- A comfy pair of sweatpants that don't look too grungy - mine were "regular" not maternity....and I still wear them pretty often (though they look a lot grungier now!)
- Maternity shirts that cover the ENTIRE belly (very hard to find, especially after month 7!!)
- Our baby was born on December 8, but even on the chilliest days I was always HOT! Remember that little bun in the oven really does make a lot of heat, and plan your wardrobe purchases around this!
- If you have a wedding or some other formal occasion to go to while you are pregnant, try really hard to find something that makes you feel feminine and pretty. Remember that baby belly really is beautiful, no matter how "tank-like" you may feel waddling across the dance floor!
Hospital - There really isn't all that much stuff you need to bring with you to the hospital. Of course, I packed enough stuff that Matt had to take 2 or 3 trips to get it all in (and that didn't count the infant car seat!) ..... but that was way way overkill. They don't let the laboring woman do much while she's laboring (really, you won't want to anyway!!) But there is some stuff you'll be glad you brought. Our state requires a blood test 48 hours after baby is born, and if you leave the hospital before that test, then the baby has to have the painful test done a second time. So, you'll be spending a few days there - but it's not all bad - you can pick whatever you want to eat and they'll bring it to your bedside, very convenient! Any questions you have about your newborn's care will be answered for you. Not such a bad deal.
- Baby book - when your baby is born the nurses will take their footprints, and will be willing to put those in whatever you brought along. I suggest getting footprints put in the inside cover of little photo brag books as gifts for the grandmas. Tell the nurses this BEFORE labor gets serious, because otherwise you will forget (I did! Sorry moms...)
- Camera! (and extra batteries! and an extra storage card for your digital!)
- Plenty of flexibility and resolve. Things may not go the way you envisioned (maybe a tear, or a cesarean...or whatever), but ultimately you will (God-willing) have the same end result - a healthy baby! This is probably one of the hardest things you will do, but ABSOLUTELY worth it!!! And, God will see you through.
- I didn't have one of these for Cora's birth, but this product has caught my eye and I will be seriously considering it if God blesses us with any further children: http://www.mom4life.com/catalog.php?item=904 I do remember the gown they gave me at the hospital being really awkward when it came to putting on the monitor around my tummy to measure baby's heart beat and contractions, so I can't help but think that this skirt would make things easier. Plus, those gowns left things pretty exposed when it came to first nursing - one of these skirts plus a comfy top with nursing openings might be the ticket!
- Toiletries - toothbrush, deodorant, etc.
- Going home clothes (sweatpants!) Pick something you won't mind if you don't look super slender in, cause you won't be back to pre-baby shape yet at ALL!
- Husband clothes/toiletries
- any nursing pillow you might have (Boppy, etc)
- For your newborn all you need is an outfit for the picture, and outfit to take them home in, and an infant car seat. Don't bother bringing your diaper bag with you - when you leave the hospital, you're probably going straight home anyway, and you won't need to stop to change the baby in the 20 minutes it takes to drive home.
- I had brought a bunch of magazines thinking I would get bored sitting around the hospital. Ha! Plenty of visitors - nurses, family, the baby's doctor, my doctor, friends, people from church, and then meals arriving, then the hospital had a tv, plus the videos they show you about newborn care, and nursing your baby, and learning to hold your baby, and swaddle your baby, and finally just being able to HOLD your baby in your arms....trust me - you won't be bored. 48 hours isn't as long as it sounds.
Immediate Postpartum - This is a time for healing for mama, bonding for the newly grown family, learning to nurse and care for your baby, and special memories.
- It's also a time to forget about your body image, because you just can't be worrying about that - there's other more important things! For AT LEAST (probably longer) 6-8 weeks you will still be wearing maternity clothes - stuff that fit you when you were around 6 months pregnant. So pay attention to what fit you then, and keep it around.
- About a day or two after they send you home from the hospital, your milk will come in. This is uncomfortable, but just keep nursing your baby when they are hungry, and eventually milk production will even out to a point where it's comfortable for you and meets baby's demands. They all say to get a supportive nursing bra - I disagree - I found that a tight-fitting bra made the breast baby wasn't nursing feel very uncomfortable during let-down. I ended up mostly using loose-fitting sports bras with absorbant, washable bra pads, and that removed the problem for me. Experiment, use what works for you.
- Bra pads. I suggest trying Bravado nursing pads, they come in a package of 6 (3 pair). If you must get the disposable kind, try Lansinoh brand. (don't bother buying lanolin - the hospital gives you a sample which is PLENTY if your baby quickly learns how to latch properly. But, if you have problems with soreness, then you can run to the store and get some, otherwise save your money) Until you've been nursing a couple of months and things even out, expect to have some leaking when baby is nursing - be prepared with bra pads!
- Nursing tops. Try the bra/tank with a nursing opening paired with a zip-up hoodie for around home. Glamourmom has these, so does Motherwear...there's lots of brands. Also get a few (several) tops with nursing access for out-and-about, if baby gets hungry, it makes things a little easier.
- Nursing Nightgown (or other sleepwear). For the first few nights home from the hospital, my mom and mother-in-law stayed with us and let us get some much needed rest. If baby woke up, they changed her and brought her to me to nurse back to sleep. So since you may very well be up all hours of the night with company around, get a nightgown that has easy nursing access that you won't be embarrassed to be seen in.
- Burp cloths. When your milk supply comes in, it's a shock to baby's system. This is when spit up starts to happen!!! Keep a burp cloth on every couch and chair and in every room - be prepared :-)
- Try not to do any work other than caring for your baby until your baby is at least 8 days old (that's how they did it in the Bible!). Get the rest your body needs - labor and delivery is HARD WORK, learning to nurse and care for your baby isn't easy - focus on that for a while and get the rest you need and bond with your newborn. Ask close friends and family to help with meals and laundry for a while.
I'm sure there are a few things I've left out, and of course each woman's labor and delivery is VERY DIFFERENT. You'll be at the hospital longer if you had a C-section. It'll take you longer to feel like moving if you had a tear or episiotomy. Pain like that is worse (in my opinion, I had a tear and it was unsensible how much it hurt after the numbing for the stitches wore off) because you have already reached your main goal: delivering a healthy baby. Stick it out, you'll heal soon enough (in the mean time use the stuff they gave you at the hospital, and stock up on witch hazel pads!).
I'd love to have others post comments up here of their experiences and things they found most helpful in these delicate times of Pregancy, labor/delivery, and first few weeks postpartum.