August 31, 2006

What's In Your Hospital Dadbag?

mark_wahlberg_on_phone.jpgWhen we went to the hospital Sunday night before the kid was born, I actually brought my laptop--and a speakerphone. See, they had just released all 5,200 designs for the WTC Memorial competition, and I was maybe gonna be interviewing Mark Wahlberg with the New York Times about his entry. The room was supposed to be cell-phone-free, so I took the phone from the kitchen, just in case. In the end, even though I had backchannel confirmation that it was his design, Wahlberg's people were blowing smoke and denying he had anything to do with it, so the interview never happened.

My own experience with hauling in useless household appliances may explain why I haven't brought up the "what do you take to the hospital?" question too often around here. But we gotta tell DT reader Matt something, right? "Any recommendations of things to bring to the hospital, both for me and the new mommy-to-be? Anything you wish you had but forgot?"

The one thing I remember worrying about not having: a tube sock with tennis balls in it, for doing deep lower back massage and compresses during labor. Our childbirth class instructor was very particular about that, but with the rackets in storage, there wasn't a tennis ball in the house. [My wife's epidural went in so fast after we got there (correction: four hours after, which apparently flew by for absolutely no one but me -ed.), it turned out not to matter. And apparently they discourage you from vigorously massaging the area where the needle goes into the spine. Go figure.]

The other thing that we were glad to have brought: singles. Unless you know your hospital has a 24-hr cafe or shop, you may be visiting a vending machine a lot, and you'll want vending machine-friendly money.

Other staples: music. Is that CD's? Are laptop speakers enough? iPod/Tivoli? Old skool boombox? We were supposed to pre-approve anything that required plugging in, but in the end, no one cared.

What other things should be on the list?


I brought along my Game Boy. I had to put it away after I got dirty looks with lasers shooting out of the doula's (nurse) eyes when she saw it.

So maybe new Dad's want to leave that at home

In our childbirth class the teacher told my husband to bring a sweatshirt because there was a good chance that I was going to "be a little warmer than everyone else," thus requiring our room to be at an artic temperature. At first we thought she was crazy, but lemme tell you, he was happy to have the sucker when it all went down. Hospitals are frigid to begin with.
As far as the new momma, bring some cozy slippers and a robe. It will make walking the halls before and after much more enjoyable (no chance of your arse hanging out, etc).

For before the big moment - a book for you and a book for her ... if labor is slow to progress, hospital TV gets boring real quick (oooh honey, look , colestomy care is on again!). You never know if you might be like us and be one of the lucky ones who get to spend an extra bonus day in the hospital, even before the little one arrives.

first birth, in a hospital, my husband brought fairy lights (teeny white christmas lights) and strung them around the delivery room. i mocked him for packing them, but they really made the room cozier and more personal, and we could turn off the vile fluorescent lights and still see. i had back labor, and i wish we'd brought the hot water bottle recommended by our birthing class -- husband macgyvered up a surgical glove filled with hot water from the tap. robe and slippers, check. music, check. (nice activity for partner: making a labor mix! i wanted nothing with words once labor got going. husband did a mix of my fave old-skool stuff with words for early labor, then eno/medeski/jarrett/frisell/house like basement jaxx for when i was in the zone.) bathing suit for husband, in case there's a shower or tub you can get in together, to ease labor without dismaying the nurses.

I just stumbled onto your blog. I don't know how I got here. But I hope you post pics of Mark W. often. I'll come back to check. Thanks for brightening my workday!

[oh yeah, stick around, it's usually wahl-to-wahl around here. -ed.]

I'd say a pillow - one for dad and one for mom. You could be there a long time and home ones are so much better than hospital ones.

I really wish we had brought my wife's slippers when we went in for our first baby 2 weeks ago. They had the robe for her, but she was stuck roaming around in her socks before she buckled down in bed for a fast labor.

Even better than singles, I'd say to buy a combo pack of single serving snacks. We got a box with single serving bags of Chips-ahoy cookies, Ritz Bits Sandwiches, and Cheez-itz. We didn't regret it.


I love your blog, but come on...a laptop and speakerphone. Your wife was about to give can/will/should wait. Bringing stuff like this along is what gives us daddytypes a bad rap. BTW...congrats!

[it was a debate, to be sure, but come on, the Times! Mark Wahlberg! None of it happened, of course, and it all appeared immediately stupid to everyone, including me.-ed.]

