Hospital and Delivery Preparations
I always use a checklist to pack and prepare for the Hospital stay. I put the checklist into an Excel spreadsheet to share with anyone who wants it. Click here to download the checklist(s) I use for all my deliveries. Other tabs in the spreadsheet contain a call list (which I print and bring to the hospital) and a baby announcement list. Below I provide explanation about each worksheet. Following this I’ll talk a little about epidurals, birthing classes, and more.
Hospital Checklist – after five births this is the list I’ve condensed down to. Just a few explanations of some items on the list…
- Socks - I’ve heard it’s pretty common for women delivering for their feet to get cold. And it was/is true for me – maybe it’s the adrenaline. For that reason I pack a pair of socks. But once that epidural kicks in – everything gets all warm and nice again.
- Snacks - The snacks are really great to have to avoid too much hospital food. I pack plenty and my husband and I eat them the entire time. Labor makes me hungry and parched. I drink a ton of water too while I’m at the hospital and so if you’re picky, pack your own. Water in the hospital is fine but its not filtered. Pack enough for about two days. Even if you don’t stay for two days, your husband is bound to eat all you packed with little prodding.
- Something To Do – Packing “something to do” may or may not come in handy. For my first delivery I slept the whole time and didn’t really need the book I brought. My second was the same because I delivered in the middle of the night. With the third, however, I had plenty of time and I used it just listening to my Ipod and watching movies. (Most hospitals have a DVD player in each room. You might want to bring some of your favorites.)
- Breast Pads -As far as breast pads go I wear them even in the hospital because they protect my chafed nipples. LilyPadz are perfect for this kind of thing (particularly during shower time, even water drops can feel like daggers on torn up nipples, the LilyPadz can get wet and will protect your breasts from all sorts of pain.) And just incase the Lily Padz aren’t to your liking, I would pack some Lansinoh breast pads as well. These are by far the most comfortable and absorbent breast pad there is for collecting milk. Note: Once your milk does come in (about three days after delivery) I would recommend using the Lansinoh pads until your body is adjusted to a very regular feeding schedule (at least a few weeks). Actually, I am just now considering switching to the Lily Padz permanently. Oh and a PS… LilyPadz are good for your more “intimate marital moments” when breast leakage is really undesirable; LilyPadz they stay on all by themselves!
- Diapers, Wipes, and Butt Cream – Don’t worry about packing diapers or wipes; the hospital will have plenty for you while you are there.
- Consider just having a package of newborn diapers for when you get home. You never know how long a baby is going to last in a certain stage so it’s a good idea not to stock up too much in the beginning. Once the baby gets out of that rapid growth stage and you get a feel for his/her growth rate (somewhere in between 0-3 months) you can start stocking up a little more. In general, a good rule of thumb to follow is when the baby starts to blow out his/her diaper frequently switch to the next size diaper.
- As far as what diaper brand to buy, you’re pretty good to go if you stick with the reliable brands (Pampers or Huggies). Use some caution with the generic – some just don’t hold everything in like they should. But take a chance if you tend to trust a store’s generic brand. I personally buy all my diapers from Costco in bulk (FYI: Costco doesn’t sell a diaper in size 1 so wait until the baby is at least 12 lbs. when buying there.) I like the Costco brand just as much as Pampers and Huggies and you get a little more for your money with them. But I find that I am pretty good with any diaper as long as it has the elastic waist pull-tabs. Without them I get a little crabby. (Can you believe my pickiness?)
- The same advice goes for purchasing diaper wipes. Reliable brands are pretty dependable, generic – use some caution. I’m pretty faithful to my Huggies Pop-Up Wipes (as opposed to the “Reach-In.” Pop-Ups have a top that allows you to pull out one wipe at a time and if you forget to shut the lid – like I always do – the wipes don’t dry out. The Reach In kind are just folded wipes with a wide open lid.) I stock up on these whenever they come to Costco (not as often as I’d like). My sister really likes the Target generic brand. We both aren’t too keen on the Costco generic wipes but, again, nothing is ever fatal. Try different kinds to see what works for you – you’ll go through thousands of them in your lifetime, what’s a few hundred crappy ones?
- Butt cream isn’t really necessary for newborns but it will be at some point or other. I actually haven’t used it often (just really when the girls have been real sick) but my sister has (a lot a lot) and her expert advice says, “regular Desitin – not the creamy or ointment, just ‘the original Desitin’.”
- Recovery Times – I added the “recovery times” part to this worksheet just this last pregnancy. I think I will remember every time how long it took the last time to recover and every time I find myself asking my husband, “how long will it be until ______ feels better?” Even though it probably varies for everyone – I thought I’d leave it just so you could have some idea. When everything is all coming at once it can be overwhelming at times – it’s good to have a light at the end of the tunnel!
