…A short story and a list.
When I was pregnant with my little girl, I loved reading birth stories. Partly out of curiosity, and partly to assuage my concerns because most of the birth stories I found on the internet were beautiful accounts of fearless births. Births where the mama never got scared and her baby emerged into a cocoon of love in a pool in the middle of her parents’ living room (and no one cared that they were covered in gore). They were sweet! The mom felt so powerful after forgoing drugs! Ricki Lake was a genius! They really started to mess with my head. I suddenly became an earthy, hippie mama who was going to have an all-natural home birth with a midwife and a doula, which is awesome if that’s you, but (as my husband rightfully pointed out) that’s not me. I felt like good moms, and cool moms; moms with art degrees (like me!) gave birth this way. Still, the idea made me uneasy. Fortunately my husband, who has known me for more than a decade and who hadn’t spent hours and hours and hours reading home birth stories, reminded me that I’m not particularly warm and fuzzy and I like to be left alone when I’m in pain. A doula (or any extra person) would have driven me bonkers. Also I know that when home birth is safe, it’s great, but when it’s not it’s really really not (especially since this charity is dear to my heart). I was scared. I knew a lot could go wrong. I knew that I wanted a hospital birth. I knew that I wanted the possibility of an epidural (and boy did I jump on that when I got the chance!). I also, finally, knew that I needed to do what was right for me and my baby and that I shouldn’t feel guilty for it.
I’m not going to share my whole birth story with you because it was such an emotional event in my life and I’d like to keep it for myself and my family (plus I haven’t finished writing it and it’s already 8 pages long). Maybe I will share it in the future, but it still feels very raw and personal. I will, however, share a few key details.
Even though I knew I wanted a hospital birth, it never occurred to me that I might have a c-section. Even though my husband and my mom both thought I would end up having one, I was adamant that I wouldn’t “fail.” I could do this! I’m tough! Well, ten hours after being induced, I was having really intense contractions (thanks pitocin!). I never dilated past a centimeter, and the baby’s heart rate was dropping dangerously low with every passing wave (and at this point I was constantly contracting, so “passing” is probably an inaccurate word). The on-call doctor was called, I was whisked into the OR, and a few minutes later, my baby was born…with her cord wrapped once around her neck, once around her torso, and once around her leg. Baby girl had been twirling! Home birth would have been a disaster! So that’s my very abridged story about why I’m personally opposed to home births. There. I said it. I feel better.*
So anyway, what do you need to have with you if you decide to have a hospital birth? Here’s my list (scroll past list for details):
- Insurance Card
- Photo ID
- Hospital Paperwork
- Birth plan (if you have one)
- Contacts and solution/glasses
- Toothbrush and toothpaste
- Shampoo and conditioner
- Face wash or face wipes (I think I just ended up using baby wipes)
- Bobby pins/hair ties/headband
- Flip flops (for shower, and walking around hospital)
- Maternity Leggings
- Robe (or two), preferably short
- Underwear for trip home (get big gross high wasted granny panties in case of a c-section. You don’t want elastic on that incision).
- Nursing Bras
- Nipple Cream
- Breast Pads
- Breastfeeding Book
For Mom’s Partner:
- Any toiletries that are different from mom’s
- Contacts and solution/glasses
- 2 outfit changes
- Sweatshirt (I tried to get my husband to bring one…he didn’t…he was cold)
- Going home outfit
- Bigger backup going home outfit (in case you have a big baby!)
- Receiving Blanket (you don’t have to bring one, but I was glad I did)
- Newborn Care Book
- Cash and Change
Most of the list is pretty self-explanatory, but I will break down a few of the items. If you’re like me you will probably want your own toiletries. It might be a while before you get a shower, and when you finally do take one, it’s amazing what smelling like yourself can do for your wellbeing. I did bring a hair dryer, but I didn’t use it. I’ll explain the breastfeeding supplies in my upcoming breastfeeding post, but the best thing I can tell you is to get a pretty robe or two and don’t even bother with nursing shirts and real clothes. A robe provides easy access for breastfeeding, and a short one also allows doctors and nurses to check you without dealing with a lot of fabric. Then you can wear your maternity leggings underneath for strolls around the halls. Maternity leggings are the best because you have no idea what size you will be when you leave the hospital (all I can tell you for sure is it’s not the size you were when you got pregnant!) and they go up high enough to avoid the problem of elastic on your incision if you do end up having surgery. I even wore the robe/leggings combo home, and I slept in my robe for weeks after the baby was born. It was just the easiest thing to wear.
I would suggest getting travel sized versions of your favorite toiletries, and getting your bag packed well in advance. You really don’t want to forget anything. Then put that bad boy in your car and leave it there. Or do what I did, and go home and finish packing when you’re 8 days past your due date and your doctor has just told you she’s going to induce. No, wait. Don’t do that.
My final piece of advice is for pet owners. Give a trusted friend or neighbor a copy of your house key and detailed instructions for pet care and put them on standby. You won’t think about your pet when you’re soaking in your delicious new baby, so you really want to have that set up.
Again, I hope you find this helpful!
*Yes, I’m aware that induced labors are more likely to end in c-sections, but I’m also aware that you weren’t there and I’m not sharing some important details so I don’t want to hear about it.