Bryan and I spent 5 months trekking back and forth to the NICU. It was exhausting, but worth it to see our little guy. I cherished every moment I could spend with my baby and didn’t want to waste time hunting down everything I needed every morning before I left, so I had my general essentials pre-packed, grabbed a few things that couldn’t be pre-packed, and kept a few things in the hospital. Here’s my list of essentials. Maybe they’ll help you too!
- Diaper bag (backpack) — I received a diaper bag backpack when Felix was born and it had plenty of room to carry around everything I needed, and after Felix came home, it continued acting as my go-to bag.
- Lots of snacks — I preferred things like granola bars, chewy bars (the oats helped my milk supply), cracker sandwiches, and beef jerky, that would hold up for several weeks/ days.
- Pre-filled reusable water bottle — hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!
- Lightweight sweater and/ or top — these came in handy many times!
- Laptop and charger — I was lucky enough to work remotely, so I pulled out my laptop to work whenever Felix was asleep.
- Journal and pen to write down all my thoughts, take notes, etc.
- NICU milestone beads — I called this my Felix necklace and wore it every day he was in the hospital. I felt so much closer to him even when I was away.
- Apple air pods — these were great, as I could listen to music or watch shows without disturbing Felix and I didn’t have to worry about wires getting in the way.
- Spare phone charger — I didn’t always need this, but was grateful I had it on those extra long days.
- Wallet — duh.
- Lotion — my hands got so dry all the time from the constant hand washing
- Tissues — these definitely came in handy. I shed lots of tears while Felix was in the hospital.
- Hand sanitizer — Although the hospital provided lots of hand sanitizer around the NICU, I used this when getting to my car, before and after eating, and whenever I couldn’t access a sink. I did not want to get sick.
- Other self-care items —breastpads to stop milk leaking, menstrual pads (a must in the first weeks after labor), lip balm, hair ties, etc.
- Milks and molded ice pack — a must, since I brought milk I’d pumped at home for Felix. I grabbed these first thing in the morning before leaving to the hospital.
- Lunch — sometimes I brought lunch from home and other times ate at the hospital cafeteria.
- Spare reusable tote bag — for some reason, I always left the NICU with more items than I came in with, so my spare tote bag was a lifesaver plenty of times.
- Reusable mask — while I didn’t use this while Felix was in the hospital, it’s a crucial item now.
- Phone — my phone served so many purposes. It was a book, journal, camera, TV, and radio.
- Pumping parts (I had two sets — one at home and one at the hospital)
- Hospital-grade pump — the NICU provided us with one in the room. Sometimes it was shared with other moms, so I just wiped it down in between uses.
- Pumping bra
- Nipple butter
- Pumping scarf
- Sharpie pen and labels
- Pumping storage bottles (the NICU provided us with these — I used breastmilk storage bags at home)
- Wet/ dry bag for storing all my pumping supplies
- Washbasin and dish soap to wash pump parts
- Pillows — for holding Felix
- Lots of books — to read to Felix
- NICU milestone cards to put up whenever he reached a new milestone
- Baby clothes — we weren’t able to dress Felix for quite a while, but once we did, he went through clothes FAST! I was constantly shuttling laundry back and forth. Veteran tip — make sure to get clothing with snap buttons. These are the best for threading all the wires and allowing doctors and nurses to quickly check the baby.
- Swaddling blankets — Felix’s room looked so much more like home when we brought in bedding for him. The swaddling blankets were used to wrap him up, as crib sheets, and when we held him.
- Baby nail clippers, nail files, and hair brush – for some reason the NICU didn’t have clippers or files, so I brought these from home.
- And a camping chair… space was at a premium and often I would sit in the rocking chair to pump or hold the baby, while my husband or mom had to sit in whatever chairs the hospital had. Our camping chair was so much more comfy, and could fold up when not in use. Win win!
So that’s it. I know every hospital is different, but I hope my list comes in handy for you. Let me know if I missed anything in the comments.