In my third trimester I was practically bed ridden (read story here) so I was able to do A LOT of research on pregnancy related topics. Yet, even after reading over 15 different hospital packing lists I still didn't know about these '11 secrets to have in your labor bag'.
I first found out about these 'secrets' when a few family members told me that I would want them with me in my hospital labor bag. I didn't even know a lot of them existed, but trusting them, I packed everything they suggested and I am very grateful I did. I used every one of the items I had and was sooo thankful to have been informed before hand. Since having a baby I have found out about a few more helpful items and have listed them below.
UPDATE- I had my second baby and packed the other items I found out about (from many wonderful readers as well). As a result, I was in far less pain, recovered faster, and felt much more prepared by having all of these items with me and for recovery at home for my second labor. So thanks and keep your suggestions coming!
Note: It is good to see if your hospital will provide some of the items below. Ask them how many they will provide and if you will be given enough to take them home with you. Some hospitals do provide some of the items on the list but they usually do not send you home with a sufficient supply to last you throughout your healing process. The majority of hospitals do NOT provide ALL of these items so I recommend bringing them with you and what you don't use at the hospital, you can use at home. That said, if your insurance is paying for them and (you don't have a high deductible), then use up and take the stuff the hospital gives you as well.
This post is for WOMEN'S EYES ONLY. Sorry guys but its time to try another article. I recently wrote on how to save thousands on car care each year. It can be found (here)...
The exception to the Women Only Rule is if you are reading this to help your significant other who is about to have a baby. In that case stick around, just beware you are going to read about some of the stark realities of labor.
I will start with the least embarrassing items and lead up to the more detailed towards the bottom of the list.
Note for mom's who have had a baby already, this list may be nothing new, or perhaps you may have some additional items I should ad. In that case, please let me know in the comment section below.
In the interest of your privacy, all items are available on Amazon, AND most of them are eligible for Amazon Prime, which means you can have them shipped in 2 days for free. Which was a lifesaver for me when I went into prelabor 4 weeks early I hurried and ordered them and they arrived in time to get packed. If you don’t have Prime, you can try it free for 30 days, which may be helpful if your due date is fast approaching!
Now for the items:
1- A robe that opens from the front, is thin enough to sleep in comfortably, and is short enough not to be in the way. I personally love this one. Once you have your baby you will be examined often. Having a front opening robe is very helpful so that you don't have to ungown each time they want to look at your abdomen, press on your uterus (ouch!), and all the other stuff that they do. Further, when/if you breast feed it is much easier to do with a front opening robe. I also wore folded over stretchy cotton yoga pants underneath when company came. I recommend the color black in case of leaks. Don't forget your nursing bra and pads as well.
2-Underwear. Personally, I was happy to use the hospitals disposable ones because I could throw them away. I even asked for a few extra to take home. If they don't allow you to take extra you can order them here. If you are picky I'd recommend bringing your own. UPDATE- I did use the hospital underwear once my water broke and for a bit of postpartum healing but I quickly switched to Depends (I talk about them below) and was much more 'leakproof' with them.
3- Lanolin or other options. In case you haven't seen this on other lists I'm putting it here now. Hospitals can get you lanolin but it has to go through the pharmacy. To avoid the pharmacy charge I just brought my own. This is for your nipples chapping, cracking, and bleeding (fun!) when breastfeeding. If you are allergic to wool don't use Lanolin. Here is a non-lanolin cream. You could also you can use vitamin E oil as suggested by a reader. Another reader highly suggested organic unrefined coconut oil as it is easier on the baby to consume.
4- Breast pump (my favorite found here). If you don't know how to use it, I highly recommend taking your own in with you. This is because the lactation consultants may want to help you use it for your first time. I REALLY wished I had taken mine in to make sure I was doing everything properly and so they could confirm that I had the right size horns for my breasts. Note- a lot of insurances provide a breast pump free of charge (with your maternity deductible).
5- Soft correctly shaped ice packs. These are wonderful for your nether regions after labor!These ice packs are a Godsend! You can sit up in/sit on them comfortably and they will help numb all the hurting areas. I don't know what each hospital does but mine just stuffed newborn diapers or plastic gloves with ice and they were really thick, lumpy, and painful to sit on or move around in. According to many people, many hospitals do just use newborn diapers stuffed with ice. Or they don't give you ice packs to take home for the healing process. UPDATE- I took these ice packs to the hospital and LOVED them!!! You pop and shake them to get them cold (you don't have to freeze them), they are absorbent, and super comfortable. I do recommend using the ice packs they give you at the hospital when you are going to be lying down and sleeping as the ice stays cold longer; but then wear these when you are sitting up, having visitors, driving home, breastfeeding, walking, etc. because they are SOO comfortable. They are absorbent too. I used them often in the week and a half following labor and ended up with one left, so I found this box had the perfect amount.
