Most everything related to pregnancy prompts advice from well-meaning family, friends, and even strangers. Every book, magazine, or website about childbirth has a checklist of necessities to pack in your hospital bag, and they can be surprisingly different from one another. It can be hard to know what to believe and harder yet to know what to pack in your bag.

Many checklists and social media photos create an unrealistic expectation that women have time and energy to multitask while in labor – like writing thank-you cards or enjoying hobbies. Having a distraction or a focal point during labor can be helpful, but don’t feel like you should keep busy during labor. You may want nothing more than to rest when you can, and you deserve to.

Taking care of yourself is the most important thing you can do for yourself and your baby, yet sometimes it’s the last thing on your mind. When you’re packing your hospital bag, don’t forget to pack these self-care essentials.

5 Self-Care Essentials to Pack in Your Hospital Bag

1. Comfortable Clothing

Keep in mind you’ll be sore and tired after giving birth. Comfort is key. Pack comfortable loose-fitting clothes. Ease of access will help if you are breastfeeding and when you are being checked by the doctors and nurses. It can be helpful to wear a robe or shirt that opens in the front.
Clothing that requires you to lean forward, stand, or otherwise reposition yourself to be accessible to your baby may cause you unnecessary discomfort, whether you delivered vaginally or through a C-section.

2. Nursing Pillow

A nursing pillow may seem like a bulky item to pack but it’s worth it for the comfort it brings you and your baby. It helps hold your baby comfortably and securely in position, so your tired arms and abs don’t have to do all the work. You can also tuck any IV tubing under the pillow, keeping the baby from getting tangled.

3. Sleep Mask and Earplugs

Hospitals typically have quiet hours, but they may not be as quiet as you think. The hospital staff is busy all night. If you find it difficult to sleep in a strange place or need dark or silence, consider a sleep mask and earplugs. The more sleep you can get in the hospital, the better you’ll feel when you go home. You may not have as much help available once you get home as you do in the hospital where you have round-the-clock care. Rest now if you can.

4. Post-Partum Underwear

Hospitals typically give new mothers disposable mesh underwear after giving birth. While they do hold pads (a necessity!), they may not be as snug or comfortable as you’d like. Bringing your own post-partum underwear and pads is an option, but disposable post-partum briefs hold more fluid than pads and are better at preventing leaks than regular underwear.

5. Personal Hygiene Items

While having a baby is exhausting, you may want to feel more like yourself after giving birth. Showering with your own shampoo and soap can help you feel more refreshed.
Pack your essential toiletries that make you feel at home and comfortable. Skincare items, hair care products, and even makeup can help make your stay in the hospital more enjoyable.

Taking Care of Yourself is Essential

Your baby may be the most important person in the world to you, but you are the most important person to your baby. Self-care, including rest and comfort, is essential for your recovery. Prioritizing yourself can be difficult for new mothers but starting from birth is a good practice.

Make room in your hospital bag for these essential self-care items – you’ll be glad you did.

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