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Some of the prep I needed to do for giving birth was easy, but other things? Not so much. For example, when it came to writing my Hug Plan, to help ensure that I’d have immediate skin-to-skin contact with my baby after she was born, I could rely on Huggies to help me out. But deciding what stroller to buy, or what to pack in my hospital bag wasn’t nearly so straightforward. I could read online reviews for products, but I never did find the definitive packing list I wanted. So I’m writing one for all the moms-to-be out there. If you’re nearing the end of your nine-month preggo party, here’s what to pack in your hospital bag—and what to leave at home.

Useless Items I Packed In My Hospital Bag

1. Bathrobe
My fashion sense pretty much went out the window after pushing a baby out of my body. The robe was bulky, and I felt fine wearing a hospital gown (especially since it opened in the front, and made it easy for me to breastfeed my baby, as well as have plenty of skin-to-skin contact).

2. “Push” playlist
Hey, I love playlists as much as the next gal, but when I was in the throes of a really wicked contraction, I wasn’t interested in my pre-selected music. If you think you might want tunes, I would suggest going with Spotify and letting your mood choose what you listen to.

3. Birthing ball
It may work for some, but when I was in that amount of excruciating pain, the last thing I wanted to do was bounce or roll my body over a ball. Plus, I’m sure I would have
gotten mad at my husband for ignoring me while he tried to inflate it.

4. Sheets
I read somewhere that it’s nice to have your own sheets that feel soft and smell like home. Nope, didn’t care one way or the other about the hospital sheets. I had way more important stuff to focus on!

5. Bathing suit for my husband
My son was born in a birthing pool and I’d wanted my husband to get in the bath with me during labor. He packed the swimming trunks but when my water broke in the pool, my husband was like no way.

6. Parenting books
Of course, there’s plenty that baby books can tell us, but don’t bother bringing them to the hospital. Believe me, your baby will be just as confusing when you get home as she is in the hospital. If there’s something you really need to know about babies at the hospital, ask a nurse.

7. Magazines
Yeah, I actually thought there was going to be time to sit around and read while I was pushing a baby out of my vagina. And don’t bring one for after, either, because you’re going to be passed out from exhaustion or staring avidly at your mini-me.

Items I Wished I Would’ve Packed Instead

1. Huggies diapers and wipes
Yes, the hospital had diapers and wipes, but having my own, in my preferred brand, would have been extra convenient.

2. Cough drops
Not to scare anyone, but I screamed my head off during labor. By the time my daughter was born, my throat was achingly scratchy. I would have given anything for a soothing lozenge.

3. Gatorade or Coconut Water
I was dehydrated after giving birth, and although I had a big bottle of water, something a bit more hydrating/electrolyte-containing would have been great to have. Not to mention, nursing makes you thirsty!

4. Maternity underwear
The bigger the better! The hospital provided a few of these (and pads) which were quite necessary for the first few days, but it wouldn’t hurt to bring your own.

5. Baby clothes (in the right size, for the right weather)
Maybe I was deluded, because my newborn son was enormous and barely fit in the outfit we packed for him. Plus, the late-September day he was born on turned out to be much cooler than it had previously been. We had to ask my father-in-law to bring an extra blanket to take the baby home in.

6. Baby nail clippers/emery board
You know how they say your baby’s nails start growing in the womb? Welp, it’s true. And you might need to cut them down when you meet your little claw-fingered cutie!

7. Nipple cream
Those first few times you try breastfeeding can be insanely tricky, and quite painful. Having a soothing nipple cream can definitely help.

8. Button down shirt
The key here is to wear something that you can easily breastfeed in. Since you might get tired of the hospital gown, a simple button down shirt is a great option.

Honestly, it doesn’t really matter if you pack an extra pillow and don’t use it, but it will take up space, and including the stuff you do need can make a major difference. Now that you’re this close to having your baby, pack what seems logical and don’t forget to include your Hug Plan, which will help ensure that you have skin-to-skin with your baby as soon as he’s born. (This close cuddling is important because it will help regulate his temperature, improve his heart rate and lung function, and much, much more.) If there’s still room for your bunny slippers, throw ’em in there if they will make you happy!

Photo: Getty