Walking out of the hospital after my first child was born was a scary moment. I think I actually said out loud: “they’re letting us leave with him?! I’m not ready.”
We said goodbye with my son, a new car seat, and a ton of nerves…but that’s about it.
Leaving the hospital after my third child was born was a whole different experience. Aside from feeling more confident – after all, I had managed to gain a track record with two other babies – I was also more savvy. Instead of leaving with what I brought, I left with a whole lot more.
When you are expecting, people will share their pregnancy experiences, cravings and workouts, delivery stories, and bloopers. But they rarely prepare you for what those two to three days of your hospital stay look like, and they almost never tell you what to take with you when it’s time to go home.
Every hospital is different but some items are universal. What I also learned is universal is that many of the items that are given to you when you deliver cannot be used again and will be thrown out after you leave. So, if you choose to deliver in a hospital, the advice I would give new mothers is to take whatever isn’t nailed down. By my third hospital departure, I had perfected this. I just wish someone had told me what to take the first time around.
Those baby blankets that you see in every newborn photo – yes those – grab as many as you can! When it came to swaddling, not a single blanket (and I tried many) compared to the ones from the hospital. There is just something about their size, texture, weight, and shape that simply makes them perfect for so many things. I’m convinced the hospital has an endless supply and I’m almost positive they expect you to take them home, so do it. They will serve you for years to come and be covered in spit-up or a poop explosion before you know it so you truly can’t have enough. Aside from the perfect swaddle, they make a great burp cloth, blanket for tummy time, or layer between a baby bum and a hot car seat, and once these needs are behind you, those blankets serve as an excellent cleaning rag.
That mauve-colored basin that the hospital delivers your diapers, paper towels, and other supplies in – don’t leave it behind. Four years after delivering my third child, I still have them in my bathroom. They now hold bath toys, hair care products, and cleaning supplies. When we first got home from the hospital, that basin was the perfect size for my son’s first at-home bath and it then became the ideal basin for soaking and sanitizing all those little bottle parts and baby toys.
Take. The. Diapers.
“I have diapers at home,” I said. “I put diapers on my registry,” I said. (Famous last words of a first-time mom.)
No one could’ve prepared me for the number of diapers I would go through in those first few months. Whether it was new mom operator error (I made many rookie mistakes) or one of the many times my newborn pooped up his back or down his legs, I changed more diapers than I could’ve imagined. Regardless of your supply at home, take whatever is left at the hospital with you. Diapers are expensive so consider the money you’re saving here as a way to add more to their college fund later.
Nose Suction bulbs
There is no nose suction bulb quite like the nose suction bulb at the hospital. I finally found one months later online but could’ve saved myself a lot of time by just grabbing the one from the hospital. Since babies (and toddlers) can’t blow, this bulb came in handy for years post the newborn stage. It’s one of those things you may not think about (or even know you need while you’re there) but you just don’t want to leave it behind.
During my first hospital stay, I learned that things like stethoscopes cannot be used again so even if it’s not offered, ask if you can take it – they likely plan to pitch it anyway. I first used the one we took home from the hospital to listen to my baby’s little heartbeat and then listen to my stomach during future pregnancies. Now, my children use it to play doctor. No toy stethoscope will compare to the real thing and you may even create a budding doctor or nurse in the process.
Labels and bracelets
Those blue and pink signs at the head of the bassinet with your last name; your matching hospital bracelets, the labels on the folders – believe it or not, when you finally reflect, these will bring back beautiful memories. I stashed these away for all of my children and I hope they cherish them as much as I do.
The moral of the story is, take whatever you can – you will use it all! If you are uncomfortable just taking things, ask the nurse or doctor first. What you want will likely be thrown away anyway. As new moms, we’re already nervous enough about walking out of that hospital. We deserve to have anything that may make that transition a little easier.