First of all, congratulations! Babies are such a joy, and the early weeks can be such a beautiful time. However, it can also be incredibly stressful! Over the course of my 3 children’s lives, I’ve learned a few tricks to ease the stress. I hope they can do the same for you!
If you’re in the later weeks of your pregnancy, you’ve probably already packed a hospital bag. Here are a few of my favorite (unique) things to pack:
- A cute hospital gown. I know this sounds a little unnecessary, but I find it very empowering to have at least this one thing that I can control through my labor experience. Labor can move quickly and unexpectedly, taking turns you may not have anticipated, and it’s always nice to feel like you’re still an individual with your own style and personality. I highly recommend this one, which you can purchase through Amazon.
- A brand new pair of slippers. No amount of bleach would make me feel comfortable touching a hospital floor after the things I have seen, and I love the feel of a soft new slipper. For an added “spa” feel, pack some fuzzy socks, too!
- My own pillow. I am telling you, there is nothing worse than trying to sleep on those plastic hospital pillows! And don’t forget a pillow protector (you can find them at any store that sells pillows) to keep the germs at bay.
- A diffuser. If you use essential oils, I highly recommend bringing some relaxing blends with you. Hospitals frown upon open flames, so diffusing is one of your only options for controlling the scents in your room. Try diffusing lavender for sleep support, or brisk citrus scents during the day! Your nose (and the staff) will thank you!
- Depends. Yes, those Depends. I saved this one for last so that if you laughed me out of the room, you’d at least have a few tips to take with you! I know this may sound a little ridiculous, but HEAR ME OUT. If you’ve dealt with postpartum recovery before, you are familiar with the “mesh-underwear and puppy-pad” system. If you haven’t, then suffice it to say: it is not a good system. There is nothing quite as uncomfortable as mesh boy-short underwear with a massively oversized pad stuffed into them when you’re not even able to use toilet paper yet. (Squirt bottle, anyone?) I am telling you – if you gain nothing else from this article, let it be this: Depends will change your postpartum life! Figuring this out is honestly one of my most proud accomplishments to this day. Just promise me you will try it. At least once. You can be the judge. Besides, it’s fun to tell your husband he’s the only one in the house who isn’t in diapers!
Once your hospital stay is over, you will face sleep deprivation, hundreds of diapers, and more laundry than you’ve ever had. It can easily lead you to become overwhelmed, but that doesn’t have to happen! Here are some things that have been game-changers after the hospital:
- The Owlet smart sock. Okay, I know this one is spendy. But trust me, it’s worth it! I put this one off until my last baby due to my concerns about the cost, but by the end of the first night I knew mistake that had been. This baby monitor is absolutely life-changing! It uses the same technology that the hospital uses to monitor pulse and oxygen levels, and alerts you if either reading slips into dangerous territory. It even syncs to your phone and allows you to check your baby’s vitals at any time. If you, like me, have spent countless hours checking on (or just lying awake worrying about) your baby, this monitor is perfect for you. You can order yours here.
- The Halo SleepSack. Most newborns love to be swaddled, but it can be challenging to get it right every time. This easily swaddles baby with an easy-to-use velcro flap system. This has made our nights a thousand times easier, and I only wish I had known about it sooner! Snag this Micro-Fleece version for the cold winter months, or the classic cotton version.
- A Lactation Consultant. You may not breastfeed and that’s okay, but if you do, don’t be afraid to call a Lactation Consultant. My biggest breastfeeding mistake with my first baby was assuming that because it was a “natural” action, breastfeeding would simply come…well…naturally. It did NOT, and I failed to take action when I needed help. I finally ended up in a Walmart at midnight, frantically buying formula and bottles for a very angry and hungry baby. Do as much research as you can before beginning your breastfeeding journey, but if that isn’t enough, don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Good luck, mama! Every baby is different, but these things have all made my life easier postpartum, and I hope they can do the same for you.