Let’s talk about being pregnant during a pandemic.
First of all – finding out you’re pregnant at all opens up a Pandora’s box of anxieties you may never have known you were capable of: You anxiously await each doctor appointment to make sure everything is OK and find yourself Googling “is it normal to [insert symptom here] when you’re pregnant?” for every ‘symptom’ you have. But not once did even my craziest pregnancy spirals lead me to asking Dr. Google what it’d be like to bring a baby into the world during a pandemic.
The first few weeks of COVID left me more anxious than ever. As news of maternity floors in hospitals closing and partners being told they could no longer stay by your side during delivery (which has since changed in NY) spread, I was petrified, especially as a first time mom-to-be. For a few weeks, after you gave birth, hospitals were transferring you to an entirely separate building for recovery where you’d be without your partner, but in a room of 15-30 other moms. It was terrifying to think about, especially as things changed day-to-day.
Since this situation is totally new, I’ve been at a total loss with how to adjust to some of the new policies – specifically, with what to pack in my hospital bag.
Even if you read the most minimalist hospital bag “must-have” lists, they all include items that you’d typically want with you under normal circumstances (like a towel and pillow), but not necessarily during a pandemic. My doctor’s advice? Bring as little as possible and make sure everything can be disinfected or totally thrown away.
That all being said – here’s what I ended up packing in my pandemic pregnancy hospital bag in hopes of helping someone else pack their bag during this time. Truly the bare minimum here as we won’t have any visitors, and will hopefully be discharged within 24-48 hours.
I’ll update with what I actually used and what else I wish I had had with me post-#BabyG’s arrival.
I’m bringing these items as not to waste the hospital’s PPE, since we already have some at home
- Nitrile gloves
- Clorox wipes
- Lysol disinfecting spray (we’ve been saving our last 1/4 of a can!)
- Travel-sized hand sanitizer
- Garbage bags (anything that needs to be disinfected or thrown out will go into these to keep them separate from the rest of my stuff)
Any clothing, towels, etc. that I packed are ready to be thrown out or can be easily disinfected without being too precious. Like sure, I’d love to wear one of those pairs of silk PJs with feathers lining the sleeves but maybe for the next kid, amiright?
- Nursing bras (2)
- Granny panties (3-4)
- Nipple balm & hydrogel pads
- My own gown (I’ve never been a patient at a hospital before and being comfortable is super important to me)
- Robe (black & super cheap)
- Loose pajamas (old pair of the softest black PJs that can easily be washed)
- Going home outfit (leggings & a loose top)
- Plastic slides
- Compression socks (been living in these already)
- Fuzzy grippy socks
- Headband & hair ties
- Toiletries & makeup
- Body wipes (in case showering isn’t an option)
- Reusable water bottles (one for mom, one for dad)
- Towels (bought these in black so we can easily disinfect or throw out – since I’m not sure if I’ll be able to shower at any point, these aren’t in my bag, but are in our car)
- Electrolyte packets
- Pillow (not sure if I’ll be bringing one – so many people suggest this for comfort, but I don’t love the idea of bringing home a pillow from a hospital right now)
- Snacks (bars, oatmeal packets & individually wrapped nuts/snacks)
- Change of clothes & toiletries (this isn’t actually in my bag, since as of right now, partners have to leave 2-3 hours post-delivery, but we have it packed in the car in case anything changes)
- PJs (in case he ends up being able to stay through the night)
- Going home outfits (bringing 2, each in different sizes, just in case!)
- Receiving blanket
- Car seat (which needs to be installed in your car in order to leave the hospital!)
- Birth plan (printed 2-3 copies)
- All insurance info & pediatrician info (printed out)
- Extra phone chargers (2) (bring extra long ones so that they reach your bed)
- Speaker & charger
- Camera, tripod & Bluetooth remote (we won’t have anyone taking pictures for us so planning to do this on our own!)
- Headphones/earplugs (especially if you’ll potentially be sharing a room)
- Mini fan (while I won’t be bringing one myself, this was recommended in case you’re hot during labor)
- Extra bag (bringing a plastic tote bag that I can easily wipe down for any supplies the hospital sends you home with)
- Gifts for nurses – originally, I was planning to bring in bagels for the team but because of COVID, I’m now packing mini beauty goodie bags for each:
PS – tip for making everything fit into a small bag: Packing cubes. Roll up clothes to help them fit better, and organize into groups of like items – aka all of your clothing together, snacks all together, all of your tech/cameras together, etc.
What I’m Not Bringing
Just as important as what I am bringing, here’s what I’ve decided to leave at home per advice from my doctor and moms who have recently given birth.
- Breast pump (I plan to talk to a lactation specialist, but this is extra bulk that I just don’t need to schlep)
- Any recovery materials for mom (like ice pads, adult diapers, etc.) (being there for such little time, this just didn’t feel necessary since hospitals have everything you need)
- Excess stuff for baby (not bringing any signs, decor, or photo props – too much stress!)
- Diapers, wipes, bottles, etc. (yes, I have preferences on what I plan to use on my newborn, but I’m not enforcing them while we’re in the hospital)
- Anything that I can’t throw out or easily disinfect (of course I won’t be throwing out most of the items listed, but nothing I’m bringing is too important in case it needs to be disposed of for any reason)