Congratulations on your new baby! I hope you saved room in your hospital bag, because you're going to want to stock up on a few essentials before you head home. Normally I wouldn't advocate shoplifting, but mama, you've just pushed a cantaloupe out of your coochie – you're entitled to some SWAG.
Here's a guide to the goods:
#1. Jumbo Pads
You know those tampon ads where girls are horseback riding, playing volleyball and sporting skintight white shorts at the pool even though Aunt Flo's in town?
Turns out there's one thing you can't do with a tampon and that's stem the post-partum tide. Doctors don't want you inserting anything while you're healing, so you're gonna have to wear a maxi pad, preferably one designed for elephants.
Bonus: the pads do double duty absorbing pee. (Sorry, is the first you're hearing about your new friend, incontinence?) So until you train yourself to quickly cross your legs each time you feel a sneeze, guffaw or bump in the road coming on, make sure you've snagged plenty of pads.
#2. Mesh Undies
The hospital doles out stretchy, open weave underwear that look like something the world's least sexy dominatrix might wear.
While not much of a fashion statement, they're breathable, comfortable and save you from ruining all your panties with blood and God knows what else is coming out of you. Learn to love them, and shove some extras in your purse.
#3. Pain Relieving Spray
Best news ever: many hospitals provide topical pain relievers in a convenient spray that you can point and shoot at your vajayjay. I believe it's completely normal to go through an entire can during one trip to the bathroom.
Just make sure you grab some roadies. Trust me, anything labeled "hospital grade" is something you want in your medicine chest at home.
P.S. If the nurse offers you a donut, take it. She's probably referring to a special seat with a hole in the middle that helps take the pressure off your tender lady bits. Otherwise, she's giving you a Krispy Kreme. Either way, you win.
#4. Baby Bath Tub
Hey, here's one that's not about your vagina! When you registered for baby's first bath tub, you probably thought, "Oooh, it's so tiny!" Well, to a newborn, that infant tub is an Olympic sized pool.
You'll actually need something even tinier for those first few weeks at home, especially when you're trying to avoid submerging baby's bellybutton until the umbilical cord stump falls off. Once your little one outgrows it, the tub makes a nice teddy bear crib or toy duck pond. Renew, reuse, recycle.
#5. Swaddling Blankets and Baby Hats
Sure, you probably have a nursery full of adorable clothes and blankets, but the hospital's gear is actually better than yours. That's because they didn't let crazy pregnancy hormones make all the buying decisions.
You know that hat you love with the cat ears and all the ruffles? It's never going to stay on your baby's head. But the hospital hats grip perfectly – that's why so many newborns in strollers are rocking the exact same lid.
Same goes for hospital swaddling blankets – they may not be monogrammed or zebra striped, but they're the perfect size and weight, especially when you're still mastering your baby burrito. Stuff a few in your suitcase, and consider them free advertising for your fabulous hospital.