Depending on who you ask, it can be a blessing or a curse to live far from family when you have a baby. I spent an entire post outlining the pros and cons of having a baby when you live far from family. However, it may be the situation you find yourself in. Here are tips for labor, delivery and postpartum when you live far from your family.
You probably don’t need your family there while you are in the hospital.
Your due date is really just a guess on when your baby will be born. In reality, it will likely fall somewhere in a 4 to 5-week range. This can make it really hard for family to plan travel to be there precisely when you are in labor without risking missing the baby entirely.
Also, while you are in the hospital, you have your husband to help and an entire team of nurses and doctors taking care of your every need. We didn’t even change a diaper until we got home because the nurses did it every time. Depending on if you have a natural birth or C-section and what complications occur, you will be kept in the hospital anywhere from 24 hours to 4 + days after giving birth. There really isn’t much for your family to do other than be in a cramped room. To solve this, ask your doctor how fast past your due date they will let you go prior to induction. Have the first family visit take place a week after that date. This will ensure that baby is here and you are home prior to having family come.
Take advantage of family visits.
When you live far from family, they are likely planning to visit for a week or more at a time to make the trip worth it. Take advantage of this to have round-the-clock help. I wanted my mom to be the first to come visit, and my mother-in-law to be second. Therefore, I had my mom come 2 weeks after my due date (based on the above formula). She stayed for 2 weeks. Then my mother-in-law came and stayed for a week. During this time, I pumped enough to have a bottle prepared prior to bed each night. Then our moms would get up with the baby for the 6am feeding. They were already awake because of the time difference, and it gave us a solid 6 hours of sleep before I needed to be up for another feeding. The result was we felt pretty human the entire first month.
Practice going out while you have help.
While you have family visiting, go out to eat, go to church, go to the mall, etc. Use the extra set of hands to help while you are learning how to juggle a newborn and everything that goes with a baby. Make sure to get all my tips for going out with a newborn.
Plan for time without family prior to going back to work.
If you will be returning to work after having a baby, you will want a week or two right before you go back where you don’t have family visiting. This gives you, your husband and your baby time to figure out a routine that will work. Check out my other tips for returning to work after maternity leave to make your transition as smooth as possible.
Schedule family visits with a buffer in between.
When our son was born, the day my mom left, we dropped her at the airport in the morning and picked my mother-in-law up a few hours later. In hindsight, it really would have helped to have at least a 24-hour buffer to adjust. I was still emotional from my mom leaving, and not mentally ready for another visitor that fast. I also wanted time to just hold my son and let him sleep on me without having to share him with family.
Plan the next visit before the current one ends.
With the emotions after birth, it can be difficult saying goodbye to family. I found it was easier to know when we would see each other again before the current trip ended. Sometimes this was our family visiting again, other times, we visited them, or sometimes we met somewhere in the middle for an extended weekend.
Estimate how much time your guests will want you to entertain them versus entertaining themselves or simply being happy to take care of the new baby.
My mom was happy to go out and do things, but also brought work with her to occupy herself if the baby was asleep and we wanted to rest. We had other family that wanted time to go do the tourist things in the area and were happy to do this on their own. Figuring out what everyone wants helps to manage expectations.
Get involved with a church.
This is a great way to meet like-minded people. If you find a church full of other young parents, they can be great support for you as you navigate new parent life.
If you are pregnant and don’t live near family, there are
many pros and cons. However, it’s
important to make the best of it and have a plan in place prior to giving
birth. Consider who will be coming to
visit, how long they want to stay, and what order you want them to come in.
Maybe you love where you grew up and couldn’t imagine living
far from the place you have always called home.
Maybe you are on the other end and spent high school counting down the
years until you could escape to somewhere more exciting. Either way, as a responsible adult you are
now considering having kids and are wondering if you are better off raising
your children near family or farther away.
I’ve lived on the other side of the country from my family
as well as my in-laws while having my first child. Here are some things to consider about having
kids while living far from family.
I’m a positive person, so we will start off with the pros of
living far from family.
Pros of Having a Baby While Living Away From Family
1. There is no pressure to allow family to be present at birth
If you live a short drive from family, there is a good chance your mother, mother-in-law, sister, aunt, grandma, or anyone else you can think of may decide they are entitled to be present for the birth of your child. You may not want an audience, but it can be really hard to tell the well-meaning family they aren’t invited. If you live a plane-ride (or very long drive) away from the family, you won’t be able to predict exactly when you will go into labor, so they won’t be able to plan a visit without risking their stay ending before the baby is born. It was really easy to have a labor, delivery and hospital stay without anyone except for my husband. I was happy to show off our new baby once we got home, but the hospital stay was a whirlwind of recovering and figuring out breastfeeding. I wouldn’t have wanted anyone else there.
2. You have more freedom to develop your own parenting style
There are so many opinions on the “right” way to be a parent. However, the right way for you is the way you and your husband decide to parent. This should be a decision made based on your preferences and not on pressure from family. Being far away means you don’t have family around offering their input as often.
3. You have more power over the visit schedule
If you live near family, well-meaning family may feel entitled to drop by for a visit whenever the mood strikes them. If they happen to be coming over to clean for you, then it may be welcome. However, they likely aren’t planning on that. If you live far from family, it requires planning visits ahead of time. This allows you to make sure both families aren’t there at once (unless you approve it), and to have buffers between visitors if you desire.
4. You and your husband learn to rely on each other
If you have a great relationship with your mom, it may be really easy to get her help and input on every parenting question and call her for babysitting frequently. However, it can be easy for you to rely more on family than your husband which can make it hard to form a parenting team. Being far away decreases your ability to rely on family and allows for a stronger parenting team to be formed between you and your husband.
5. When family visits they stay with you
This means that they are already planning to be present for those 2 am wakeups. If there is a large time difference, you can utilize it to have family help with overnight feedings or rocking baby back to sleep. We had almost four weeks of help between our mothers visiting right after our son was born. During this time, I pumped enough to have a bottle prepared at bedtime each night. Our mothers would get up with our son and give him a bottle for the 6 am feeding which gave my husband and me a six-hour stretch of sleep before I needed to be up for the next feeding. The result is we actually felt pretty human during the first month.
6. Your child gets well-traveled at an early age
I believe helps make baby and the parents more adaptable to new situations. My son went on 10 round-trip flights during his first year. The first trip was stressful, but after that we got a system figured out and it wasn’t a big deal. Here are all the tricks I learned for flying with a baby.
Cons of Having a Baby While Living Away From Family
1. If you want family present at birth, this can be hard to plan
Often affordable plane tickets have to be purchased well in advance. With a 4 to 5-week range around the due date, it’s difficult to pinpoint when people should come to visit.
2. Family doesn’t get to visit as much
For your family to visit the new baby, either they need to travel to you, or you need to travel to them. Also, when they come, they usually stay with you which means extended time with family versus short visits. Depending on your situation, ever-present family may be a major additional stress when you are already stressed with a newborn.
3. Family visits can be difficult if you have parents that don’t travel or have health problems that make traveling difficult
We lived a 5-hour plane flight from all of our family for almost 3 years. The only times I really broke down because I didn’t have family nearby was when we found out we were having a boy and when my mom left after visiting right after my son was born. These were times when I did really want to share them with my family, and I felt like a phone call or FaceTime just didn’t cut it.
