Hospital Checklist Part 2: The Postpartum Stay

The postpartum hospital stay can be a tricky thing to plan for as its hard to predict how many days you might need or want to stay after your baby is born. Typically, you’ll stay in the hospital for 24 to 48 hours after a vaginal birth and 3-4 days after a c-section. You might find it helpful to pack a light bag of items you know you’ll need or want and keep a bag with items for a longer stay at your home for someone to retrieve for you if you find you need it. You can even leave extra bags or bulkier items in your car until after the baby is born. Below are some of the more common items you’ll want for a typical stay.

For Mom

Pajamas: You’ll be staying the night, and want to be as comfortable as possible. You’ll want to make sure to bring breastfeeding friendly pajamas if you’re going that route. Depending on the length of your stay, you may want multiple outfits.

Nursing bras: If you’re planning on breastfeeding, you’ll likely want to start using your nursing bras now. Baby might want to be at the breast a lot during your stay, and the easier access you and your baby have to the breast, the better. Some people find nursing tank tops or nursing sports bras especially comfortable in the early postpartum period.

Breastfeeding pillow: While he hospital has a lot of pillows, and likely has a breastfeeding pillow you can use, some people find it helpful to start using their own breastfeeding pillow from the beginning. Stacking regular pillows can be cumbersome and each breastfeeding specific pillow is slightly different. When you bring your own, you can use your labor and delivery nurses, lactation consultant, and doula to help you use your pillow most effectively to get breastfeeding off to the best start.

Going home outfit: Remember that your body will still likely look about six months pregnant, so you don’t want to pack away your pregnancy clothing just yet. Something loose and comfortable is likely best.

Toiletries: Bring the regular things you would want to use for an overnight stay. Shower supplies, toothbrush and toothpaste, and deodorant can help you feel more yourself after the heavy work of labor. Many people find being able to use their favorite body wash or face scrub especially relaxing and helpful.

Things to consider: Some people find they sleep better if they bring their own pillow from home (make sure to put a colored pillowcase on it so it isn’t confused with the hospital pillows). Many people find bringing makeup and doing their usual pampering routine soothing and invigorating after labor. Some also want to look fresh for any pictures that might be taken in the hospital. Other people find they just want to rest as much as they can after birth and don’t even touch their makeup supplies. This is definitely a personal choice and take your usual connection to makeup into consideration when choosing whether to pack these items or leave them at home.

Things you won’t need: Hospitals tend to be able to supply any other breastfeeding supplies you might need. You can usually get samples of nipple cream, breast pads, and you can ask for a nipple shield if you find you need or want to use one. In the event that your baby can’t breastfeed right away, most hospitals have a hospital grade pump and pump supplies you can use or a tin of formula and bottles to get you started. Hospitals will also supply you with the giant sanitary pads you need postpartum. They also have the mesh panties that people tend to either love or loathe. Make sure to take any extra supplies home with you when you leave.

Mother hugging a vernix covered newborn with a lot of hair, making connection with him, just after he was born in the delivery room, being peaceful and serene, still attached with umbilical cord. New life, birth experience concept.

Things for baby

Going home outfit: Many people pick a cute or special outfit to dress their newborn in for their first trip outside and home. Some people pick cute pajamas while others prefer a daytime outfit. Either way, just be ready to snap some pictures of baby’s first day out.

Car seat: most hospitals won’t release you from the hospital without a carseat. If you have a newborn carseat, you can bring and load your baby into the seat inside your hospital room and should keep the base installed in your car. If you decided to skip the newborn seat and go straight to a convertible seat, just let your discharge nurse know, and she’ll likely head with you to your car to make sure everything is in order. No need uninstall the carseat to bring it inside the hospital.

Things to consider: a special blanket, hat, or other baby item. These can be especially memorable to have in the newborn pictures you might take while in the hospital.

Things you probably won’t need: Diapers or other baby supplies. You’ll get a package of newborn diapers and wipes to start out with and bring home. If you choose to formula feed, hospitals will provide a tin and bottles for you unless you have a particular brand you prefer. Hospitals will also have swaddling blankets, hats, burp clothes, and other supplies you might find yourself wanting.

Proud older brother holds his baby sister

Other items

If you purchased or made gifts for your partner, older child, or the hospital staff, you’ll want to pack these as well.

Find Part 1 of the hospital checklist (labor and delivery). Ready to schedule a free consult with a birth doula? Contact me here.

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