Everyone seems to have an opinion...
Don't over pack...
But you'll regret it if you need something you didn't pack! Bring EVERYTHING and leave some in the car just in case!
You do you boo...
Here's the thing-
There are a million different blogs all over the internet with comprehensive hospital bag packing lists of everything you could ever possibly need.
This is not one of those blogs.
Honestly, how much you will need or want to pack entirely depends on a few different factors:
*The type of birth you are having - c-sections tend to have longer hospital stays than uncomplicated vaginal deliveries.
*How close you live to the hospital where you are choosing to deliver - Sending your husband on a 15 minute drive home to grab something you forgot is a totally different story than those of you traveling over an hour to get to your birth location of choice.
*Do you have help nearby? - My husband and I are very lucky to have plenty of local friends and family who are more than happy to stop by our house or a store to grab something we need.
This blog I've written for you today is not a complete list of what you'll need to pack.
Instead, I have compiled a few small hacks that I learned with my first two births to make packing a little easier and so you don't make the same mistakes I did!
1) Bring One Really Big Bag
Having separate bags packed for everyone is chaos. I know it might feel more organized to have everyone's things organized into their own bag, but postpartum rooms are TINY.
You know those beautiful, spacious labor and delivery rooms they show you on the hospital website and during your tour?
Yeah... you only get to stay in those for a few hours after delivery at most. They will eventually move you down to the postpartum rooms, which are about the size of my closet. And this seems to be a universal phenomenon because as a birth photographer, I've been in L&D rooms in pretty much all of the local hospitals as well as the postpartum rooms for Fresh 48 sessions.
Suddenly, all of those separate bags take up a ton of space and you're tripping over them every time you get up.
I pack one giant bag for everyone. It's not pretty. It's an old duffel bag my husband had before he met me, but it works. I can pack everything we need for myself, my husband, and the baby AND still have a little room left over to cram in the goodies I bring home from the hospital with me (diapers, wipes, mesh panties, ice packs, etc).
2) Get Samples or Go Travel Size with Toiletries
This is one I learned the hard way with my first birth. I packed everything we didn't need on a daily basis and then put a list on top of the bag of items we needed to remember when it was time to go to the hospital: toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorant, makeup, phone chargers, etc. etc. etc.
Well, guess what?
When I started having dangerous blood pressure spikes and was sent to the hospital in a hurry, all of those extra things we were supposed to grab were completely left behind.
With my second baby and now with this third, I knew not to make that mistake again.
I have toothbrushes and sample size tubes of toothpaste from our most recent dentist visits.
I have makeup samples I got in some random swag bag.
I have travel size deodorants, shampoos, conditioners, body washes, makeup remover wipes, etc.
The only thing we will actually have to remember to grab on our way out the door is the bag itself and my purse.
3) Pack an Extra Sports Bra or Sleep Bra
Soooo funny story...
I had a long labor with my second baby. People will tell you all the time that modesty goes out the window once you're in "labor land," but you never know just how true it is until it happens to you.
Apparently, at some point during the long pushing phase with my son, I started to get really hot. I have no memory of this whatsoever, but I've been told that I just started ripping clothes off and demanding that everyone help me get the gown off because I was so hot.
It wasn't until about 20-30 minutes after he was born and snuggling on my chest that I glanced down and asked, "So... uh... how long have I been completely naked?"
The nurse assured me it was no big deal and it happens all the time.
I wasn't exactly embarrassed, but here's the problem...
I have lots of photos that no one will ever see from my son's birth. I love and treasure them... but will not share them because, as I said, I was COMPLETELY naked.
This time I packed an extra sports bra in the bag and made my husband SWEAR to me that he will make me AT LEAST keep a bra on during birth this time.
I've hired a photographer, and I want to be able to share the beautiful photos I know she'll capture of that day.
As a birth photographer, I always tell my clients that it's not my job to tell you what to do or not to do during labor. If it's important to you to have photos you can share that don't contain full nudity, always designate someone - your spouse, a doula, a friend, someone - to remind you to leave your clothes on just in case!
4) Bring Towels From Home
Another lesson learned the hard way.
Not sure if you know this, but hospital towels are approximately the size of a postage stamp. Also, because they're regularly washed in a really harsh cycle (for obvious reasons), they feel like sandpaper.
Now I know some people who say they prefer to just wait until they get home to shower after birth, but I can't do that. Pretty much as soon as I'm up and walking around, I'm ready to wash off and get into some clean clothes.
If you know you're going to want a shower at the hospital, bring your own towel. You'll thank me later.