5. You don’t have as much help
When you live near family, they are often happy to babysit or be an extra set of hands. However, living far from them means that you don’t have these built-in, free babysitters. Friends can be helpful, but you can only impose on them for free babysitting so much. Living far away meant we couldn’t go to the movies without paying a babysitter or going when we had people visiting. We made a point of taking our son out to restaurants, the store and the mall starting when he was only a week old. Therefore, it became normal for him and us, so going out to eat or shopping with him in tow isn’t a big deal. Definitely get my tips for going out with a newborn to make your life easier.
6. Holidays can be hard
For holidays, you will likely be traveling back to family or spending them without family. Either way it can be hard. We traveled back to visit family. Like I mentioned above, traveling itself wasn’t a big deal. However, with Christmas, it was difficult having to consider luggage allowances and making sure our son didn’t get too many large or heavy gifts that we would need to figure out how to get home.
7. Guilt trips from family about living far away
You may hear comments from family (likely grandparents) about how they don’t get to spend time with their grandchild because he lives so far away. Even if you don’t hear these comments, you may feel guilty that your parents don’t get to spend much time with their grandchild. This is likely to be more significant if your baby is the first grandchild.
Do the pros of living far from family outweigh the cons? That depends on your family situation. For us, we made do and logged some serious frequent flier miles. It was good for my husband and I to grow as a couple and figure out the whole “new parenting” thing. However, we will now live driving distance to our families. It’s not close enough that people can drop in unexpectedly, but it’s close enough we can fill an entire car for the holidays and not have to worry about how much baggage we are dragging along. For us, I feel like that is a good compromise.
What do you think? Do the pros or the cons weigh heavier in your opinion? Let me know in the comments!
Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will receive a commission if you click through and make a purchase.
When you are pregnant, comfort is key. However, flying and comfort don’t often belong in the same sentence. If you find yourself flying while pregnant, make sure to avoid these 5 mistakes that I learned about the hard way.
1. Taking the Window Seat
The window seat may be prime airplane real estate for some
people. However, when you are pregnant,
you will want to rethink your seating choices.
I’m sure you’ve figured out by now that pregnancy makes you pee a
lot. If you have a window seat and need
to ask multiple people to move every time you go to the bathroom, you are
likely to be tempted to hold it which can lead to a UTI. If you are sitting on the edge it’s easy to
get up whenever you need to.
2. Staying in Your Seat
When you are pregnant, you are more prone to DVTs which are blood clots in your legs. Anyone can get DVTs, but pregnant women have a higher risk, and the risk increases when you are on an airplane and sitting for an extended period. Therefore, you want to get up periodically and walk around – a bathroom trip counts. This is another situation where having an aisle seat comes in handy. It’s generally a good idea to try and get up once every hour to 1.5 hours. Other things you can do to decrease your risk are to wear compression socks that reach your knees and flex your ankles while sitting.
Pregnancy requires more calories than normal, and you want to make sure you eat plenty while traveling. If you have short flights, this isn’t as big of a problem, but if you have a long flight, you want to make sure you plan to snack. These can be snacks you brought from home (I really like these protein bars) or snacks you buy on the plane. Try to find snacks that incorporate some protein and aren’t just carbs.
You also don’t want to turn down an offer of water. It may seem like a good way to not have to go to the bathroom so often, but you are more prone to dehydration while flying because there is less water in the air. If you get dehydrated while pregnant, that can increase the risk of Braxton Hicks contractions and general discomfort. I recommend purchasing a large bottle of water prior to boarding and then accept all offers for water while on the plane. If you cringe at the price of airport water, you can bring an empty bottle and fill it at a water fountain.
Flying during the first and second trimesters isn’t too much
of a problem. However, things get a
little more difficult during the third trimester. Check with your doctor, but in general it’s
okay to fly up until you reach 36 weeks.
However, the closer you get to that point, the more uncomfortable flying
will become. There are the obvious
issues with feeling huge and being cramped in a tiny seat. However, there is also the problem of
catching your breath. When flying you
are at a high altitude which has less oxygen.
Therefore, it’s a little harder to breath for everyone. Most people won’t notice, but when you are
pregnant, it can be hard to catch your breath even at sea level. When flying it becomes much more
noticeable. I continued to fly until 32 weeks,
and the last couple of trips I took were really uncomfortable because I
couldn’t catch my breath.
5. Wearing Stylish Clothes
It seems like travelers are either in the ‘leggings’ camp or the ‘must look good because everyone will see me’ camp. When you are pregnant and flying, stick to leggings. You don’t need uncomfortable pants pushing on your already uncomfortable belly and you don’t need nice shoes making your already sore feet worse. The chances of seeing someone you know are quite slim, so travel in comfort. If you have to go straight to a work function or other event where you need to look nice, bring a change of clothes in your carry-on to change into when you get off the plane.
Get all my tips for what you should do while flying during pregnancy here.
What mistakes have you made flying while pregnant? Let me know in the comments.
Disclosure: Some of the links above are affiliate links meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will receive a commission if you click through and make a purchase.
I see questions regarding vaccinations during pregnancy all the time. I’m also a pharmacist trained to provide all standard immunizations. From both my role as a pharmacist and as a mom, I know that doctors recommend vaccinations but often provide very little information. There is also a lot of misinformation floating around about the safety of vaccinations.
Here I’m going to answer the common questions about vaccinations in pregnancy.
A: The flu shot is recommended every year regardless of
whether or not you are pregnant. If you happen to be pregnant at the time you
would normally get the flu shot, then it’s important to get it because your
immune system isn’t as strong during pregnancy.
However, you should only get the injection (not the nasal version)
because the injection is a killed vaccine whereas the nasal version is live.
Q: What is the chance
the flu shot will give me the flu?
A: There is a 0% chance you will get the flu from the flu
shot. The injection is a killed vaccine which means it is absolutely impossible
for the virus to multiply. There are no
zombie viruses (although that would make for a good horror movie). What you might get (and why people often say
the shot gives them the flu) includes a sore arm and a mild fever. If these occur, they can be treated with
Tylenol. These are signs that your body
is mounting a defense against the virus (which is a good thing). Tylenol can help if the symptoms are bothersome,
but they will go away in a couple of days regardless of whether you treat them.
Q: Does the flu shot
A: How well the flu shot works varies from year to
year. The flu is a virus and viruses
mutate to prevent detection by the body.
Therefore, the flu virus looks a little different each year. These different versions of the virus are
called strains. Each winter/spring the
CDC tries to determine what strains of the virus are going to be present for
the coming flu season. The flu vaccine
contains the 4 strains that are predicted to be the most problematic. The efficacy of the vaccine is based on how
well the researchers guessed when determining the strains.
It’s also important to note that the flu vaccine is for the
respiratory flu, not the stomach flu.
The stomach flu may make you miserable for a few days, but it isn’t
going to kill anyone. The respiratory
flu on the other hand is extremely dangerous for the elderly and babies to
A: The flu shot will actually help your baby. While you are pregnant, the antibodies (the
cells that are designed to attack specific viruses) are transferred to your
baby. Once your baby is born, the
antibodies will last for a few months.
Therefore, by getting vaccinated you provide protection for your baby
until they are old enough to get vaccinated.
Q: I got the flu shot
last year, why do I need it again?
A: Like I mentioned above, the strains that cause the flu
change each year which means the vaccine has to change each year. Therefore, you need to get the current
vaccine to be protected from the current year’s strains.
Now let’s move onto
the Tdap vaccine.
