Okay, so this is totally an opinion post based on my own experience. It may be a little controversial, but I think it’s a topic worth talking about because it’s all in good fun—and it’s one of the mindless conversations I swear I’ve had with some of my girlfriends. You know, those convos that you don’t really see in written form but talk about nonetheless?
So whether you go into labor naturally at home or in the hospital or have a scheduled C-section or induction – the day you bring your little one into the world is not only one of the most memorable day of mother’s lives but it’s also likely one of the most documented… It’s also a time of huge hormonal swings with heightened levels of insecurity and empowerment happening simultaneously.
I know, I know, every gal’s birth story is different! For me, I was told at 41 weeks and 5 days that I needed to be induced because my water broke >24 hours prior to my appointment and I didn’t go into labor naturally. I needed to be admitted that same afternoon.
After sneaking a quick bite at McDonald’s before admitting myself to the hospital (please, ladies, EAT SOMETHING if you can before labor – it just so happened that McD was the closest/most convenient eating establishment to the hospital – so yea, I had me that double cheeseburger, small fries, and iced tea!), I checked into the hospital, they took me to my birthing room, and I hopped on the bed for them to get the Pitocin flowing. (Ugh – I really, really didn’t want to be induced – so I was pretty upset but that’s another story).
After the IV was in, I sat there on the bed and did what anyone would do…took a selfie. The below pic is the actual selfie… it was back in the day when I thought Instagram was just a repository for personal pics (long before Setareh Beauty was born—don’t judge).
One of the comments even read, “glow!” Because I was glowing after all! My minimal makeup was on & I was going to be a mommie in the very near future. Fast-forward 24 hours and I was definitely not “glowing “anymore! My skin was a wreck & splotchy, I had raccoon eyes, and my hair was everywhere (but the hair being everywhere is kind of the norm for me).
What I didn’t think about though was all my old makeup rubbing off on my new baby! Gross. I also didn’t think about the fact that we’d be taking a million pics of baby Z on my chest afterwards…. Well, I mean I guess I knew that would happen – but I didn’t think of my appearance being haggardly. Nothing, not ANYTHING takes away from those moments we all shared together as a new family of three – but I can’t help but notice in the pictures my melted, lackluster face. Labor is hard work and I don’t care who you are, it’s not an easy day! I think to myself now, “if only I’d taken off my makeup and prepped my skin for a lonnnngggg day + night…” What gets to me is that I totally had the time to do so, but just didn’t. After all, this was my first time having a baby!
Fortunately for me though, I did have a little makeup bag packed, THANK GOODNESS! Honestly, I think it was my makeup bag from my gym bag – you know the makeup bag with all the sample-sized products you toss into a free gift with purchase bag.
I’m SO glad I tossed my makeup bag into my maternity bag because little did I know, they had an in-hospital newborn photographer come the day after our nugget was born to take pictures. She came in our room to photograph us and I was able to ask for a few minutes extra to freshen up & get a little color back in my face. My makeup bag saved the day!
See while I know I didn’t NEED makeup, having it there gave me the ability to quickly boost my confidence (even if it did nothing but that), turning a super swollen, pale, and not really looking like my normal self face into a somewhat normal face. Does that make sense?
I didn’t put on a full face of makeup, just my normal sample-sized versions of tinted moisturizer, blush, and mascara (it was a bit dry if I remember correctly) – but it was enough to make me feel great in the pictures.
So, with baby #2 quickly approaching, I simply cannot let raccoon eyes & splotchy, old makeup face happen a second time! I will know if/when I’m going into labor and that I can spare the 30 seconds to a minute of time to wash my face and moisturize it before anything else happens. Period. Or at minimum, grab a facial cleanser wipe and get off all the dirt/debris/makeup that cake on throughout the day (btw — I love the Kirkland brand makeup wipes to be perfectly honest.)
Like I said earlier, hindsight is 20/20, what I wish I would’ve done right after I checked into the hospital was wash my face, apply my nighttime moisturizer, and secure a little water spritzer next to my bedside. For those of you delivering at home, you have way more flexibility!
So this time, here is what I’m packing. The following four items I recommend as mandatory – although to each their own!
Grab your fave travel/deluxe sample sized face wash. Mine so happens to be Kiehl’s & they love giving their deluxe samples away for free if you ask or with the purchase of a full sized product.
