So the time is drawing near to give birth to your baby…are you ready? When experiencing something you have never experienced before, it is hard to know how to prepare. In saying that though, the better prepared you are, the more relaxed you will be when the BIG day rolls around. This article is designed to help you prepare your hospital bag so you can focus on other things like preparing for the birth and getting extra sleep.
Now I was never a scout, but that old scout motto “be prepared” does spring to mind. Scout founder Robert Baden-Powell wrote in Scouting for Boys, being prepared means “you are always in a state of readiness in mind and body to do your duty”. Packing your hospital bag in advance means that you can free up your mind a little to focus on the most important part – the arrival of your baby.
When you’re pregnant it is hard to think about much else apart from your baby. Maybe that’s where the term ‘baby brain’ comes from. Your whole mindset is focused on the well being of your baby so it’s really handy to be prepared mentally as well as physically.
Everyone has a different labour experience but the number one priority is always the health of mother and baby. It’s important for Mum to stay relaxed and positive wherever possible. We hope that you will experience a nice smooth, calm labour! But it may happen really quickly – before you expect it or it could drag on! So here’s what we suggest you can do to prepare in advance…
Necessities for your Delivery
– Medicare card.
-Health Insurance details (if you have private insurance) and any hospital paperwork required.
-Birth plan if you have one and any medical or maternity notes that may be needed.
-Comfortable clothes to wear during labour. A nightie might be good in this instance as you will experience many internal checks. Just a word of warning – it will probably get a bit messy, so don’t buy anything special to wear during labour. I wore one of my hubbie’s really old t-shirts!
-Dressing gown – a good cover up especially if you wear a hospital gown that is open at the back. Hospitals are usually kept at a very reasonable temperature so go for lightweight over heavy.
-Footwear – maybe thongs or slippers – you don’t want to walk around the hospital ward without shoes on. Go for something that’s easy to slip on and off and not too slippery.
-Books or magazines to keep you busy while you pass the time if your phone won’t do the trick! Or where you’ve decided on no devices for the birth.
-Bring your glasses or contact lenses if you wear them. In fact, you might want to bring both options. You can’t wear contacts if you are having a caesarean section and your glasses might fog up during labour.
Other Handy Items for the Delivery Ward
-Snacks and drinks for you while you’re in labour. Try to think of things that are nourishing and easy such as nuts, crackers and fruit.
-If you have long hair bring something to tie it up or a headband if you have shorter hair. You don’t want the little things bothering you while you’re in labour/giving birth.
-TENS pain relief machine, if you are planning to use one. You need to plan ahead for this. Talk to your physio or contact your hospital to see if they have them on hand and plan to get fitted if time allows. The physio will map out the best area for you to attach to your body for maximum effectiveness.
-Don’t forget your toiletries and some tissues.
-Your phone and a phone charger – you’ll need it for calling family and friends, taking the all important photos and for listening to music, timing contractions or scrolling the internet while you play the waiting game.
A Few Little Luxuries
These are a few extra items that are not imperative, but might help you feel indulged and comfortable during labour.
– A pillow if this is really important for you. The hospital might not have enough to make you really comfortable or you may sleep better with your own if you are planning to stay a few days. I took a maternity pillow that I planned to try out for breast-feeding.
– Massage oil or lotion if you would like to be massaged during your labour.
– Lip balm for dry lips and especially if your food and drink intake is restricted for whatever reason as your lips may feel a little parched.
-Heat pack – check with the hospital if there is a microwave to heat it up if this is one of your comforts.
– Aromatherapy oils . You will need to check with your hospital if you can take an electric burner for aromatherapy oils. Most hospitals would have a policy of no open flame burners or candles.
-Socks – in case your feet get cold during labour.
Things For Your Birth Partner
– Comfortable clothes and shoes including a warm jumper for overnight. It’s impossible to guess how long your labour might be the first time around.
– A change of clothes (in case your partner is there a long time or doesn’t feel like going home to change for a while after the birth).
-Snacks and drinks. Prepare for your birth partner so that they can help you. Pack drinks and snacks to make sure your partner is well nourished and available to help you when you need them – not hanging out at the cafe.