Call List – this is really for my husband. I’m so tired and overwhelmed (in a good way) immediately after the baby is born and he is usually so pumped that he does all the calling. The questions listed below are really to give a general idea of what questions people usually want answered when called: (so have your husband find out the answers before he begins – wink, wink.)
- What’s baby’s full name?
- Is he/she healthy?
- How much does he/she weigh?
- How long is he/she?
- Does he/she have hair?
- Who does he/she look like?
- How is (mom’s name) doing?
- How long was she in labor?
- What was the time of the delivery?
- Was the labor hard, average, or easy?
- How can they get a hold of (the mother) ?
- i. Is she still in the hospital?
- ii. What number can she be reached at? phone #? Hospital room #?
- When will (mother) be home from the hospital?
- How do you (new father’s name) feel about the whole thing? (excited? exhausted?)
Baby Announcement – I don’t know if you do Holiday letters or if you remember compiling a list for your wedding invitations but if you plan on doing baby announcements I suggest getting all the addresses together beforehand when you have the time and desire to do it. A good idea is to also plan out the actual announcement so that when the baby arrives all you have to do is add the information and a picture and it’s done. It’s not vital but it would help. (Confession: It’s been my goal with every pregnancy to have all that I can have done with the announcements before the baby is born but every time I find myself having the baby before I’ve even thought about what I was going to do…it’s not the end of the world.)
OK, that’s that for the checklists and spreadsheet.
Some additional thoughts:
Epidurals – if you decide you want an epidural – more power to you. I’ve had one for all five of my kids and they make delivery a breeze (relatively speaking.) My first delivery I got pretty deep into the contractions before they gave me the epidural.
Side note: I really understand when women start cussing at their husbands during contractions, oh man, have I fought off the urges. (How about this last delivery where my husband was filling out paperwork and during a hard contraction was trying to get me to tell him how tall I was. In my mind I was screaming, “Shut up! Shut Up! SHUT UP!”)
Anyway, back to my first delivery… I was so focused on the pain that I was in total survival mode. It wasn’t until the epidural kicked in that I actually calmed down, there was a real peaceful feeling in the room, and I was able to focus again on the baby and working through the process of delivering.
Purely by accident, my sister delivered au natural. In the end she said, “I don’t know. I felt really tough delivering the baby without an epidural.” I responded, “That’s funny. I spent 11 hours delivering a baby with an epidural, and I felt pretty tough myself.” In the end you get your baby no matter what, I liked the fact that I could focus on the daughter’s arrival rather than sheer pain in those last moments. But everyone is different, do what feels right for you.
Birthing Classes – I didn’t need them. I just told my nurse practitioner in the delivery room that I hadn’t had any training on labor and she’ll gave me all the pointers I needed (she does it numerous times a day). My first labor and delivery nurse was my best friend after I delivered I swear I think in my groggy state I told her I loved her. I really did too. She was the nicest girl and after going through labor with her we were bonded for life.
The First Feeding – When my first daughter was born she – like most babies – began rooting (wanting to suck) almost immediately. I was a little freaked out by the whole experience in the first place so I held her off. I later found out from the lactation consultant that that was a bit of a mistake. She told me that the first feeding is the most important because it teaches the baby immediately how to feed. Although nothing’s irreversible, my daughter did have a little difficulty latching correctly in the beginning and I think it had everything to do with my hesitancy to breastfeed right away. Because of this (if you are planning on breastfeeding) my advice is to mentally prepare yourself now that when the baby starts to mouth right after he/she is born you are going to feed. It will save you some stress later on.
It’s Not Like Surviving a Tsunami – How many times since you’ve got pregnant have people told you, “your life will never be the same” or “this baby is going to absolutely change your life”? I’m sure too many to count. Comments like these, however true, can cause us to believe that we are preparing for a tsunami to destroy our world and everything in it. We start to believe that all we will have in the aftermath is the preparations we made before the storm broke. Not true. You still will have your home, in your hometown, in the US where there is a convenience store or furniture shop just around the corner. If you don’t have time to prepare for something before the baby comes? Don’t fret! Grab some diapers on the way home from the hospital. Ask your husband to run to Target for a port-a-crib. Order take out between feedings. Remember everything is just 5 minutes away. You might be surprised how little monetary things this baby actually needs when he/she comes. Your arms will be the best cradle. Your voice will be the best soother. Your love will be the best warm blanket. Just be sure to have a carseat and yourself (and your husband!) and you will have everything you need to come home from the hospital.