My son was born almost a month early. Suddenly a routine Friday afternoon doctor’s visit became my last prenatal visit and began a scary weekend of “lasts” (i.e.: Last date as parents to be; Last time leaving a house without a child; Last time for months waking up not being truly/madly/deeply tired; etc.). Being two dedicated business professionals, we had neglected to do the required packing and shopping before this point. Panicked, I quickly hit ONE overpriced store for all the items on the basic list provided by the hospital. This resulted in a rather woe-begotten first night at the hospital, and my first pictures as a mom being in the absolute ugliest, waaaaay too big for me, soooo not my colour/style/size/totally better for my great granny night gown you could ever imagine. So, to avoid this situation, be a bit more proactive. Avoid the stress – pack your bag 6 weeks before your anticipated due date. Like for real for real!
Just about EVERY mommy to be website has its packing list.Sadly, none are comprehensive enough for the local birthing experience. As I’m sure is the case throughout the Caribbean, hospitals in T&T, whether private or public are not exactly (interpret as completely different) to what you may find in North America or even likely rural Europe. Take nothing for granted – it is better to over pack than to find yourself spending precious awake time with your newborn explaining to a friend or family member why you NEED your fave granny-like undergarment which was left beneath two pairs of hole filled thongs in your drawer of underthings.
The most important thing is your comfort. By you we mean not only mommy to be but anyone else that may be lucky enough to be around for the birth of your new child.
- 7 pairs, extremely comfortable, large, my granny had nicer ones, underwear: I mean underwear that’s NOT a thong, has a wide gusset and in no way can be interpreted as sexy. Your “shop” will be closed for renovation after you give birth. Make sure you stay comfortable. I strongly recommend cotton VERY high-waisted versions. If you have to get a c section, you want them to be above the scar.
- Overnight, extra bulky, super absorbent, OMG these are way to big maxi pads: Trust me you WILL need them. You don’t want what the hospital has.This is an item to splurge on – don’t try to save money by buying a cheap brand. Get a brand you know and trust. I suggest one with wings because, well, leaks happen and they are gross. You may as well buy a few packs of these – you will need them everyday for at least a month. Hey, you went almost ten months without a period so think of this as the Higher Power getting even…
- 2 Nightgowns/ sleep shirts: Now there are those relatives who will want to buy you a
hospital “nightie” but do fight the power to be adorned in a pastel, frilly, frumpy old lady-esque dress to sleep in. Don’t waste money heading to (insert imitation local Victoria’s Secret store) looking for nursing pajamas either – these styles are unattractive and expensive. Be practical. Instead, plan in advance and pick a large comfy jersey material button down pajama top in a colour that flatters you. The buttons are the most important as these will free your boobies to be your little one’s first meal. Also this look also allows easy access to arms for nurses to keep your drip running etc. Alternatively, you can choose to wear a spaghetti strap nursing top (that snaps down for nursing) but then you will likely need a robe as, unless you are in a public hospital, maternity wards are cold. Note that when you actually give birth you will be in a hospital gown. Also, given the need for maternity pads (see above) these items will indeed likely get stained so save money and go chic but cheap.
- Chargers & extension chord: because a dead phone leaves you alone and more importantly without a camera.
- 2 Pairs Thick socks: why? Maternity wards are cold and post labour you will be drained and very cold. #trustme I got these cool ones from Amazon and promptly forgot to get them when it was time for the actual pushing. As I said… be more organized than I was. Also, don’t be excessive – these were $12.99USD which is ridiculous. Don’t. Splurge. On. Socks. #bereal
- Rubber slippers: showering in hospital? You will want these for sure.
- Toiletries: The hospital has nothing – not even soap soo bring it all. I suggest a (larger than travel size) liquid soap, spray deodorant (in case a friend or nurse has to apply it for you), again, you will be tired), lotion (light to no scent), face wash and face cream, toothpaste, toothbrush (in a tightly sealing no holes type vase to keep germs out) and anything else you need to feel clean.
- 3 wash rags: I threw one away after. Do the math and see my comments on shower slippers.
- 2 bath towels: Don’t bring the best ones as you may consider parting with them after they also touch “hospital”.
- Shower cap: Yeah I did not wash my hair at the hospital. Maybe you will be less “germaphobic” than I was. If not, pack this!
- Nursing bra: Your milk comes in after you give birth. Milk filled boob management is not part of Victoria’s secret skills… Get a comfy wire-free nursing bra. These are readily available in all their non gorgeousness at Wonderful World in Trinidad. You can also treat yourself to good nursing bras from Ms. BraFit who will custom measure you etc for your bra. My tips? Get one at least one band and cup size larger than you are in your 8th month. Thicker straps are just yummy because the boobies will get heavy.
- Breast Pads: Mommy milk leaks and stains and can be sticky. Be prepared. I like the NUK brand as they are thick and protect your nips from the abuse of even the softest nursing bra.
- A going home outfit: aka a loose garment that will photograph well and not touch your stomach, show your “granny panty” line and mask your enormous boobs. Don’t be me. I packed a horizontal striped cute pre-pregnancy weight dress that never left my bag. I ended up leaving in tights (maternity) and a loose top. I took no pictures of me. Don’t be me.
- Breast Pump: I never used mine at the hospital but you may need to and, take it from me, its not too early to start in the hospital.
- Headband/ ponytail holder: The headband will help keep hair from getting in your face/ messy when you are in labour.
- Comb, brush, hair care items: Your hair is going to get wrecked. Some women hair their hair braided before giving birth. I did not. Glad I was able to brush my hair after all the pushing business was over. I also packed a satin cap to wear UNDER their weird gause one the hospital gives you.
The hospital provides nothing for your newborn – chances are not even diapers. Save yourself the angst and bring everything you will need for baby.
- Hydrogen peroxide: Used to clean the baby’s newly formed navel
- Diapers: I got fabulous sample packs of The Honest Company diapers when I bought maternity clothes at Motherhood Maternity in the US. The package even came with wipes and cost me nothing. USE YOUR FREEBIES.
- Wipes: consider a disposable pack
- 3 newborn baby outfits: You need three as they are changed each day. I sadly only packed two outfits and then felt like an idiot having to send my husband home to search out another. While you don’t need hats and socks, you will have old relatives visit – the only time my son ever wore a hat was his first day in the hospital. Talk. Done.
- 3 or 4 baby blankets
- Cotton balls: yes, for real, the hospital won’t provide these even if you go private. Not. Kidding.
- Baby Hair Brush and Comb: Hey, some kids are born with hair. Don’t forget these items like I did.
- Baby wash
- Baby lotion
- Car Seat: The hospital won’t let you leave without one. I imagine this is only true for the private hospitals but beyond the rules, better safe than sorry folks.
Remember no list is comprehensive. Any additions to this list? Share and comment. Please!