Blogger's Hospital Packing List Controversy Shows 'Mommy Wars' Are Alive & Well

Although I gave birth to both my children in a hospital, my experience with hospital bags is fairly limited. The first time, I was sent directly from a routine prenatal exam to L&D—with nothing packed and ready to go, so I made a quick pitstop at a drugstore on the way there in order to buy a TOOTHBRUSH (I don't know why I was convinced the hospital wouldn't have an extra). The second time, which was a scheduled C-section, I really only packed the basics: books for the recovery room, an outfit for the baby, a few toiletries, and some baggy clothes for me.

Oh, and a hairdryer, because I remembered how re-humanizing it felt to wash and dry my hair after spending like 48 hours in bed.

Which is all to say, Elena's all-encompassing hospital bag(s!) documented on her Art of Making a Baby blog is pretty foreign to me. But even stranger: the outpouring of comments from total strangers who seem downright irritated by her packing list.


I saw Elena's blog linked via Twitter the other day, where it was the subject of a lot of amused chatter over the items she planned to bring for her birth. I clicked over, expecting to see—well, what? I don't know, a list that was controversial enough to have earned 200+ opinionated comments, as well as a flurry of online discussion five months after it was published, I guess.

Instead, what I saw was a woman's meticulous, lovingly photographed preparations for her first child, laid out for the world to see. With Elena's permission, here are some of the items she planned to bring to the hospital:

Labor/Delivery bag:

1. Swim trunks for hubby in case he needs to get in the shower/bath during labor
2. Lavender oil diffuser
3. Fuzzy socks
4. Delivery gown for the labor
5. Super old comfy flats for the hospital
6. Flash diffuser
7. Organic receiving blanket, organic ones
8. Pads
9. Massage ball
10. Snack bars
11. Cheap oversized target underwear to be thrown out after labor
12. Blow up “thingy” for the birth ball
13. Speakers for the iPhone, so that I can play the Pushing Track of Hypnobabies out loud
14. External Flash
15. Gatorade

Her postpartum bag, for after she was transferred from the delivery room into the recovery room:

(Clothes for husband, nursing pillow, towels, clothes, breastpads, toiletries, socks, hospital gown, and more.)

And the baby bag:

(Cloth diapers, baby outfit, socks, cloth wipes, diaper bag, swaddle blanket, going home outfit, and more.)

You can click over to Elena's blog to see her full descriptions for each bag (along with the contents of her 'just in case' bags, which aren't pictured), but the idea behind all the packing was that she felt it was better to have too many things rather than forget something. Elena said they planned to just keep items in their car until they wanted them, but that she'd rather have everything near the hospital than 20 minutes away at home.

So, what do you suppose the reactions were to Elena's hospital bags? Well, not entirely positive:

Your packing is nothing short of ridiculous. I gave birth last month, I took half the amount of stuff as you, and I used none of it!

For your sake, don’t have too much of a “plan”, it will cause nothing but disappointment.

Just be prepared for extreme eye rolling from the hospital staff.

I have to ask, in this economy, how responsible is it to purchase an unnecessary $30 labor gown if it’s just going to be thrown away after the birth? Wouldn’t that $30 be better spent on someone less fortunate?

Have you talked to any other mothers, or have you visited your hospital? I would hate for you to expect one thing and get a disappointing experience. It’s a beautiful experience, but not if you had your mind set on some kind of Beyonce Knowles celebrity birth experience; because that isn’t reality.

You are way over thinking this. I get that you are trying to have a comfortable stay, but the worse thing you can do to make your stay uncomfortable is to severely irritate your nursing staff.

I have to say, this sort of thing is exactly why I roll my eyes whenever I hear someone spouting off about how the 'mommy wars' don't really exist, because they were invented by the media. Look, the media may have coined the term, but the idea of women giving each other grief over every possible parenting-related issue on earth? REALITY.

I don't know if Elena used every item she packed, but when I took a peek at her birth story, it seemed like she'd put at least some of it to good use. Everyone's birth plan and ultimate experience is unique, and just because I used hospital-provided mesh underwear and wrapped my babies in those ubiquitous teal-and-pink blankets doesn't mean it's not perfectly valid for someone else to make completely different choices.

At any rate, Elena now has a beautiful little baby girl, and that's what really matters. As for why her bags caused so much stir online, I have no idea, except that it seems par for the course when it comes to modern parenthood.

What do you think about this blogger's hospital bags? Do you think she deserved backlash for sharing her list?

Images courtesy of The Art of Making a Baby

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