What to Take from Hospital or Birthing Center
Most hospitals and birthing centers are generous about what you can (and should) take home with you from the room. Check first, of course, but in general you should start stuffing your bag with:
- The super-duper, hospital-grade sanitary napkins, usually stocked in the bathroom.
- The squeeze bottle used to wash the perineum after urination.
- Baby’s first blanket and hat.
- Diapers, wipes and any other samples in the room, like ointment.
Also remember to take:
- Discharge papers.
- Any brochures or how-to guides.
- Gifts and flowers from the room.
What You’ll Need at Home
You probably have the baby basics stocked at home like diapers, receiving blankets and other Baby Shower staples – but there are plenty of must-have items that send new moms (or dads, really) scrambling to the store last minute. To save yourself the frustration, you may want to have these items on hand:
- Sanitary napkins – the heaviest you can find. Read more about post-partum bleeding.
- A perineum irrigation bottle to wash yourself after urinating and for hygienic reasons. As we covered in Your Health and Well-being, cleaning yourself with a water bottle keeps the area clean without having to rub with toilet paper. While most hospitals will give you one, it’s not a bad idea to have an extra, just in case.
- Tucks pads. Made with cooling and soothing witch hazel, these can provide much-needed relief to a sore vaginal area. Plus, since they’re typically used for hemorrhoids, it’s like a double whammy.
- Sitz bath. Add this relaxing herbal blend to a warm bath to ease pain and swelling – especially useful for those that had vaginal tears or an episiotomy.
- Warm/Cold gel pads (or just cold cabbage leaves) to ease engorgement pain.
- A nursing bra in a bigger size or one made out of forgiving material, again, for engorgement.
- Sleeping nursing bras.
- A breast pump. Many breastfeeding women assume they don’t need a pump until it’s time to return to work, but it’s really important to have one on hand in the beginning – to relieve engorgement, or to start the practice of introducing a bottle when your baby is between two and four weeks. While the hospital-grade electric pumps are quite pricey (normally pushing $300), try finding one you can borrow or rent until you’re sure you can produce enough milk or want to continue breastfeeding. Or, of course, you can go with a more affordable manual pump – but have something. No one anticipates having milk production problems, but if you do, you might end up in Wal-mart at 2 a.m. dropping big bucks on the best one you can find. We have to admit, though – if you’re in it for the long nursing haul, an electric one is well worth the money.
- Lactation pads. With milk production comes leakage – more so in the beginning while your body is still trying to regulate itself. Disposable or reusable lactation pads will keep your clothes dry, but make sure you change them as soon as they’re wet to keep your breasts healthy.
- Soothing nipple cream. We recommend Lansinoh, made with natural and safe medical-grade lanolin, to heal, protect and soothe cracked nipples. According to La Leche League, Lansinoh is the only lanolin sold without preservatives or additives, meaning you won’t have to wash it off before nursing.
- Formula. Even if you’re planning on breastfeeding, have some formula (and bottles!) in the house – just in case. Click here to read more about formula feedings.
- Breast shells, designed to give sore, cracked and bleeding nipples some breathing room. This one from Avent even collects leaking breast milk.
- Nursing tank tops that either fold down or lift up for easy access. This, along with the aforementioned sleeping nursing bras, are what breastfeeding mothers will most likely be living in.
- One-handed food. You may have a freezer full of pre-made meals – which is great – but to keep your energy up during the day, you’ll need food that’s quick and healthy. Apples, bananas, granola bars, trail mix – stock up now.
- Help. Trust us – you’ll need it. Even if you’re lucky enough to have a supportive partner, if your mother, mother-in-law, sister – whoever – offers to stay with you for a bit, say yes.