Most expecting couples have already been given that basic list of staples that are needed for your trip to the hospital awaiting the arrival of your bundle of joy. This is not that list. After 15 years working with new parents this list contains the tried and true must haves for the expectant parent.
Lets start by saying it’s not what you pack but how you pack it. Don’t be that couple that shows up with four bags and a pilates ball. This makes you look like you are moving in and believe me that is not a good thing. You may see yourself as prepared. The hospital staff on the other hand will put you into the category of “high needs” and its not the label you want on delivery day. Here are some basic rules of thumb; keep it to 2‐3 small bags and one of those should be your rad new diaper bag. To save space mom and dad can use a small suitcase on wheels similar to what you would use as a carry‐on when traveling. If the mother‐to‐be needs a bit more space then consider using a small satchel or messenger bag for her partners’ things. Put the items that you will be using during active labor on top, clothing and miscellaneous stuff that you will use after the birth at the bottom. The last thing you want when your partner is laboring and asking for “the thing” is to be digging through a suitcase trying to find it when she is going through a contraction. Please take my word for it. I’m going to break it down for you so that packing the right things and in the right way will be a cinch. We will organize our efforts into three categories: Preparation, Labor, and After the Birth. Let’s get packing.
You will want to be packed and ready to go to the hospital by your 37th week of pregnancy, which is technically considered full term. Waiting till the last minute can be disastrous and you will never remember all of your essentials when you are so excited to meet your new addition. There will probably be a few people that you will need to call when labor begins and when the baby is born. Important numbers to have on that list will be your Midwife or Doctor, your doula if you have hired one to accompany you during your birth, and close family and friends. Don’t forget to add the number for the labor and delivery unit in case you need assistance from your car into the hospital because mom is working through some tough contractions. The people closest to you will be excited when they get the news that labor has started. Often those closest to you will want to have up to date info about the labor and subsequent birth. However, a laboring woman and those supporting her at the birth need to be focused on attending to her changing needs throughout labor. Create a phone tree so that you can alert one person on that list with important news and updates and they can start the chain of sharing information. Take a few minutes after you prepare your phone list and write down any medications that the pregnant mother is taking as well as allergies so that when you arrive at the hospital you can answer these questions that will be asked by the nurse and mama can focus on her contractions if active labor has already started. Take both of these papers and put them in the outside pocket of your suitcase or the bag that the birth partner is carrying. Any paperwork you receive at the hospital can also go here and you are able to stay organized during your stay. Just before leaving the house you will add your phone chargers and any electronic devices that you are taking into partners bag.
I won’t bore you with the list of basics to pack like underwear and a change of clothes, but yes remember to do that too for both parents. Here are a few tips that will enable the laboring mother and her partner stay connected to the birth in this new space and provide some comfort measures: It is important to pack chapstick and a good moisturizer. Hospitals are very cold and dry and you don’t want to leave parched. Make sure both mom and dad bring hair ties if either of you need them. There’s no way around it, hospitals can smell kind of funny. To combat that you can pack an essential oils diffuser and some oils with scents that have been pre‐ approved by the mother‐to‐be. This is a great way to change the smell of the room without putting them directly on our pregnant mom whose likes and dislikes might be a moving target in labor. It is also a great way to make the space yours and set the mood. Other mood enhancers you can use and pack are “no‐flame” candles, and guided meditation or music that you have pre‐loaded onto your smart phone. Labors are usually long and both mom and her partner need to be nourished. Pack healthy snacks such as granola bars , nuts, and dried fruit. Hospitals aren’t known for having great food and often the cafeteria is far from inpatient rooms and could even be in another building. Preparing in advance will help you avoid navigating a trip through the hospital. You will want to check with your hospital to see their policy on what mother is allowed to eat during labor and plan accordingly. Don’t forget to pack mints for dad. You will be up close and personal and there is A Lot of breathing involved in labor coaching, minth breath will be appreciated by mom‐to‐ be. What some parents don’t plan on is the downtime you may experience in early labor. Bring things to do that pass time but keep you connected to your labor such as adult coloring books, or a kindle. Take some time as a couple to think about the environment you are hoping for in your birthing space and this will be a good exercise in choosing the things your really need and will prevent you from over packing.
After The Birth
Most of the things you will need for after the birth will be for mom and baby. It makes the most sense to pack your babies things in your diaper bag. Some important items to consider bringing for your newborn are grapeseed oil. This gentle oil will come in really handy for babies first poop, also called meconium. Meconium has a very sticky tar like consistency and can be difficult to wipe off babies bottom with wipes. You can use the oil to help it slide off as well as a barrier in between diaper changes to prevent sticking. You will want to bring baby’s first outfit for leaving the hospital and for any pictures that you have planned on that day. Although the hospital will have hats for your newborn it’s a great idea if you have any pets at home to give that first hat that baby was wearing to your dog so that he can get used to babies scent. If you choose to do that you will bring an extra hat of your own to keep babies head warm as needed. Hospitals usually have contracts with companies that manufacture diapers and will have plenty on hand for your baby. If you intend to use premium diapers or eco‐friendly brands you will want to purchase and pack those diapers in with baby’s things. Both parents should also ensure that they have all the toiletries that they will need for at least a two day stay. Last but night least the mother‐to‐be will want to pack anything that makes her feel like herself after all of her hard work. For some moms that could be her makeup, for others it could be their cozy bathrobe from home, or warm slippers.
For that extra touch you can also pack some stationary for thank you notes just in case you want to leave any for the hospital staff.
Just taking 20‐30 minutes to get your bags packed and organized in advance of your big day will help create some welcome calm and joy on a day that will elicit a range of emotions from fear to happiness. Going through this list as a couple and packing together will be a good start to your new adventure as parents where teamwork will be your greatest asset.
Written by Guest Mom Blogger Brandi Jordan