Hindsight is 20/20
Last baby blog post, I swear. I’m not interested in turning my spaces into parent focused discussions, but there are some things important to work through emotionally, and then there are things that, practically should be mentioned as well. This one happens to focus on the latter. After this, we’ll go back to discussing books (both mine and the ones I read) I promise.
There are thousands, if not more, blog posts talking about “things I wish I knew to pack when going to have a baby”. And so many of them are spot on. “Lucie’s List” is a particularly wonderful source. But you know what? Even the best intentioned and most veteran of moms with a horde of children and grandchildren, forget to mention things. Probably because certain things seem obvious. But NOTHING is obvious for first time parents. Especially if those first-time parents who don’t have friends with kids, or have family members who haven’t had a kid in a decade/don’t live close by. The latter is the situation I found myself in.
Things change over the years when it comes to labor and having kids and what to do about things like colic. Those rose-tinted glasses come down over most veteran parents’ eyes and the advice you’re given is “enjoy this time, it’s over so fast.” To that I say: good. The newborn phase isn’t peachy for every parent so telling us to “enjoy it” is like telling someone to enjoy going to get a root canal without Novocain. It’s all good intentioned and could very well be true, but still. It just fosters a sense of guilt in new parents who maybe don’t like the 4th trimester. But I digress. This post was supposed to be about things I wish I had known to pack when going to the hospital, so let’s get back to it.
Super baggy pants.
Most blogs tell you to bring comfy pants for after delivery. I did that. Or I thought I did. But the baggy pants I brought had elastic that I thought was loose enough but still not as big as my pregnancy pants. But no. Even that elastic hurt my stomach afterwards and I had to have my husband go home and get me my PJ pants instead. So that’s what I mean, and probably those other blogs too, when they say to bring comfy clothes for afterwards. It’s not just that you’ll still look about 6-7 months pregnant right after delivery, but your whole core is so tender that any kind of pressure is felt ten-fold. Yes, everyone wants to look nice for photos or friends and family that will inevitable just show up, but fuck that. Wear the PJ pants. You just had a baby, you get to be the comfiest and if that means being in yoga pants that have holes and whose elastic has completely died, then do it. Your very tender belly will thank you.
Most places I found say to bring sandals for afterwards when you’re recovering in the hospital, but they fail to say just why exactly. Or maybe they didn’t and I just missed it, either is possible. However, I did not know my feet, ankles, and calves would swell up like a motherfucker after labor. And my swelling was BAD because of how many fluids they had me on, so your swelling may vary. My doctor told me to bring slip on shoes, but no one specifically said it was because of how intense the swelling would be. And yet every nurse who checked on me shrugged and said “it’s normal”. You know what helped and also got the swelling to go away super-fast that no one mentioned until I was being discharged? Compression socks. Chances are you probably got some anyway during the course of your pregnancy to help with circulation if you sit for a while or did any traveling by plane, so bust them out again and bring them with you. Trust me, my compression socks were a life saver in helping with the painful feet swelling.
Pack like you’re going to have a c-section even if you don’t/aren’t.
Most hospitals tell you to pack for a 2 day stay, because that’s what most require for vaginal birth. But pack like you’re going to be there for a c-section even if you aren’t planning on one. For starters, you never know if you’ll have an emergency, but, mostly, it’s nice to have options in case you’re like me and underestimated the level of discomfort you may have. Plus, if you pack like you’ll be in the hospital longer, and in bed longer for a c-section, you’re more likely to bring some form of entertainment to help fill the time, like a book or a Nintendo Switch. “A book? But you’ll have a newborn!” True! Unless you’re like me and have your newborn taking into the NICU… Plan and pack for shit to hit the fan, that’s all I’m saying…
Your birthing partners can leave, make sure they don’t, or don’t for long.
I was in the hospital for 58 hours before my child was born, and my husband stayed with me the whole time. He could have left, he did briefly occasionally to check on the pets or to get more underwear (for him). But he was never gone very long and I am so thankful for that. It’s stressful and scary to give birth, especially if it’s your first. People come in and out of your room all the time, and if you have a long labor like mine, you see different nurses for every shift. Having someone there who can help you articulate your needs when the pain is too much is vital. Yeah, they may be bored but so what? If they can stay, they should, you’ll feel better for it and ultimately, you should have anything and everything during that time that will bring even an ounce of relief. So, birthing partners: don’t be a dick, stay with your partner the whole time and do whatever it is they ask of you.
And that’s it. Well, not entirely but I don’t feel qualified to give more thoughts or advice than this. Other mom blogs and sources have far more resources, this is just what I found to be lacking in terms of what knowledge I wanted before heading to the hospital. I hope it helped some, or at least brought some level of insight if nothing else!
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