When it comes to figuring out exactly what to pack in your hospital bag, the Internet is chock-full of ideas for you. But while reading some of these lists — and after having two babies of my own — I am inclined to believe that many of these people have never actually given birth or are chronic over-packers.
I get it — I am sort of a chronic over-packer myself, who lives and dies by the motto that it’s better to be over-prepared than under-prepared. But unless you want to look like a tourist embarking on a tropical vacation when you arrive at the hospital or birth center with your entourage of luggage, you should probably reconsider some of those items in your bag.
These are just a few things that (in my humble opinion) are pretty unnecessary to pack in your hospital bag.
1. Your laptop
I understand why people think bringing a laptop is a good idea, but seriously, do not bother. If you have a smart phone, that is more than enough. You will NOT want to be keeping up with work emails while your vagina is being stretched to the size of a cantaloupe.
“But, I want to bring it to keep me entertained and distracted,” you might say. And to that my response is that if you’re feeling calm enough to watch an episode of Parks & Rec, then you probably don’t need to actually be at the hospital yet. After the baby comes you’ll be exhausted, and if you happen to have any down time you’ll want to spend it sleeping, not watching a show. I promise there will be plenty of time for that when you’re glued to the couch as a milk maid for your new baby. Just sayin’.
2. Postpartum underwear
Sure, you’ll want some ugly dark-colored granny panties for once you get home, but there’s no need to actually pack them. Your hospital/birth center will provide you with the most gloriously heinous, mesh underwear that you’ve ever seen and you will love them like you didn’t know it was possible to love hospital-grade mesh.
3. Your baby book
I understand why people want to bring along their baby books to the hospital, but ain’t nobody got time to fill that out! You can jot everything down in the baby book once you get settled in at home.
Dude. No matter how good that book you’re reading is, I can pretty much GUARANTEE you will not want to be reading it whilst puffing through contractions.
5. A carefully chosen birth playlist
I would suggest just finding a decent Pandora station in lieu of agonizing over a playlist. I wasted so much time choosing a perfectly thought-out playlist for my first birth and never listened to a single second of it.
A lot of women want complete silence during labor, and even the thought of listening to something super mellow during contractions will make them want to punch someone … though maybe I’m just projecting.
6. A million baby outfits
I realize you’ve been counting down the days until you can dress your little one in that adorable layette you received at your baby shower, but odds are he or she will be spending most of their time during your stay wearing just a diaper and a swaddle blanket.
And a word to the wise: my baby got blood from her umbilical cord stump on her fancy going-home outfit, so just a reminder to not bring anything you will be too heartbroken about getting weird bodily fluids on.
7. Baby toys
I hate to break this to you, but newborns pretty much just eat, sleep, cry, poop, repeat. They can barely see their own hand at this stage, so you definitely don’t need to bring along your Sophie la Giraffe or your copy of Goodnight Moon. I promise they will be perfectly entertained by your very exciting facial features.
Your hospital or birthing center should have you covered on this one. Save some of yours for once you get home and have to change 10 diapers a day. That’s when the real fun and expense starts. Also, if you’re cloth diapering, just wait ’til you get home to start (hopefully after a few weeks so you can get adjusted). Those first baby poops at the hospital will be sticky, black, and tar-like — and will likely destroy your diaper inserts. Cut yourself some slack and embrace the disposables for a little while.
9. Anything white
When it comes to considering color, my personal rules for hospital packing include: 1.) Nothing white for you. 2.) Nothing white for the baby. 3.) Nothing white period.
Actually, if you can just bring all black things, that might be best. There are about to be more bodily fluids than you’ve ever seen before, and black will probably be the most forgiving option when you have to launder it all.
10. A breast pump
Your milk most likely won’t even come in during the short span of time when you’re staying at the hospital, so a breast pump is totally unnecessary. As wonderful as they are, I promise that pumping won’t be the most fun you’ve ever had in your entire life, so don’t worry about getting it down just yet. Give yourself some time to focus on nursing your new little one and getting the hang of things. Save the pumping for later, once you’ve had time to bond with baby.
11. Your pre-pregnancy clothes
This seems like a no-brainer, but in case you have delusions of grandeur, I’m here to bring you back down to earth. Even if you “bounce back” quickly after pregnancy, there’s no way you’re going to bounce back quickly enough to wear your pre-pregnancy clothes home from the hospital. Your uterus will still be working on shrinking back to a normal size, and you’ll be wearing gigantic pads or Depends. I guarantee that you will not feel like trying to shimmy back into those pre-pregnancy clothes. The ideal options are: 1.) A black muumuu, or 2.) Black yoga pants and a baggy T-shirt or sweater. Take your pick.
12. Your full beauty arsenal
You are going to be tired and sore and unless you are a Kardashian and expecting US Weekly to be breaking down your hospital door, there’s no need to pack your contouring kit and favorite lipstick. Stick with the basics to make you feel polished, but not overdone.