I second what everyone has said, esp. snacks, robe, slippers, music, flipflops for the non-birthing partner, in case you get to take a shower. And in our birthing room, there was only one chair for both daddy and doula. Luckily, we'd brought the exercise ball (you know the giant beach ball thing you can sit on or stretch over), and they took turns sitting on that thing all night. One more: something comfortable to wear that you won't mind seeing in pictures for the next 50 years. I wore the ugliest granny nightgown and it's posted everywhere!

Let's face it: Preparing the "hospital bag" is for keeping you calm _before you go to the hospital_. It's make-work to keep you from thinking about panic (dad) and pain (mom).

So put what you like in the bag, and don't be shocked when you never open it during the big event.

Labor and delivery is like running a long distance race with lots of hills; it's NOT like waiting in an airport for your connection to Toledo. Even when you're running downhill (i.e. after a contraction) at mile 18 it's not like you whip out the Escapes section to finish up that article about the Bahamas.

As mentioned in a previous comment, do bring real food, unless you really like eating vending machine snacks for three or four meals in a row.

Good luck! It will not be boring!

Ditto AgnesDad! I had a whole bag of tricks packed, even a thermarest camping pad for using on the floor (we thought we were brilliant for thinking of this as it was so much more cushy than the yoga mat recommended). Then the cervix went schizo and the c-section was ordered and it was NEVER openened. I did LOVE my friend who brough me cosmo. it was something distracting to pick up and breeze through now and then when the baby was sleeping yet again and I needed to get my mind to stop spinning from the whole "we just had a BABY! and we have to TAKE IT HOME! and CARE FOR IT BY OURSELVES!!!" thoughts.

First three hospital births I don't recall packing much more than a tooth brush...but I would deffinately follow other's great advice and bring the gameboy and christmas lights.

This time around, any day now, we are having a home birth - mainly b/c we couldn't agree on what to bring to the hospital. Having the baby at home solves all those problems :)

Having been a totally neurotic father-to-be, I packed our hospital bag about 2 months before my wife's due date. It had everything...clothes, ipod, books, coin bag, slippers, massager, camera, video recorder, protein bars, etc.

Of course, when my wife's water broke at home, we were in my building's elevator leaving to go to the hospital. As the door was about to close, I jumped out. When my wife asked me what the hell I was doing, I just replied, "Hold on a sec, honey. I forgot my cigarettes and the crossword puzzle!"

Sorry. I'm babbling. There's really no point to this story. I'll leave now.

Sorry for the many many multiple posts. I kept getting server errors and hitting refresh. Oops.

I was instructed to bring some item upon which my wife could focus during those times when they need ... something to focus on. Suggestions from the nurse included a photograph of a loved one or a special trinket that reminds her of something.

I brought an 8 foot tall inflatable King Kong.

There aren't many uses for an 8 foot tall inflatable King Kong, but this turned out pretty well I must say.

Don't forget chargers for any electronic items. Cell phones, iPods, laptops, etc. After the 28+ hours in the hospital BEFORE the doc decided she needs a C-section, my wife's BlackBerry battery tanked.

If my wife were writing this, she would say:

Her pillow, a couple of pairs of socks (for her), breath mints (for you), advil (for you). Anything else is unnecessary, as you need to get out of there ASAP.

We took an end-table lamp so that we could turn off the fluorescent lights. It made the biggest difference of anything we took.

And, despite having the bag pretty much packed, I went into some kind of I-will-not-be-rushed-even -though-this-baby's-not-due-for-a-month zone, slowly putting in everything I could think of except the cat, and now the favourite part of the birth story is how Maman dawdled on the way to the hospital.

For the second kid, my husband thought to add the phone number for our pharmacy into the cell phone. So the nurses could just call in the prescriptions and they were waiting for us when we got there. May not seem like a big deal, but he is a genius and I remain grateful to not have had to wait too long for my pain meds/nipple cream with the screaming kid(s) in the car.

Coming from a mommy:

Nice smelling shampoo & shower gel (for both of you!)

It was SO nice to get up and use my Bath and Body Works stuff, and Pantene shampoo, after going through all that the night before. I had every intention of showering after baby was born... but he came at around 9:30, and once everything settled down, it was damned late, and I was SO tired!

Yes, an iPod would be great... too bad I didn't have mine yet when ds was born.

We had fun playing Trivial Persuit on hubby's PocketPC phone during labor! :)

Bottled water! For both!

How about a six-pack? Not wife really misses a good beer...I'm going to bring a six pack of her favorite for after she delivers.

Underwear/change of clothes if you're spending the night.

The sweatshirt idea is a good one. You should probably wear/bring (depending on the weather) pants as well.

someone mentioned pillows: I agree...

