Over the years I’ve read countless lists for what you should include in your hospital bag, but never one that really pertained to my situation–one of both a planned c-section and one with low supply (meaning I don’t make enough breast milk).
I thought maybe I would share my packing list and it would help some mama somewhere out if they were in the same boat as me.
First up: the basics.
What do you need for your baby? Well, technically I guess nothing. The hospital will provide diapers, wipes, onesies, blankets, hats, formula, and bottles. But that’s no fun! Here’s what I bring:
- Two blankets (sometimes three)
- Two hats/headbands
- At least two sleepers–I find this more important if I have a winter baby and socks if the sleepers don’t have feet
- Going home outfit
- Specific paci if I have a preference (only MM has loved pacis)
What do you need for you? I guess nothing. The hospital provides gowns, disposable underwear, and pads. Here’s what I bring (my hospital stays have been three nights in the past; I’m allowed to shower 12 hours after a c-section when my catheter is removed and I change out of my hospital gown then, for what it’s worth):
- Three pairs of pajamas. I have brought gowns before but I like PJs (that are very big in the waist as to not hurt my swollen, tender tummy). I try to bring at least one pair that buttons down the front for easier feeding/pumping, I just bought these (shirt.pants) and really like them.
- SOCKS. I always forget to bring them.
- Slippers for walking the halls (super important to do if you have had a c-section) because, ewww, the germs.
- Going home clothes that are maternity-size ’cause duh.
- The biggest granny panties you own.
- This time around I’m also bringing a robe. Just because I’m getting old and mature like that.
- Toiletries/flat iron/anything that makes you feel feminine/vitamins.
What do you need if you know you are having a c-section?
- Like I said above, either gowns or PJ pants that are very loose.
- A pillow so you can hold it to your abdomen when you laugh, cry, get up, or walk around those first few days. (I’ve had five major abdominal surgeries. Trust me.)
- Stool softener. The hospital will give you one a day. No, girlfriend, no. You’ll need a lot more than that. I could give you gory details but trust me when I say you do NOT want to be constipated after an abdominal surgery.
What do you need if you know you’re going to have low supply or need to pump or want to supplement at breast? This is one I think most people don’t tell you about so women go in blind. We think that breastfeeding is so “natural” (and I guess it is to some, you lucky women know who you are), but for many it’s painful and confusing and disappointing. Here’s what I learned from breastfeeding Lala. (I am considered a low supply mama because I only made half of what he needed. I had a breast reduction (J-cup to a C-cup in 2000) so I am just amazed my body can produce even half of what a baby needs considering over five pounds of breast tissue (and milk ducts) were removed from each breast! I also have PCOS which makes your hormones wacky and doesn’t do me any favors in the breastfeeding department!)
I highly RECOMMEND talking to a lactation consultant *before* you give birth if you think you might have low supply. You can never be too prepared!
This is what I’m bringing this time.
- My own pump. Last time it took the hospital over 12 hours to bring me a pump (and Lawson was in the NICU for 36 hours). I personally use both the Spectra S2 and the Medela Symphony (that I rent from the hospital). I find them both very comparable to each other.
- A pumping bra. Again, just trust me. You do NOT want to sit there all hunched over and sore and holding those flanges on your boobies. I love the Dairy Fairy ones. I used this one with Lawson and got this one to try with Baby B (it has a little bit of underwire so I can wear it out of the house; I got a size ‘3’ since I’m a 36D).
- Supplements if you so choose. Goats rue will be in my bag. (If you have any questions about supplements–I’ve tried them all–feel free to ask)
- Frozen colostrum. I’ve been collecting 1- and 3-mL syringes of colostrum since 35 weeks (I use these syringes to store it; make sure to get ones with caps). It’s important to get permission from your doctor first, of course (some won’t let you until you’re 37 weeks, but given that I had my last two babies at 37 weeks I was allowed to do it earlier). This is very important if you have gestational diabetes because these syringes can keep your baby’s blood sugar up after birth if it dips (your milk doesn’t come in for 24-72 hours after birth so many babies of gestational diabetic mothers need formula or sugar water to keep their blood sugar up during this time). Some hospitals won’t allow you to bring in your frozen colostrum or donor milk and none will let you store it in their refrigerators (they will if you pump it in the hospital though) so I bring my own cooler and don’t tell them what’s inside.
Baby B has two milk donors (including sweet Angelica who also donated for Lawson for an entire year!)–and this is the colostrum I have on hand already. If you’ve never breastfed you won’t understand the magnitude of this–this is like winning Super Bowl AND the Power Ball jackpot, colostrum-wise!
- A large drinking cup. Yes, the hospital will most likely provide one, but I have my own Tervis ones that I love. When breastfeeding I try to drink 100 ounces per day.
- Nipple cream. You can thank me later. 😉
- My Breast Friend Pillow. With MM and Moseby I used a Boppy to hold them and I loved it, but with Lawson I realized it didn’t provide enough support for the baby when nursing (it made my arms tired!) so I found this pillow and I love it!
- Bottles with slow flow nipples. If you need to supplement with formula (or choose to put breast milk in a bottle) you’ll want to bring your own bottles if you want to go back and forth between feeding at the breast and bottle. The bottles they provide at the hospital are “newborn” bottles and the flow is faster than that of a real nipple (especially in those first few days when the baby has to try very hard to get the colostrum out) so I suggest bringing a couple of Dr. Brown’s bottles (I like the 2 oz size the first 2-3 weeks and then I pump into that size (they fit the Symphony; Avent bottles fit the Spectra S2) with a premie nipple. With Lawson I used premie nipples until he was NINE MONTHS OLD since he went back and forth between breast (with my very slow letdown thanks to my reduction) and bottle.
- A Supplemental Nursing System (SNS) or a Lact-Aid if you are wanting to supplement at breast. Paper tape to tape the tubing in place. A nipple shield if you think you may need it. (NOTE: some hospitals provide both of these, but with Lawson the two lactation consultants I saw hadn’t EVER used an SNS (and they were no spring chickens themselves so they should have had plenty of experience with them) so thankfully I had brought my own. They did provide me with a nipple shield but Lawson was 48 hours old at that point! I say from a breastfeeding perspective go in expecting the worst and then you’ll usually be pleasantly surprised).
Other random items you might like to have:
- Laptop and charger
- Phone and charger
- An extension cord for all those chargers ’cause you never know where those outlets will be
- Camera and USB cord to connect to computer
- Protein shakes or other snacks you don’t think the hospital will provide
- A sign for the door (and door hanger)–is that just a southern thing?
- Any other signs/props/special blankets, etc. for baby for photos
I think that’s it. Of course, I’m “only” 35 weeks, 2 days so I have “plenty” of time to pack more, HA! So tell me, what did I forget that was a necessity for you? Let me know and I’ll add it to my list!