Hospital Stay Must-Haves
I have spent quite a bit of time in the hospital. As a kid who had leukemia, as a mom who had premature twins spend time in the NICU, and as a pregnant woman on bed rest for several weeks following fetoscopic surgery (yes, surgery on my baby while it's still in my uterus, real Grey's Anatomy type shit), I thought I could share my opinion on what items might make a hospital stay seem a bit more like home.
This post was originally going to focus on pregnant women, and even further, those on bed rest, but I think this can be useful for anyone undergoing a surgical procedure or has a long road of recovery ahead in the hospital.
Most hospitals will provide a few amenities for you (mini-fridge, plastic pillows, towels, shampoo that doubles as body wash and if you're lucky, maybe as a conditioner, too, etc.) but for the most part, it's pretty bare-bones.
This is my personal list, however, I also crowdsourced a few ideas from our Instagram community. I tried to keep the list short, but I snuck in a few extras because I am all about being comfortable.
*This post contains affiliate links, and I will receive a small commission by you clicking on them and shopping those items!*
Must-Have Hospital Items
Porta-Squatty: Pain medication, surgery, bed rest, lack of proper nutrition, and more can all lead to bowel irregularities and it's no fun to get things regular again. This travel squatty potty stool has truly been a little lifesaver while going through this post-fetoscopic surgery as well as pregnancy and post-c-section as well. I was using random things here and there to put my feet on, but housecleaning would either throw my makeshift stool away, or I would squish it (like when I was using an Amazon box). It comes with a carrying bag, it snaps together easily and it stores nicely under the hospital toilet. To me, it was worth the $35 investment and I still use it at home (it packs flat and fits in a medium suitcase, maybe even a carry on size).
Amazon Fire Stick: If you have subscriptions to Netflix, Disney +, ESPN, HBO, Prime TV, etc. having this gadget is SO NICE. You simply plug it into a power source, plug it into the TV, find the HDMI channel, and connect to the hospital wifi. Hospital TV is soooo boring and nothing you ever want to watch is on, so if you're stuck in the hospital for an extended period of time this is definitely worth the investment. And at almost the same price as the Porta-Squatty, I would say it's a no-brainer to pick one of these up.
64oz Insulated Water Bottle: I personally purchased this Gatorade jug the first week we checked in because, even though the hospital offers plastic or styrofoam pitchers of water, those tend to leak, they are wasteful, and don't hold much water. I would have them fill this large pitcher up with ice and water so I could refill my 32oz CamelBak Waterbottle (in purple). If you already have an insulated CamelBak bottle, my favorite feature is the universal lid that magnetizes to the top, so I don't have to screw the lid on and off every time. I know it sounds ridiculous but every ounce of energy is worth saving (or if you just had an upper-body surgery). I don't like straws on water bottles but if you do, that makes things a bit easier when laying in a hospital bed.
Vital Proteins Collagen Water: Collagen is a fibrous protein that helps provide strength and structure to our bodies. As we get older, it's more difficult for our bodies to make this without additional supplementation, and when recovering from surgery, it's important to include protein in your diet to help rebuild your muscles (just like protein plays an important role in recovery from strength training, it also plays an important role in recovery from surgery). Collagen contains key amino acids that can aid in recovery. While pregnant, recovering from fetoscopic surgery, and on bed rest in the hospital until delivery, getting proper nutrition from a completely hospital-food diet is difficult. I don't love mixing powders into my drinks (unless it's a smoothie) so I splurged on this pricey Collagen Water. I like the Peach White Tea flavor the best. It isn't sweet, it has 3g of sugar and 10g of collagen and I find that it's refreshing enough to be a step above water but not so delicious I want to drink too much of it (it's not like drinking a sugary Snapple or Gatorade, it's like you let the ice melt in your iced tea and now you decided to finish it because you don't like to waste). I have also tried the Strawberry Lemon but I wasn't a huge fan. Another option (better bang for the buck) is the unflavored Collagen Powder that you can add to any drink or smoothie, or of course, any number of their flavored powders. Both my husband and I credit our somewhat quick surgical recoveries to the fact that we both included collagen in our diets regularly.
Kindle/iPad/Laptop: I barely used mine because I was busy with so many things, but my husband was reading on his kindle every night!
Snacks: Hospital food isn't terrible. But it ain't great either. It can also take a long time to arrive to your room. I would assume most hospitals take about 30-45 minutes to deliver your meal, so if you're starving when you place your order, you should have something on hand. My favorites I have in my room are:
Bunch of bananas (with a tub of Nutella, but I also recommend Nutzo butter!)
Bars (larabars, fruit bars, etc)
Pirouette Cookies (my faaaaave)
Cereal (I order milk from the kitchen)
Other items that only require hot water (oatmeal, mac n cheese cups, Kodiak cakes etc.).