Obviously a camera: but you should pre negotiate what you can and can't take pics of with your wife. This will avoid sitcom like moments of rage and pain for everyone.

A piece of paper with everyone you need to calls phone number on it.

Yeah, that's all I can think of.

How completly timely.

My BabyMama and I went for a test run today to triage (first time parents, we) and got to test the validity of our packing decisions.

I guess the only thing I would add is a deck of cards and her body pillow (which is huge and I'm not sure how I'm getting that and the suitcase up to the room, but I'm sure I'll have the strength of a thousand men).

I ripped off a handful of the ones that sound good to me for this post but am anxious to hear more. Thanks innerweb!

Food, like twix or little snacks like that. Music is so important. Make a couple different mixes for different moods and energy levels. Your laptop. Pop in a DVD if you need to pass some time. Chargers for gadgets (and make sure you can use outlets. Some hospitals say you can't, but if pressed they will tell you which plugs are OK to use).

We took Trivial Pursuit cards for labor. That was the best idea.

As an RN working in a large metropolitan hospital... I can recommend a few things. First, check w/ the hospital's policy on home electronic goods (ours does not officially allow folks to plug in home goods to charge up or play... liability and risk of fire apparently). Second, make sure those fluffy and cozy slippers you bring are a pair you can live without because once you are discharged.... THROW THOSE BAD BOYS OUT... trust me, I don't care how often they buff the floors... hospital floors are DISGUSTING. Not only are you walking on them but the staffs' shoes/clogs are walking on them (with all the blood and crap that's spread around the hospital in general). I couldn't imagine then taking all that home... to a floor your infant will crawl on in 4-5 short months... UGH.

[if only there were some kind of single-piece, rubber shoe that was really comfortable, easy-on/off, and that you could clean just by throwing into a dishwasher or a vat of disinfectant... -ed.]

I'd also recommend doing a dry run to see if all the stuff you want to bring will fit in the vehicle you'll be using.

When my wife went into labor with our first daughter, she was already at the hospital and I needed to run back to the house to gather all the packed items. Everything fit into the car except the dang birthing ball. Thankfully, her labor was far enough along so she didn't need it, but for a split second I contemplated just not returning to the hospital rather than facing her pain-induced rage if I showed up sans birthing ball.

I was going to recommend some sort of easy on and off shoe that one could disinfect, but someone beat me to it. Heh. That's what I brought to wear. Hospital floors are gross, and I wanted more between me and that floor than a thin little piece of slipper sole
We only brought 1 bag. it contained 2 changes of clothes for each of us, 4 outfits for the peanut (we only brought one with Monster and he had the biggest poop of his life the second we put him in it), Powerade, instant miso soup packs, a hairbursh, hair elastics and deodorant. It's really all we needed, and I was in there for 5 days.
I didn't bother with a nightie or anything because I was happy to ruin the hospital's gowns instead.
One tip: unless you are totally attached to eating meat all the time, request the vegetarian meals. They tend to be fresher and don't have such a glue texture.

Just went through the "miracle" last week for the first time.

My two nuggets of information:

1) Bring your own toilet paper. The stuff they have on hand at pretty much any hospital is (dare I say?) crappy.

2) A little, battery powered hand held fan for the wonderful, soothing moments between pushes at the very end (we received ours in a game of "delivery bingo" during our birth class and thought it was the most stupid thing ever. . . I packed it purely as a joke, but when the wife told me that she was burning up while pushing I sort of shrugged, reached into our bag 'o plenty, and pulled out the fan. packing it was one of the best decisions we made, though we packed it to make fun of it).

[thanks, and congratulations! on the kid, of course, not just the fan. -ed.]

[if only there were some kind of single-piece, rubber shoe that was really comfortable, easy-on/off, and that you could clean just by throwing into a dishwasher or a vat of disinfectant... -ed.]

Well, unless you were joking, there is! They are called Crocs, and all the kids are wearing them. What the adults are slowly discovering is that they are the most comfortable shoes ever. They are made from some sort of space-age polymer, easily washable - they were designed for beach use (sponsors of the pro-volleyball tour).

My wife got a pair for the last few weeks of her term because she couldn't get into any of her shoes any more. These slip on, and trust me, they are worth the price. You will wear them everwhere! No, I don't work for Crocs.

Also, they have the clog-stlye and also regular flip-flop style which are just as comfortable and don't look as dorky. You can get these at Nautical supply stores or from Don't get the fake ones - they are not made from the same ultra comfortable rubber.

Thanks for all your advice and tips!

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