I need some assistance packing my hospital bag! My c-section is scheduled for the morning of December 22 (28 days!). Is there a difference in a c-section hospital bag from a regular hospital bag? Do you have a maxipad recommendation? Pajama/nightgown/slipper situation? Recommendations for in-room entertainment for 3 days at the hospital? Since we'll be checking out to go home on Christmas, should I bring my husband's Christmas present to the hospital or wait till we get home? We don't currently have any other children, so my husband will be with me at the hospital for the most part; will he need a separate bag or will he go home to shower/brush teeth/change clothes? I'm just at a loss here and kind of frazzled. :) Any help you can provide would be MUCH appreciated.
You have probably noticed while shopping for baby things that some people will say "OMG GET A SWING YOU MUST HAVE A SWING!!!!" and other people will say, "All I can say is definitely don't waste money on a swing---totally useless!" It is the same with hospital bags: one woman will say that for the love of all that is holy, bring your own pajamas---and the next woman will say DEFINITELY use the hospital pajamas.
I can tell you what I brought, but I think it would be more useful to do it in General Principles rather than in Specific Checklist:
1. Hospitals and couples vary, but at the hospital where I delivered, the spouse wasn't allowed to use the hospital's shower and was discouraged ("discouraged" = the intake nurse saying to Paul "If we can see the patient in the room, we know it's safe to barge into the bathroom without knocking. Just so you know") from using the room's bathroom (it was strongly suggested that everyone except the patient keep their germs out of there, and there was even a separate sink for non-patient hand-washing). So if it's the same at your hospital (you can ask on the tour, if you're taking the tour and haven't taken it already), this means your husband will be going home once a day. This FURTHER means that if there is anything you suddenly realize you need, he can get it for you. I remember feeling as if I were packing for a deep-woods isolation trip, but if you forget something, there are ways to get it. (Most ways = spouse fetching.)
2. I liked using the hospital's garments. They had nightgowns with nursing panels, and robes, and they were made of this cotton stuff I thought was EXCELLENT---kind of ROUGH but in a very cozy pleasing way. And that way I didn't have to worry about various blood/disinfectant stains on my own clothing, or about the nurses fussing at how inconvenient it was to check me. But I DID pack a lot more socks and underwear the second time around, because I found I wanted to change the socks more often than I would have thought, and I hated hated hated the net-stocking underwear the hospital used. And I didn't mind throwing socks and underwear out if necessary. I also brought slippers, because the nurses LOSE THEIR MINDS at the idea of anyone getting into the beds with socks that were just on the floors.
3. My hospital provided pads: HUGE ones for at first, and slightly-less-huge-but-still-freakishly-huge for when things slowed up a bit. I made sure to open a fresh bag of pads shortly before leaving: you can bring home any opened bags.
4. I always managed to overpack entertainment. I don't know where the time goes, but I'd somehow manage to spend 3 days in a hospital room and read about one article in a People magazine---and books were too heavy, even if they were light. I found that what we needed was stuff for PAUL to do: I was on pain meds and hormone surges, and gazing at the baby and learning to nurse and taking naps and getting my vital signs checked and answering embarrassing questions, but he was his normal self and so time was moving normally for him. He set up a jigsaw puzzle, and he brought books, and he brought some DVDs but I don't even remember what they were. If you DO finish your magazine, your spouse can bring you another; if you find you want to watch DVDs, again the spouse can fetch.
5. This is something else that varies from hospital to hospital: FOOD. At the first hospital where I delivered, patient meals were provided but everyone else had to eat in the cafeteria. At the hospital where the other children were born, each patient was allowed one free extra meal (per mealtime) for the spouse or other guest. So depending on how your hospital does it, you may want to have your husband pack snacks.
6. I wanted my own pillow.
7. Another thing that varies from hospital to hospital is toiletries. Both hospitals I've been in had shampoo, conditioner, body wash (or, more accurately, a 3-in-1 that claimed to do all those things), bar soap, toothpaste, and toothbrush. But I preferred to have my own (not only because I preferred them, but also so the baby could get used to my usual scents), so I brought travel sizes and my own toothbrush, and also deodorant because they didn't have that. They had lip balm but again, I preferred my own. They also had little tubes of Lansinoh, but I brought my own so I'd have it even if they forgot to offer. And I brought a brush, and some ponytail holders, and my pouf because I prefer it to washcloths.
8. You'll want an outfit to bring the baby home in, and you also need clothes for yourself. I bring lounge pants (or yoga pants, or flannel pajama pants) and a t-shirt and slip-on shoes---in fact, I usually wear home the same clothes I wore to the hospital.
9. And the car seat, and a blanket for babykins.
10. I wouldn't bring the Christmas presents: anything you bring, you'll need to lug home again, and you'll be home for Christmas anyway. And thinking back to how I felt in the hospital, I think trying to celebrate a holiday there would have been too overwhelming and hard to concentrate on.
11. CAMERA. (Thanks, Alyssa!) And that reminds me, I brought my journal.
What have I forgotten? What did you guys want/need or NOT want/need?