need or want to make it through the hours of childbirth and days of recovery to follow. And still others, like me, who are quintessential over-packers, had a hard time not bringing along everything but the kitchen sink, just in case they might need it.
If you are getting ready to pack your own hospital bag, or are curious about what's inside other mom's bags, read on:
"I packed thong underwear to wear home because that’s what I’ve always worn. In case you're wondering, I left the hospital in Always discreet adult diapers."
"I packed a book of my favorite super hard logic puzzles, because I mistakenly thought a postpartum mom of twins was going to have a lot of free time and tons of brain power... which she would obviously use for solving recreational logic puzzles.
Instead, I spent my time in the hospital resenting everyone who dared to wake me up and trying to figure out how to tandem nurse twins."
"I packed movies, an adult coloring book, and colored pencils. I was brainwashed into believing my first labor would be so slow, and since I planned on an epidural I thought I’d be sitting around for hours. Little did I know that I’d arrive at the hospital 10 centimeters dilated and ready to push."
"I brought the movie Hocus Pocus along with me to the hospital, because it’s my comfort movie."
"I brought along an ice cream bucket to bring home the placenta."
"I packed formula, just in case my hospital was ridiculous or rude about giving it to me."
"I brought a pick-up tool, which was great for reaching things post C-section. Also, a long handled shower brush. It was under $5.00, too, and worth it to be able to shower independently."
"I brought snacks to the hospital. Lots of snacks. That we hid and ate when the doctors weren't around."
"I packed beer. Then I unpacked it, because I gave birth at a birth center and I decided that if I couldn’t wait four hours to have a beer at home I had a problem."
"I brought a book of crossword puzzles. I severely underestimated the eventfulness of childbirth."
"I brought a 3-month sized Carter's bear bunting suit, because I, in part, decided to reproduce so that I could have someone of my very own to put into a hooded bear suit. It was January, so it was an appropriate weather choice, but the 3-month size was a wee bit big for my newborn so it fit more like a tarp."
"I procrastinated to the point that I made my husband pack my hospital bag while I was in labor. So mine was weird in that I didn't have anything except the barest of essentials (fuzzy socks and phone charger, basically)."
"I packed the baby memory book, thinking I'd have time to work on it in the hospital. I didn't."
"With my first I was convinced that 'not eating while in labor' meant that they wouldn't provide me food the whole time at the hospital. So I packed a box of Cheerios, granola bars, juice, chips, candy, and peanut butter sandwiches. Luckily, I was very much wrong about the situation."
"I packed a rolling pin. It helped release muscle tension in my glutes. Little did I know that I would be nine centimeters dilated and wanting to push by the time we got to the hospital, so it never even made it out of the bag."