However, getting to a sink to wash your face may be difficult… I remember it was for me. I was so glad to have these refreshing Yes to Cucumbers facial wipes. So refreshing! I picked up a travel size pack at Target for $2.99 but it is an Amazon Prime item and you can get a 45-ct package for just under $5.
These are great postpartum as well, you know… those late nights when washing your face is daunting & you just have a few seconds to freshen up.
Grab your fave daytime + nighttime moisturizer (preferably the same jar). Again, travel/deluxe samples sizes are best. In this case, Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cream is my go-to! This particular formula works great on all skin types — and since my hormones will be whack, I know this won’t irritate my skin. This is also essentially scent free, so it won’t bother baby either.
Kiel’s is great about giving free deluxe samples upon request or with purchase at their retail stores or counters…all you have to do is ask! It’s not pictured above because it’s being used — and I forgot!
Opt for a tinted chap stick that can double up as blush if you really want to pack light. Regardless of whether it’s tinted or not, you’ll need Chap Stick throughout your stay in the hospital. However, the lanolin the hospital gives you (for chapped nipples) is also amazing for your lips – trust!.
I love this Burt’s Bees Shimmer Chapstick because it really does have enough pigment to double as a faint lip color & cheek shimmer! However, I packed one of my favorite lipsticks (seen in picture below) because I plan on using the lanolin. It’sJ. Lo’s L’oreal Paris Colour Riche Exclusive Lipstick – $8. It was also featured in my 10 Favorite Beauty Products of 2015 post, read post here.
Like I mentioned, having a spritzer handy feels so nice, especially if you can’t leave your bedside. I personally love the Evian water spray or if you want a little bit of scent and nutrients for your face, I’m have been a long-time user of this amazing Rosewater Toning Spritz from Boots Botanics. I often gift this to 2nd-time momma’s to be or girlfriends in a beauty rut. I’m in love with this Rosewater spray.
This product has been on featured on my Sephora + Ulta Product Haul!
Post delivery, your bum and nether regions won’t be your friend. I swear by Witch Hazel & made my hubby run out and get some during my hospital visit baby #1.
Instead of making him go out and get it this time, I grabbed some wipes (which can also double as toner by the way). Target didn’t have my fave go-to Thayer’s brand (pictured) but the wipes should do the job.
And that’s it for mandatory “beauty” items for mama! You don’t NEED makeup in the maternity ward…you are a new glowing momma and nothing looks better on you than motherhood. Trust. However, labor is hard work. You sweat, you bleed, and you cry you may or may not be able to get a shower or get out of bed. You may want to freshen up – and these four items will make sure you can.
…but you want to know what I’m packing! Here’s the rest!
If you are like me and like to feel a little more put together or plan on having pictures taken in the hospital room post baby, I’m just going to re-refer you to my 3 Must-Have Cosmetics post. I’ve edited the reasons why they are essential below, mostly for comic relief!
1) BB Cream/Tinted Moisturizer… Because most are good for your skin (doubles up the moisture), evens out your skin tone, boosts your confidence, which in turn makes those newborn pictures a little bit nicer/put together! I do not recommend packing a foundation, that’ll just get messy fast and then you could subject yourself to looking ridiculous (especially because your skin color might have changed slightly/temporarily post-birth).
I packed an Urban Decay Beauty Balm & my Josie Maran Argan Oil tinted moisturizer. I may use just the Beauty Balm to be completely honest but if the resident photographer makes an appearance, I’ll be prepared with my tinted moisturizer.
2) Mascara… Because you are probably sleepy and your eyes droopy and a littler perk in your eyes are, at a minimum, make you look more awake than you really are. This is the perfect time to use up one of the samples you’ve received from Ulta/Sephora. Do not pack fake eyelashes. If you want to have perfect lashes throughout the entire hospital stay but not deal with mascara, splurge and get yo’self eyelash extensions.
I packed my Stretchex Mascara. It’s not my favorite mascara but it does the job. I don’t need to pack my glamorous, high end mascara for the hospital.
3) Bronzer/Blush w/ a brush – Unless of course you packed a tinted chap stick. Do not bring a color that is too light/too dark. Do not bring a color you’ve never tried before. I’d recommend bringing one with a little bit of shimmer – that’ll really help to brighten your face (after all, you just had a baby and that’s taxing on the body).
I packed my NARS Laguna bronzer as well as a blush brush.
Outside the Three Items & Not Mentioned Above but Pictured:
Because I don’t want to be smelly & don’t like all the nasty preservatives and aluminum found in many deo-s. This is my go-to.
Because I will probably have stinky breath & it will bother me and getting up to brush my teeth may be too daunting a task. Peppermint Altoid’s are way too intense for me.
Don’t forget the hair ties. Just don’t. Or a few bobby pins.
Stainless steel roller balls under the eyes is like an instant eye lift. I know I’ll need at least one while at the hospital — likely before we head home.
I’m still obsessed with this stuff almost a year later. It’s like a facial in a tube… featurted first in my Goodebox/Wellbeing Box unboxing (see here — it’s a beauty box curated with all natural, organic beauty products) & made it’s way into my Top 10 Beauty Items of 2015. I don’t travel without it.
Honestly, I just grabbed this because it was there in my samples box. I doubt I’ll use it but it’s there just in case. Again, I’ll probably use lanolin, which is a great moisturizer for chapped skin & lips (and nips).
Because this is the best travel body wash + shampoo ever. Gentle cleansing, a little goes a long way, full of good stuff. This is a travel bag staple, and it beats hospital soap any day — and most soaps for that matter.
Baby Swag: Newborn
With my son, baby #1 I made the mistake of packing 0-3 month outfits. Not newborn ones. He swam in all of his outfits! Because baby #2 is on track to be totally average sized, just like baby #1 — I packed two newborn outfits. Not 0-3 months. There’s a difference. Trust. That’s one more outfit than I need. Here’s the baby swag broken down:
The first go around, I made the mistake of packing non-maternity clothes. Big mistake. I had this ego that I would just miraculously fit into my pre-pregnancy attire overnight. Thank GOODNESS I had packed my yoga pants and a loose shirt. Even my pre-pregnancy pajamas didn’t fit.
Also, nursing…no need for a bra with wires! 100% comfort is that way to go. I love the Gillian O’Malley nursing bras from Target. I lived in them. I also picked up some super cute and inexpensive ($9.00)
I had a lot of anxiety prior to the birth of my son in my physical appearance. When I looked in the mirror after birth and saw little had changed body wise, it was depressing. Although it seems totally irrational to me now, at the time I felt like I didn’t “lose” as much weight as I thought I would post-labor. I didn’t look like a glowy new mom with perfect skin and this perfect baby. I didn’t fit into hardly anything I packed in my bag.
I was over the moon for my little babe – but super hard on myself, my appearance, and even the pictures being taken of me in the hospital (like I said, totally irrational – but the hormones were in full force).
Quite frankly, my new pride of being a mother didn’t outweigh the fact that I felt ugly and fat. There’s no other nice way of putting it…that’s how I felt. And like I said, this is totally irrational thinking now but at the time, that’s how I thought. Having my makeup bag and the ability to look presentable for a the few pictures & the photographer complimenting how she rarely sees new momma’s take care of themselves gave me a little piece of my sanity back during a foggy few days of feeling like a hot mess.
Do yourself a solid & take care of yourself too! Don’t feel mom guilt or shame in feeling the need to dab on a little makeup. But also don’t feel pressured to do so.
Do what feels right for you. When you are happy, baby is happy. Baby picks up on your energy and if you don’t take care of yourself (and your emotions), it’s hard to take care of someone else.
I would LOVE to hear your “Makeup In the Maternity Ward” stories! Please share below! Or any packing tips that I might’ve missed.
I’m Natalie, an American born makeup artist & makeup educator based in Wiesbaden, Germany. I truly believe that makeup, when applied well, can transform us in so many ways. My page is a space for inspiration, education, and advice. Thanks for being here & I’d love to connect with you!
Makeup education a great passion of mine. I have personally witnessed how makeup education has positively changed lives time and time again.
Throughout the years, I kept noticing the lack of real-life, practical, and easy to understand makeup education.
After developing PDF guides for my private lesson clients, then workbooks for my makeup workshops, enough people told me I should write a book. So in 2019, personally funded and self-published my first book, Be Your Own Makeup Artist.