During the month of March while waiting for our little guy we experienced a roller coaster of emotions. Anxiousness, uncertainty, sadness, excitement, relief, acceptance. It was no easy task to come to terms with our baby boy to be brought into the world with so much turmoil surrounding. Although health and safety was a huge concern for us and our new baby, the hospital restrictions weighed heavy on the heart as we will not get another moment like this to welcome our first born. For our hospital stay, only one visitor was allowed and at the time, we understood that my husband would not be able to come and go (this was different once we got there). On top of these uncertainties, we got our own surprise at the hospital after an induction and laboring all the way dilated to 9cm, to still find ourselves in the surgery room for a c-section. At 1:15 am April 2, 2020, we welcomed our sweet baby boy Ryder into this crazy world.
As all the new mama’s prepare for their upcoming births and start packing for the hospital, I thought I would shed some insight on what I used from my hospital bag during a pandemic.
By 30 weeks, your girl was packed. The planner in me wanted to make sure I was prepared, but nothing could have prepared us for this. By the time middle of March came, I found myself needing to reconsider all the things in my hospital bag as well as find space for clothes for my husband, which I didn’t anticipate needing to bring.
The very best advice I have for packing for a childbirth hospital stay during a pandemic (and quite honestly, anytime) would be to KEEP IT SIMPLE. Pack light and pack with intention. Don’t pack anything you don’t normally use on a day to day basis.
I will list out everything I brought for myself and then will notate beside it if I used it or didn’t, or used and could have done without. I figure this is going to be the best way considering that what you prioritize to bring could be different from what works best for me.
First things first, the bag. I packed everything in a hardshell carry-on roller and then had a small Vera Bradley Weekender bag for on top. Any bag will work but one with a trolley sleeve is going to be a great choice since your support person will have a lot to carry. You might even find you are able to get away with only packing the roller which is even better. The less bags the better. I packed two bags and he brought his backpack with laptop and snacks. He ended up having to make more than one trip to the car. If your hospital is not going to let your husband leave to get things, its best to keep the packing to a minimum because you guys will have a lot more to carry out than you did going in, especially that sweet little care package tucked in cozy in their car seat. Also I did try to pack all of the things I needed for the labor and delivery room in the weekender and everything else in the roller, but we still ended up opening both bags, so where it may have been thoughtful, wasn’t so successful.
The other thing worth mentioning is to plan your bag as if you were going to stay for a few days, just in case you end up getting a c-section. You can plan and plan, but that baby is going to have its own plan of how it arrives so plan for the unexpected. I arrived for an induction at the hospital on a Tuesday night at 6pm. Labored all day Wednesday, delivered via c-section at 1:15am Thursday. I got 2 units of blood on Friday evening and we went home on Saturday at noon. I had a perfect pregnancy from beginning to end but our little guy had the cord wrapped around his hand and they were afraid it was around his neck.
2 nursing tanks (Target | https://bit.ly/2DMCKn7)
3 comfy bottoms - 1 for going home in (I wore these black ones from target to go home in https://bit.ly/2PKafs. Had brought another capri pj bottom and some ribbed pj bike shorts from Aerie. I didn’t get to wear the Aerie bottoms, so I think I would just stick with 2 bottoms if you have a gown as well. Pants to go home in, and pj shorts. I am usually always cold, but I was sooo hot, hormones.)
1 button down night gown (I took a shower about 8 hours after my c-section and put this on with a nursing bra: Target | https://bit.ly/3iyQz7q)
1 tshirt (Wore this to go home in Aerie | https://bit.ly/2FbuaP0)
1 light cardigan in case I got cold at hospital or for going home. (NC weather is unpredictable)
2 nursing bras (one to go home in one for under night gown, but I think I would have been okay with one. Amazon | https://amzn.to/33U9RA3. I found that personally I like the snap nursing bras best.)
1 thin robe (didn’t use this at all, but I don’t wear robes at home either)
FOR YOUR FEET
Slippers (I wore these sometimes, but could have done without. It would have been easier to only keep track of only the sandals I brought.)
1 slide on sandals (Same sandals you wear into the hospital, wear them out too. Make sure they don’t fit you snug because you may swell from iv fluids. My “biggest” pair fit snug when I left hospital. I wore these: https://amzn.to/30QcFMt)
Socks (didn’t even pack because I don’t wear them at home. You may find you want them, but I was just too hot)
I brought 2 frida mom disposable underwear (may not have needed but I did use; https://bit.ly/2XWqiIb)
Maxi pads (Don’t need, use theirs. They’re free. Lol)
Haircare - Shampoo, conditioner, dry shampoo, and a hairbrush (and an extra hair tie because I’m sure you will have one on your wrist
Skincare – face wash and face moisturizer
Makeup - (only put on to go home so I felt okay to have pictures taken immediately, which definitely happened. I have some of my favorite skincare and makeup items in the picture above. My hospital did not do in room photography at that time because of Covid, so you would have to check with yours, but no photoshoot meant no need to get dressed up.)