Q: What is Tdap?
A: Tdap is a combination that stands for tetanus, diptheria,
acellular pertussis. The main reason you
are getting this vaccine is for the acellular pertussis component. This is just a fancy name for whooping
cough. The whooping cough vaccine only
comes in combination with tetanus and diptheria. You can’t get it alone.
Q: Do I need a Tdap
vaccination during pregnancy?
A: Yes. It is recommended that a pregnant woman get the Tdap
vaccine during the third trimester of every pregnancy.
Q: Why do I need this
A: Whooping cough is annoying for healthy adults, but it’s
not life-threatening. However, infants
die every year from whooping cough.
Sometimes they develop a really bad cough, but other times they turn
blue and stop breathing. A baby that
develops whooping cough will often have to be admitted to the hospital for treatment,
and the younger the baby is, the more likely it is that serious complications
Q: Will I get sick
from the vaccine?
A: Tdap is a killed vaccine.
Therefore, like the flu shot, it is impossible for the virus to come
alive and replicate. You may get a sore
arm from the vaccine, but this will go away within a couple days. If it’s bothersome, you can treat it with
Q: If I have two
pregnancies close together, do I have to get the Tdap vaccine during both?
A: The benefits of passing the antibodies onto your baby are
significant enough that it’s recommended for you to get the vaccine during the
third trimester of every pregnancy regardless of how close together they
Now for some general
Q: Are there any
vaccinations that I should not get while pregnant?
A: During pregnancy you should not receive any live
vaccines. The live vaccines include MMR
(measles, mumps, rubella), Varicella (chicken pox), Herpes Zoster and oral
typhoid vaccine. These 4 vaccines are
live which means that there is a tiny chance that they could cause the illness
(compared to the other vaccines where it is completely impossible).
Q: Do I need to get
any other vaccinations while pregnant?
A: There aren’t any other vaccinations that are recommended
for all pregnant woman. However, if
there are other vaccinations that you are due for based on your vaccination
schedule, you can get these (just not the live ones mentioned above).
Q: Do people that
come visit the baby need to be vaccinated?
A: This is your choice as the parent. Personally, I required all people that were
coming to stay with us during the first 6 months have a flu shot and Tdap vaccination. My suggestion is to require flu shot and Tdap
for everyone that will be spending a significant amount of time holding your
baby during the first few months. By
surrounding your baby with people that are vaccinated, you are creating herd
immunity. Herd immunity refers to surrounding an individual that can’t be vaccinated,
such as a newborn, with people that are vaccinated which prevents transmission
of the virus.
Now you are educated on the basic vaccinations during
pregnancy. If you have further questions
ask your doctor or pharmacist, so that you get all the facts. If you want to learn more, check out the
So, this pregnancy has been 180% different from my first!
Let me explain…
My first was for the most part, perfect. No food aversions, no serious mood issues, nothing crazy. I could tell my first baby had a schedule after a bit of time. She would be up and about by 10 a.m., and a few other active times during the day. She would move around of course, but not enough to stop me in my tracks or anything like that. I worked at my job up until a month before her due date, and everything went well during delivery.
See? Surely the second one will be just as easy.
One year and seven months later, I was pregnant with my second child.
Now, as far as the secrets go…
All bets are off.
Despite this being another baby girl, I had severe nausea and could only eat certain things, but with my first, I could eat anything! Also, this baby is constantly moving. There’s no such thing as a “schedule.” She is up and about 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. She is a constant hyper mess, ready to enter the world at any moment.
I could work all the way through the first pregnancy, but with this one, I have had to stay on the couch most of the day for the last three months of the pregnancy. Severe contractions begin in the amount of time it takes to take half a shower. Ouch!
New, challenging factors can weigh in on you that you have never dealt with before.
I was at a point where my job was stressing me out. I was having daily headaches, and the doctor had just taken me off that medication as it was not good to take while pregnant. I knew I needed to find an alternative job so that I could make it through. But, in the meantime, I was crying four times a day for reasons I’m still not sure about.
Prenatal Depression is real… And it is terrifying.
I could tell I was losing who I was, and quick. I looked to the internet for help, and it appeared that I was suffering from prenatal depression. Who knew that was even a thing? I told my doctor about it, and I was promptly prescribed medication. This medicine, like the kind I took for headaches, was also risky to take with the baby.
So, what’s a girl to do?
I waited to see if things changed after switching jobs- lucky for me, they did. I never had to take the medication, but I do know that if I would not have changed my situation, it would have been an absolute necessity.
You’ll feel like you made a mistake.
I did. I wondered why I ever decided to have children so close in age, when my first is still a “baby” herself. She has also had to deal with the fact that my every other phrase is “be careful with belly,” as she tries to climb all over me.
Sure, your pregnancy can be completely different from the last. You may have things occur that you didn’t expect to happen. You might feel like you made the wrong move for your family. You may go through serious changes that you never accounted for.
But, you know what? It’s all temporary feelings.
You begin to realize that you’re going to be okay, with medication or without, with the same job or a different one, and if you’re limited on how long you can stand. Or, something else could happen while you’re pregnant. Every mom is unique and we all find ourselves in different situations.
You will wake up one day and realize this is the decision that you made for your family and that your child will be a fabulous big sister or brother. You’ll have the comfort of knowing that they both will have each other, and that bond will be so special. You will be able to love both of your children. And you’ll know that when they are sitting together, giggling with one another, running around outside together, or falling asleep with one another that you made the right decision. Creating life is a miracle, no matter when it happens. Embrace it! All of it is worth it.
How did your second pregnancy differ from your first? Let me know in the comments.
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I am a Writer and Family Transformation Coach from the Tennessee Mountains who enjoys drinking way too much coffee. Sharing tips on achieving real goals with your children and family is my passion. Consistent, confident communication is my goal. Will it be yours? For more info on how to achieve this contact email@example.com today!
It may be for work or to visit family or to take a pre-baby vacation. Whatever the reason, you are likely to find yourself on an airplane at some point while pregnant. Before you fly, check out these 9 tips for flying when pregnant
Check-In With Your Doctor
If you have a low risk of preterm labor, then it is likely safe to fly up until 36 weeks. However, if you have risk factors, your doctor may advise you to keep your feet on the ground sooner rather than later. Make sure to talk to your doctor early about what air travel restrictions she recommends for you.
Know Your Airline’s Policy
Airlines really don’t want you going into labor while on their plane. Therefore, they have policies about letting women who are close to their due date fly. If you have low risk factors, your doctor may be okay with you flying up until 36 weeks, but the airline may have a different policy. These policies also differ depending on if you are flying domestic or international. Here are some of the policies for the major airlines.
The air in planes is dryer than normal; therefore, you are likely to get dehydrated more quickly. This can happen to anyone, but when you are pregnant, being dehydrated can increase Braxton Hicks contractions, so it’s important to drink plenty of water. Airplanes do generally provide drinks while you are on the flight. However, turbulence can prevent service or drastically delay it. Be prepared and grab a big bottle of water before boarding. If you don’t want to spend the money to purchase airport water, you can bring an empty bottle through security. Many airports have water bottle filling stations, or some restaurants will fill a bottle for you.
Plan for Lots of Bathroom Breaks
The more pregnant you are, the more baby is pushing on your bladder. You also have more blood volume during pregnancy which means more for your kidneys to filter out. Therefore, you will likely need lots of trips to the bathroom. This doesn’t mean you can’t still snag the window seat, but make sure you are okay with asking the person in the aisle to get up. You may decide you are better off in the aisle.
