Ask the Doulas Episode 54: What to Pack in your Birth Bag
Today Alyssa and Kristin talk to Dr. Rachel of Rise Wellness about what she packed in her birth bag. It’s one of the most common questions we are asked by birth clients. Find out what to bring and what you can leave at home! You can listen to this complete podcast episode on iTunes.
Kristin: Welcome to Ask the Doulas with Gold Coast Doulas. I’m Kristin, co-owner, and we have a special guest with us today.
Alyssa: Dr. Rachel again!
Dr. Rachel: Hi, me again.
Alyssa: Hey, our friend and neighbor from down the hallway.
Dr. Rachel: With Rise Chiropractic.
Alyssa: We wanted to ask you because we get asked by a lot of clients: what do you pack in a birth bag? So we wanted to know what you packed, and maybe you’d have some advice for some parents who are thinking about this; what to pack, what not to pack. Did you pack anything that you wished you wouldn’t have?
Dr. Rachel: Yeah, I feel like I left the hospital with way too much when I left, so I feel I did pack too much, yes.
Kristin: That’s pretty common.
Dr. Rachel: Yeah, you read those things online, what to pack, and then I don’t think you need most of it, because the hospital has a lot, honestly.
Alyssa: Like what? Give us some examples.
Dr. Rachel: They have diapers; they have slippers for you; they have mesh underwear; they have the pads. Well, I saw that on one today when I was trying to remember. I was like, you don’t need any of this.
Kristin: The mesh underwear is awesome!
Dr. Rachel: Yes, it is awesome. Take it home with you!
Kristin: The peri bottle…
Dr. Rachel: Yes, the peri bottle. They have everything you need for baby, and it’s just more about comfort.
Kristin: And the biggest thing is for clients who are specific about natural products for themselves and for baby, then that would be something that they would want to pack because the products at most hospitals wouldn’t necessarily be considered natural.
Alyssa: I only remember the butt cream, maybe, that they had.
Dr. Rachel: Yeah, I’m trying to think. They had nipple cream.
Kristin: And the shampoo; it used to be Johnson & Johnson.
Alyssa: In the shower, you mean?
Kristin: No, for baby’s bath.
Dr. Rachel: I didn’t bathe my babies there. Was I supposed to? Did I bathe my babies there? I don’t think I did.
Kristin: You don’t need to. I don’t think you did. Just a sponge bath.
Dr. Rachel: Oh, I think the nurses did that. But I was also trying to remember; did they have shampoo and stuff? Because you do shower; you want to shower.
Kristin: Yeah, they have the small bottles for yourself.
Dr. Rachel: I couldn’t remember if I brought my own or not.
Alyssa: I didn’t think I showered in the hospital.
Dr. Rachel: I did. It was difficult. I’m not going to lie.
Alyssa: I think I waited until I got home.
Dr. Rachel: I showered the last day.
Kristin: I showered, but I extended my stay because my daughter was in the NICU, and I remember being in the shower and looking down and being used to my belly and seeing the in-between stage and that was a little dramatic to experience that.
Dr. Rachel: Yeah, I looked nine months pregnant. I looked a hundred weeks pregnant before that.
Alyssa: But you were carrying two!
Dr. Rachel: Right! So maybe a nice thing – I was thinking a robe might be nice.
Kristin: Yeah, a robe is really cozy.
Dr. Rachel: I didn’t have one.
Alyssa: Especially if you get cold, if you’re cold all the time.
Kristin: You don’t need it during labor, but in the post-partum time.
Dr. Rachel: Yeah, I’m thinking postpartum time, a robe.
Kristin: Or your own PJs.
Dr. Rachel: And I really liked – well, I literally was in the hospital gown the whole time until I left, but the breastfeeding tank tops. That’s a good thing to bring.
Kristin: Or a nursing bra, depending on your size. Some women can’t do tanks.
Dr. Rachel: That’s true. But if you’re going to have people come visit, you might want to get in normal clothes.
Kristin: I didn’t care, apparently!
Dr. Rachel: I brought, which I really liked, was the swaddles for the babies because I think we were there two nights.
Alyssa: Like a sleep sack or your own swaddle blankets?
Dr. Rachel: Well, I brought swaddling, like muslin blankets, but I also brought the ones I had bought with the Velcro, and I liked that instead of just using the hospital blanket that they give you.
Alyssa: Those are kind of small, too.
Dr. Rachel: Yeah. So I did like that I had brought that, and I don’t think that I saw that on any lists. And I actually brought more than just one baby outfit. I didn’t just leave my babies in the same outfit, and they pooped through them, so we went through a couple.
Kristin: They do that! And that meconium is pretty interesting.
Dr. Rachel: Yes. Oh, and I brought my pregnancy pillow.
Alyssa: For sleeping?
Dr. Rachel: Yeah, I got induced, so I used it all during that time while I was in the hospital bed. And I highly recommend that to patients when they go. I’m like, if you have that pregnancy pillow, bring it with you. It was the best thing I brought with me.
