What's In My Bag?

While I don't profess to be an expert in the area, I must admit that I've packed enough "going to have a baby" bags for me to have a few tips and pointers. My bags over the years have not all been the same. With each baby, you learn new things and better ways of doing them. There are a few obvious items that will appear on every hospital bag checklist, and a few items that may make you scratch your head. Nevertheless, these are the 15 things that I suggest to pack in your hospital maternity bag.

1. Button-down gowns - There will be a lot of checking after giving birth, so front open gowns are perfect for the task. Also, if you plan on breastfeeding, front open gowns are the perfect way to access your milk makers without inconvenience. I purchased mine from Target this time and they are so soft and comfortable that I'm looking forward to wearing them well beyond my hospital stay.

2. Depends - This item may seem weird but trust me, once you've used these for afterbirth, you'll never go back! The hospital typically provides mesh underwear that I thought were great until I tried these instead. Depends provide so much more protection and leaves you feeling secure while also being disposable.

3. Lavender Essential Oil - I use Lavender oil during labor, but you can of course use whatever oil or blend calms you. I typically place just a drop on my temples and the remaining pressure points of my body. This paired with meditation music allows me to escape into a zone and prepare for the huge task of bringing forth life.

4. No-Skid Socks - Hospitals are cold and my little piggies always freeze to death when in them, so I always pack several pair of fuzzy socks. I purchase the kind that have rubber tracks on the bottom to prevent falling and this eliminates my need for house slippers.

5. Nursing Bras - I realize that this item may be specific and only for mommas who have committed to breastfeeding. So if you are a breastfeeding momma, you certainly don't want to forget these. With my first child, I packed sports bras and boy was it a hassle having to lift it up every time my little needed to feed. I learned quickly that a good nursing bra is not only essential in the hospital, but long after as well. My personal favorite is the Auden T-shirt Nursing Bra found at Target. They are soft and offer all the support needed for your changing boobs.

6. Haakaa Breast Pump - I did not discover this holy grail until last year when I had Carmyn, and boy was I missing out! This pump is meant to be placed on the breast that the baby is not feeding on to catch any drip. The suction performs like a traditional pump and the extraction is nothing short of amazing. I purchased the pictured haakaa on Amazon for roughly $15 and have not had one complaint.

7. Birth Plan - How important are birth plans? Well, it depends on the type of birthing experience that you want to have. I, personally, am a naturalist. I don't take pain medication, I prefer minimal intervention, and I prefer to give birth in whatever position my body tells me to do so in. I prefer a certain ambiance in the delivery room and if I don't articulate my expectations, they won't be met. I of course am realistic in knowing that emergency situations may arise and plans may be altered, but if at all possible these are my wishes. My husband is very familiar with the birthing plan, as he is often my mouthpiece during labor. Having your wishes in a document just helps and clarifies the process. I like to create visual birthing plans. Examples can be found on websites such as visualbirthplanner.com.

8. Toiletries - This is the obvious stuff: body wash, lotion, deodorant, toothpaste, toothbrush, brush, comb, etc. I typically keep a toiletry bag packed at all times in case I have to pack in a rush, so this was the item that I really didn't have to think much about. I also really like to stock this bag with travel size products instead of full size items. For the most part, you'll be in the hospital two days tops, and huge bottles of every product you use is just unnecessary.

9. Makeup - This section can be as elaborate or as simple as your lifestyle dictates. I've seen women who are fully beat before, after, and even during labor. That is NOT me. Not that I'm judging, I just don't typically wear a full face on a daily basis, so it would be unnatural for me to switch it up during a time such as labor. What I do include in my makeup bag are a few essentials that I'm most likely to use. I ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS pack chapstick and lipgloss. Hospitals are cold and dry and baby, your lips will feel the wrath if you are not prepared. I also include a good brow pencil, concealer, foundation, and makeup sponges. Last year with Carmyn, I didn't even use the foundation. I filled my brows and cleaned them with concealer around the edges, and that was my hospital look.

10. Ponytail Holders - I learned this item the hard way when I forgot them while having Lauryn. I looked like a chia pet after delivery! Now, I walk with an abundance of hair ties in my hospital bag. I will never get caught slipping again!

11. Going Home Outfit - This is also another obvious add, after all, you can't go home naked right! For this item, I typically like to pack a dress for several reasons. Most of our bodies will not instantly snap back into pre-pregnancy shape in the two short days that is spent in the hospital. Dresses are forgiving. Also, see list item number two. Your will be wearing a diaper home ma'am! There is nothing worse than being subconscious about a diaper print showing as you leave the hospital. Perhaps the greatest reason of all to consider wearing a dress, is it's the most comfortable. No tight feeling. No pants legs. No creases in the fold of your tender belly. It's a win win!

12. Amazon Firestick - This is a wild item, I know, but hear me out. You will be in the hospital for two, maybe even three days. You will not sleep, because you will be checked every hour on the hour, for hours on end. You need binge-worthy TV and the hospital cable network will not give it you. For this baby, my husband and I have decided to save The Chi for our binge session in the hospital. I'm already looking forward to it!

13. Snacks & Mints - You will get hungry at the most inconvenient time. You better have snacks on deck!!! I also include mints for during labor, as you may be limited with your eating choices. Some of my go to snack are granola bars, trail mix, and dried fruit. I also always pack a couple of cans of pineapple juice. Pineapple juice is a natural anti-inflammatory and this is especially important for breastfeeding mommas who may experience the milk drop while in the hospital. The awful feeling of engorgement can absolutely be controlled and managed with natural products, and I've found that drinking pineapple juice is one of the best solutions to the common problem.

14. Chargers & Earplugs - You do not want to forget these things. In fact, if you do, you will just have to send your person back home to get them, so fair warning.

15. Wallet & Phone - These items will be thrown in last minute but they are important none-the-less. You want to make sure that you have all the importants such as license and insurance cards.