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

labor & delivery

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Alynn74 Alynn74

The negative comments are irritating. Everyone handles stress and anxiety about unknown situations in different ways. Some women prefer to pack at the last minute, some are planners and have their bag contents packed up and waiting for months. There is NO WRONG WAY to prepare for your hospital stay unless you are packing your own drugs, cigarettes, and alcohol so you can finally party your ass off after you have your baby because you no longer need or want to abstain from that type of behavior. Geesh....

Rhond... RhondaVeggie

She does seem a little cuckoo. Bringing cloth dipes to the hospital? I'm guessing the hospital wouldn't be thrilled to have a bag of used dipes sitting there and I can't imagine what sort of industrial detergent you'd need to get those first few sticky tar poops out. There are also loads of things there that the hospital supplies like breast pads, sanitary pads, and a gown. I couldn't imagine hauling all that stuff in when it's there and included in the copay.

KBW2 KBW2

Agreed- people deal and plan differently. There's nothing wrong w what she packed- I always plan for needing more myself.

Sonja Oliver Rutherford

Women are such assholes to each other, really. I feel like I packed a lot, and you know what? I used ALL of it. We ended up in the NICU for a week (completely unexpectedly) and you do not want to be without the things that make you comfy, or have to hope your husband (in my situation anyway) can find all the things at home that you need and bring them back. I slept in the NICU for a week, so I didn't have a chance to go home that entire time.


And you know what? The nursing staff is all about making you comfortable and you having what you need to make you happy and less grouchy. And those birthing rooms and the NICU rooms? Are huge. Plenty of room for your multiple bags.


Suck it, mommy haters.

the4m... the4mutts

I think if you're a blogger, you're literally asking for it. Its flat out STUPIDITY to put your life out to the world, and expect only warm fuzzy reactions in return.



My opinion on her multiple bags? Also stupid. Way too many things for what amounts to a 2 day stay most of the time for a vaginal delivery.

With my 4th child, I was literally in and out in 12 hours total. My birth took 6 hours, then my epidural wore off, his tests got done, he pooped, I met the requirements, and they let me go home.

Granted, he was my 4th, and they trusted me to know my body enough to know my limits.

Also, I ASKED to go home, they didn't just shove me out.

Either way, she had too much crap for too short of a stay. Its a hospital, not a hotel.

chigi... chigirl1228

Some people are type A and this blogger seems to fit that description. I can't see myself packing all that stuff but I'm a last minute packer. I got weird looks from hospital staff for bringing pajamas for the baby. But once the nurses saw how cute they were instead of the plain white shirt they put on them all was forgiven. If One of my friends wad bringing 3-4 bags I probably would laugh at them tho.

jrphelps jrphelps

Who cares what she takes to the hospital?  It's her pregnancy, her L&D, her recovery, etc.  YOU don't have to take all that stuff.  When I went I felt I underpacked & had to have my mom & sister either buy things & bring them to me.  Or wait for my husband to come from home to bring things.  I delivered about 35 min away from home & it was irritating not having the things I needed.

nonmember avatar Amanda

Yeah, I think it was a little silly to bring all of that stuff, but whatever floats her boat. We all cry foul when kids are bullied, but I see the catty, bitchy responses as the same thing. Sure, she's opening herself up for criticism by posting this on a public blog, but it still doesn't give people the right to be downright rude to her about it.

Melis... Melissa042807

The first thing I thought before reading the entire article was "Bet you money it's her first baby." Sure enough...LOL...


I'm just chuckling is all. If she wants to pack like she's going on a week-long vacation, let her. If there's a lesson to be learned, she'll learn it. If she actually uses all the stuff in her bags, good for her. I find some of the stuff absolutely laughable but not worth getting my knickers in a twist about. 


My own experience is I didn't pack nearly as much as she did for my first baby, but still quite a bit. Didn't use most of it. Second baby, I didn't even pack until the day I went into labor. Just tossed my toiletries and a set of clothes to go home in into my bag and I was good to go. I definitely took advantage of all the free stuff in the hospital. My big lesson I learned was I didn't want so much stuff to haul back down to the car when leaving the hospital. I just wanted to keep it simple. 

Sidthe Sidthe

I get that she's a blogger and she did put it out there all herself but I don't see how it is any concern what she brought. Maybe it made her feel better to bring all that stuff and know that all her bases were covered. Yes the hospital most of the time provides 85% of what she brought but lets be honest every hospital gown I have ever worn was ridiculously uncomfortable! And as some of the other commenter's said what if something unexpected happened and they ended up having to stay at the NICU for a week or longer? Who really wants to either A leave their newborn and go home and get the stuff themselves or B trust their husband to come back with what was asked for?

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