Kristin: Or just your own pillow from home with your own smell, like your pillowcase. That gives clients some comfort.
Alyssa: Well, and I’m weird about pillows, too. I like my own pillow; I like them a certain way; I need to have two of them.
Dr. Rachel: Did you bring your own pillows?
Alyssa: I didn’t. I didn’t even think about it.
Dr. Rachel: But you wish you would have, didn’t you?
Alyssa: I don’t even remember!
Dr. Rachel: There were no pillows for Adam, so I think he ended up using my pregnancy pillow when he slept on the couch, and I brought a blanket for him. There was really nothing for him. I mean, maybe we could have asked. I don’t know.
Kristin: Snacks; did he bring his own snacks?
Dr. Rachel: Well, I brought snacks for him, yes.
Kristin: Of course you did!
Dr. Rachel: Yeah, lots and lots of snacks. He got a burrito, too, while I got nothing.
Alyssa: That’s the worst part, not being able to eat. Being hangry and being in labor.
Dr. Rachel: Yes. I brought my breastfeeding pillow, also, the breast friend pillow.
Kristin: That’s nice. I like that brand.
Dr. Rachel: That was nice, and then having the lactation consultant there, to have that.
Kristin: Yeah, I highly recommend asking, even if you feel like breastfeeding’s going great, to get that extra support while you’re in the hospital from a lactation consultant is fantastic.
Dr. Rachel: And I had to leave the hospital with no shoes because my feet were so swollen afterwards, so some slippers or something would be nice.
Kristin: Yeah, slippers are great for women who want to walk the halls during labor and get out of their room. Those socks are fine, but I like slippers.
Dr. Rachel: But yeah, slippers or something. Are most women swollen after labor?
Alyssa: I don’t remember mine being swollen.
Dr. Rachel: I think it was just the C-section and all the IV fluids and not being able to leave my hospital bed. Either way, I was very swollen; so bring some slippers, maybe. Maybe I could have left the hospital in shoes, then. Headphones. I did the Hypnobirthing with Ashley, so I listened to that rainbow relaxation a lot.
Alyssa: Oh, and you used headphones so everyone else didn’t have to listen to it.
Kristin: And some people like to use a speaker and have it be out in the open for everyone, but with Hypnobirthing, you can be very internal, so I can see why you’d want to bring headphones and just get in your zone and listen to your affirmations.
Alyssa: So headphones or a speaker, depending on your preference.
Dr. Rachel: Right, or other people just like music, right?
Kristin: Yeah, some people make their own labor soundtrack. I did with my births.
Dr. Rachel: Oh, and a phone charger. Everyone tells you don’t forget that, although I’ll be honest; after babies, I don’t think I even looked at my phone for a very long time.
Kristin: But most people take pictures with their phone, so for some, it’s letting relatives and friends know, but for others, unless they have a birth photographer…
Dr. Rachel: We did have to contact you, so you do need your phone.
Kristin: For sure! Call your doula!
Dr. Rachel: Chapstick. You’re so dry. I think my throat was even so dry I had to have my mom bring cough drops for me. But you know what I wouldn’t bring? My straightener and my curling iron.
Alyssa: That’s a little ambitious!
Dr. Rachel: I don’t know why my friend told me to bring that. That and makeup; that was not needed, unless you want a pretty picture taken.
Kristin: Yeah, some people need to be on Instagram right away and look perfect after.
Alyssa: I think I brought a little bit of makeup, but I had long hair then, so I just pulled it up in a ponytail and maybe put some blush on and called it a day.
Kristin: Yeah, ponytail holders are great. You get hot; all that hair on your neck, and being able to pull your hair up is awesome.
Alyssa: That is one thing when I look back at pictures – I’m on all fours and my husband’s putting wet washcloths on the back of my neck because I was so hot, and to get my hair up on top of my head and get a washcloth on my neck was amazing. Anything else that you brought that you didn’t need?
Dr. Rachel: I don’t think so. I brought a lot of clothes, and I didn’t wear any of them because I was literally in the hospital gown. I mean, you need an outfit to go home in. You’re still going to have a big belly, so bring some sort of pants for that. I think my friend ended up bringing me clothes and I wore those home, which was nice.
Kristin: I wore my own clothes at both of my births. I didn’t wear the gown. I wore a long skirt and my water broke all over it, and then I was nude for the rest of my labor.
Dr. Rachel: Did you wear your gown, Alyssa?
Alyssa: Yeah, they had two on me for a long time, one front, and one back, and I was wandering the halls and sitting on yoga balls, and then once the time came, they whipped the one off. It wasn’t very pretty.
Dr. Rachel: Yeah, it is an experience. I think that was it, though. I think I probably brought too many clothes and too many hair products.
