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September 27, 2016

Packing for the hospital: what to bring for labor and delivery

Women's Health Labor and Delivery
2Katie_Gagnon_Delivery Katie English/for PhillyVoice

Katie has a few bags packed and ready to go for when it is time to head to the hospital: her essentials for labor and delivery; a bag of clothing, pajamas and toiletries; and her baby boy's diaper bag packed with outfits he can wear home.

I am three days into my 41st week of pregnancy. When is this baby boy going to arrive?! The short answer is: very soon. But the waiting game has been a little difficult because I am just so excited to meet my son. Rather than focus on my frustration, I channeled my anxious energy into productivity by reevaluating what I am bringing to the hospital. Here is an overview of the essentials that will be coming with us when I finally go into labor.

For Luck

By far the most special item that I am taking to the hospital with me is a set of my Grandma Corcoran’s rosary beads. When I mentioned to my Mom that I was feeling some trepidation about labor and delivery, she lent me this precious heirloom to provide comfort as it did to her when she was having me. My Grandma had nine children; my mom gave birth to three. I am inspired by their strength and will feel their love and support with me as I welcome my son into the world.

For Labor and Delivery

In order to heighten my comfort, I am bringing two types of essential oils that soothe me, a Bluetooth speaker to listen to music and my headphones in case I need to plug into Pandora and really zone out. I have also packed lollipops for me and a variety of my husband’s favorite snacks to keep his energy up. The vending machines may be a short walk away, but I am not going to want him to leave my side. I also have copies of my birth plan, the registration paperwork I previously provided to the hospital, and my insurance card.

For Nursing

Since learning how to breastfeed will be a big part of the first few days with my baby boy, I am bringing a couple of Arshiner nursing camisoles andCoobie nursing bras. I also found some nice nursing gowns on Amazon to allow for easy breastfeeding. These gowns look like sundresses so I will feel comfortable seeing visitors and taking photos in them, but they are also practical for one of my most important tasks as a new mother.

For Clothing

When looking for a pajama set, robe and slippers for the hospital I decided to shop at Marshall’s. I wanted to get something inexpensive to wear immediately after delivery because there is a good chance this clothing will get stained (from postpartum bleeding) and thrown away once home. Leave it to my mother to go in the opposite direction and spoil me with a gorgeous button-down eberjey nightgown from Hope Chest so I have something very nice to wear as I recover. I also packed a couple of washable sweaters and lots of socks because hospitals are always so cold. For my going-home outfit, I will not be able to just jump into my pre-pregnancy clothes because my belly will still appear about six months pregnant. So I packed my favorite maternity jeans and a button-down shirt to wear home from the hospital.

For Showering

I am particular about my showers so I am bringing my preferred toiletries, like Dove soap. I also have a fully stocked makeup bag just in case I want to put some on for pictures. My husband is bringing his dopp kit to ensure he has everything he needs, as well as pajamas, extra jeans and T-shirts. We do not live far from the hospital but we are trying to have everything we need for a two- or three-night stay so he can remain with the baby and me for the duration.

For Sleeping

Obviously, I will be set up in a hospital bed to sleep every night and do not need to bring anything with me. My husband will be sleeping on the couch in my room with hospital-provided pillows and sheets. To make us both a little more comfortable at night, we are going to bring two soft blankets and our own pillows. One of the nurses recommended that we use colored pillowcases so it is easy to tell ours apart from the hospitals. We are also throwing an air mattress in the car. My husband is pretty tall, and the couch that will be his bed looks pretty small. We are not sure if there will be space in our room for an air mattress, but we are going to bring it just in case.

For Celebrating

My family tradition is to toast with a libation after a baby is born so there is a bottle of Jameson Irish Whiskey packed in my husband’s bag. We also packed our camera to capture the first special moments as a family of three, and to snap pictures as friends and relatives come to meet our son. And we are bringing two iPhone chargers to ensure we have plenty of battery to make phone calls to share the news.

For Baby

The most important item for bringing home our baby boy is to ensure the rear-facing car seat is properly installed. The other thing to remember is an outfit for him. Because autumn days can run from hot to brisk, I am bringing a couple of different things for him to wear. For a warm day, I have both newborn-sized and 3 months-sized short-sleeved onesies (in case he is a big baby) with a swaddling blanket and a cotton hat. For a cold day, I will put him in a long-sleeved onesie, socks and the baby bunting and hat that my Mom recently knit for her grandson. I packed these items in his already-stocked diaper bag so we will have everything we need for his first car ride home.

Trish English/for PhillyVoice

Katie thought she would have met her baby boy on her September 18th due date but at 41 weeks and counting she is still waiting to hold her son in her arms.

By this time next week, whether naturally or by induction , I will have delivered my baby boy! I want to take this opportunity to thank my readers for following along as I have navigated being a first time expecting mother. After my son arrives, I will resume writing this column with a new focus on being a mom and raising my first child. I hope you will continue to join me every Tuesday on PhillyVoice and share your thoughts and experiences with me as I continue on my journey.

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