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Packing for Post-Partum

what to pack for post partemSo, here I am again, 37ish weeks… This time patiently waiting and packing for a *hopefully* 24 hour hospital stay with #3, a child who remains sunny-side up. Stinker. Amusingly enough, being that it was my list, I popped over to Reno Moms Blog and searched for my L&D in 15 items list so I could quickly toss together some essentials.

Then, I grumped.

I never got around to making a list for Post-Partum (PP). Looking online I’ve found the lists have dozens of things that are completely unnecessary; you will not need a stroller or your own stool softener (any smart provider will prescribe this and your nurse will supply it, along with your ibuprofen which should be taken). Of course, as I mentioned PP is a different beast than L&D. For a vaginal delivery one is looking at a stay of 24-48 hours usually and with a c-section it’s usually 72 hours. Plus on the PP side there’s also the new little to consider. 1st let’s look at what the hospital will provide:

  • all the mesh undies you could dream of
  • giant pads
  • peri-spray bottle
  • tucks and lidocaine spray
  • ice packs
  • lanolin
  • breast pump as needed
  • soap of a sort, also a toothbrush and toothpaste (I wouldn’t recommend)
  • itchy towels and flat pillows

For the baby:

  • diapers & wipes
  • pacifier, if you choose
  • Johnson & Johnson’s wash and lotion (I don’t recommend)
  • blankets
  • little tie shirt
  • hats

As a light packer, knowing what’s needed at the hospital is important. Unnecessary items just make it more difficult to get everything back out to the car!

First thing is LEAVE THE CARSEAT IN THE CAR. It is absolutely unnecessary until you’re actually in the process of leaving and yes, you absolutely can use a convertible seat for a newborn! If you are using a convertible seat, the staff just needs to check that you have a seat and will need to accompany you to the car. BE AWARE nurses and other hospital staff are NOT educated in proper car seat use, only a CPST (child passenger safety technician) is appropriately certified to help you make sure your mini is safely secured. HERE is an amazing resource for learning about proper car seat use, this Facebook group allows you to message a CPST or to post to the page for trouble-shooting. If you have an infant bucket seat, bring it up to the room on discharge day and strap the kiddo in right before it’s time to go.

Next, on top of what you packed for L&D, the things you may want at bedside:

  1. Snacks. It may (or may not) surprise you, but hospital food is not the pillar of nutrition, they may not have your favorite, or the thing you tend to crave… It’s also entirely possible the kitchen will be closed if you deliver in the wee hours. Think things you love that keep well and provide energy; maybe a treat! You can also have a loved one bring fresh fruit or your favorite meal from home after the delivery.
  2. Comfy, LOOSE jammies. These are absolutely essential to my life, home, hospital, shopping… for some this category may lean more toward the stretchy delight of yoga pants, either way you will thank yourself if you have some multi-purpose squishy pants. Also, bring multiple pairs. My rule is 1 per day plus 1. Minimum 2, maximum 5… the reason to allow extra here is blood. Leaking is inevitable. If you hate mesh undies make sure to grab some underpants you wouldn’t mind tossing!
  3. Stretchy, movable, tops. Again, 2-5. Unless you want to just wear the hospital gown your entire stay you’ll want something to breastfeed in. If you like the nursing tops, then those. Tank tops will work, or maternity Ts you can pull up. So far I’ve never been able to have fabric below my breast as my guys have been messy eaters and I never enjoyed little wet spots on my shirt!
  4. Shampoo, Conditioner, & Body Wash. You will want a lovely hot shower after delivery and the soap the hospital provides is likely to leave you a rat’s nest of hair and dry skin. After your body runs a marathon you’ll want the comfort and familiarity of whatever spa-like soapy love you use at home. Maybe even splurge on an expensive something you rarely buy, one that makes you feel like a princess. Also, make-up if you want for pictures (I never bother :))
  5. Robe and/or slippers. This is more a maybe, depending how much coverage your comfy pajamas provide and how many visitors you plan to have. A robe may be just the thing to toss on when the grandparents come by. As far as slippers, pick something easy to slide-on with a rubber sole for non-slip, flip-flops are another choice, or you might choose to stick with the non-slip socks provided by the hospital 🙂 No bare feet though…
  6. Flip-flops. These may be the only shoes you need. Easy to slip on and off, flip-flops will usually accommodate the fattest PP feet. They’re great for trips to the bathroom and the shower. I honestly can’t adore them any more.
  7. Swim Suit & Flip-Flops for your PARTNER. Especially if you have an epidural standing/walking/SHOWERING initially may be a little challenging. Even without and epidural I liked having my husband standing by for that first shower, just in case (some women get woozy, as an L&D nurse I saw many women practically pass out). With the nurses in and out it was less weird for him to put on a swimsuit and nicer than getting his clothes wet, plus sometimes it’s nice to have someone else shampoo your hair. They should also have their overnight supplies on hand!
  8. That DARN Boppy and maybe your own pillow too. Boppys, or other nursing pillows can really help with feeding position and comfort for both mom and baby those first hours to days. The same thing can be achieved with regular pillows, but it can be a challenge to scrounge up enough hospital pillows. Also, your bed pillow IN A BRIGHT COLOR CASE might be essential to getting a little shut-eye in the hospital. The beds aren’t a pillar of comfort.
  9. Bath Towel. This is something to consider because the hospital towels are always itchy and always little, there’s something to be said for a giant plush towel you want to LIVE in.
  10. Hair Ties. Like a million of them, because they disappear!
  11. Phone and Charger! Hopefully this, and your camera/charger is with the labor room fodder, but make sure they get to the hospital with you. Having your phone is nice whether you intend to live-tweet your birth, or just want to text a couple photos to people you like when the dust settles.
  12. Baby Wash. If you plan for the little to have a bath in the hospital I recommend using something kinder to the skin than J&J. Aveeno, Honest Company… I prefer virtually anything else. J&J tends to be drying. Of course, there isn’t much reason (besides meconium) to bathe them before they get home, so maybe just skip the bath entirely.
  13. Going Home Outfit. Not pre-pregnancy size! The vast majority of women leaving the hospital will still have a bump, so make sure to pack something comfortable. If you’re anything like me this outfit should range from slightly nicer pajamas to a flowy dress and should not involve anything jeans or jeans related.
  14. Going Home Outfit for Baby.  Really, this is the only outfit you need for the little as they can be perfectly content in hospital garb before departure. Personally, no matter the weather, I prefer a pair of footie pajamas. In spring/fall they’re perfect temp, you might add a hat and a light blanket, in winter it’s easy to tuck a warm blanket and hat, for summer they may just need some shade. In Reno on a hot summer day a short-sleeve outfit and plenty of shade 🙂 The biggest thing is to consider how easy the outfit will make putting them in their seat. Fluffy dresses and coats/snow suits are NEVER items for car seats.
  15. Blanket for Baby. A muslin swaddle or traditional receiving blanket to tuck around baby in the carseat may make all the difference. Babies don’t tend to be huge carseat fans. You may also use a blanket over the top of the seat to keep people from sticking their face in… Just watch out in the summer as these blankets can keep heat in, creating a dangerous situation for your newborn.

Honestly, these few things are all I’ve ever needed. Sometimes even a few of these will go unused. Any duplicated item from this list to the L&D list are things I’d be devastated to forget. I’m a bit of a packing minimalist, I hate having to make more than one trip. That said, there are definitely more extensive lists available by google search if this leaves you feeling underprepared 🙂

What have you essential immediately postpartum?


About Jamie Schnell

Jamie Schnell
Jamie Schnell is an RN and full-time mommy to three boys. Her husband, Adam, keeps track of all the stuff that she can never remember where she had it last, and she loves his geeky-wonderfulness. He is definitely the best daddy. Jamie has a BA in English to accompany her BS in Nursing, and recently completed her Master's in Nursing, Family Nurse Practitioner track. Jamie loves reading, writing, crafting anything and everything, green beans, having little parties to celebrate life, coffee, camping, cooking, spa days, Cheetoes, naps, and just being outside.

One comment

  1. Dagmar Solinova

    Hi! I like reading your posts and seeing it now I was just wondering how are you and your new baby doing? Hope everything went well. All the best to you!

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