Kristin: Yeah, people tend to overpack, but snacks are key. I always say hydration, for clients who like coconut water, that’s excellent with electrolytes. For those who don’t, anything with electrolytes, even Gatorade can be a good option. Or for those who are into labor tea; some women bring it cold to the hospital. I’m a fan of honey sticks; get a little energy going.
Dr. Rachel: Well, they wouldn’t let me have anything!
Kristin: Well, yeah, your situation was unique.
Dr. Rachel: They wouldn’t let me have ice chips! I wish I could have had the snacks I brought. It was good for afterwards. If you end up in a situation where you can’t eat your snacks, you can eat them after.
Alyssa: Actually, I remember that’s one thing I brought you.
Dr. Rachel: You did bring me lots of snacks, yeah.
Alyssa: I remembered that I needed food afterwards and all the snacks!
Dr. Rachel: Yeah, and that was great because then I even had it at home afterwards because then you never eat at a normal time again.
Kristin: Exactly, if you’re breastfeeding, you can never get enough snacks that are in easy reach.
Dr. Rachel: You just live off protein bars and cheese sticks. Well, maybe not. Most babies don’t like dairy.
Kristin: Yeah, some babies have issues with dairy. Well, thanks for the advice. That’s one of the most common questions I get asked, either in consults or in prenatals with clients, is what to pack in the birth bag, what suggestions we have. Obviously, you said you took HypnoBirthing, so for those who are taking HypnoBirthing to bring the manual you get in class. That’s always helpful to be able to refer to that, and sometimes I’ll read scripts to my clients.
Dr. Rachel: Yeah, I think I brought those also. I read a lot – people were like, bring a magazine to read. When are you going to read during labor? Who has time for that?
Kristin: Maybe a really long induction where you’re there for three days trying to get ripe and all of that, but otherwise…
Dr. Rachel: But even then, I don’t know. Also, everyone has their phone, so Facebook.
Kristin: Right, social media brings it to a whole different level.
Dr. Rachel: Yeah, but I wouldn’t waste your time with that either.
Kristin: Yeah, and some people, again, make birth playlists and have it all planned out, and with my first, I was induced, so I thought I was going to have more time. It was somewhat quick for an induction, but I made a labor playlist and everything had “breathe” in it. It was themed. And I also had some local artist friends on my playlist, and I did a slideshow of photos from my wedding on my laptop that I had going when I was in the early stages, before things got intense.
Dr. Rachel: Did that help?
Kristin: I liked it. It passed the time. I’m not the type to watch movies, but I’ve had clients watch funny movies on TV to pass the time, and they just crack up. I’ve seen a lot of movies over the years.
Dr. Rachel: Here’s what I would say, also. If you’re close by the hospital, you can send your husband out to go get something you need.
Kristin: Or your doula.
Dr. Rachel: Or have someone bring it to you. So I wouldn’t really stress too much about a pregnancy bag. You can get stuff easy.
Kristin: Or if you have family members lurking in the waiting room, you can send them and give them jobs to do because they love to be helpful and they can go get food or something you’ve forgotten. But not everyone has that luxury of having family or friends nearby.
Dr. Rachel: Right, just if you do.
Alyssa: I’m laughing that you had the time to put together a slideshow. That’s obviously before your first kid, when you have all the time in the world to do these beautiful playlists.
Kristin: But I was on bedrest for three weeks, so I had a lot of time.
Alyssa: Right, well, I think that’s the key point is you had a lot of extra time.
Kristin: And I knew when I was getting induced, so I had time. It was totally different with my second and having a toddler and being pregnant, so I didn’t bring as much.
Alyssa: Anything else we need to know?
Kristin: Yeah, what’s going on at Rise?
Dr. Rachel: Oh, yeah, I was going to tell you that right now at Rise Wellness Chiropractic, we are doing a toy/clothing/supply drive for Degage Ministries, and if you bring in a supply, you can get your exam and consult at no charge, and that goes through December 14th. If you don’t want to be a chiropractic patient, you can still just donate if you’d like to.
Kristin: Yeah, we appreciate all the give-backs that you do in the community, and we love partnering with you on our diaper drives, so thank you for all you do for the community.
Dr. Rachel: Oh, yeah. We love it.
Alyssa: So if somebody has a toy, they can come in and drop it off – toy or clothes?
Dr. Rachel: Yes.
Alyssa: And then if they want to drop a toy and schedule a consult, they should do that online?
Dr. Rachel: They can do that online, yes, at risewellnesschiro.com or they can call the office, 616-258-8480. But online, you can just schedule yourself.
Kristin: And Rise is located in the same building as we are in Eastown, the Kingsley Building. We’re right about Terra Restaurant for those of you who are local.
Alyssa: And you get in through the parking ramp. It’s the hardest thing. You can find the building but you can’t find how to get in our office space on the second floor, so look for the little black awning next to the parking ramp on the corner of Lake and Genesee.
Kristin: Well, thanks for stopping by, Rachel! It’s good to chat.