6- Nipple covers like these (I can't tell you how much these helped me breast feed!). Sometimes breastfeeding isn't the easiest thing for mother and baby. I had multiple lactation consultants and it wasn't until they suggested I use these that I was able to get my son to latch. They are great for flat, inverted, or sore nipples. They create a latching shape by wearing them in your bra or under a tight shirt (not while breastfeeding). When you take them off the baby can easily latch on to feed. They are also just great for airing out, drying, and not having your nipples sitting against a pad that can be wet or scratchy. I am using them right now as my daughter is breastfeeding and there is a huge difference when I am not wearing them vs. when I am. When I wear them regularly, they prevent me from getting sore. Another nipple shield that helps a lot of people but wasn't helpful for me are these ones. You wear them while the baby is nursing. For my four tips on a successful breastfeeding experience click here.
7- Numbing spray. Thanks to a reader I have now found a NEW SECRET item that was so awesome I had to add it to the list. It is a numbing spray for the nether regions called Dermoplast you can view it here. MAKE SURE ITS THE BLUE KIND. The red cap actually aggravates the area (thanks to those who commented below). Another brand is called Lanacane found here. You simply spray it on the area that is causing pain and it numbs it for you. Genius. Some hospitals provide this. Some don't. Update: I used Dermoplast with the blue lid and it was very very helpful. I think I used Dermoplast longer than most everything else because it killed the pain/itch when the stitches started healing, itching, and dissolving!
A reader suggested below: "The Dermoplast is crucial but I also recommend the Earth Mama Angel Baby Mama Bottom Balm. I believe it also comes in a spray. You don’t need to take it with you (use the Dermoplast) but it’s great for recovery at home. It feels fantastic and smells really good too."
8- Squirt bottle. Most hospitals give you a squirt bottle like this to clean with after using the restroom. This helps a lot as toilet paper would really hurt... They will give it to you to take home but you may want to order a few to have at home as well so you can use a fresh one. Or to save money simply sanitize it often. This is also a great buy (this pack includes 3) if you have more than one bathroom so you don't have to move the bottle from bathroom to bathroom.
9- Trust me on this one. Take bed liners for kids! (or ask the nurses for some at the hospital). You fold it in thirds (absorbent side facing outwards) put your pad on it and then put it in your underwear. (If you don't like the thick cheap hospital pads, take your own). With the bed liner pad, and the other standard pad together, you now have what I call the 'Super Duper, Extra Extra Long, Highly Absorbent, and As-Non-leak-able-as-possible Pad'. With how much bleeding there is after labor this is especially helpful. Using this pad will help you to avoid doing an inordinate amount of laundry the week after you get home from the hospital. Using this pad for the first two weeks I never leaked once which is pretty impressive - if you've been there before you know what I mean.
Update: I actually used the bed liners this time for a different purpose. Once I started contracting I used it on my bed during the nights I was in labor (in case my water broke) under a few towels for the ride to the hospital after my water broke to prevent soiling the upholstery, and for right after the hospital (in case of leaks) but I used the next item instead for a pad...
Thanks to many other readers I have updated this article with yet another secret item. They suggested to just wear Depends (Maximum Absorbency adult diapers) like these. I really didn't know if they would hold/absorb everything but apparently they do! Next time I'll try them out for sure. If you don't want to wear an adult diaper the super pad works great too.
For my second, I used Depends (even at the hospital instead of the huge pads) and I found them to be very comfortable and reassuring. I never leaked through. I will be using these next labor. I bought a large package and they lasted me about as long as I needed before switching over to a regular pad.
10A-Tucks wipes for hemorrhoids. Many women get hemorrhoids in the third trimester or in labor. They are extremely painful. Luckily, I had packed the Tucks in my bag and was able to use them in the hospital which helped a lot with the pain. I used them for weeks after labor as well. What was bewildering to me is that I had a few midwives and nurses recommend them to me but they don't supply them at the hospital. They kept telling how wonderful Tucks were for the pain and to get them on my way home. They were surprised when I told them I had brought some with. I was so grateful to have them there at the hospital because I was in a lot of pain. A reader said she got Tucks spray which I never knew existed, it is kind of hard to find in stores but you can find it here on Amazon. While I was looking at the spray I also found an ointment you can use as well. Some readers suggested putting Tucks on the ice packs so that the witch hazel in them can soothe the area.
