Oh, my bags are packed, I'm ready to go...
I have been procrastinating on the whole pack for the hospital thing. Most pregnancy books recommend doing this at 36 or 37 weeks, but I kept finding reasons to put it off. Part of me knew, I think, that once the bags were packed, I would get really impatient for labour. It is that mental thing: Alright. I'm ready. Let's do this thing.
I am so happy to be heading into this birth without the apprehension I had the first time. Fear of the unknown and fear of losing control dominated my thoughts as I approached my first birth, which ended up being a very difficult experience for me. For a long time, I couldn't even relay my birth story to another without getting a catch in my throat. However, in an unexpected way, working through our miscarriage last February helped me put all the fears and regrets from my first birth behind me, allowing me to approach this birth with the quiet confidence that I will be able to cope with whatever happens.
Packing my bags gave me the opportunity to align my emotional self with my practical self. I mean, feeling ready for birth is huge, and very important. But I am actually practically ready? A positive mental attitude can only get me so far. I still need clean clothes.
When I started researching the lists of what to pack for the hospital, I got a little overwhelmed. Every book and website has different items listed, and most are directed at an American audience, where it is more important to pack your own products, lest you be charged at the hospital for them. It was hard for me to tease out what I would actually need, and what would be a waste of space. Drawing on my memories from my first birth, some good information on what is provided by the LDRP suites in the Canadian hospital where I will be delivering, and the advice in all the lists I had read, I finally came up with the hospital bag list that works for us.
If you are checking out this post for practical reasons:
I say 'hospital bag', but that is really misleading. I ended up packing three bags: one each for mommy, daddy, and baby. You will notice I left some things off the list that many others have, like diapers, or a cd player, for example. That is because I know that these things are available at no cost at my hospital. Always check out what your hospital will provide when making your own list. I also have adjusted my list according to my personal preferences. I won't be bringing a nightgown or tshirt for labour, because I know from my first birth that I will probably only be comfortable naked, and otherwise a hospital gown is fine with me. I will be bringing my own breast pump, because I hated the electric one I had to use at the hospital last time, and I am bringing my yoga mat, too. Your list can reflect your own preferences.
Mom's bag - a medium suitcase
- Comfort items for during labour. I chose a number of my favourite instrumental relaxation CDs, a yummy lip balm (my lips cracked with all the blowing last time), and my yoga mat (packed separately, in a carry bag). Birth balls and CD players are supplied at my hospital.
- Information. I have printed several copies of my birth preferences for my labour support team, and have also packed my favourite birth book and a list of ways to help labour progress that I got off of the Dr. Sears website. Having my information along is a comfort measure for me.
- Maternity bathing suit. This I may not need, but if I don't want to be naked in the whirlpool or shower, now I don't have to be. It is a two-piece tankini, so I can always just wear the top, if that is most comfortable.
- Food and drink. Last time, I hated my hospital food (especially breakfast), and vending machines get too expensive. I have packed a couple of bottles of water, four cans of apple juice, dried apricots and granola bars.
- Clothes for in the hospital, after the birth. I chose a very comfy stretch pair of pajamas, my bathrobe, and spa socks. I like to be cozy, and nightgowns are so not me. I also packed a supportive nursing bra.
- Light diversions. There may be downtime, depending on what happens, and I may be awake when the baby is not. I have packed my knitting, and my Sudoku book, with a pen.
- Clothes to wear home from the hospital. I chose low-rise maternity jeans, a t shirt and a hoodie. Don't forget socks and underwear.
- Toiletries. This was the trickiest for me. How do I pack my bathroom routine, when I will still need most things out? Some things, like my shampoo and conditioner, I poured into travel containers, and packed that way. The other things, I cleared a space for in the bathroom, and will pack the day we leave. See below.
When labour begins, it is simple to grab the bottles, toss them in the Ziploc, and throw everything into my suitcase. In the meantime, I can use them from here.
Dad's bag - a carry-on size shoulder bag
- Comfort and diversion items for Dad. Don't laugh. Birth is tiring and emotional for men, too, and there is a lot of pressure on them to do everything right. In my husband's bag, you can find a bag of his favourite candy, his Nintendo DS, and the book he is reading right now.
- Swim trunks. These are good to have along in case you want your husband to go into the shower or whirlpool with you.
- Change of clothes. Let your husband pack this himself. Mine chose a clean shirt, and a change of socks and underwear. Other guys might want more.
- Address book with phone numbers, and cell phone. I am leaving the responsibility of making the phone calls to him, so I can focus on recovering and getting started on a breastfeeding relationship with baby.
- Camera, with extra batteries. Talk to your husband about when you would like photos, and when to leave the camera in the bag.
- Clothes. These are little, so I packed quite a few. If there are any diaper leaks, we are ready. I have onesies, footed pants, and sleepers along. Also, a hat, because my baby will be born in winter.
- Baby blankets. My hospital has these, but they wash them with such harsh detergents that Nik's newborn skin was reacting to them. This time, I have packed four thin receiving blankets, and a reversible flannel blanket, that is square, and good for swaddling.
- Baby sling. I have a fitted cotton sling that will be good for nursing and/or kangaroo care after the birth.
- Breast pump and accessories. I have packed my pump, storage jars, and microwave sterilizing bag (made by Medela). I also included my tube of PureLan, just in case.
- Car seat. This isn't in the bag, but it is for baby, so I will include it here. The base is installed in the car, and the seat with bunting bag and extra blanket (due to cold weather) will come into the hospital with us.