Move Around Frequently
When you are pregnant, you have an increased risk of blood clots in your legs, also known as Deep Vein Thromboembolism (DVT). Moving around decreases your risk and sitting for many hours increases that risk. Therefore, you want to get up and walk around at least once every hour while flying. Getting up to go to the bathroom counts for you hourly walk. You can also consider wearing compression socks. These help to keep blood flowing to help prevent DVTs, and they are also helpful for keeping the annoying foot swelling at bay. When you can’t get up and walk around (i.e. lots of turbulence), flex your feet up and down to keep the blood flowing through your legs.
The air at 30,000 feet is thinner with less oxygen than the air at sea level. When you aren’t pregnant, you probably don’t notice any difference when sitting on an airplane. However, when you’re pregnant, it’s already harder to breath because baby is squishing your lungs. Therefore, you notice the oxygen deficit more. This isn’t going to cause harm, but it may make flying later in pregnancy somewhat uncomfortable.
Know the Signs of Labor
Dehydration can increase the frequency and intensity of Braxton Hicks contractions which isn’t harmful but can be uncomfortable. However, the biggest risk with flying is that you will go into preterm labor. Therefore, it’s important to know the difference between Braxton Hicks and actual labor.
Get TSA Precheck
Taking your shoes and sweatshirt off for security is a pain when you aren’t pregnant. When you are pregnant you want to avoid having to remove and put back on your shoes if at all possible. TSA precheck allows you to leave your shoes and light jacket on when going through security. It also means a shorter line.
This isn’t the time for high heels and pants with a real waist. Think stretchy tent dresses and leggings and supportive shoes. Sitting in the cramped airplane seats is uncomfortable enough while pregnant, you don’t want to add to it by wearing restrictive clothing. This is definitely one thing I learned from my mistakes with. To see what else I learned, check out this post.
If you have flown while pregnant, do you have any tips I didn’t mention? If so, share them in the comments.
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receive a commission if you click through and make a purchase.
Breast pumps – do you need one, how do you decide which one, do you have to pay for it yourself? These are all questions that soon-to-be-moms will be asking at some point. Looking back, I made a lot of mistakes selecting a breast pump. But hindsight is 20/20, and I don’t want you to make the same mistakes. Therefore, read on for my complete guide to selecting the perfect breast pump for you. I will cover definitions that are important to know when evaluating breast pumps and well as a breast pump comparison between all of the major brands. If you are looking for a breast pump because you’re worried your baby isn’t getting enough milk, make sure to check out this post.
Around my second trimester, I got a random call from a company that supplies breast pumps. My doctor had put in the order for me to get one through insurance. The company rattled off a long list of all my options, and when finished asked which one I wanted. I selected one I had heard of off the list and was told it would be at my door in a few days if it was covered. Less than a week later, I had a new breast pump on my doorstep. However, I ended up buying a second pump and wishing that I had yet another type. Here are my tips for planning out your breast pump situation, so you end up with a pump you love (well as much as you can love something that leaves you feeling like a cow) as well as a comparison of all the readily available breast pumps.
First things first, let’s cover breast pump terminology.
Heavy-duty pumps that have the most powerful motors and a higher amount of “sucks” per minute compared to personal pumps. These pumps are more efficient but come with a higher price tag.
These pumps are designed to fit the lifestyle of most moms. They are usually relatively easy to transport and are more affordable than hospital grade pumps. However, they are not as efficient as hospital-grade pumps.
A pump that uses electricity via a wall outlet, but some pumps have the ability to run on batteries. These pumps have the ability to pump both breasts at the same time and are much more efficient than manual pumps.
A pump that requires the user to do the work. These pumps have a lever that requires a squeeze and release motion to express milk. These pumps can be useful because they are highly portable and have few parts. However, they can be labor intensive.
Has a diaphragm that acts as a barrier. This protects the milk from outside air and prevents milk from leaking into the pump tubing. Therefore, expressed milk is never exposed to the pump tubing or motor which means that the tubing doesn’t require washing or sterilizing.
Does not have a barrier between the tubing and the milk collection, so milk may potentially leak into the tubing. This can be an inconvenience because it requires washing, sterilizing and air drying the tubing. However, some moms report that small amounts of milk may get into the tubing without being noticed and this can lead to mold in the tubing.
These are the plastic pieces that go over your breast when pumping. It is essential that these fit properly. Flanges that are too small can cause pain from rubbing and flanges that are too big will not allow sufficient suction. With some brands you can buy flanges in sizes other than what come with the pump, but this results in an added cost.
The first step in breast milk expression is when the baby takes short, shallow and frequent sucks to cause a let-down. The second phase occurs when the milk comes in and the baby’s sucks get longer and deeper. A dual-phase expression pump mimics these phases.
Unique needs: Determine if you will be pumping at work or while traveling.
How many pumps: If possible, plan to get two pumps in case one breaks. My first week back to work, I accidentally dropped my pump and it broke. That left me without a pump for a day (thank goodness for Amazon Prime 1-day shipping!). It was a very stressful day because I was at work and my son wasn’t a big fan of nursing, to begin with, so he was not impressed by having to act as the pump. Once I got my new pump in the mail, I eventually got my original one fixed, so I kept one at home and one at work. This was really the ideal situation. If you are able to get two pumps, I recommend two different styles (one hands-free and one traditional).
Manual or Electric: If you are only planning to pump occassionally and/or you need to have something handy to use once in a while when traveling, you may be able to get by with a manual pump. However, if you will be pumping with any consistency, then you definitely want an electric pump.
Hospital or Regular Grade: Breast pumps come as hospital grade and regular grade. Hospital grade is the type that may be in pumping rooms at work and what the hospital will have. These are designed to have multiple people use the same pump. Regular pumps are designed to be single user. They are smaller and easier to tote back and forth to work. Regular grade is likely sufficient for what you are doing.
Style: Once you focus on regular grade, electric pumps, you have two basic groups of pumps: the traditional style with the cones and bottles hanging off of them and the hands-free, discrete pumps. If you are able to swing two pumps, I highly recommend getting one of each.
Desirable characteristics: Things to look at and consider include the following:
The weight of the pump
Discrete and hands-free
Availability of support and parts
Breast Pump Comparison Tables
Below is a comparison of all readily available electric breast pumps. Hospital grade pumps and manual pumps are not included.
The Criteria Evaluated
Hands Free (yes/no): Pumping bras are available to make any pump “hands-free” but being hands-free without a special bra is a big plus.
Runs on Battery (yes/no): Some pumps don’t maintain great suction on battery. However, having the option to use a pump on battery is helpful in a pinch.
Car Plug Ability (yes/no): The ability to power your pump with a car plug is a big plus when you are on the go. If you can pump hands free, then pumping while driving is a great way to multi-task.
Digital Display (yes/no): Some mothers find a digital display really helpful for adjusting pump settings. Usually pumps with a digital display come with additional features, like a timer or more setting options.
Closed System (yes/no): A closed system prevents any milk from getting into the tubing and potentially the pump motor which makes the pump more hygienic and saves you the hassle of cleaning the tubing.
Customer Support (yes/no): I learned the hard way that customer support is not a given with breast pumps, so I’ve included it as a criterion to evaluate.
Shield/Flange Size: You can often order a variety of sizes of shields/flanges. However, that’s an additional cost and hassle.
Warranty: If your pump breaks you want to know that it will be replaced quickly without additional cost to you.
Price: Many breast pumps are available through insurance. However, if you are looking to get a second pump, or want one that isn’t covered, price is important to consider.
Amazon Rating: This seems to be the rating system that has the most submitted ratings, so I included it as a way to help compare the pumps.
Notes: This is where I included any additional features that I thought were important to consider.
27 mm is only other size available Run by smart phone app 1:1 coaching included with pump purchase
The above section gives you the basics of each pump to help you narrow down your search. Once you decide which pumps sound like the best fit for you, make sure to research and consider the following.
Availability and cost of spare parts
What size flange you need. Note: This may change over time.
My Breast Pump Experience
I originally got the Freemie Freedom Pump which is hands-free. The cups go inside of your bra and then have a pour spout to put the milk into bottles or bags. I loved this pump at home, but it’s the one I broke my first week back at work. I called the company and they simply said they didn’t service their pumps. Luckily my dad was able to fix it. In the meantime, I ordered a Spectra S2 from Amazon. This wasn’t hands-free, but I could purchase adaptor tubing to use my hands-free cups with this pump which I did. Compared to my Freemie, this pump was lighter weight with better features like different settings, and it was quieter. I could also use it with traditional cups or my hands-free ones. However, the S2 isn’t able to run on battery (the S1 is). One that could run on the battery would have fit my lifestyle better, but I’ve heard other mothers say that when running on battery the pumps don’t have enough suction.
If I was to do it again, I would get a traditional style pump (probably Spectra S1 or Medela) and either the Willow or the Freemie Liberty which are a little more discreet and allow you to walk around compared to the Freemie Freedom that kept me tethered to my desk. I may gravitate towards the Willow having experienced the lack of support from Freemie.
Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will receive a commission if you click through and make a purchase.
Coming home with a baby is like waking up in an alternate reality. You are in the same place, but everything has changed. You will adjust and learn to love this life, but it’s going to take some figuring out, and to add to all the new you have the physical scars to show for growing and giving birth to a tiny human. Taking care of you is important but it can take a backseat to take care of your new tiny human. Therefore, it’s important to make sure you are prepared with the best postpartum items when you come home from the hospital. This postpartum preparation list contains the 13 absolute must-have postpartum care items to have ready before you go into labor.
The following list covers what postpartum recovery items to have on hand at home before you head to the hospital.
In the hospital they will give you diaper ice packs, but these are wonderful to have a few of at home for convenience. If you have a bunch of padcicles premade though you may not need them. These ones are what I used.
You will have stuff leaking for weeks after you give birth. Just make your life easier and have a package of Depends on hand. They are surprisingly comfortable and discrete even under yoga pants.
The hospital will give you one to take home but having one in each bathroom at home can be helpful.
This is nice for soaking, but you need to be able to devote 10-15 minutes to do this. I did it preemptively a couple of times, but it wasn’t something that I thought made a huge difference. A sitz bath is inexpensive and maybe not a bad idea to have on hand. However, the hospital gave me one to take home.
If you are going to get a sitz bath, you want to get something to put in it.
Donut or Travel Pillow
People talk about the need for a donut to sit on for the first week or two. However, I found one of those travel pillows that wrap around your neck worked just as well. I actually only used it for sitting on these really hard wooden chairs we have. I didn’t need it anywhere else.
These are helpful when you first start nursing. You can buy gel pads to keep in the fridge or freezer which are basically little ice packs. However, you can also use small baggies and the aloe left over from the padcicles to make your own. Just put a generous amount of aloe into a small ziplock bag (I used the square snack-sized ones from Walmart) and refrigerate or freeze.
What top postpartum items did you rely on for self-care after giving birth? Let me know in the comments.
To hear more about my postpartum journey and tips for recovery, check out this post. For more about C-section recovery, make sure to read this post.
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Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will receive a commission if you click through and make a purchase.
Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will receive a commission if you click through and make a purchase.
When you are getting ready for a baby there are a bunch of different stores to register at and they will provide you with a helpful checklist of everything you should register for. Which store to pick is beyond the scope of this article. However, my husband and I wanted a store we could actually go to because we had very limited knowledge of baby stuff, so the thought of bumbling through setting up a registry online seemed way too difficult. When we went to register, we were handed a list of everything we should register for. The list plus both of us having no idea what we really needed resulted in a confusing 4 hours of selecting a bunch of items with little reason behind out selections. Some things we ended up with are great, and some are pointless. What follows is my review of what items are worth having and which are a waste. If you want to skip my narrative, you can get the checklist here.
I suggest setting up a baby registry on Amazon here. We did ours at Babies R Us, but a lot of people bought gifts off Amazon because it was more convenient and they had the best prices. This resulted in a bunch of duplicate items because nothing was actually getting checked off of my registry. Everyone uses Amazon, so this is a super convenient way to create a registry!
Well-wishers want to gift you with the items you want for your new baby. They rely on your registry to see what you like and want. Therefore, when you build your registry decide what you really want. I also found it helpful to use my registry as a shopping list, so after my showers, I could remember everything else I needed to get. Below is a list of items with my thoughts on each. There is also a PDF checklist here without all the added details. The Real Baby Registry Checklist
Car seat: You can choose between convertible, travel system or infant, but you will need one of them. I recommend a travel system (see next bullet)
Extra car seat base: You only really need one car seat while baby is tiny, but you will want to be able to use it in all of your cars. If you have a second car, you will need a second base. Car seats can be used without a base, but for your regular cars, you want a base installed because it makes it much easier.
Car mirror: When you are driving it’s nice to be able to see what baby is up to in the back seat. A car mirror is designed to be attached to the seat, so you can keep an eye on what baby is doing through your rearview mirror.
Car window shades: Unless you have really dark windows, you will want at least one window shade. I have one on both of my back windows because the window on the far side from baby still allowed sun to shine on Paxton without the second shade up.
Travel system stroller that can be used without a car seat for larger kids: Find a stroller you can attach your car seat to. For the first few months, it will be easier to keep baby in the car seat. However, after 5 months or so, the baby will be strong enough to sit in the stroller without the car seat, so you will get more use out of it if you can use the stroller without a car seat. Check out the one I have here. I LOVE it!
Stroller hooks: You will want to attach your diaper bag to the stroller in some way. I have chains with snaps that clip to rings on either side of my diaper bag. I also have a hook that I can hang things from.
Baby carrier: If you have friends with little kids, try out their carriers prior to purchasing one. Most good baby carriers are pricy and different people like different ones. I actually have two. I have a Lille Baby Carrier which is good for carrying Paxton all day, but I also have a Seven Everyday Sling sling style that puts him on my hip for short periods. I like keeping this one in my diaper bag for quick access when I’m out.
Crib: You will need one for once baby outgrows a bassinet. I suggest making it one that converts into a toddler bed and a full-sized bed. Otherwise, you will be left with a crib that you don’t know what to do with.
Crib mattress: Babies don’t need super fancy mattresses. Just make sure it fills the crib and is firm.
Mattress cover: Get at least 3 waterproof liners. You always want to have one on so that the mattress doesn’t get ruined. If one gets wet during the night you want to have a fresh one ready to put on.
Crib sheets: At least 3 of these for the same reasons as above
Bassinet and sheets: Paxton slept in his nursery from night one, but the AAP recommends babies sleep in your bedroom for the first 6 months. If you are going to do this, a bassinet is good for keeping baby close by. You will also want at least two sets of sheets for the bassinet.