A Headband- For going home and just throwing up your hair to make you feel “cute” like these: https://amzn.to/346VfO3
Side note: I actually brought a loofa too but since I use it at home and just got a new one for myself, I just threw it at the hospital when I was done. Just wanted to feel super clean.
1 going home gown/outfit (I LOVED this super soft gown from Dwell and Slumber | https://bit.ly/2Cm2mqa)
2 knotted baby hats (used both, one for at the hospital before he was bathed and one after I washed his hair, his hair was nasty. I bought and loved these Kyte baby caps | https://bit.ly/33VfSwb. If it was a girl, I would have ordered a headband from Baby Bling | https://bit.ly/31NnEG0)
1 extra gown (didn’t use, and definitely didn’t need)
1 plain onesie (didn’t use, and definitely didn’t need)
1 pant (didn’t use, and definitely didn’t need)
2 baby blanket swaddles (I brought one muslin swaddle like these from Little Unicorn | https://bit.ly/3fPrjrS and brought a name blanket I got from Sew Mine Design on Etsy | https://etsy.me/3ixnut5 I used this name blanket for Ryder's announcement photo along with one of the caps. If it was a girl, I would have done the name blanket and the headband for photo. See announcement photo below.)
Pacifier (BRING IT! lol. just in case. I know that there is stigma around giving it to babies too early, especially when breastfeeding, but do what is best for you. It saved us that night at the hospital and he had no nipple confusion and I am still nursing 4 months later. Ryder loved and still loves these from Bibs | https://amzn.to/30P0AqU)
Diaper Cream (Definitely don’t need)
Socks - 1 pair (did use this but for his hands not his feet. He kept scratching his face)
Car seat (Our hospital required us to bring it upstairs and put him in the car seat in the room, check with your hospital.)
Don’t forget the SNACKS! Fed husbands = happy husbands. Your support person needs to be fed to have energy to help you. Also pack some for youself after birth in case you can’t get anything because it’s the middle of the night. They can even pick out their own.
Tennis Ball (Great for if you end up with back labor or back pain. Your support person can massage that on your back. I might suggest practicing first, although that may be weird, my back labor caused far too much pain to tell my husband what to do with it and where to massage in that moment)
Bose Bluetooth Speaker - I think we used...I don't really remember, but I think your phone, computer, or ipad would probably be just fine.
Entertainment- Books, Ipad, Computer, something to stay entertained. I brought my Ipad to play on, didn’t touch it much. I think I used it more to facetime family. And we brought the Roku to watch Disney + and I loved having that. We never watched hospital cable once.
Pillow and Blanket. I brought my own because I thought it would be nice to have something comfy from home, and that it was, but the blanket I was just so hot and the pillow I ended up letting Mike use. Even after giving birth I was still worried about making my 6'5" husband as comfortable as he could be in the small hospital beds. BUTTT the bed he had in the pp room I took a nap on and that was WAYY more comfortable than my bed. (I’d say if you pack light enough and it fits in the bag, you may want, if not then maybe leave them behind? Keep in mind you will want to put these things in the wash when you get home)
Nursing Cover - If we could have visitors I would have brought nursing cover but figured no need here but might be worth noting if you are viewing this and we are no longer in a pandemic and just wanted a more simplified packing list.
Nightlight - I WOULD have brought a small nightlight. Something you can easily turn on from your bed to nurse. Their “small light” was soo bright and I often tried feeding in the dark to not wake Mike but it was hard. I would have packed my hatch sound machine/nightlight and have the ability to turn the light on from my phone. I’ve heard of people bringing those battery powered string/wire lights. I can see where those would be good too because you can connect it to the bed and you will always be able to reach it.
Side note: It might be a good idea to bring something to hold your jewelry, even just a ziplock, just in case you have to remove it all for surgery.
Comfy Shorts (3)
Comfy Pants (1)
Socks (4 sets)
Entertainment - Laptop, Ipad, Books, etc.
Cash -coins and singles for vending machines
For the most part, my husband packed his own bag. I think it’s a way of the men getting excited too, a way for them to mentally prep for bringing a baby home. I set aside the hoodie and cash because I knew those things he might forget, but he did pack the rest. He likes to know what he has, and that has just always worked for us on trips so I let him be, even if it killed me that he didn't pack until week 37 (in his defense, we thought he was going to be able to go home and shower so I was just planning on packing him a change of clothes and hoodie and thats about it).
There are so many blog posts about what Mamas packed in their hospital bag, but as a new Mama in a pandemic, I feel like there’s a whole new level of packing and if I can help you feel more prepared, that would make me happy. I have attached a Hospital Packing Checklist pdf below to print out and use to help you pack!
I know it may feel really scary right now, uncertain, exciting, anxious, all the feelings. I get it, I've been there. And all of those feelings are heightened right now given we are living day to day life with constant uncertainty. You WILL get through this, you WILL be okay, you ARE strong Mama! Good luck and congrats!