– Bathers if your partner would like to join you in the birthing pool – if you plan to make use of the birthing pool.
– Phone – make sure you have cleared some space so that you can easily take all the photos and videos that you would like, without storage issues. Some hospitals require you to check electrical cords/equipment with them prior to use.
– Money or a credit card for parking and any other incidentals.
– A good tip is to keep your labour items separate to your hospital stay items. That way you’ll be able to take your smaller labour bag with you in the labour ward and your birth partner can bring in your hospital stay bag once you’re all set up in your room.
Clothes You’ll Need After the Birth
– Pyjamas – you’ll need comfortable clothes to wear while you’re in hospital that are loose around the belly and chest. Bear in mind that you’ll more than likely still look about 20 weeks pregnant after the birth. Front-opening shirts or top and bottom pyjamas/t-shirt & sweatpants are a good idea in the early days of breastfeeding.
-Underwear – plenty of underwear!
-A going-home outfit. Now you don’t need to compete with Princess Catherine! Keep in mind that comfort is key. You’ll more than likely need to wear your pregnancy clothes until your tummy settles down.
-Nursing bras. Two or three is probably a good amount. You may also wish to purchase more of these once your milk is established and you settle down and you get used to your “new” size.
Other Things You Will Need After the Birth
-Breast pads – if you decide to breastfeed then you will need these for a few months yet.
-Nipple cream – in case your nipples become dry and sore. Keep it organic as it will enter baby’s system when feeding.
-Maternity pads. About 2 packs should suffice for hospital. You’ll need more when you get home.
-Toiletries such as toothbrush, toothpaste and hair brush.
-A notepad/journal and a pen. It’s very useful to be able to write things down – especially when you’re sleep deprived as you might forget later. You can keep track of baby’s feeding sessions, gifts from visitors, writing down questions for your doctor or midwife and keeping a record of baby’s first few days.
Things for Baby
-Infant car seat. You won’t be able to leave the hospital by car without one and you may be able to get the fitting checked if you’re at a large hospital. You can also try the Child Car Seats website for nationwide information about getting your child’s car seat installed or checked before you go to hospital.
-Outfit for the trip home. Try a onesie plus a singlet, blanket or cardigan if it’s winter. Or a short sleeve suit if it’s summer with a light blanket or muslin.
-Two or three sleepsuits and singlets for baby to wear while you’re in hospital. Pack more if you’re staying in hospital for more than a couple of days.
– Joey Pouch Swaddle Wrap which can be used from birth for babies weighing over 3.2kg or 7lbs.
-Check with the hospital if they will provide enough nappies, wipes and clothing for your newborn. You can always take some of your own things to supplement.
-Socks or booties, and mittens.
-Hat – usually for when you leave the hospital when the weather is cold. Babies tend to lose a lot of heat through their heads. Babies should not wear hats inside for risk of overheating.
-Jacket or cardigan – make sure baby is warm enough when you leave the hospital but don’t overheat your baby.
-Muslin wraps – great for a light-weight summer cover or for Mum to use when breastfeeding. Pack some Bubbaroo Bamboo Muslin Wraps in your hospital bag. So many uses that you’ll never leave home without them.
Small Gift for Older Siblings
Some parents bring a small gift for the new baby to “give” to big brothers and sisters. Not sure if it will abate any jealousy but it certainly might help keep your little one busy while everyone fusses over the newborn. One idea is our Joey Toy – it’s a small toy that can provide comfort.
What Not to Take
-Do not take your jewellery unless its on your body. Bear in mind that it could be removed if you have to have any procedures. Keep jewellery to a minimum. If you’re like me my wedding and engagement rings didn’t fit anyway!
-Do not take large amounts of cash. Leave your valuables at home.
When Should You Pack?
A good time to prepare your bag is around the 34-36 week mark. Getting your hospital bag ready in advance will empower you to feel calm and in control. This is a positive way to prepare for your baby’s birth and take a load off your mind.
Next step – relax, put your feet up and wait for the signs that your baby is on it’s way. Try reading our blog ‘How to know you’re in labour’.