what to bring to (and take from!) the hospital
If you're in your third trimester, you've probably been perusing dozens of lists of what you need to pack before you leave for the hospital. I'm not saying my list is the best (well, maybe I am), but it was certainly the best for us. Almost equally as important as what you grab FROM the hospital. Don't worry about being greedy: they know new moms need all the support they can get and it seems like most places are very accommodating if you want to lug 200 heavy-duty pads home with you. Plus, a lot of hospitals have to throw away all the supplies once you leave the room, so if you want to save the environment and save some money, take everything.
What to pack for the hospital
Shelf-stable snacks - Depending on where you give birth, you may or may not be allowed to eat, but one thing is certain: you will be starving after delivery. And, if it's the middle of the night like it was for us, your hospital food options will be limited. I packed a variety of Kind bars and Go Macros, which I wolfed down after Avvie was born, but they were also handy to have as snacks in the days after.
Toiletries - The hospital will provide you with the basics, but it was much nicer having my own products for the few times that I did stumble out of my bed to wash my face. I brought the whole arsenal: face wash, day and night cream, eye cream and serum, shampoo and conditioner, body wash (a shower did not happen while we were there, but it was positive thinking), hairbrush, and lotion.
Chapstick - This gets its own entry because hospitals are DRY. Make sure to get a natural one, too. I was slathering on one with petroleum and didn't realize until hours later (and my doula Kim pointed out) that my lips were actually more chapped. I recommend one with beeswax.
Non-skid socks - The hospital will probably provide you with some, but mine were a size XL and barely stayed on my feet. And the ones I brought were cuter.
A robe - To be honest, I didn't use mine, but I can see the benefit in having one. I saw many other new moms walking around in theirs.
One nice t-shirt - Beth Israel employs a newborn photographer who comes to your room to take photos. It's a free service; you just pay if you want to buy the prints. I felt a little too tired to get out of my hospital gown, but it would be nice to wear a white t-shirt or loose button down.
Nursing bras and black boy shorts - Ok, let's be real: I didn't put on any non-disposable undergarments until I left the hospital, but you'll need something for at least the ride home.
Flip flops - Hospital showers are a little suspect.
Baby book - We brought this with us to the labor and delivery room so they could stick her footprints in it. I got ours here.
Eye mask - If you're light-sensitive, this can be a life saver when there is so much bustle in your room.
Your own pillow and non-white pillow case - I didn't bring this and that was a huge mistake. Hospital pillows are terrible.
Large bath towel - Like I said, showering didn't quite happen for me, but you want something better than the flimsy towel they provide you with.
A COMFORTABLE outfit to wear home - I wore these SoLow leggings, a maternity tee shirt, and sneakers. And yes, you'll be in your maternity duds for a few days longer, so don't chuck anything yet.
Take-home outfit for baby - The hospital provides little long-sleeve kimono tops, but if you're like me, you've been obsessing over what your baby will wear home for weeks. Aveline wore this RH Baby outfit with a pink sweater from Zara. Even though it was newborn size, it's still a bit too big for her, but, whatever, I still thought it was adorable.
Insurance information and your birth plan - We printed out a bunch of copies of the birth plan, but ended telling the nurses and doctors verbally what we wanted in terms of birth, anyway.
Extension cord - The plugs in hospitals are weird. A good, long cord means you can have access to your phone without having to make your husband rummage under the bed for it.
Change of clothes - Especially if dad is going to do skin to skin after birth, stuff might get messy.
Toiletries - If he wants to be clean shaven for the newborn photos, make sure he packs a razor.
Flip flops - see above.
Nice camera - If you have one, stick it in the bag. You may or may not get around to using it, but it's nice to have.
iPad/books/crossword puzzles - Since we were induced, there were a lot of hours of waiting around. And because the epidural made me drowsy, all of these things kept Mike entertained while I snoozed.
Car seat - Even if you don't have a car, you will probably need to bring your baby home in one of these by law. We have the Cybex Aton, since it is the easiest seat to strap in and out of a taxi.
What to take from the hospital
Disposable mesh underwear - Not the hottest, I'll admit, but extremely useful in the first few days post-partum.
The biggest pads you've ever seen - Self-explanatory.
Witch hazel pads - These help with swelling down there.
Newborn diapers - Seriously, take like a hundred.
Peri bottle - This is a little squeeze bottle that will be your best friend in the days following labor.
Sitz bath - This will be your other best friend - it's kind of like a kiddie toilet seat that fits over your regular toilet. You fill it with warm water and it's heavenly.
Ice-pads - These are definitely black magic. They look kind of like big pads, but you fold them in half and some sort of chemical core bursts, making them feel cold.
Donut pillow - Shaped like ... a donut, this enables you to sit without crying.
Wee-wee pads - I mean, that's what they look like. In the hospital, they'll often fold these in half, cover them with four pads, an ice-pad, witch hazel pads and ointment and stick them inside one of the giant pairs of mesh underwear. You will look like you're wearing a diaper, but it's sweet, sweet relief. Afterwards, you can use them to cover the changing table.
Did I miss anything? Drop a line in the comments.