There are countless lists online with suggestions of what to bring to hospital, but here are some considerations that I found helpful:
Pack yourself some great snacks. You'll want litres of fluids and to arrange some special post-delivery snacks for yourself. I requested root beer and fries and a McChicken when my parents asked what they could get me, which I don't even remember requesting but I demolished it all. Then a chocolate milkshake. Then the next day was more sensible: nourishing bone broth and a chia seed smoothie and anything the hospital staff put in front of me. In a cooler bag, in case you don't have access to a fridge, pack yourself some of your favourite treats and lots of high fibre foods to be gentle on your system. Yes the hospital will provide food but it's wonderful to have some of your favourite stuff on hand.
Pack some lovely toiletries. Seriously, bring a great soap and moisturizer. I was shocked by how fabulous my first shower was. I don't think I'll have a better shower in my life. It's so nice to feel hot and clean and refreshed after labour! So bring along some really good soap and moisturizer to soothe your skin.
Your own things. It's very comforting to have your own pillow, a favourite robe and other cozy items to curl up with as you're in a hospital. Anything soft and warm.
Recommended reads: Some people bring along a novel, but I was too exhausted to read anything but all the paperwork (birth certificate, social insurance and health card application for baby), and resources from the hospital.
Do bring a camera. I had zero desire to be photographed or to take pictures at the hospital, but Brian took pictures right after Felix arrived and they are now my most treasured. I forced myself to get up and take pictures of our little family in our room even though I could barely walk from exhaustion. I am so glad I did. If you're too tired, ask a family member to take lots of photos for you at moments you want to remember or better yet, hire a birth photographer! You will want to have these photos, at least on the day after delivery.
RECOVERY AT HOME
Take it (extremely) easy. Learn from my cautionary tale and do not try to leave your home too early. I tried to go shopping just a few days after birth and almost fainted. Nearly everything can wait, especially if you've done meal prep. Rest at home as much as possible and take advantage of any delivery service (more on that later). Here are some things that helped me recover at home:
- Nourishing, easy-to-digest foods like bone broth, oatmeal, soups, stews, etc
- Comforting herbal teas (Lauren Mary Holistics makes amazing ones!) and other warm drinks
- Sitz bath
- Epsom salts
- Heating pad
- Ice packs
- Postpartum wrap (such as the Belly Bandit)
- Bed sheets of the finest quality you can afford. Make your bed as comfortable as possible so that the precious sleep you get is near to perfect sleep.
You can also make it easy on yourself and order a curated box with nearly all of the above and more. What the Stork Forgot was created by Edmonton-based blogger Rachel Jones of Edmomton. It's a customizable gift bag you can purchase for yourself or an expecting friend and contains a brilliant array of must-have items for a recovering mama.
HELP WITH RECOVERY
I would highly recommend seeing a physiotherapist that specializes in women's pelvic health in addition to any follow-up you do with your OB/midwife/doula. I went to Cura Physical Therapies for sciatica pain (which they totally cured for me) during pregnancy, and for birth prep. I'm currently seeing them for help with my abdominal separation, and they can also help you with pelvic floor physio (aka recovering from the rigours of labour!)
LIFE WITH BABY
There are certain things that make life a little easier. Here are a few of my favourites: