(That was a joke. Sorry, potpourri enthusiasts.)
So first, obviously, is clothing. What clothing is comfortable, adjustable, shapeless, and most amenable to getting stained by biologic fluids? Why, scrub pants, of course. The world's most perfect garment.
I bought a fair number of those "nursing tops" when Cal was born (the kind of tank tops with the snap-down hooks and panels for easy boobage) but subsequent to that have realized that, for the less well-endowed of us who are less modest and/or have more experience breastfeeding, a regular shelf-top cami works just fine, and can be found for pretty cheap pretty much anywhere. I have a bunch of these types of tops from Old Navy, Forever 21, and even Costco. (Kirkland brand, ho! The other benefit of the Costco brand is that they are extra stretchy and cut very long, so I've been able to wear them as a layering piece for the entire pregnancy.)
Hospitals tend to be chilly so I packed two cardigans also (essential feature being that they are a coverup that opens in the front--you could bring a sweatshirt or whatever, I guess, but it would be a pain in the ass for breastfeeding, and anything with a zipper front might get scratchy near a baby's face). The tank top and soft elastic-waisted skirt are going-home clothes for me--again, just soft, stretchy stuff that can go right in the laundry.
Oh, PRO TIP: anything that the hospital offers you that is disposable, including but not limited to: diapers, pads, underwear, those freezy ass pads, squirt bottles, those big water jugs with the straws--you take that shit and you bring it on home with you. I packed two pairs of my own underwear just in case they've cracked down on the giveaways, but I will just tell you that I took care only to pack black underwear, and if you need to ask why, you probably don't really want to know the answer.
Baby's going home outfit. I know it's all very plain and the pants for sure are going to be, like, way too big (they're 3-6 months) but I hardly bought any newborn clothing because it's proven to be such a waste of money in the past, and whatever 0-3 month clothing I do have is very, very boyish. Like, they literally have the word "BOY" on them. And to be clear, I don't mind that one bit--it is my contention that babies can't read and I'm standing by that--but I just want to avoid weird looks from the nursing staff. I don't even think the baby really needs pants even--we're talking about Atlanta in July--but, you know, I'm thinking about fussing with carseat buckles and those skinny little chicken legs that they have at that age should probably be encased in something.
- Toiletries (I used the hospital toiletries for my first two kids, but this time I think I'll bring my own because I'm so high maintenance like that, me and my products--also the hospital-brand toothpaste is very gritty feeling and barely minty, so it feels like brushing with caulk)
- A nicer, non-iPhone camera that I'll probably hardly use at all because it's such a pain to get it out of the bag and download the photos in order to e-mail them, blah blah blah, first world problems. Actually, the camera on the iPhone is really pretty nice, I find that I'm using my "real" camera less and less, but it seems kind of mean to the new kid not to even bring it, so OK, into the bag it goes.
- Nursing pads (I like to use these but if anyone has any better suggestions I'm open to them)
- The usual wallet, keys, laptop, power cords, assorted hospital paperwork, etc.
And...that's it. Keeping it simple. It's basically all I used in the hospital for the first two kids, but if there's anything essential and awesome that I never knew I was missing, let me know--there's still plenty of room in there.