Dad Guide to Packing for the Hospital

Slumped in a chair tucked away in the corner of the room a mound of clothes and flesh attempts to get some sleep. He spent the night walking his daughter around the halls of the maternity ward. He hasn’t showered or shaved and he’s been wearing the same clothes for three days. He receives little attention. He’s the father.

When you prepare for the birth of your child you think about what will your wife need and what will your baby need. Of course you should – they come first. But you should also put some thought into what you need so you don’t end up like incredibly happy yet exhausted pretzelman in the corner.

Oh, what’s that? You’re too stressed to think about what you need? No problem, friend. I’ve got you covered with the dad guide to packing for the hospital.

The Essentials

Before you get yourself sorted out, use this handy list from Baby Center to make sure your soon to be family is good and ready: What to Pack for the Hospital or Birth Center.

A Weekend Camping Trip

When you’re packing for the hospital, approach it as if you’re preparing for a camping trip where you take home a small feral animal.

That being said, here are some additional items you should think about bringing for yourself:

A Change of Clothes and Toiletries: Yes, I did read the list from Baby Center. I think it warrants another mention. You don’t know how long you will be in the hospital. You could be in there for one night or four. Bring a couple changes of clothes to keep yourself comfortable. You do not want to expose your newborn to your newly acquired cologne: “Three Days in a Hospital Without a Shower.”

Pillow and Sleeping Bag: There’s a high likelihood that you will stay at least one night in a hospital. You will not get a bed. The best that you can hope for is a foam mattress on the floor. You might get a pillow and sheets. You might not. You can guarantee a higher degree of comfort by bringing your own sleeping bag and pillow when you catch a few moments of sleep in the hospital.

Earplugs and Night Mask: Sticking with the comfort-and-rest theme, earplugs and a nightmask (or a blindfold), can help you get some sleep anytime of the day whether you have visitors or not.

Even if you can’t sleep from the adrenaline, taking  a few moments of sensory deprivation will help keep you fresh and alert.

Food: There’s a cafeteria but that won’t stay open all night. Bring granola bars and dishes that you can microwave in the maternity ward.

Camera (Or your Credit Card) – A Cautionary Tale: A photo studio operated in the hospital where we delivered. A representative came to see us in our room and invited us to a free photo session. I know what you’re thinking – sounds a little rapacious. I expected a broom closet and an overworked admin person snapping the photos with their iPhone.

It wasn’t what I feared. There was a professional photographer who genuinely enjoyed her work. She set up a nice little studio in an seldom used hallway in the maternity ward.

As soon as she set up the photo of my hands sandwiched together with my wife’s and my new baby’s, I knew we would pay whatever they wanted.

The photos turned out great and we love having a record of the first days that we were a family. You can spend a little less by bringing your own camera or asking a friend to take photos with their digital SLR camera.

Champagne: Nothing marks a celebration like champagne, but you don’t need to splurge on Moet or Dom Perignon. You have a family to take care of now – and you just paid for a professional photo shoot.

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