Baby monitor: Invest in a good quality video monitor. I thought WiFi was a must-have feature of a baby monitor, but in reality, I use that feature very little. Invest in high-quality video. You will appreciate being able to see details such as baby breathing.
Rocking chair/ glider and ottoman: A rocking chair is wonderful for feeding and soothing and reading. You will also want a footstool so that you can put your feet up. I have this one and it has been a lifesaver.
Nightlight: Lights can keep baby awake, but at first it was nice having one, and it didn’t seem to bother Paxton for the first couple of months. We have this one that is a dual noise machine/night light.
Noise machine: Baby is used to hearing noise in the womb. A noise machine can help mimic that and help baby sleep. It also helps block out noises around the house to keep baby sleeping soundly. Here is some great information for deciding on a noise machine.
Dresser: I store jackets in the closet, but the rest of Paxton’s clothes in a dresser. I recommend one that matches the conversion bed, so baby can use it for years to come.
Humidifier: This is probably good to have on hand, but I wouldn’t say it’s a necessity. I keep Paxton’s on a low setting all the time. I’m not sure if it helps, but it doesn’t hurt. The one we have is a cute elephant, so it looks nice with the nursery décor. Here is the one we have.
Pack N Play: This is great for spending time outside with baby or traveling.
Pack N Play sheet: If you have a Pack N Play, you need a sheet to put on it. Two sheets aren’t a bad idea, so you have a spare.
Swaddles: Babies have a startle reflex for the first 4 months or so. Swaddles help them feel snug and keep them from jerking awake. They are wonderful for helping baby sleep during those initial months. The nurses in the hospital will teach you to swaddle with a blanket, but when you are home and sleep-deprived, just go with the swaddles that only require a zipper and Velcro, it will save your sanity.
Wearable blankets: You don’t want anything in the crib with the baby for the first year. However, you don’t want to swaddle the baby once he starts rolling over. Therefore, if you are afraid baby will be cold overnight, wearable blankets are good to have. These can also be helpful to keep baby from climbing out of the crib. We didn’t use these much and instead dress Paxton in pajamas with pants year-round and keep our house a consistent temperature.
Baby sleep book: One of the best gifts I received, which I didn’t even know I needed, was a sleep book recommended by my aunt that is raising 4 kids. There are tons of sleep books. They make good reading while you are up with the baby in the middle of the night. I love this one.
Bottles: Even if you are planning to breastfeed, at some point you will want to give the baby a bottle. For the first 4 or 5 months 4-oz bottles are a good size. After that, you will want 9-oz bottles. While you will want a lot of bottles in both sizes, I recommend not getting a bunch right away. There are so many types of bottles and some babies need anti-colic or are just really picky, and you will like some styles more than others. Instead, I suggest polling friends on which types of bottles they liked. Then get a couple of them to try. After a few weeks of using them, decide which ones you want more of. Once you know what you want, you can easily order off Amazon. Paxton and I love these ones.
Bottlebrush: I haven’t used mine much, but it’s not bad to have. It helped to clean bottles when traveling.
Bottle drying rack: Bottles are dishwasher safe, but I felt better soaking them in the sink before Paxton started eating solid food. The drying rack was wonderful during this time.
Breast pump: You can usually get a free one through insurance. See my post on selecting a pump here.
Pump accessories: Your pump will come with everything you need to use it. However, a second set of the parts is helpful. See my post on pumps and accessories.
Pump bag and cooler bag: If you are planning to travel at all or work while pumping, you will need a bag to carry your pump and all the accessories as well as a cooler bag for any milk you pump.
Breast pump cleaning wipes: These make cleaning pump parts way quicker when on the go or at work. You could also go with steam sterilizer bags, but I had a pump that said not to steam the parts. These work great for work and travel.
Nursing pads: Even if you are not planning to breastfeed, you will leak milk. I suggest the washable pads but disposable work too. I really like these bamboo ones. They are super absorbent and easy to wash. They even come with a cute bag to store them in.
Nursing pillow: I wasn’t sure I really needed this. The day after coming home from the hospital, I sent my husband to the store to get me one. It made breastfeeding much easier at first. As Paxton got older, it was good to prop him up and then as a balance when he was learning to sit up. For something I thought I didn’t need, I have sure used it a lot. I got a Boppy. There are some fancier ones out there, but this one served its purpose.
Burp cloths: The first few months will require a lot of these. You will want to have multiple ones on hand everywhere. Eventually baby will outgrow the need for burb clothes, but for the sake of your sanity, get a lot for the beginning.
Baby bathtub: You will want one for the first few months. The fancy spa-style ones are nice for the person giving the bath, but baby will outgrow it before they really enjoy the extra features. You will likely be fine with a basic one that includes a slanted sling for baby to lay on.
Baby soap: A basic baby body wash/shampoo is all you need here.
Baby washcloths: Baby is tiny, and it really is easier to wash with a soft thin washcloth designed for babies.
Soft hooded towels: Robes are a pain until baby can stand. A hooded towel works well. You will want tiny ones for the first few months, and a larger one designed for toddlers once baby gets a little bigger.
Baby lotion: At first babies don’t need lotion on their skin, but eventually they will start drooling and getting dry skin from all the drool. The lotion will be necessary. I use Eucerin.
Baby first aid kit: When baby gets sick (it will happen eventually) you don’t want to be running to the store. Get one of these which should include a baby thermometer and a nasal bulb. You also will want to have baby Tylenol or Motrin and Benadryl on hand.
Baby nail clippers: Babies have nails that grow freakishly fast, and these nails are sharp on their soft skin (and yours). You will want to keep them clipped short to prevent scratches on baby (and you).
Baby nail file: Along with the need for nail clippers, you will need a tiny baby nail file.
Changing table: You need a place to change baby. However, you don’t need a table dedicated only to this purpose. We have a changing table topper for the dresser. This is wonderful, doesn’t take up any floor space and works great for diaper changes. Once we don’t have to change diapers, the topper easily detaches from the dresser, and the dresser is still great.
Changing table pad: You will want a pad to put on top of whatever you decide for a changing table.
Changing table pad covers and waterproof liners: You will want a cover for the changing table pad as well as a waterproof liner that sits on top. There are many times I’ve tossed the waterproof liner in the laundry but not had to change the entire cover.
Cloth diapers (if using): I didn’t use these, so I can’t add much here.
Diaper rash cream: An ounce of prevention is better than a pound of treatment. Get a generic diaper rash cream and apply it with each diaper change. We have done this with Paxton and have kept diaper rash at bay so far.
Diaper pail and liners: The Diaper Genie has been around since I was a baby, but it’s still popular because it works. It’s simple and effective for disposing of diapers.
Activity mat and tummy time mirror: A newborn doesn’t need many toys, but after a few weeks you will decide you want a toy that baby can play with when only a couple of weeks old. An activity mat is great for this. There are a bunch to choose from. When selecting one, consider that baby will be able to see black and white best at first. A mirror designed for tummy time is also great for when baby starts to like looking at themselves.
Baby swing/bouncer: Newborns like to move. Most of the time they will be in your arms, but a swing or bouncer is nice to give you a little break. I wouldn’t get the most expensive one though because the baby will outgrow it quickly, and there’s no guarantee that the baby will be a fan.
