Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Third time a charm - Hospital Bag thoughts

Oh, the Hospital Bag. Everyone on Pinterest has an opinion about what to bring and so much of it is conflicting. Before you solidify your list, make sure you ask people who have actually given birth at the hospital you will be at. That helps so much! For example, lots of people’s lists include nipple cream, pads/mesh underwear, sitz bath, and perineum spray bottle but at my hospital (BC Women’s Hospital in Vancouver) all these are provided. So I thought I would weigh in on my experiences to bring less clarity to the situation :) 

I packed my first Hospital Bag in Feb/March of 2015 and my second in November of 2016. Both times have felt disappointing - like I managed to get it wrong and didn't have everything I needed or specifically had way more than I needed. The first time I packed regular jeans and instantly regretted it (spoiler alert, post baby regular jeans are basically a no go - I was so thankful that I happened to pack a pair of leggings with a sweatband top - they were a life saver), the second time I listened to all the buzz that said hospitals were always cold and to bring sweatshirts and blankets (mine was so hot I couldn't sleep and bitterly regretted not packing shorts or a tank top) and had ordered a robe that another mom had sworn by online and despite ordering it large it was tiny and only made me feel worse. So. I'm trying again. And I'm optimistic. I like to think I learned something. Plus this is my last time. I want to get it right. 

Basically, a Hospital Bag usually has three parts: 
1. The Mom stuff 2. The Baby Stuff and 3. The Dad Stuff. 

1. The mom stuff
First of all - the last two times I used my cute weekender bag. I love it but it doesn't have wheels and is a big tricky to dig around in. This time I'll be using the bag I bought this past fall and am IN LOVE with. 

People always talk about what they're bringing to wear in the hospital. Both times I found that I really just wanted to hang out in the hospital provided gown, with a nursing sports bra. I found mine at Motherhood Maternity and loved it, so much so that I bought two of the same. I wore one for labour and the first breastfeeding moments (making sure to wear my black one then so sweat, baby fluid and milk wouldn’t show as much) then when we went upstairs to our hospital room I showered and changed into my other clean one. Best plan ever. It was easy to wear and sleep in after delivery and very easy to use during the first breastfeeding days. 

Aforementioned sports bra, with cute baby Bailey

My hospital provides the least fashionable but most comfortable mesh underwear and crazy giant maternity pads. Some people don’t love these but for the hospital stay, I find them wonderful. Nurses and doctors are constantly coming by to check out your lady parts so may as well make it easy access. The mesh underwear isn’t too tight and I found it comfortable. My secret is to switch to Depends underwear once I get home for the first few days and then for the next few nights. I only did this with my second and it was a lifesaver. All that being said I don’t find it necessary to pack underwear for the hospital stay since I wouldn’t have touched it either time. 

The robe I chose to live in, and Avie in a newborn sleeper (it's big even on my full term baby).

I liked having some sort of comfy legging and t-shirt to wear if I wanted to feel semi-pulled together when visitors came, though mostly I lounged in the hospital gown. I will also bring some sort of comfy sleep clothes in case it is too hot or too cold. And of course, I will bring my toiletries - I was desperate for a shower, to wash my hair and to straighten it. 

Nowhere else in life do I go away without my Contigo water bottle, or my Contigo Thermos (both from Costco) and this is especially true in the hospital. The water bottle is used constantly during labour, as well as the postpartum stage. The Contigo Thermos is a life saver in those first days in the hospital, keeping my cup of tea warm despite the many interruptions. I also swear by it in the whole rest of the baby & toddler stage because it keeps my tea warm AND doesn't spill on top of kids #safetyfirst. 

Therefore my mom list looks like this:
  • nursing sports bra x2
  • Comfy leggings (loose sweatpants type & one high waisted wonder under)
  • Sweatpant Skinny Joggers (in case the leggings are just too uncomfortable)
  • Maternity shorts (in case its hot again)
  • Loose comfy t-shirt x2
  • Sweatshirt cardigan, just in case the hype of a cold hospital proves true.
  • Flip flops or slippers
  • Toiletries (deodorant, shampoo, conditioner, tangle tamer, lotion, chapstick, hairbrush, toothbrush/toothpaste and hair straightener). 
  • Sleep Aids (ear plugs & eye mask)
  • Phone charging cord (a long one if you have it!) and wall base
  • Portable battery to charge phone during labour
  • Apple Watch charger
  • iPad, in case I have a spare moment to write out their birth story or to watch Netflix (more likely)
  • Contigo water bottle 
  • Contigo thermos
**One last thought on Mom stuff. I have not had to have a C Section with either of my births, but that's definitely a possibility in my future with twins. I've heard that it can be strategic to pack a dress or something since pants (even loose ones) can rub painfully. I'm debating adding a lose fitting black maxi dress of some form just to make it home in case I end up needing to go that route.

2. The Baby Stuff

I will be using the same bag for the twins hospital bag, as I will for their diaper bag. I ordered this bag and already packed it for the hospital stay. I'll switch it up a bit once we're home but for now it's got everything we need for the twins at the hospital.

I ordered these packing cubes online to use for packing the kids clothes - I like having seperate pouches for stuff when it's a diaper bag too, helps keep it organized. I'll use these cubes in lots of life, and have used the smallest one for the bag.