Bedtime Essentials: The hospital is already uncomfortable enough (lights coming from all the machines, noise from the nurses' station outside your door, beeping from monitors, etc), why don't we try to at least do our best to get the best night sleep we can (after all, sleep is also key to recovery). Here are a few of the items I think are VITAL.
Sound Machine: I personally love this Hatch nightlight that actually belongs in my kids' nursery. It has an app for you to control the volume, brightness, sound type, and more, so you can control it right from your hospital bed.
Fuzzy Blanket: I recommend a dark color, just in case you happen to get blood on yours like I did when the nurse was messing with my IV.
Eyemask: blocks out the unwanted light and makes you feel like you're away on a spa trip...kinda. This specific one at Lululemon is TRULY the best eye mask I have ever used. I hate eye masks for so many reasons but this one is comfy to sleep on and doesn't feel like you have anything on your face at all.
Earplugs: I don't use earplugs because I like the sound machine
Pillow: the hospital provides (unlimited?) pillows but they are covered in plastic and quite flat. I purchased a King Size pillow from Target as well as some pillowcases and I brought in my pregnancy pillow as well! I didn't have the exact one I linked but I wish I did!
Chapstick: I think I may be a mouth breather when I sleep (I wish I wasn't, but I think I am) so my lips tend to get chapped every now and then.
Slippers: they give you grippy socks but they're AWFUL. Trust me. You'll want some kind of slide on slipper with a sole to make things more enjoyable.
Nightgown/Soft Jammies: I personally like having nightgowns and just wearing comfy underwear, especially while pregnant or post-partum, but two-piece options that unbutton or snap are also great.
Shower Flip Flops/Shoes
Towel: have you ever used a hospital towel? Now try doing it while pregnant, that sucks.
Toiletries + Toiletry carrier: Nice to hang or have on the bathroom counter.
Razor + Shaving Cream: Meh. I'd argue this isn't an essential but justs nice to have if you have the energy to do that.
To be extra boujee, here are some "nice-to-haves"
Hot Water Kettle: We purchased a different kettle (it was 0.5L and it's now out of stock) so the one I linked is another one I was considering! Perfect for snacks that require hot water (oatmeal, mac n cheese) or drinks (coffee, tea, hot chocolate).
Mini Keurig: I am a weirdo and I don't like coffee, but I am sure some people would enjoy having this in their hospital room.
Craft Supplies: I have an Etsy shop, however, I have temporarily closed up shop (with the exception of digital downloads). But for my birthday, my husband got me a Cricut Joy so I could craft on the go. Unfortunately, I was admitted to the hospital the very next day but we did bring it with us to the hospital! I love that it's compact, uses Smart Vinyl (no need for a Cricut mat), and can make cards for when I get a wild hair and decide I have the time/energy to make those! I have also started taking on embroidery. I was gifted this amazing book called Freshly Stitched as well as more embroidery tools (needles, different color embroidery floss, hoops, fabric, scissors, and plastic organizer) and started making gifts for friends while on bedrest.
Pregnancy Must-Haves (for antepartum and postpartum women)
Pregnancy Pillow: I have this Queen Rose grey one, with a removable cover that can be washed. I personally like the fact that the sides do not attach at the bottom because I can manipulate it to fit me comfortably but I did find this one I really wish I had gotten!
Belly Belt: When I was pregnant with the twins, I had a maternity belt, and it was horrible I wore it twice and I wish I had this one, I know I would have worn it way more. This is a bit more of a 'thing' to put on, but easy enough that you can do it yourself, there are 3 different pieces, however, it's worth it. It's so supportive, sort of cute (like, in the way where it's not hideous), and great for heavy bellies. I loved it post-surgery since it's not bothering my incision, but it's helping alleviate the heaviness of the baby when I go on walks (around the hospital unit haha).
Large Underwear: If you have had a c-section, fetoscopic, or fetal surgery, it's important that your clothes don't sit on that fresh incision. You want to keep it dry and free from irritation as best as possible. While still pregnant, I needed extra comfy cotton underwear that was more cut like boy shorts or like bike shorts since my incision was close to my bikini line, so bikini cut with a high waist was not ideal. My mother-in-law works for a clothing company called TomboyX, who specializes in gender-neutral underwear and other comfy clothing, so she gave me some amazing oversized underwear that I just wear as shorts.
Games/Puzzles/Coloring Books: If you are in the hospital with your partner, I have compiled a list of games that are great for two people, but will always be adding!
This list could be so much longer for several different scenarios (for example there are some post-c-section items I recommend that will have a different list) but I hope this helps! Please share your must-haves in the comments!