Books: Reading to baby from the start is highly recommended. Baby doesn’t care what you read or if you read the same thing over and over. However, you will care. I heard an idea about having everyone give you a book for your shower with a message in it instead of a card. I really wish I had heard of this before my showers. Books will get read to baby for years; cards gather dust.
Mobile: I suggest one that plays for an extended period of time versus one of the cute crank ones that matches the nursery décor. An extended runtime will be way more useful. We had a cute nursery décor-matching one and eventually swapped it out for something more practical. We have gotten a lot of use out of this mobile.
Receiving blankets: You don’t need a lot of these, but a couple are good to have. I keep one in my diaper bag for when I want to put Paxton on the floor to play in a public place.
Diaper bag: Take my advice and get one for you and one for your husband. You can each fill it with what you need (see my post on what to put in a diaper bag). This bag will go with you everywhere, so make sure you get one you like. I have this Petunia Picklebottom Backpack which I love.
Baby laundry detergent: Baby has sensitive skin. Prewash clothes before baby wears them for the first time and do all of baby’s laundry with it. Baby laundry detergent is an easy change to make to prevent eczema.
Pacifiers: These are like bottles. You will want a bunch, but the baby may only like a specific kind. Get a variety to try. Paxton only likes these MAM pacifiers. Also, pacifiers come in different sizes. You will want newborn ones initially, and then use larger ones as baby gets older. The right size pacifier makes a big difference.
Pacifier straps: Pacifiers never seem to stay in baby’s mouth. Straps are wonderful.
Laundry hamper: Babies go through a lot of clothes, burp rags, and bedding. You need a place to put all the laundry.
Wastebasket: I don’t find I end up with that much nursery trash. However, it’s nice to have one next to the dresser.
End tables: We didn’t think about needing these, but they are nice to have next to the glider. Cheap ones work just fine and don’t take up too much space.
Baby hangers: If you have a closet, you will want at least a few hangers. I found it helpful to hang sweatshirts and jackets.
Toys: As baby gets older you will want different types of toys. I suggest getting ones that don’t require batteries. Some that play music or make noise are okay, but you will get tired of listening to them eventually.
Teething toys: Get a variety of types because the baby will likely want different ones at different times.
High chair: You don’t want to chase around a wiggly baby at mealtime.
Baby food bowls: You don’t want baby using your good bowls. You will eventually want ones that suction onto the high chair tray.
Baby spoons: Hard plastic spoons that are thick are good for feeding baby. I suggest ones with longer handles to start so that both you and baby can hold on.
Sippy cups: Same as bottles – get a bunch of different styles to try.
Baby toothbrush: Once baby has teeth you want to start brushing teeth. I suggest a toothbrush that is extra -long so that you and baby can hold on. Before baby has teeth, you can wipe the gums with a wet washcloth. I like this one that has an extra-long handle, so baby can help.
Childproofing products: We aren’t quite here yet, but you will definitely need these eventually. Paxton already wants to grab everything, so I can only imagine what it will be like once he is on the move.
Umbrella stroller: Baby won’t be able to use this at first, but after 6 or 7 months, it will be an easy thing to keep in the car to move the baby around.
Bath kneeler: Now that Paxton is using the real bathtub, I’m glad that I have this. He likes having someone play with him in the bath. I need to be on my knees to do this.
Toy basket: Same as with the bath toys; you will want a place to store all the toys you collect.
Items You Need but Shouldn’t Register For
Formula: If you aren’t planning to breastfeed for the entire first year or if you end up with milk supply issues like I did, you will need formula at some point. Wait until you need it to buy it. You don’t know what baby will like or need. In the meantime, register for the Enfamil and Similac sample programs. These send you free samples in the mail, so you can try out some different formulas before buying.
Disposable diapers: If you aren’t using cloth ones you will need these. I highly recommend sticking with a brand name. In my experience, the generic ones just don’t work as well. You will need lots of every size except maybe newborn. Instead of registering for them at a specific location, I suggest just letting people that plan your shower know that you would love diapers of whatever brand you choose in any size.
Wipes: You will need lots of these, but I suggest the same as diapers. Generic wipes are okay and work, but in my experience, generic ones stick together. Therefore, when you pull one wipe you get a handful.
Nursing bras and clothes: You will need these if you plan to breastfeed, but likely want to pick them out yourself.
Baby clothes: You need lots of these, but people will get you plenty even if you don’t register for them. If you see something you just have to buy for baby, get it in a larger size (6 months or larger). People will give you lots of tiny size clothes. However, you will find yourself in need of clothes when the baby reaches 6-month size.
Baby blankets: You will get plenty of these that people make, and you really only need a couple. You don’t need to register for any store-bought ones.
Items You Don’t Need
Make your own baby food system
Baby food cookbooks
What are you must-have and could do without baby items? Let me know in the comments.
Head over to Amazon and start setting up a baby registry now while all this info is fresh in your head!
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Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will receive a commission if you click through and make a purchase.
Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will receive a commission if you click through and make a purchase.
Let me guess – you have reached the point where it’s becoming a reality that your baby is going to have to come out eventually, you don’t want to forget anything you might need for the hospital, pregnancy brain has taken over, and you are the one that needs to make sure everything is packed and ready to go to the hospital. I’ve been there. I’m the person who would much rather over pack than under pack. I obsessively searched the internet for hospital packing checklists during my third trimester and none of them seemed to cover everything. In the end, I took a lot of stuff but used almost all of it. Below I’ll go through everything that went on my packing list and why I recommend taking it. There is also a downloadable PDF packing list that you can print to check off items.
Items Specifically For You
Towel and garbage bag for in the car: Good to have just in case your water breaks on the way to the hospital.
Gift for nurses: This is a nice gesture but not required. I prepared a small jar with Hershey’s Kisses and tied on a cute bow. I forgot to pull it out of my bag though, so I had been there a day before I gave it to anyone. I recommend dropping it off at the nurses’ station shortly after arriving. If you are wondering why you would bring a small gift for someone whose job it is to take care of you, check out this story from a labor and delivery nurse where she talks about the training she did and the great and no so great parts of her job of trying to do everything she can for you and your baby.
Copy of birth plan (if you have one): If you spend the time creating this, you want to make sure you take at least one copy, but 2-3 copies may be better. I didn’t make a birth plan because my plan was to go with the flow and it worked out well for me.
Yeti mug (or similar): I have a 32 oz Yeti mug that I kept at home full of ice water which really helped me to drink more. Taking it along was a last-minute thought, but I’m so glad I did. The nurses would bring me ice and water whenever I needed a refill. I then had a mug with a lid that kept the water cold which really increased how much I drank. Pro tip: Bring one along for your partner too. The nurses are happy to provide ice water, but it would have been much better if he had a mug to keep it cold.
Pillow: The hospital will provide pillows, but they aren’t very comfy. Having one from home can make a big difference. Pro tip: Bring one for your partner too. My husband insisted that he didn’t need to take a pillow because the hospital ones would be fine. He was fine because he kept taking my pillow.
Exercise ball and pump: Bring this and leave it in the car until you decide you need it. The hospital had two exercise balls, but someone was already using the bigger one, and the one they brought me was way too small. Had my own definitely prevented a mid-labor meltdown. Don’t forget to bring the pump as well so that you can add more air if you decide it’s too squishy.
Music: Some people create a playlist specifically for labor. If this is you, great. If not, still bring some source of music in case you need something to block out the annoying sound of machines (or your husband).