5) Bring a Folder
This doesn't have to be anything elaborate. Any basic pocket folder that you can get for less than a dollar at Target is fine.
When packing my hospital bag, I use the folder to hold a copy of my birth preferences to give to the nurses at the hospital as well as any notes and reminders for my husband (like our birth photographer's phone number and when and how often to contact her).
However, this folder is also really handy after birth as well. You will be given so many random pieces of paper after your baby is born - information on newborn procedures that you choose to have done at the hospital, paperwork for the baby's birth certificate and social security card, and any discharge instructions.
Having a place to put all of those papers will make it much easier to find them again when you get home.
I hope you find these little hacks helpful! To my other experienced mamas: did you feel like you over packed, under packed, or was it just right? Was there anything you didn't pack but wish you had? Leave a comment and let me know!
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We’d been researching all of the latest baby stuff for months and we had just found out that our first precious baby was going to be a girl!
We excitedly headed to our store of choice to register for all of the things we needed to take care of our new precious bundle.
After we filled out all of the pertinent information, we were handed a welcome packet that included a registry checklist - presumably a guide to all of the things you NEED to have on your registry for your baby.
My jaw nearly hit the floor.
This thing was several pages long.
I couldn’t help but think, do I REALLY need all this crap?
It’s been over 6 years since that first baby registry experience and I’m now expecting baby number 3.
I’ve got a few more gray hairs and an undisclosed number of extra pounds - but I’ve also got more experience and a little more wisdom (or at least that’s what I’m calling it).
I can now answer that burning question - do you really need all that crap for a baby?
The short answer is - no, you really don’t.
I’ve compiled a much more realistic registry checklist to get you started with the basics of what you’ll really need in those early months with a new baby plus a few things you really don’t need (although they might be really nice luxuries if you choose to get them anyway).
1) Some Way To Feed Them
Breastfeeding moms who are planning to go back to work or will need to be away from baby sometimes may want to register for a good pump; however, many health insurance companies now provide pumps, so check with your insurance provider before registering or purchasing.
You’ll also want to consider bottles, bottle brushes, and possibly some storage solutions for keeping all of that stuff organized.
What you don’t need: Don’t get caught up registering for too many of one type of bottle or cans of one specific formula. Some babies are picky about bottles or have dietary concerns and you don’t want to be stuck with a bunch of something you can’t use. Also, while fancy formula mixers, bottle warmers, and bottle sterilizers might be really awesome conveniences, they aren’t totally necessary.
2) Something For Them To Wear
I’m a sucker for cute baby outfits. Even when not pregnant, I have a tendency to wander baby aisles to look at the cute baby clothes.
Here’s the problem: as soon as you put your baby in that super adorable outfit that you’ve been obsessing over, they’re going to spit up on it or have a major diaper blow out. Murphy’s Law is brutal in the world of parenthood.
I’m not saying don’t get some of those adorable outfits, just make sure you have plenty of basics: onesies, pants, sleepers, etc for every day life.
And don’t forget a few blankets and burp cloths too.
What you don’t need: A bunch of clothes in the wrong season. For example, if you’re expecting a winter baby, don’t get winter clothes in size 6 months. It won’t be winter anymore! And don’t go crazy with clothes in any one size either. Babies grow at all different rates. You might have a super chunky baby that is a few sizes ahead of what’s expected or a little peanut that stays in one size longer.
3) Something To Catch The Poop
Whether you use cloth or disposable, you’re going to need diapers and wipes.
Poop is just a fact of life and parenthood. Honestly, all moms have a different preference for brands. Some diapers fit certain babies better and some diapers work better for babies with sensitive skin. What diapers you like best will likely be a matter of trial and error once your little poop factory arrives, but stocking up on a few different brands and sizes beforehand is never a bad idea!
What you don’t need: A wipe warmer. It sounds nice to pamper that sweet tushy with warm wipes during changes, but eventually you’ll have to change the baby while out and about and a cold wipe is going to be a rude awakening.
4) Somewhere To Sleep
I’m not here to debate sleeping arrangements - that’s up to each parent to make the most informed choice for their own family. However, baby is still going to need somewhere to sleep. There are plenty of options: bassinet, bedside co-sleeper, pack n play, crib, etc. You don’t need all of them. Pick one or two and go with them.
If you are planning on having more babies in the future, keep longevity in mind! This 3rd baby will be sleeping in the same pack n play with the bassinet attachment and crib as my older two. My son (second baby) is still sleeping in our crib converted to a toddler bed. When this baby is ready, we’ll get my son a new bed and convert the crib back.