Update: This hospital did provide me with witch hazel pads but only enough for my two day recovery there. I also placed Tucks on the ice packs and they were very relieving! I also used my own for about 2 or 3 weeks following labor. My OB said it is common for hemorrhoids to get worse with each labor and take a little longer to go away with each as well so keep that in mind if this isn't your first, you may need more Tucks than the last.
10B- Toilet healing Sitz Bath- Due to wonderful readers' comments I've found yet another very helpful secret. Sitz baths are especially helpful (according to my readers and tons of Amazon reviews) for hemorrhoids and tears. This particular one fits into any standard toilet. Apparently, you run warm water and the Epsom Salt through and sit/soak for 10-20 minutes and it helps a lot with the pain! I'll definitely be trying this (even at the hospital) next time around.
Update- I did use a sitz bath in the weeks following this last labor (I think about 3 times and it was helpful with the pain and made me feel really clean and sanitized).
11-Suppositories- If you have an epidural (which can lead to constipation), an episiotomy, a tear, a c-section (which can lead to constipation), or hemorrhoids having a bowel movement is most likely going to scare you. Hemorrhoids are very painful and if you use suppositories they will help immensely. I used them a few times the week after giving birth and they proved extremely helpful. You can find generic in a small bottle for a few dollars at a drug store.
11B- Birthing Ball (slip resistant and anti burst)- Most hospitals do carry this, but if not I found a birthing ball extremely helpful during my labor (my birth story with tips that I learned can be found here).
Update- The first hospital I went to had only 1 birthing ball and another lady in labor and I struggled with who would be using it. So the next hospital I went to I asked and they only had 1 too. So I bought my own. It proved very useful because my baby was positioned weird when I went into pre labor and I used the birthing ball a lot to get her into a better position. Further, When I arrived with my birthing ball at the second hospital, they were grateful I did because another girl was using the one they had. Just remember to take the pump in case you want it more firm.
Pack these secret items and you will be prepared for the worst case scenarios and be able to enjoy your sweet little baby even more.
Bonus Item: I am reluctant to share this just in case neighbors or friends read it but I guess I've already shared enough embarrassing things -another one won't hurt. I bought this Bellefit girdle. It helps with getting your stomach back to its normal pre-baby shape. The girdle also helps with back strain, with carrying the baby, nursing, and with posture. But mostly I bought it for vanity reasons. It will make you look about 10-20 pounds thinner. My family was commenting on how great I was getting around and looking just 5 days postpartum... little did they know it was due to the Bellefit. It is very very durable I can say this without reservation because it has held up well even after daily use for over a year! If you want to read my review of its pros and cons you can here.
Overall I gave it 4 stars on Amazon. Could they improve it a little? Yes. Do I wish they were cheaper? You bet! But I can honestly say I will always own a Bellefitas long as I'm giving and recovery from giving birth (or wanting to look thinner). They have proved themselves over the 13 months as the top and best postpartum girdle (or girdle for anyone who wants to look slimmer) to me hands down.
UPDATE- I am still using the same Bellefit as I did with my first son and its held up well. I don't think it will last a third recovery, but to survive through two is pretty good.
UPDATE- Another item I discovered recently is the Owlet Baby Monitor. It is a smart sock that monitors the baby's oxygen just like a hospital monitors oxygen through our skin. It alerts you if the baby's oxygen levels drop and has very plausibly saved two of my friend's baby's lives! It's simply amazing! You can read an honest and unbiased review on it here. Or here. You can buy an Owlet or learn more about them on their site here.
So there you have it. All my postpartum recovery secrets revealed. I hope they were helpful!
Here is the list of EVERYTHING I packed in my labor bag for my kid's dad and myself, as well as my son's overnight packing list when I had my daughter. I had everything I needed and wanted. Some people in the comments have said I way over packed. But I had everything on this list (besides the birthing ball) PLUS all of our overnight stuff, and the babies outfits and things in one suitcase. It really didn't look ridiculous for us to come in with one suitcase and a birthing ball at all. We also had the car seat we brought in later.
Are you more of a minimalist? If yes, this post is for you.
Having a C Section? Don't miss this list!
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