You read that right. You don’t need a hospital bag. Ok maybe you need a small one, but trust me, you would survive without one and you will guaranteed leave the hospital with a bag full of things you didn’t even touch.
Here are just a few of the things in the THREE bags I packed that proved to be completely useless:
Olive oil. Typing that made me laugh so hard. I was so excited about that organic bottle of pressed olives. I truly believed a nice nurse was gonna massage my perineum like a boss and my vagina would come out the other end of birth unscathed. Bahahaha. My vagina is ruined and something I cook ground beef with was never protecting my lady bits from a giant head.
Underwear. Dude, did you read those words about my vagina? Leave your Victoria Secret’s at home and instead steal all the mesh underwear. In fact, maybe pack an empty bag just to stuff mesh underwear in.
Cute matching pajamas. I spent lots of energy finding the perfect polka dot adorable button up pajamas and guess what? Those effers wouldn’t button over my porn star lactating nipples and/or my now empty yet enormous uterus. I also bled all over my polka dot pants and mostly wore a newborn on my bare breasts.
A going home outfit. Unless you’re Gisele Bundchen then the only outfit you need to pack to go home in is the maternity leggings you wore to the hospital.
Swaddle blankets. Or baby hats. Or diapers. Or anything baby related. The hospital provides all these things, including an amazing nurse who puts your swaddling skills to shame. In fact, when you leave the hospital you may or may not cry in her arms when you realize she doesn’t go home with you. Then exactly 24 hours later you will curse Aden & Anais as you drive to Buy Buy Baby for all the velcro swaddles.
Books. Or movies. Or laptops. Or any type of entertainment. You are in labor, not on a transatlantic flight. And even after the baby is born, there is no downtime. People come in your room every 90 seconds to smash your fundus and ask if you’ve pooped yet when all you really want to do is eat a cheeseburger while simultaneously sleeping.
The truth is all you really need is probably hanging out in the bottom of your purse, think chapstick and a pony tail holder. Ok maybe you need to throw in a pair of slippers and your cell phone charger, but for real, you don’t need to stress about this. I did and it was dumb and this really needs to stop being a thing. The bigger stressor that no one seems to worry about is wtf you are gonna do when you get home. I pinned all the collages of peoples hospital bags, but I didn’t once consider how lonely and incompetent I would feel postpartum.
With all that said, here are a few things I think the time we spend researching hospital bags would be better suited for:
Read Mothering the New Mother. This book fills an enormous gap in women’s health. My favorite lesson from this book was the concept of a 40-day rest period. I know you probably haven’t heard of it because America thinks women should pop a baby out and then resume normal activities all but immediately. We are one of only three countries in the ENTIRE WORLD without paid leave, but we drastically need to place more value on postpartum support services and this book does a fabulous job discussing the overwhelming need for us to care more about mothers.
Prep some frozen meals. There are just as many recipes/ideas for this on Pinterest as there are hospital bag collages. And it doesn’t even have to be this. Find a friend to create a Meal Train. Make a list of all the restaurants that deliver. Buy stock in frozen pizza. It really doesn’t matter, the point is put some thought into easy, fool proof ways to feed yourself during a time in your life when showers have become a luxury.
Make cootie pops. Real life y’all. We don’t talk enough about the pounding a vagina endures and it is my personal mission to make all the vajayjays a priority. These frozen padsicles were a dream come true and helped me and my lady bits tremendously.
Make a list of postpartum resources. Lactation consultants, postpartum doulas, therapists, support groups, etc. It is much easier to reach out for help when you know who to reach out to. Eliminate one of the hardest steps and find out what is available before baby arrives.
Adjust your expectations. Having a baby is exciting. It is beautiful and wonderful and a complete and utter miracle. It is also one of the most transformative experiences in our entire lives. It changes us to our core. It shakes us and scares us and makes us question anything and everything we thought we knew. Talk to your family or friends with kids. Don’t ask them about what stroller to get, but instead ask them to get weird with you for one whole second. Dig up a little bit of the mess of life and ask them what was most helpful for them in their postpartum healing. A healthy baby is not the most important thing. A well adjusted mama is equally if not more important and we need to start talking about that experience more.
Postpartum plans are the new black. Forget about that silly hospital bag and start legitimately thinking about how you will survive at home, alone, with a tiny human. Unfortunately our culture doesn’t fully support this mentality so I know, this might sound like a foreign language, but creating a system of support for new mothers (and fathers) dramatically affects positive outcomes for mama and baby. Overpacking for your hospital stay does not.