Robe and fuzzy socks: You will likely want to walk the halls at some point and you don’t want to do it wearing nothing but an open-backed hospital gown. A robe and fuzzy socks are perfect… if you’re cold. However, that’s where it’s also a good idea to bring PJ shorts that you can wear under your hospital gown if it’s too hot for a robe. I wore my robe and fuzzy socks a decent amount after giving birth but was so hot while I was walking the halls that I just wore PJ shorts, a hospital gown and flip flops.
Flip flops: Because no one wants to stand in the gross hospital showers without flip flops. These also work for walking the halls if you’re too hot for the fuzzy socks.
Nightgown/Labor and delivery dress: You can buy a dress designed for labor and delivery which is basically a fancy hospital gown. If you do this, I would save it for after delivery. What I did was purchase a stretchy tank top style nightgown from Target. This was cool in case I got hot, had easier access compared to shorts and was stretchy at the top so I could pull it down for nursing. Everyone thought I was wearing a sundress, but really it was just a nightgown. I ended up going back and buying a second one in a different color after I got home. This one is similar to mine.
Depends: It may require some effort to stoop to buying adult diapers, but these are a wonderful thing to have postpartum. The mesh panties that the hospital provides do fit right and don’t stay put – they are essentially useless. Depends on the other hand are extremely comfortable and can be discretely worn under yoga pants. Get at least one pack and take a bunch to the hospital and have them at home. I wore them for at least a week postpartum.
Perineum Ice Packs: The hospital will provide you with diaper ice packs that work really well (and fit well inside Depends). However, they aren’t that comfortable to move around in. I suggest ordering a package of perineum ice packs that you can activate at the time of use (these can be easily found on Amazon). Take a couple to the hospital and have the rest of the package on hand at home. These are the ones I got, and they worked great.
You will also want a bunch of other self-care items when you get home, but the hospital will supply you with everything else you need while you’re there. To see what to have on hand at home, check out this post.
Going home outfit: You will not automatically fit into your pre-pregnancy jeans. However, you will be smaller than when you arrived, but how much varies from person to person. I recommend leggings or yoga pants and a loose-fitting shirt which is a comfy outfit that can be cute and gives you wiggle room on what size you are when you leave the hospital.
Nursing sleep bra: This may be necessary depending on what you are planning to wear in the hospital. With the nightgown I mentioned above, it has built-in padding and is fitted enough to provide support, so I didn’t wear any other bras until I left. A nursing sleep bra will come in handy when you go home though.
Nursing pads: If everything goes smoothly, and you are discharged on schedule, your milk probably won’t have come in yet. However, if you have an extended stay you may end up needing nursing pads. I didn’t need them, but they are small, so I recommend taking a set or two just in case. These bamboo ones are the washable ones I suggest for long term.
Breast pump with all accessories: The hospital will have a hospital-grade breast pump you can use if you need one. However, if you are a first-time mom I recommend taking your personal breast pump and all the related pieces. The lactation consultant can help you figure out how to use it and make sure everything fits appropriately. For me this was a life saver. If you are not new to the world of pumping, then you can probably just use the hospital one if necessary.
Makeup: The thought of putting makeup on right after giving birth may sound crazy to some, but I’m so glad I had it with me. As soon as I was given the okay to shower I did so and followed that by styling my hair and doing my makeup. This took about 20 extra minutes, and I love the pictures of me and Paxton in the hospital.
Hair styling items and ponytail holders: See above for why you want to take hair styling items. If your hair is long enough for a ponytail you will definitely want to utilize this style to get your hair out of your face during labor.
Chapstick: Hospital air is dry, so you will want something for your lips.
Glasses and contacts: If you have both, take both. You may want contacts for labor in case your glasses get fogged up, but you may not want to put contacts in the entire time you’re in the hospital.
Laundry bag: You will generate laundry, so it’s helpful to have a designated place to keep it separate from things that aren’t dirty.
Cell phone and charger, shower items, toothbrush and toothpaste, mouthwash and deodorant: I hope that why you would want these items is pretty self-explanatory.
Insurance card, ID and hospital paper work: I hope these items are pretty self-explanatory too.
Items For Baby and Your Partner (because chances are you are responsible for everyone else. Get used to it.)
Going home outfit for baby: This can be as fancy, as sentimental or as plain as you want. Whatever you decide, just make sure it’s appropriate for a car seat and bring both newborn and 3-month size outfits. My husband and I were both big babies that never fit into newborn clothes, but out son wore newborn clothes for a solid month. You also don’t want to be in the position of having a baby that doesn’t fit into newborn clothes if that’s all you bought. We had friends that had to go to the gift shop and get a bigger outfit for their baby to go home in because he didn’t fit in what they brought.
Car seat: Get this installed in your car ahead of time. You can leave it in the car until you are close to leaving which helps keep the room from getting too cluttered.
Stocked diaper bag: I cover what should go into a diaper bag in a different post. You can view it here. Most likely you won’t need any of these things before you get home, but you will quickly learn that baby and diaper bag go everywhere together. It’s better to be over prepared than under prepared.
Baby blanket: If it’s cold, this can be used to tuck around baby in the car seat. The hospital provides plenty of blankets for use while there, but some people prefer to have their own so consider what you prefer. We used the hospital ones until it was time to go home.
Baby socks and Onsies: Something you may or may not need, but tiny enough they are worth tossing in. The nurses kept our son swaddled unless they were doing something with him, so we didn’t really see a need for baby clothes. However, we eventually realized that he hated being cold and actually was happier dressed.
Pillow for partner: See above (under your pillow) about why you must bring your partner a pillow.
Entertainment: The last thing you want while you are in labor is a bored husband. Make sure to have whatever will keep him entertained when you aren’t keeping him busy.
PJs for partner: Sleeping in jeans is never fun, and you don’t need the whining.
Cash for vending machines and snacks: The cafeteria is likely closed when you want to eat and the meals they deliver never seem to come at convenient times. I was in the hospital for 2 days before I ever had a chance to eat one of the meals they brought me.
Yeti mug (or similar for partner): Nice to have, and the nurses are happy to fill it up with ice water.
Shower items, razor and shaving cream, ball cap, toothbrush, deodorant and cell phone and charger all for partner: Hopefully self-explanatory as to why these are needed.
Computer and charger: I can’t be the only one who never goes away overnight without taking my laptop. I think I used it for maybe 10 minutes, but I’m sure I would have missed it if I hadn’t taken it. The laptop can also be used for Skyping with family, listening to music or watching movies that you downloaded ahead of time (recommended).
Extension cord: There may not be a plug near where your partner is sleeping so an extension cord can be good for allowing more flexibility with plugging in a cell phone. In my room, the only outlets were behind my bed which wasn’t super convenient for keeping cell phones plugged in.
Gum: Always good to have on hand for dry mouth, nausea and your partner’s bad breath.
Camera: We took all pictures on cell phones, but if you are talented with a camera, don’t forget to take it.
Overall, I am a strong proponent on taking everything that there is a slight chance you might need. I hate being somewhere and wishing I had brought something, so I really don’t want to be in the situation while in labor or learning how to care for a new tiny human. I do suggest packing multiple bags. A bag for you, a bag for your partner, a bag for baby and a bag of stuff to leave in the car until needed. It’s also helpful to have an extra bag to put stuff in as you finish with it. Taking stuff used during labor to the car and bringing in baby stuff after our son was born worked well to keep the room from getting cluttered.