What you don’t need: A matching nursery set with crib bumpers and quilts and all of the other accessories that come with it. Some sheets that fit your sleep surface of choice and possibly a mattress cover are all you really need. Plus, it's not recommended to have any soft bedding in with baby, so those bumpers and quilts would be useless.
5) Some Way To Carry Them
Babies want to be held - a LOT - in the first few months. They go from being in your warm, cozy tummy to suddenly being in this bright, loud world. It’s overwhelming and they find comfort in being close to mom.
I’m all for taking time to just kick back and snuggle with your baby whenever possible, BUT sometimes we need to get up and do other things. Having a carrier of some kind that allows you to use your hands and still snuggle baby will be a lifesaver.
There are many different types of baby carriers to choose from: wraps, slings, soft structured carriers.
Again, every mom has a different preference. Personally, I like a ring sling for the first couple of months and then a soft structured carrier for when they’re a little older. However, if you have a friend who uses baby carriers, ask if you they can show them to you and try them on and see what you like. There are also some local babywearing groups that love to show new moms the basics of the different types of carriers.
What you don’t need: A ton of different carriers. Once you figure out what works for you, just go with it.
6) Something To Wash Them
Baby’s going to need a bath, so you’ll need baby wash. There are tons of different brands on the market to meet any priorities and preferences. Whether you want something organic and made with natural ingredients or something specifically for sensitive baby skin or just something that smells nice and is easy to find in a local store - you’ll find anything you could possibly want.
What you don’t need: This might be an unpopular opinion, but you don’t need a baby tub. I know some moms swear by their baby tubs. For me, it was just another item that I had to find a place to stash when I wasn’t using it. I either used a baby bath sponge or a folded towel in the bottom of the bathroom sink to wash my newborns. When they outgrew the bathroom sink, I washed them in the kitchen sink until they were big enough to sit in the full size bath.
7) Some Way To Ride In The Car
Choosing a car seat might be one of the most overwhelming items to choose. There are so many different brands and options and bells and whistles.
The good news is that all car seats have to go through safety testing before going on the market, so as long as the seat is being used properly, your little one should be safe.
There are pros and cons to choosing an infant bucket seat that snaps in and out of the car vs. going straight to a convertible seat. I had an infant bucket seat with my first two. My first loved it. Second hated it and screamed every single time I put him in it.
This time we’re skipping straight to the convertible simply because with two older kids, I’m not going to have the free hands to be lugging a heavy infant bucket seat around everywhere anyway.
What you don’t need: All of the fancy car seat accessories, toys, strap covers, etc. As a matter of fact, you shouldn’t use anything in the car seat that was not included by the manufacturer. It could void the warranty of your carseat or even cause unintended damage in case of an accident.
Also, I highly recommend spending some time on www.thecarseatlady.com Pretty much any information you could possibly want to know about car seats and proper usage and installation can be found there. Keep in mind that a car seat is only really safe for baby when being used correctly!
8) Some Way To Organize It All
This will entirely depend on your living situation. If baby will have an entire nursery, then you’ll have more opportunities for dressers and furniture and closet space.
If, like me, baby will just have a small area in your master bedroom until it’s old enough to share a room with one of its big siblings, your options might be a little more limited, but still entirely doable! There are tons of storage solutions for small spaces, and I could spend hours on Pinterest just looking at nursery organization ideas.
What you don’t need: A fancy matching nursery furniture and storage set. I’ve collected furniture pieces and baskets and bins from a variety of different stores over the years for my kids’ rooms that were eventually used in other areas of our house. I like having things that are multi-purpose because my kids are only going to use them for a short period of time.
And that’s the gist of it! Now there are tons of other things that you’ll probably really want and find useful: pacifiers, baby seats/entertainment centers/swings, a high chair, swaddles, baby monitor etc. However, keep in mind that a lot of those things will entirely be up to baby’s preferences and your lifestyle.
For example, I know a lot of moms that never would have survived the newborn days without a swing, but BOTH of my kids absolutely hated baby swings. Some babies love pacifiers. Some hate them. Some like to be swaddled. Some don’t.
Also, since the AAP recommends not introducing solid foods until 6 months, certain items like high chairs and feeding utensils will need to be stored somewhere until you need them, so you might want to hold off and get those items later.
So other veteran mamas: did I leave anything out? Is there any baby item that you recommend to everyone around you because you love it so much? Let’s hear about it in the comments!