UPDATED: Now that I’ve actually gone through labor during COVID times, I’ve updated to reflect my actual experience!
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 packed these items as not to waste the hospital’s PPE, since we already have some at home. I didn’t end up using anything in the room we were in (just while we were entering/checking in), but I know some states are in worse shape than NY at this point, so I definitely recommend bringing just in case.
- Nitrile gloves
- Clorox wipes
- Lysol disinfecting spray
- 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?
I ended up being naked or in a robe 99.9% of the time, but I would still pack all of the below depending on what your state is going through.
- Nursing bras (2)
- Granny panties (3-4)
- Nipple balm & hydrogel pads
- My own gown (this was SO much more comfortable than anything the hospital could offer 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
- Headbands/hair ties
- Toiletries & makeup
- Body wipes (these were AMAZING since I was in labor for 30+ hours in a room without a shower)
- Reusable water bottles (one for mom, one for dad)
- Electrolyte packets
- Pillow (I didn’t end up bringing mine in and I regret it majorly – there was a shortage at our hospital because of the high # of patients due to COVID, and I was so uncomfortable with the ones I did have provided)
- Snacks (bars, oatmeal packets & individually wrapped nuts/snacks) *would definitely overstock here if your hospital’s dining services are limited because of COVID*
- Change of clothes & toiletries (I would pack and bring this even if partners aren’t allowed to stay overnight in your state – our rules changed as we were in the hospital and I was glad it was all ready for us)
- PJs (in case he ends up being able to stay through the night)
- Going home outfits (bring 2, each in different sizes – NB and 0-3 months – 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) – but definitely have them waiting for you at home in case your hospital doesn’t give you a ton to take home
- Excess stuff for baby (not bringing any signs, decor, or photo props – too much stress!)
- Diapers, wipes, bottles, etc. (bring your own formula if you plan on formula-feeding)
- 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)