The Internet is chock full of lists of what you should pack in your labor bag. Different moms say you should bring everything from candles to disposable adult diapers to make-up. In my experience, once labor really started I couldn’t have cared less about whether or not there were candles in the room. The nurse gave me everything I needed for post-partum care down there, and I was so preoccupied with my new baby and my own recovery that I didn’t care one bit about putting on any makeup. I found that I had a natural happy glow that shone through once my child was born, and I looked great in our photos without one ounce of powder or mascara.
Of course you should bring anything you think you might need to feel comfortable, but I discovered that during the earthshaking experience of bringing a life into the world, fuzzy socks or ambient music were the furthest things from my mind. The following things are the only ones I would have sorely missed had I been without them:
- Lip Balm
- Many experts recommend relaxing at home during the early stages of labor and having a little something to eat to keep up your strength during the possibly long marathon ahead (before active labor kicks in and you aren’t allowed to–or aren’t able to–eat). When I went into labor, I thought I was just having more Braxton-Hicks contractions, but my body knew better. My instincts kicked in and I insisted on going out for a huge cheeseburger and fries. Once my appetite was satiated, I went on the hunt for some Chapstick. Later, I was happy to have it in the hospital during all the hours of measured breathing, and where the dry air sucked all of the moisture out of my hormonally-haywire postpartum skin. (After I found the Chapstick, I demanded we go out for pie).
- The week before I went into labor, I made a big batch of my grandmother’s poppy seed bread. The carbs sustained my 36-week-pregnant self, and were also super handy to pack in my hospital bag for when I went into labor. Meals are served on a particular schedule at the hospital, and sometimes you get hungry between meals when your body has been through the Olympic feat of bringing a child into the world. While it’s possible to nip down to the cafeteria for a snack, those snacks are mostly insubstantial (such as fruit cups or pretzels and hummus). A couple of loaves of quick bread, however, are the ultimate comfort food after you’ve had stitches in your nether regions. My husband, my mother, and I all chowed down on poppy seed bread during my two-day hospital stay.
- This one should go without saying. Whether it’s your husband, boyfriend, mom, sister, good friend, doula, or just a super helpful L&D nurse, you’ve gotta have someone cheering you on in those moments of self-doubt during labor and holding your hand when you make your first postpartum trip to the bathroom. Conversely, you have the right to ban anyone you don’t want involved in your intense, special, and deeply spiritual rite of childbirth. Be clear about whom you do and do not want in your labor and delivery room, and stick to your guns. You’ll be glad you did.
Along with the above, be sure to pack a cute little outfit for baby and you’ll be good to go!