Baby Clothes - I find this one tricky to pack for - how big will they be? They are naked most of the time in the hospital but it's helpful to have baby clothes for the trip home. This time I popped out and got some preemie clothes - they would have fit my newborns each of my births, and these guys will most likely be a little smaller. Thankfully my favorite consignment store (Wee Ones ReRuns in Bellingham) has a decent little preemie section and I managed to swipe up onesies, bottoms and sleepers for both boy and girl, for .99 cents each! I also got a new pack of my favorite soothers so that we could have new ones for when they are especially tiny. Zip-up sleepers are the handiest for the trip home.

Here's Bailey using both our kids favorite soother in the hospital, warpped in hospital blankets, wearing a onesie with built-in mittens.

While in the hospital we primarily keep them wrapped in the towels but for the trip home having Muslin blankets was really helpful - the nurses wanted to add them to the car seat for head security.

So my baby list looks like this:

  • Mam Soothers x4
  • Muslin blankets x8 or more!
  • Girl Onesie + bottoms
  • Boy Onesie + bottoms
  • 2 White onesies with mittens
  • Newborn hat x2
  • Girl Sleeper
  • Boy Sleeper
  • 1-2 Spare outfits that either could wear
  • Best ever baby socks x2

The Extra's
Breastfeeding Pillow - My sister gave me this style in my first pregnancy and I have not found anything that works as well for me. I know lots of people love the 'Brestfriend' but I don't find it as comfortable or easy to use. But I'm in the minority there. Not every nurse will like seeing you use this in the hospital - they often just want you to use a selection of blankets and towels but I found this very very uncomfortable and needed the support of the pillow. The hospital beds aren't the most comfortable place to be feeding babies and I need all the help I can get!

Car seat & Base x2 - You can't leave the hospital without a car seat. I already have one, and have another one on the way. I love the Graco Click and Connect. We have the slightly older version, but it's the same idea. They click easily out of the base (in the van) and click easily onto our stroller.

Car seat Canopy x2 - I had this one for Avie & Bailey, and ordered a second for the twins - I love the grey chevron pattern (called the chevy) - I find it soothing and attractive. I find these easy to flip open, good for coverage (even blocks a bit of the sound) and easy to remove when needed. We always get them free from this site and just pay for shipping. Full disclosure, we also have a third one, it's Green Bay Packers themed, but I can only handle having so much sports theme, so we use that in football season and it's about it.

**We pack all the extra's in a big ikea bag, which we later fill with things from the hospital when we leave. Our hospital usually sends you home with helpful things like the Perineum cleaning bottle, a Sitz Bath, etc. It's nice to have a big bag to shove these into so you're not walking out of the hospital with your arms full.

3. The Dad Stuff

It's important to note that each Dad is going to want different things, and my husband is decidedly low maintenance. So his list is pretty sparse. I'll also note that I'm super lucky since I don't have to pack his bag - we never pack for each other for anything, and that stays true for hospital visits. But that being said, I do know what he's taking. 

Lots of people mention snacks for Dad in their list since meals are only provided for the Mom. We haven't found this necessary. The people in our life that visit the hospital are keen to pick up food on their way for us. There's also a Tim Hortons in the building, a decent cafeteria downstairs AND some shops nearby. Lots of people also mention a blanket and pillow for Dad but Paul is always happy with the hospital sheet and whatever pillow he can make work. 

Our Dad list looks like this:

  • Phone charger
  • Underwear / Socks x2
  • Shorts x2
  • T-shirt x2 (1 short sleeve, 1 long sleeve)
  • Toiletries
Before I finish off I feel like there's a few food related things we've learned / perfected over our two stays and look forward to implementing for this stay.

1. I just gave birth. Hopsital food is mediocre. When people bring the husband food they bring GOOD food (samosas, vietnamese, tacos, etc). Why should the one who just endured the trauma of labour eat the saddest food? So we split it all. When the hospital meal comes we both each from it, and then we supplement as needed/wanted with what people bring. People always want to help, asking "what can I bring?" so we tell them :) And thus begins the newborn season of receiving help when offered.

2. So many blog posts and books suggest bringing homemade cookies to offer the nurses to say thank you for their great care. I think that's a beautiful idea in theory. But let me delve into it a bit closer ok? With my first I was 2 weeks over due and in labour for 4 days before actually having Avie. How in the world would I have known when to make those homemade cookies? A week before my due date? On my due date? the week after? You know what I didn't want to be doing in the last weeks of pregnancy? Baking. Heck, I don't want to bake now. If I make them in advance OR time it perfectly, that's another thing to remember to grab on the way out to the hospital - no thank you.

With Bailey we realized that we could order delivery TO THE HOSPITAL. Game changer. We had Bailey early Sunday morning in mid December, and by that evening we were pretty hungry. Basically our whole support network was at our church's christmas banquet across town, and so we weren't expecting any visitors (which was definitly ok - a relaxing night is helpful too). We picked up the hospitals big binder of delivery options (I love that our hospital offered this - though I am sure you could just use the internet) and chose to order pizza. There was a deal on so we ordered an extra pizza to give to the nurses (in lieu of cookies) and enjoyed our pizza (with some smuggled in beer) quite happily. I'm so stoked for this post birth moment - a beer, a pizza and our babies.

And there you have it - just what the internet needed - another Hospital Bag packing list :)

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